If you’re interested in building muscle, you’ll need to adopt an effective workout routine. One of the most popular ones is the push, pull, leg day (PPL) routine, which targets different large muscle groups.
PPL routines are used by weightlifters, calisthenics athletes, CrossFit enthusiasts, and strength trainers alike.
Splitting the major muscle groups targeted across three different sessions allows these groups enough time to recover between sessions. Yet, still, ensuring you remain consistent with your training.
If you’re looking to build your biceps and back especially, you’ll need the perfect pull day workout.
If you aren’t familiar with pull day workouts or have just been introduced to them, you’ll find all the information you need here. From what a pull day workout is to the best pulling exercises to include in your routine, we’ve covered it all below for you.
What is a Pull Day Workout?
In short, a pull workout is any workout that involves the pulling motion or force.
Pull day uses compound and isolation exercises, and engages the upper body pulling muscles. This includes your biceps, traps, rhomboids, lats, and more.
Examples of these types of exercises are pull-ups, rows, and deadlifts.
Best Pull Day Exercises
Here are the top exercises to include in your pull day routine.
Pull-ups are the perfect foundation to a pull day workout routine because these train the back, arm, and shoulder muscles.
Furthermore, studies have found that resistance training exercises like pull-ups are effective at increasing bone density and enhancing cardiovascular health, among other benefits.
How to perform pull-ups
- Grab a pull-up bar a little wider than shoulder-width (or set up your suspension trainer in a similar position) with your knuckles facing you.
- Lift your legs so you’re in a hanging position; you can cross your ankles if you like.
- Bend your knees and pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar; make sure not to swing.
- Lower yourself again slowly to the hanging position and repeat until you’ve done your favored number of reps.
Deadlifts train every muscle in the backside of the body, meaning they’re must-haves on any pull day exercises list. Plus, it allows for easy progressive overload, which is essential for building muscle.
A proper deadlift engages your back, leg muscles, and your core. Just be careful to only lift weights you know you’re capable of lifting as this exercise creates stress on the back and can be risky if not done correctly.
How to perform deadlifts
- Plant your feet so they’re about shoulder-width apart and right below the bar; ensure you’re standing at the center of the bar.
- Slightly bend your knees and hips while gripping the bar, with your hands somewhat shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your back straight, head neutral, and engage your lats and glutes to pull the slack out of the bar.
- Lift the bar off the ground until you’re standing upright. To do so, simultaneously pull while bringing your hips through.
- Keeping that muscle tension, lower the bar and repeat until you’ve done your favored reps.
Tip: The hip hinge is crucial to this exercise. If you’re unsure you’re performing this movement properly, ask a medical professional or trainer for assistance with your form.
3. Barbell rows
Another exercise renowned for being one of the best pull workout exercises is barbell rows. This exercise targets both back and front muscles.
You can also try different grip widths to focus intensely on differing muscles. A narrow, underhand grip works your lats and biceps, while a wide, overhand grip focuses more on the back muscles.
How to perform barbell rows
- Position yourself in the same position as deadlifts with your feet shoulder-width apart; place your hands in either the narrow, underhand, or shoulder-width, overhand grip.
- Bend your knees and hips, grab the bar, and straighten your back until it’s parallel to the floor.
- Pull the bar up to your abdomen and lower it slowly; repeat until you’ve done your favored reps.
4. Dumbbell rows
Dumbbell rows target the same muscle groups as barbell rows. The major difference is that you can train either side of the body individually.
However, you can also opt to use two dumbbells simultaneously — we’ll be focusing on the single-arm dumbbell row here. A weight bench is needed to perform this exercise properly.
How to perform dumbbell rows
- Plant one foot on the floor, about a foot from the bench. Rest your opposite knee on the bench to support your lower body.
- Grab your dumbbell with one hand and place your other hand on the bench for support.
- Position your body at a 45-degree angle while keeping your back straight and neck neutral.
- Pulling through the elbows, bring the dumbbell upward and back towards your waist before slowly returning it to its original position. Repeat until you’ve reached your preferred reps.
5. Dumbbell pullovers
Dumbbell pullovers are perfect for home gyms as they require little-to-no equipment. You only need a dumbbell and a bench.
You’ll be working your lats, triceps, pecs, and shoulders with this one.
How to perform dumbbell pullovers
- Lie down on your bench, with your feet planted on the ground, knees bent.
- Grip the dumbbell with both hands and raise it directly above your head.
- Keeping a slight bend in the elbows, lower the dumbbell at an angle until it’s behind your head, then return it to its starting position.
- Repeat until you’ve done your favored reps.
6. Lat pulldowns
Lat pulldowns will be your best friend if you’re after a strong back.
As the name suggests, this exercise works on your lats and is perfect for both beginners and experienced gym rats. For beginners who struggle with pull-ups, this is the ideal alternative.
To add this to your pull workout routine, get a lat pulldown machine if you don’t already own one.
How to perform lat pulldowns
- Plant your feet flat on the ground and sit on a lat pulldown machine with your knees bent.
- Grab the bar and keep your hands about shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your back straight with your scapular retracted and pull the bar to your chest; repeat until you’ve done your favored reps.
Ready to Shred Through Your Best Pull Day Workout Routine?
There it is, a comprehensive guide to the best pull workouts you can do as part of your PPL routine.
You can’t go wrong with any of these options, from beginner-friendly exercises like dumbbell pullovers to the more difficult deadlifts. They will all help you to work on different muscles at the same time.
If you’re dedicated to following the PPL routine, read this guide on the best push day workouts.