Bar Row Alternative
  • What to Know About T-Bar Alternatives?

    04 Aug 2020

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    Editor-in-Chief of the Approved By Coach

    Imagine a gratifying buffet of numerous delicacies standing before you, the first thing that comes to mind is…” Phew…what exactly am I going to pick out of these heavenly dishes?” This is exactly how the terrain of fitness exercises works — choice. You have an endless list of options, but you have to choose those that suit your fitness goals, wisely. Looking for an effective back-building workout? The T-Bar row is the perfect option. By reading the guide, you will find out about its benefits as well as some equally effective alternatives to T-Bar row.

    Now, let’s dive in!

    The T-Bar row is acclaimed as a one-in-a-million back-building exercise because its target is the back. It has some fascinating benefits:

    • Safety

    It’s safer than most of its substitutes such as the bent-over row. As long as you don’t flex your spine. This is because the weight is directly under your center of gravity.

    • It is adaptable

    It offers a variety of grips to work your back from different angles such as the close-neutral, shoulder-width neutral grip.

    • Easy to learn

    T-Bar row is easier to learn than many other rowing exercises as the machine guides your weight. However, it may be quite tricky when it comes to its mastery.

    Common Alternatives to T-Bar row

    Cable Rows

    Despite these benefits, how do you get to enjoy the workout when the big machines required such as barbells and some pretty heavyweights are inaccessible? This is a major setback that will make you contemplate other alternatives. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some fantastic T-Bar row alternatives that are just as effective!

    Resistance Band Bent Over Row

    This is just like an exact clone of the T-Bar row as it replicates all the pulling movements involved in it. However, unlike the T-Bar which requires heavyweights, a resistance band bent over row simply requires a resistance band.

    • Merit: It will work your lats vehemently which in turn helps you maintain postural balance and furnish your muscles with pulling resistance.
    • Execution:
      1. Grab your band, place it on the floor, and stand on it while your limbs are positioned hip-width apart.
      2. Get a hold of the band at both ends with each hand.
      3. Slightly slouchy your knees and stretch your arms towards the ground.
    • Pro tip: You can kickstart your back muscle workout with this exercise as an opening shot to loosen up.
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    Inverted Pull-ups (Body Rows)

    The most striking feature of this T-Bar row substitute is their novelty for effective upper back training. In fact, it should constitute your daily routine of fitness exercises.

    This exercise works on many of the same muscles as the T-bar traction but is much easier on your lower back. It is an exercise in the gym or at home. You can also find places for outdoor exercises such as a playground. All you need for this exercise is a waist level bar, a sturdy and heavy table, a strong broom handle, and two chairs or gym rings. You can also do this exercise in a smith machine.

    • Merit: It improves your grip and forearm strength as well as your core stability.
    • Execution:
      1. Set the bar to the height of your waist and grasp it at shoulder-width apart.
      2. Position yourself beneath the bar and pull your chest close to the bar.
      3. Hold still as soon as it makes contact with the bar.
      4. Lower your body back to your starting position.
    • Pro tip: You can improvise with a table or any solid surface, in the absence of weights.


    Inverted Rows

    It is a toilsome T-Bar row alternative exercise because it puts your resilience to a rigorous test. It is a big shot at the heart of calisthenics because you can perform them at any given place, with no equipment aside from a bar. So, we can refer to it as the best home gym workout.

    • Merit: It enhances grip and forearm strength.
    • Execution:
      1. Grip the bar with your palms turning away from you.
      2. Slowly pull up yourself until your chin is slightly above the bar.
    • Pro tip: Maintain the tension on your shoulder girdles so you don’t strain your tendon.


    Deadlifts are an all-encompassing T-Bar row machine alternative that requires a heavy barbell. It tasks the limb muscles up to your lats.

    • Merit: They help build the hamstrings and quads.
    • Execution:
      1. Stack up the barbell with as much weight as you can maneuver and stand before it with your feet shoulder-breadth apart.
      2. Bend forward, grasp the bar with your hands, and pull it up slowly until you can stand straight.
    • Pro tip: You can add some light load to the pulling movement such as a kettlebell for an improved balance.

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    Chest Supported Rows

    This is a first-class lying T-Bar row alternative which is an amazing upper back muscle builder. In fact, the level at which this workout tasks the upper back muscles far outrun the T-bar.

    • Merit: It inspires muscle endurance and postural enhancement.
    • Execution:
      1. Place a dumbbell at each end of the bench.
      2. Lay on the bench with your face down.
      3. Lift the dumbbells off the ground in a steady manner, up to your rib cage level.
      4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, before reclining to full extension.
    • Pro tip: To get the most out of this T-Bar row alternative with dumbbells, ensure your movement is slow and controlled. Using the best workout shoes for men will help you gain better control.

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    Sled Pulls

    The focus of the T-Bar row is the pulling motion which accounts for its unrivaled efficacy. Coincidentally, sled pulls are also premised on this too, thereby making it a quintessential alternative to T-Bar row.

    • Merit: Sled pulls improve your muscular endurance and strengthen your back muscles.
    • Execution:
      1. Ensure that your feet are in front of your hips and your arms are fully straight.
      2. Start by pulling the sled without any plates so you can get accustomed to the pull.
      3. Thereafter, you may begin to stack up the sled with the weight for more demanding pulls.
    • Pro tip: Do not overburden yourself with too much weight until you have mastered the exercise well enough.

