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The Best Pull Day Workout & 12 Exercises to Do During Your Split

Embarking on a fitness journey is more than just a physical endeavor – it's a commitment to embracing a healthier, stronger version of yourself. 
Reading The Best Pull Day Workout & 12 Exercises to Do During Your Split 24 minutes

Embarking on a fitness journey is more than just a physical endeavor – it's a commitment to embracing a healthier, stronger version of yourself. Whether you're a seasoned gym enthusiast or a newcomer eager to harness the benefits of weight training, this blog is designed to equip you with the knowledge, inspiration, and practical steps needed to conquer your pull day routine. From the science behind the exercises to expert tips for maximizing your gains, every section is tailored to empower you on your quest for a well-rounded and impressive physique. So, let's dive in and discover the incredible world of pull-day workouts and the transformative exercises that await. 

If you're on the go, here are the top pull day exercises you need:

  1. TRX Rows
  2. Pullups
  3. Lat Pulldowns
  4. Deadlifts
  5. T-Bar Rows

Some of the exercises use our TRX suspension trainer, so we recommend familiarizing yourself with the movements. You can try some classes at the TRX Training Club to get started: 

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What is Pull Day?

Pull Day in strength training refers to a specific workout day that focuses on exercises that involve pulling movements. These movements primarily target the muscles responsible for pulling actions, such as the back, biceps, and posterior chain. Pull Day is an essential component of a well-rounded workout routine and is typically part of a split routine that divides workouts based on muscle groups and movement patterns. These movements involve contracting muscles to bring resistance or weight toward the body. Common examples of pulling exercises include pull-ups, rows, face pulls, and bicep curls. These exercises engage muscles like the latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, traps, rear deltoids, and biceps.

Balanced workout splits are essential for achieving overall progress in strength training. Instead of focusing solely on a specific muscle group or movement pattern, balanced splits aim to target various muscle groups and movements over the course of a week. The goal is to prevent muscular imbalances, reduce the risk of overuse injuries, and promote well-rounded muscular development. A balanced split often includes Push Day, Pull Day, and Leg Day as the foundational components. By incorporating Pull Day, you ensure that you are giving due attention to the muscles involved in pulling actions, which can sometimes be overlooked in comparison to pushing and leg movements. Engaging in both pushing and pulling movements ensures that your muscles are developed evenly, reducing the risk of imbalances that could lead to poor posture or injuries. Strengthening the muscles of the back and rear shoulder can help counteract the effects of modern lifestyles that often involve prolonged sitting and hunching over screens.

Muscles Worked During a Pull Day

On pull day, the spotlight shines on several key muscle groups, each playing a crucial role in your quest for strength, aesthetics, and functional fitness.

At the heart of pull day are the primary muscles that shoulder the brunt of the workload. The latissimus dorsi, often referred to as the "lats," take center stage. These broad, fan-shaped muscles spanning your back are responsible for pulling your arms down and back, creating that coveted V-taper. Accompanying the lats are the rhomboids, located between your shoulder blades, and the trapezius, a kite-shaped muscle extending from your neck to your mid-back. These muscles work in tandem to stabilize and retract the shoulder blades during pulling movements.

But the pull-day ensemble doesn't end there. Supporting muscle groups, known as secondary muscles, lend their strength to enhance the effectiveness of each exercise. The biceps, those iconic arm flexors, play a dual role as both primary and secondary movers during various pulling motions. Meanwhile, the forearms act as steady partners, ensuring a secure grip on weights or equipment.

However, pull day's significance extends beyond aesthetics and muscle isolation. By training muscles along different planes of movement – vertical pulls like pull-ups, horizontal pulls like rows – you're cultivating functional fitness that translates to real-world actions. Think about how a strong back and grip can help you lift heavy objects, pull yourself up, or even maintain an upright posture for extended periods. This multi-dimensional approach to muscle training not only enhances your athletic performance but also fosters day-to-day well-being. As we delve into the exercises that comprise an effective pull day routine, remember that it's not just about looking strong; it's about being strong in every sense of the word.

Try This Pull Day Workout Next Time

Crafting an effective pull day workout isn't just about throwing together a collection of exercises; it's a strategic endeavor that maximizes your potential for growth and performance. The key lies in balancing compound and isolation exercises while integrating proper warm-up and cool-down routines. This holistic approach ensures not only muscle development but also safeguards joint health and overall progress.

