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Q&A: Pull-Up Alternatives

Urban Mixer / flickr

Q: Pull-ups have been a weak point for me. Can I swap out my rows and add more pull-ups?

A: Absolutely. You can add pull-ups to your routine or perform them in place of any rowing movement. But just keep in mind that all upper body pulling movements are not the same. Dumbbell rows, like the one arm/two leg row, are considered "horizontal rows" whereas pull-ups and lat pulldowns are "vertical pulls." They're both important for building strength and they're both necessary.

Whether you're doing horizontal pulls or vertical pulls, try separating your sets of exercise with a lower body pushing or pulling movement, an upper body pushing move, or a lifting movement. By challenging different areas of your body, you'll recover faster between sets of pull-ups, which can help you complete more total pull-ups or do a full complement of reps with proper technique.

Conversely, if you're ever stuck without access to a pull-up bar, swap out pull-ups for a row.

Tags: Upper Body Pull, Q&A, Arms, Back, Training, Biceps