    Seated Cable Rows

    Cable rows are yet another superb T-Bar row machine alternative that requires the use of a seated cable machine. They focus on upper back muscles to pull off the motion.

    • Merit: By working your lats, forearms, and the upper back muscle, they become stronger.
    • Execution:
      1. Sit with an erect gait and pull the cable handles towards your chest.
      2. Be careful not to get overwhelmed by the thrust of the cable.
    • Pro tip: Maintaining a straight gait is crucial. Ensure you keep your back against the backrest. In the absence of a backrest, do not slouch your shoulders.

    Kroc Rows (Single-arm Dumbbell Rows)

    One of the most effective T-Bar row alternatives is the Kroc rows. What makes it so is its uncompromising toughness like the T-Bar rows. This is why some refer to it as an exercise for men and not for boys.

    If the traction with a T-bar without support has a drawback, it can severely affect your lower back. Although the weight is closer to your center of gravity than with conventional barbell traction, many simulators still believe that T-bar tractions work their lower back as well as their widest.

    • Merit: It is a reliable yardstick to evaluate your progress in your muscle-building journey.
    • Execution:
      1. Take a standing position by holding the dumbbell in one hand with a neutral grip.
      2. Turn forward until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor (or slightly higher), and then start to move, leading the elbow behind the body, while retracting the blade.
      3. Pull the dumbbell to your body, until your elbow is at (or slightly above) the midline, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back to its original position under control.
      4. Repeat the desired number of repetitions on both sides.

    Pendlay Rows

    This exercise is named after American weightlifting and powerlifting coach Glenn Pendley.

    • Execution:
      1. Take the Olympic barbell with the right weight.
      2. Stand up by placing your legs in your hips at shoulder width and make a small bend in your knees.
      3. Turn forward in the hips to grab the vulture from above. The position of the arms should be neutral – in a straight line from the shoulders.
      4. Before you start lifting, bend your back to the neutral position.
      5. Lift the barbell to the bottom of the chest and return to the ground with one quick and powerful movement.


    And that wraps it up! We hope that by now you should be able to make a well-informed decision to find the perfect T-Bar row alternative.

    We will be excited to know what your decision is and why. If you have some questions and are interested to learn more, feel free to visit our website to learn all about healthy lifestyle and useful fitness tips.

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    18 July, 2021
    Interesting! But I also wonder: what the ideal duration for each exercise is? What are the ideal weights to workout with for a person above the age of 40 years? I want to suggest you must highlight the demerits of the workout equipment based on people’s lifestyles.
    Watler Wargas
    19 June, 2021
    Thanks for the info guys!!! I also think that Kroc rows are a good substitute for t bar row, so far they worked find for me.
    Anthony Hammock
    2 June, 2021
    I have been using both the Whatafit resistance bands and CAP Barbell for the past six months now. And so far they have been a T bar row machine alternative to me.
    S. Wilks
    17 May, 2021
    Hi! Thanks for this fantastic blog. I found all the workout demonstrations perfect for me, especially the t bar row with dumbbells. Now I can conveniently plan my workout from home sessions with all the pro tips. However, I was wondering what could be the ideal tempo for the entire workout session? Shall I maintain the same speed or change from time to time?
    8 May, 2021
    Tried the FLYBIRD dumbbell, and it works pretty great. Though at first, it was quite challenging to use them, now they are my go-to chest supported row alternative. It has been nearly two years since I started using it, and it is still as good as new👍🏼
    Mike Baldwin
    25 April, 2021
    William YES the slower you move the best muscles are worked
    20 April, 2021
    great guide👍
    19 September, 2020
    I’ve started building my upper back muscles three years ago, but failed to do so so far. I’ve combined chest supported t barrow and dumbbell, but the results have been disastrous. I’ve read somewhere in this guide that you need to ensure that the movement is slow and controlled. Does speed really matter?
    6 September, 2020
    I have often heard that t bar row is critical for anyone looking forward to building big body muscles. But I needed to use t bar row replacement tools as I wanted to get the results soon. So other than the mentioned alternatives, which I like a lot (resistance band bent over Row, inverted rows, pull-ups, and deadlifts), what else can I do? 😊 Thank you for the advices.
    Frederick Manriquez
    2 September, 2020
    As my dad has always been saying: exercising is necessary if you want to maintain good health and remain fit. But the trouble is that picking the right activity is always difficult and could lead to injury if you are not careful. But I want to appreciate the author of this guide for enlightening us on t- bar row alternative exercise. Also, prior to reading this piece, I did not know that it targets the back's focal point. Thanks for the info.
    18 August, 2020
    i have been training from home for quite a while now, but i always end up with lower torso pain. i visited a doctor who told me that my method of training could be the problem. i embarked on some research, which brought me to this page. i have learned a lot here that it is safe to use t-bar row alternative at home it puts the weight under the center of gravity, and so i need not worry. i will be back in a month to share my experience with you.
    11 August, 2020
    I have read about T bar alternatives, and I am surprised that there are many things I did not know and those I took for granted. .For instance, I am excited to learn that t bar row machine replicates pulling movements and could help one maintain postural balance. Through this guide, I have also learned that T-bar Row could come in handy to anyone interested in upper training.