A balanced pull day workout incorporates both compound and isolation exercises. Compound movements, such as pull-ups, rows, and deadlifts, recruit multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to overall strength gain and functional fitness. These exercises form the foundation of your routine and provide the greatest bang for your buck. However, too much emphasis on compounds might lead to overexertion and hinder targeted muscle development.

Enter isolation exercises like curls, pullovers, and shrugs. These movements allow you to focus on specific muscle groups, helping to carve out definition and symmetry. Incorporating them after compounds ensures a comprehensive workout that addresses both broad strength and fine-tuned muscle aesthetics. Striking the right balance between compounds and isolations is key to a well-rounded pull day.

Don't overlook the importance of a proper warm-up and cool-down routine. A dynamic warm-up, including arm circles, shoulder rotations, and light stretches, prepares your muscles and joints for the upcoming challenge. It increases blood flow, primes your nervous system, and reduces the risk of injury.

Post-workout, a cool-down routine is equally essential. Gentle stretches aid in muscle recovery, preventing stiffness and soreness. These practices improve flexibility, promote circulation, and help you transition back to a resting state gracefully.

Try These Exercises During Pull Day

10. Pullups

    When it comes to building a robust and well-defined upper body, few exercises are as iconic and effective as pull-ups. This bodyweight powerhouse serves as the cornerstone of any pull day workout, providing a challenging yet rewarding journey towards enhancing your back, bicep strength, and grip strength. Pull-ups offer a dynamic blend of functionality and aesthetics, and with the right approach, they can become an integral part of your fitness regimen.

    The key to effective pull-ups lies in mastering proper form and understanding the array of grip variations available. A classic overhand grip targets the broad expanse of your lats and rhomboids, while an underhand grip places greater emphasis on the biceps. Experimenting with grip width further diversifies the muscles engaged. As you ascend to pull-up mastery, you'll find yourself sculpting not only a more defined back but also developing that coveted V-taper silhouette.

    Progressions and modifications make this exercise accessible and challenging, regardless of where you stand in your fitness journey. Starting with assisted pull-ups using resistance bands or an assisted pull-up machine can help build the foundational strength needed to progress to unassisted variations. On the flip side, for those seeking to intensify the challenge, advanced techniques like weighted pull-ups can take your strength gains to new heights.

    1. Find a sturdy overhead bar. Stand beneath it, arms extended, and grip the bar with your chosen hand placement.
    2. Engage your back muscles and retract your shoulder blades. Pull your body up by bending your elbows, driving them towards the ground.
    3. Continue pulling until your chin clears the bar. Focus on keeping your core engaged and maintaining a controlled motion.
    4. Slowly lower your body back to the starting position with control.

    9. Barbell Rows

      This compound exercise not only contributes to a balanced physique but also aids in developing the robust strength necessary for various functional movements. The versatility of barbell rows lies in their capacity to engage different muscle groups through a variety of grip options and rowing variations. An overhand grip emphasizes the outer lats and upper back, while an underhand grip shifts the focus towards the middle of the back and biceps. Employing a wider grip accentuates the lat engagement, while a narrower grip targets the rhomboids and traps. This exercise grants you the artistic license to curate a workout that caters to your individual muscle development goals.

      While the benefits of barbell rows are immense, ensuring proper form is paramount to reaping the rewards without risking injury. It's easy to let momentum take over, but maintaining controlled movement is vital. A common mistake is using excessive weight, leading to poor form and diminished results. Additionally, maintaining a neutral spine and avoiding excessive arching or rounding ensures that your back is engaged in a safe and effective manner. By approaching barbell rows with mindfulness and adherence to the correct technique, you're creating a solid foundation for a powerful, well-defined back.

      1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a barbell with an overhand or underhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
      2. Bend at the hips while maintaining a straight back, letting the barbell hang in front of you at arm's length.
      3. Engage your back muscles and retract your shoulder blades. Pull the barbell towards your lower ribcage, keeping your elbows close to your body.
      4. Squeeze your back muscles at the top of the movement, then lower the barbell back to the starting position with control.

      8. TRX Rows

        Imagine a workout that not only challenges your muscles but also tests your balance and stability in every rep. Enter TRX rows, a unique and dynamic exercise that integrates suspension training into your pull day routine. With suspended straps as your apparatus, you're not only engaging your back and biceps but also refining your core strength and coordination. Similarly to barbell rows one of the key benefits of using a TRX to perform a row is the variations that can be created with slight adjustments to the strap length and body positioning. 

