- What Are Horizontal Pull Exercises?
- 1. Inverted Row
- 2. Pendlay Row
- 3. Bent-Over Row
- 4. T-Bar Row
- 5. Renegade Row
- 6. Chest Supported Row
- 7. Seated Cable Row
- 8. Kettlebell Row
- 9. Gorilla Row
- What Muscles Do Horizontal Pull Exercises Work?
- How To Do Horizontal Pull Exercises At Home?
- Additional Resources
What Are Horizontal Pull Exercises?
Horizontal pull exercises are one of the main human movement patterns. They are an integral part of any athlete’s workout plan as they help you build thickness in your back. In this article, we’re going to discuss the best horizontal pull exercises that you can incorporate into your training routine.
The 9 best horizontal pull exercises:
- Inverted Row
- Pendlay Row
- Bent-Over Row
- T-Bar Row
- Renegade Row
- Chest Supported Row
- Seated Cable Row
- Kettlebell Row
- Gorilla Row
1. Inverted Row
Bodyweight inverted rows are probably the best calisthenics horizontal pull exercise. They are great because you can adjust the level of resistance by changing the position of your body. The closer to being parallel to the ground your body is, the harder the exercise will be. Conversely, if you want to make it easier, you can step further away from the bar.
Another great benefit of the exercise is that you can do it almost anywhere. You just need a vertical bar that is about hip height to perform this movement.
How to do an inverted row:
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip and walk yourself down the bar until the bar is on your lower chest level
- Engage your core, glutes, and quads to make and keep your body straight
- Retract your shoulder blades and pull yourself to the bar until you almost touch it
- Pause for a second and slowly lower yourself down
2. Pendlay Row
Pendlay row is a great horizontal pull exercise that will help you build strength and power. It’s named after weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay who invented this exercise.
In order to do this exercise, you’ll need a heavy barbell.
How to do a Pendlay row:
- Stand in front of the bar. Hinge your hips and lean forward until your torso is almost parallel to the ground
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart
- Engage your core
- Explosively pull the bar off the ground to your lower chest
- Lower the weight down
This exercise is great for training for power. Given that you will be using a heavy enough weight, it’s ok to use a little bit of momentum with this exercise.
3. Bent-Over Row
The bent-over row is one of the most classic horizontal pull exercises that bodybuilders and athletes use in their routine. It works your mid-back muscles like rhomboids and lower traps, as well as your rear delts and lower lats.
This exercise can be done either with a set of dumbells or a barbell. The most common variation is the barbell one.
How to do a bent-over row:
- Stand in front of the barbell and lean forward until you’re almost parallel to the ground. Make sure that your lower back is straight
- Grab the barbell with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart and pick the weight of the ground
- Pull the weight to your lower chest area
- Pause for a second and lower the weight down
When performing the exercise, make sure that your lower back stays straight and you don’t use momentum to help you lift the weight up.
4. T-Bar Row
T-Bar rows are another awesome horizontal pull exercise that will work your mid-back muscles like rhomboids and lower traps.
In order to do this exercise, you will need a barbell and a v-handle from a cable machine.
How to do a T-Bar row:
- Put the barbell into a landmine setup
- Step over the bar so that it’s between your legs. Put the v-handle right under the end of the bar where the weight is
- Lean forward until you’re almost parallel to the ground. Keep your lower back straight and your core engaged
- Grab the v-handle and pull the weight towards your chest
- Take a one-second pause and lower the weight down in a controlled manner
You may also like: 9 Best T-Bar Row Alternatives.
5. Renegade Row
The renegade rows are a very effective and athletic horizontal pull exercise. One of the main benefits of the exercise is that it works not only your mid-back muscles but also your core.
This exercise doesn’t require much equipment. You will only need a set of hex dumbbells or power blocks. Make sure that the dumbells don’t have round plates because you are much more likely to get injured if you do the exercise with such dumbbells.
How to do a renegade row:
- Put a pair of dumbbells on the ground
- Get down to a pushup position placing your hands on the dumbbells
- Make sure that your body is straight by engaging your core, quads, and glutes
- Row a dumbbell on one side to the side of your body while keeping your torso straight
- Lower the weight down and do the same motion with the opposite arm
6. Chest Supported Row
Chest-supported row is a good rowing exercise for people who have issues with the lower back. That’s because the bench that you use during the exercise will support your weight and lower the stress on that area.
In order to do the exercise, you will need a barbell and a bench.
How to do a chest supported row:
- Find an incline bench and set it up at about a 30 to a 45-degree angle
- Put the barbell under the bench and lay on the bench so that your chest is on the bench
- Grab the barbell with an overhand grip and pull the weight towards you
- Pause for a second and lower the weight down in a controlled manner
You can also do this exercise with a set of dumbbells rather than a barbell.
7. Seated Cable Row
Seated cable rows are a classic bodybuilding exercise that athletes have been using for years. Just like other rowing exercises, it primarily works on your rhomboids, lats and lower trap muscles.
In order to perform this exercise you will need access to a low pulley row machine with a v-bar.
How to do a seated cable row:
- Take a seat on the machine and place your feet on the special platform for your feet in front of you
- Grab the handle and pull your torso is at a 90-degree angle from your legs
- Your back should be slightly arched
- Keep your torso straight and pull the cable towards you until you touch the abdominals
- Take a short pause and let the cable return to the starting position in a controlled manner
8. Kettlebell Row
The kettlebell row is a great horizontal pull exercise that can be done almost anywhere. The only thing you need is access to a kettlebell that you will use to perform the exercise.
How to do a kettlebell row:
- Place the kettlebell in front of you and lean forward until your body is almost parallel to the ground
- Bend your knees slightly for more stability
- Grab the kettlebell and pull it towards your abdominal area. Make sure that your arm stays close to your body during the movement
- Pause for a moment and slowly return to the starting position
9. Gorilla Row
The gorilla row is another powerful rowing exercise that you can do to build a bigger back. It primarily works your mid-back muscles and also your legs as they stay in an isometric hold during the exercise.
This exercise is usually done with 2 kettlebells, however you can also use dumbbells if you prefer.
How to do a gorilla row:
- Place 2 kettlebells in front of you
- Hinge your hips back and bend your knees until your hands can grab the kettlebells
- Grasp both kettlebells and row one at a time alternating sides
You should be holding this half-squat position during the whole exercise.
What Muscles Do Horizontal Pull Exercises Work?
Horizontal pull exercises primarily work on the muscles of your back. The main muscle groups that do the work are:
- Latissimus Dorsi or Lats
- Lower and Mid Trapezius Muscles
- Forearm muscles
How To Do Horizontal Pull Exercises At Home?
Most of the horizontal pull exercises can be performed almost anywhere. If you have access to a set of weights then you can do most of the exercises we’ve mentioned above. If you don’t have weights, you can do inverted rows by creating a special setup with a pair of chairs and a strong bar, like a brum stick.
Horizontal pull exercises are excellent for building upper body strength, muscles, and stability in your shoulders. This movement pattern should be a vital part of your workout routine. Feel free to incorporate any of these 9 best horizontal pull exercises into your training.