There is something about a pull day workout that puts a smile on my client’s face…and mine!
It’s our favorite day of the week. A good pull workout routine should leave you with an awesome pump and not feeling any aches or pains in your upper body.
Looking around the internet for a solid pull day workout for men left me dissatisfied since most articles regurgitated the same exercises to do without given you an actual workout.
That changes today. You’ll learn:
- What makes a pull workout routine effective?
- The muscles worked during a pull day workout
- A pull workout gym routine to get stronger and build muscle (videos included!)
Not all pull workouts are created the same.
There are a few basic principles you want to keep in mind when designing you workout. Or you can try the free pull workout below, it’s up to you!
Main Principles To Follow When Designing An Effective Pull Workout Routine
- Perform both vertical pull and a horizontal pull movements. Different pull patterns will work different parts of your back so it’s important to do both vertical and horizontal movements. Examples of vertical pull would be pull-ups and lat pull-downs, while horizontal exercises would be variations of rows.
- Do at least one biceps movement. The biceps are the secondary muscles being worked in most back exercises so you won’t need to overload your workout with biceps specific exercises. Focus on back movements and sprinkle in 1 - 2 bicep exercises.
- Don’t neglect the smaller muscles in your back and shoulders. I love adding in different mobility and pull-apart variations into my Future-Proof Your Physique workouts for my male clients.
- Always pick exercises that feel good and you can perform correctly.
A pull day workout differs from an upper body workout because you will not be targeting your chest or triceps with a pull workout.
The main muscles being workout during a pull day workout are:
- Latissimus dorsi (lats)
- Posterior deltoids
- Teres major and teres minor
- Erector spinae
Here’s an awesome pull day workout that is joint friendly, will help build strength and muscle, and will leave you walking out of the gym with a nice pump.
This is similar to what a workout will look like in my Future-Proof Your Physique men’s coaching program. You’ll build a solid physique that will not only make you look great now but for years to come. Click the picture below to learn more about coaching spots.
Let’s get into the workout:
Pull Workout Main Move #1
Pull-ups 3 x 6 - 10
You’ll start with the ultimate vertical pull movement: pull-ups! Being able to master pull-ups shows that you are strong, have muscle, and usually are at a relatively healthy bodyweight.
You want to get good at these.
Perform pull-ups with any grip that feels comfortable to you. If you can’t do pull-ups yet, I recommend using the assisted pull-up machine or using bands. I break down these options if this article, How To Do Your First Chin-Up.
Pull Workout Gym Routine Superset #1
DB Rows: 3 x 8 - 12
Barbell Bicep Curls: 3 x 8 - 12
This is a classic superset that will work your back with a horizontal pull exercise (since you did vertical for your first movement), and will pair with a barbell bicep curl.
I want you to pick a weight that is challenging to get into the 8 - 12 rep range. If you do 12 reps and it was easy, you HAVE to go heavier. You won’t build strength or muscle if you are leaving multiple reps in reserve.
Rest 2 minutes after each round.
Pull Day Exercises Superset #2
Lat pulldowns - 3 x 12
YWTI - 3 x 60 seconds (15 seconds each position)
Moving onto superset #2, you’ll go back to a vertical pull movement. Here's your breakdown of proper form for lat pulldowns. Instead of paring it with a biceps exercise, you will work on your shoulder mobility with YWTI’s.
These may look easy but if you are actively pushing your shoulders through their full range of motion while doing this exercise, you will feel it.
Rest 2 minutes after each round.
Exercises For Pull Day Finisher
Band pull-aparts - 1 x 100
Hammer curls - 1 x 50
To really finish off your back and biceps before you leave the gym, do 1 set of high rep band pull-apart and hammer curls.
I don’t expect you to do all of the reps at one time. You might need to break it up into 3 - 4 rounds, which is totally fine.
Your goal should be to do as many near perfect reps as you can until you need a break. Once you need a break, switch to the other exercise and do as many of those as you can.
Once you reach 100 and 50, respectively, you are done with your pull day workout and are ready to go home!
There are no exercises you should avoid as long as they are considered pull movements, they feel good on your body, and you can do them with perfect form.
If any of the 3 criteria listed above are not met, you shouldn’t do the exercise.
For example, I don’t have many clients do bent over barbell rows. It’s a great exercise for your upper back but tends to stress the lower back. I would much rather have a client do a chest supported row or another row variation that feels good to them.
Start each pull day with either a big compound movement like a pull-up or a superset that includes mobility work that will get the prime muscles warmed up.
For example, if I’m getting ready for pull-ups, I might start a workout with a one arm band pulldown and band external rotations.
Do not start your pull workout routine with bicep curls or other bicep variations that will fatigue your arms.
The last thing you want to do is a big back exercise where your arms are already shot from bicep exercises.
Yes, 4 exercise can be enough for an effective pull day workout as long as most sets are taken close to failure.
Don’t finish a set and think “I could have done 10 more reps”
Instead, always try to be 1 - 3 reps away from failure on big compound movements, and closer to 0 - 1 reps from failure on smaller muscle movements like bicep curls.
Pull Day Workout Recap
An effective pull workout routine will have at least 1 vertical pull exercise and horizontal pull exercise, a bicep curl variations, and exercises/mobility drills for the smaller muscles of the upper back and shoulders.
Find exercises that feel great and you enjoy doing.