        TRX rows offer a compelling twist to traditional strength training by requiring you to stabilize your body against the straps' instability. This added challenge not only recruits a broader range of muscle fibers but also promotes joint stability and proprioception. 

        To maximize the effectiveness of TRX rows, understanding the proper technique is essential. No matter the variation, maintain a straight line from your head to your heels throughout the movement, engaging your core to prevent your hips from sagging or rising. As you pull your body towards the handles, focus on retracting your shoulder blades and squeezing your back muscles. You can increase or decrease the difficulty of the exercise, by simply moving towards or away from the anchor point, making it a versatile choice for any fitness level.

        1. Adjust the TRX straps to a suitable length. (Short for low rows, Mid-length for mid row, Fully lengthened for high rows) For this example, we’ll focus on the TRX Low Row
        2. Hold the handles with an overhand grip, palms facing each other.
        3. Walk your feet forward while leaning back, and keep your body straight from head to heels.
        4. Engage your back muscles and retract your shoulder blades. Pull your body towards the handles by bending your elbows.
        5. Squeeze your back muscles at the top, then lower your body back to the starting position with control.

        7. Lat Pulldowns

          When the goal is to chisel a strong and commanding back, few exercises rival the precision and muscle engagement of lat pulldowns. These exercises have been a staple in bodybuilding routines for decades, making them an essential component of any pull day workout. By targeting the mighty latissimus dorsi – the broad muscles that create that coveted V-shaped torso – lat pulldowns offer a focused approach to achieving a well-defined upper body.

          The pulldown machine, a fixture in many gyms, becomes your ally in this endeavor. A wide grip emphasizes the outer lats, while a narrow grip places greater emphasis on the middle of the back. Ensuring that your back remains straight and your core is engaged throughout the movement allows you to isolate and target the intended muscle groups effectively.

          However, if you find yourself without access to a gym or a lat pulldown machine, fear not. There are alternative exercises that can replicate the benefits of lat pulldowns using minimal equipment, such as resistance bands. These alternatives allow you to continue sculpting your back muscles even outside the gym environment.

          1. Adjust the thigh pad to secure your legs and choose a grip width on the bar.
          2. Sit down with your thighs securely under the thigh pad. Grasp the bar with your chosen grip, arms fully extended.
          3. Engage your back muscles and retract your shoulder blades. Pull the bar down towards your upper chest, focusing on your lats.
          4. Squeeze your back muscles at the bottom of the movement, then release the bar back up with control.

          6. Deadlifts

            In the realm of strength training, few exercises command the respect and awe that deadlifts do. This ultimate compound lift reigns as the undisputed monarch of muscle engagement, targeting a myriad of muscle groups for a full-body workout like no other. With deadlifts, you're not just lifting weights – you're lifting your potential to new heights, both in terms of strength and aesthetics.

            Deadlifts come in various forms, each designed to target specific muscle groups and achieve distinct benefits. The conventional deadlift, performed with a shoulder-width stance and hands outside the knees, is the quintessential version that challenges the posterior chain, engaging your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Sumo deadlifts, with a wider stance and hands inside the knees, emphasize the quads and inner thighs while still engaging the back muscles. Romanian deadlifts focus intensely on the hamstrings and glutes, while trap bar deadlifts offer a versatile variation with less stress on the lower back.

            It's crucial to understand the proper mechanics, engage your core, and maintain a neutral spine throughout the lift. Initiating the movement with a hip hinge – pushing your hips back – ensures that your posterior chain is doing the work, while keeping the barbell close to your body minimizes strain on the lower back. With attention to these cues and a commitment to proper form, you're well on your way to reaping the unparalleled rewards of deadlifts.

            1. Place a barbell on the floor with your desired weight. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes under the bar.
            2. Grip the barbell with your hands just outside your knees. You can use a double overhand grip or mix in an overhand-underhand grip (alternating grip).
            3. Bend at the hips and knees, keeping your chest up and your back flat. Your shins should lightly touch the bar.
            4. Push through your heels, engaging your hamstrings and glutes. Lift the barbell by straightening your hips and knees simultaneously.
            5. Once standing, pause briefly and ensure your spine is neutral. Reverse the movement by pushing your hips back and lowering the barbell with control.

            5. T-Bar Row

              This exercise zooms in on the middle back and lats, targeting these muscle groups with laser precision to create a strong and symmetrical upper body. With the right technique and attention to detail, T-bar rows can become a cornerstone of your pull day routine.

              The setup and execution of T-bar rows play a crucial role in optimizing muscle activation. Begin by securing one end of the barbell in a landmine attachment or corner, ensuring that it's stable and won't move during your workout. One of the alluring aspects of T-bar rows is the versatility they offer in terms of handles and grips. Experimenting with different grip widths – wide, medium, narrow – allows you to emphasize different parts of your back and lats. Additionally, varying the handles you use – such as V-bars or wide-grip handles – can further diversify the muscle engagement. This flexibility enables you to curate your T-bar row experience to suit your individual muscle development goals.

              1. Secure one end of the barbell in a landmine attachment or corner. Place a handle on the other end of the bar.
              2. Hold the handle with both hands, palms facing each other. 
              3. Bend at the hips with a straight back, allowing the barbell to hang in front of you. Your arms should be fully extended.
              4. Engage your back muscles and retract your shoulder blades. Pull the barbell towards your torso, squeezing your back muscles.
              5. Release the tension and lower the barbell back to the starting position with control.

              4. Pullovers

                As you venture through the array of pull day exercises, the pullover stands out as a unique movement that bridges the gap between chest, back, and triceps engagement. This exercise, often associated with chest workouts, holds a distinct place in pull day routines due to its ability to target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. By integrating pullovers into your regimen, you're broadening the scope of your upper body strength and enhancing the coordination between various muscle sets.

                Pullovers serve as a valuable addition to pull day workouts by providing a different form of stimulus for the muscles. While other exercises might focus primarily on the contraction phase of muscle movement, pullovers engage both the stretch and contraction phases. This dual engagement results in a comprehensive training effect that not only strengthens the targeted muscles but also promotes flexibility and range of motion.

                Performing pullovers is versatile in itself – you have the option to use dumbbells or a barbell, each offering its own benefits. With dumbbells, you can maintain a greater range of motion, allowing for a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement. On the other hand, a barbell offers stability and symmetry during the exercise. Choosing between the two can depend on your personal preferences and the specific goals you have for your pull day routine.

                1. Lie on a bench with your head hanging slightly over the edge. Hold a dumbbell or a barbell with both hands, arms extended above your chest.
                2. Lower the weight behind your head while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor.
                3. Initiate the movement by hinging at your shoulders, allowing the weight to descend behind your head.
                4. Reverse the motion by engaging your chest, back, and triceps to pull the weight back to the starting position.

                3. Dumbbell Shrugs

                  Let's now focus on an isolation exercise, bolstering the strength of your trapezius muscles. While these muscles often play a supporting role, they are essential for neck and shoulder stability. Dumbbell shrugs provide a targeted approach to enhancing this vital area, offering benefits that extend beyond aesthetics and contribute to overall upper-body functionality.

                  Mastering the technique of dumbbell shrugs is crucial for avoiding unnecessary strain and maximizing muscle engagement. As you lift the dumbbells, your goal is to elevate your shoulders towards your ears while keeping your arms relatively straight. Focus on lifting with the traps rather than using momentum. Holding the contraction at the top of the movement for a brief moment intensifies the engagement before lowering the weights back down.

                  1. Stand with dumbbells in each hand, arms by your sides, palms facing your body.
                  2. Keep your arms straight and your shoulders in a neutral position.
                  3. Elevate your shoulders towards your ears in a controlled manner, focusing on engaging your trapezius muscles.
                  4. At the top of the movement, squeeze your traps and hold for a brief pause.
                  5. Gradually lower the dumbbells back to the starting position with control.

                  2. TRX Face Pulls

                    In the pursuit of a well-rounded and functional upper body, exercises that prioritize shoulder health and posture are invaluable. TRX face pulls offer a unique solution by targeting the often-neglected muscles responsible for keeping your shoulders in proper alignment. Through the controlled use of TRX straps, you can engage these crucial muscles while fostering flexibility and stability that radiates through your entire upper body.

                    To reap the full benefits of TRX face pulls, the strategic adjustment of the straps is essential. Setting the straps at an appropriate length allows you to create the right angle for the exercise. By positioning yourself at a slight incline, you effectively target the muscles in the upper back and shoulders that play a pivotal role in maintaining good posture and preventing injuries. This precision ensures that you're engaging the intended muscles for maximum impact.

                    Incorporating TRX face pulls into your routine offers versatility beyond pull day workouts. These exercises are perfect for a pre-workout warm-up, gently working the muscles responsible for shoulder mobility and stability. Whether you're striving for better posture, looking to enhance your overall upper body strength, or simply aiming to maintain optimal shoulder health, TRX face pulls are a versatile addition to your fitness regimen.

                    1. Adjust the TRX straps to fully lengthened. Stand facing the anchor point, holding the handles with an overhand grip.
                    2. Walk your feet towards the anchor point to add resistance, maintaining a plank position from your heels to your head
                    3. Engage your upper back muscles and retract your shoulder blades. Pull the handles towards your face, keeping your elbows high.
                    4. Squeeze your upper back muscles at the end of the movement, then release the tension and return to the starting position.

                    1. Barbell Curls

                      Enter the world of arm aesthetics and strength with the timeless exercise of barbell curls. This isolation movement zeros in on the biceps, cultivating a foundation of focused arm strength and development. Barbell curls offer a straightforward yet effective approach to enhancing the size and definition of your biceps, making them a staple not only in pull day workouts but in any comprehensive upper-body routine.

                      The magic of barbell curls lies in their ability to isolate the biceps, channeling all the effort into this particular muscle group. Through various grip options – such as wide, narrow, or underhand – you can manipulate the muscle engagement to emphasize different parts of the biceps. A wide grip places more stress on the outer head of the biceps, while a narrow grip targets the inner head. Exploring these grip variations allows you to create a versatile routine that hones in on specific areas of your biceps.

                      To maximize the activation of your biceps during barbell curls, it's essential to avoid cheating through momentum. This often occurs when the back and shoulders are engaged excessively, taking the load away from the biceps. By maintaining a straight posture, avoiding excessive swinging, and keeping your elbows stationary, you ensure that the biceps are doing the heavy lifting. This commitment to proper form translates to more effective muscle engagement and a more efficient path toward achieving your bicep goals.

                      1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with an underhand grip.
                      2. Allow the barbell to hang at arm's length in front of you.
                      3. Keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale and curl the weights while contracting your biceps.
                      4. At the top of the motion, squeeze your biceps briefly. Inhale and slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
                      5. Exhale as you curl the weight and inhale as you lower it.

                      Try This Pull Day Workout Next Time

                      This workout is designed to provide optimal muscle engagement and recovery, along with recommended sets, repetitions, and rest intervals for each exercise:

                      1. Pull-Ups: 4 sets x 8-10 reps. Rest: 120 seconds.
                      2. Barbell Rows: 2 sets x 8-10. Rest: 90 seconds.
                      3. TRX Rows: 3 sets x 12-15 reps. Rest: 60 seconds.
                      4. Deadlifts: 3 sets x 6-8 reps.  Rest: 120 seconds.
                      5. Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets x 10-12 reps. Rest: 60 seconds.
                      6. T-Bar Rows: 3 sets x 10-12 reps. Rest: 60 seconds.
                      7. Pullovers: 3 sets x 12-15 reps. Rest: 45 seconds.
                      8. Dumbbell Shrugs: 4 sets x 10-12 reps. Rest: 45 seconds.
                      9. TRX Face Pulls: 3 sets x 8-10 reps. Rest: 45 seconds.
                      10. Barbell Curls: 4 sets x 10-12 reps. Rest: 45 seconds.

                      P.S. try other workouts like the one above in the TRX Training Club app!

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                      Final Thoughts

                      A well-planned pull day holds a pivotal role in your comprehensive workout routine. Each exercise you've explored targets specific muscle groups, fostering a balanced upper body development that goes beyond aesthetics. The combination of pull-ups, rows, shrugs, and more harmonizes to create a strong foundation of strength and functionality.

                      The beauty of pull day workouts lies in their adaptability. As you progress and evolve, your pull day routine can evolve with you. Feel empowered to personalize your workouts based on your goals, preferences, and the unique response of your body. Whether you're seeking hypertrophy, functional strength, or improved posture, the versatility of pull exercises ensures that you can tailor your routine accordingly.

                      The journey towards progress and growth never truly ends. Dedication to consistent pull day training is your compass, guiding you toward reaching new heights in your fitness journey. Embrace the challenge of mastering each exercise, but also cherish the journey itself. Celebrate the milestones – be they an extra rep, a heavier weight, or a new grip variation conquered. Remember, transformation isn't just about how you look, but about how you feel, the confidence you exude, and the strength you carry in every aspect of life. Here's to your pull day prowess and the endless potential it unlocks on your path to a better you.