You may have seen this exercise done in the gym quite often. T bar rows are very popular and are one of the old-school exercises to build the thickness of the back.

But what if you want some other T bar row alternative exercises which hit the same muscles, give you the same results even without doing T bar row. Then you are on the right page.

Before jumping into the exercises, let’s know something more about T bar row.

Muscles used during T bar rows

T bar rows are usually done to add thickness to your back. The prime mover is the latissimus dorsi, teres major, traps, and rhomboids. It also uses some secondary muscles like the biceps, hamstrings, and lower back.

Whenever you do any back exercise where you hold a narrow grip like in Tbar row, one-arm row, or a seated cable row, your thickness of the back will improve. So if you have a wide back and want to add some more thickness to the back, then do exercises where your grip is narrow. Now let’s look at some of the benefits of T bar row.

Benefits of T Bar Rows

  • This exercise is a compound movement that will use many muscles other than your back. Due to this, it would be a great exercise to burn a lot of calories which will result in fat loss.
  • If you want thickness to your back, then this exercise is for you. Here, you lift the weights with your hands close to each other, which targets the inner part of your back.

Now let’s talk about those powerful alternative exercises. Some of them can be done at home while others require you to some basic gym equipment.

T Bar Row Alternative Exercises

1. Incline Dumbbell Rows

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It’s a perfect alternative to T bar row simply because the body position and movement patterns are quite similar to T bar row.

Targeted muscles- latissimus dorsi, traps, rhomboids, teres major, erector spinae.

How to do

Grab two pairs of dumbbells on both hands. Lay down on an incline bench with both feet supported down the bench.

From this position, roll your shoulders back and start lifting the dumbbells up towards your mid stomach. Your elbows should be in to focus more on lat muscles.

Maintain a 90° angle between the elbow. Otherwise, your biceps will start dominating the exercise.

Pause at the top and then go down slow and stretch your back at the bottom.

Pro Tip: Make sure to keep your chest up and shoulders back while going up. Otherwise, you will not get that perfect contraction from your back

2. Close Grip Pull ups

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This is a great strength-building exercise for your back. The close grip will make it a perfect alternative to the T bar row.

Targeted Muscles– lats, rhomboids, teres major, abs

How to do

Hang on to a pull-up bar that is close to each other. You can find it in almost every gym. Move your shoulders back and behind before going up.

Start lifting your body up by squeezing your lats. Pause when your hands meet the chest and then return slowly back to the starting position

3. Seated Cable Rows

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Another great alternative to T bar row. This exercise is quite popular. You can find people doing this exercise a lot in the gym. You should include this in your workout program quite often.

Targeted muscles– lats, rhomboids, teres major, lower and mid traps.

How to do

Hold the handles of the machine and sit straight with your legs on the front platform with a slight bend in your knees. Your hands should be extended.

With your shoulders back and chest up, start pulling the weights towards your mid-abdomen area. Your elbows should be in and back straight.

Stop when your hands reach the stomach and then return back slowly. Extend your arms forward and stretch your lats at the end.

Pro tips

  • Always start the exercise by retracting your shoulders ( shoulders back) and squeezing the lats. This will make your form and posture perfect.
  • Fully stretch your back during the eccentric phase of your lift. You should squeeze and feel the pump in the upper and mid lats

4. One Arm Row

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This exercise is good to focus on each side of your back separately. This will make your back look symmetrical and will reduce muscular imbalances.

Targeted muscles- lats, trees major, rhomboids

How to do

Hold a dumbbell on your hands and the other hand on the bench. Place one foot on your bench and the other at the side. Lift your hips up and chest up. This will make your back neutral and in the proper position to start the exercise.

Start lifting the dumbbell up by rolling shoulders back. Take dumbbells to the side of the stomach. Make sure to maintain a 90° angle at the elbow. Your elbows should be tucked in. Make sure to keep your core tight during the movement.

Come down and fully stretch your back at the bottom. This will increase the range of motion and will be more effective for growth. Always breathe out when you lift up and breathe in on the way down.

You can use heavyweights on this but make sure that you don’t round your back during the movement.

5. V Pulldown

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This exercise is for your thickness and is one of the popular old-school exercises. It’s a great alternative to lat pulldown.

Targeted muscles– latissimus Doris, teres major, trapezius

How to do

Attach a v grip handle and a lat pulldown machine. Sit down while holding the v bar handle.

Pull your shoulders back and down, then start pulling the weights. Bring your hands down and touch your chest and then go back slowly.

Your elbow should be in and facing down. And remember, don’t lift your butt off the seat. Your neck should be tucked in.


Your spine should be neutral and don’t bend your lower back while pulling. You can go heavy on this but never compromise on form.

6. Bent Over Rows

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Targeted muscles– lats, rhomboids, teres major, traps

How to do

Place your feet under the barbell. Bend down and hold the barbell with your hands. Your back should stay neutral.

As you go down to lift the barbell, Your hips should go back as if there is a chair behind you and you have to sit.

Start deadlifting by lifting the barbell up with your hands and back straight. You can use both pronated and supinated grip.

Now bend again by taking your hips back and stop when the barbell reaches the knee.

From there, start pulling the weights up towards your stomach. Your lower back should not round during the movement. Get the barbell back to the knee position and repeat the exercise

7. Landmine Row

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Here, will set up the barbell the exact same way as you set it for the T bar row. But the exercise will be slightly different.

Targeted muscles– Lats, rhomboids, traps, teres major

How to do

Set a barbell in the same position as if you are doing a T bar row. But here rather than standing in between the bar, you will stand at the side of the bar.

Now bend down by taking your hips back and grabbing at the end part of a barbell from one hand. Your hips should be back and your chest should be up. This will be your starting position.

Start lifting the barbell up by flexing your lats. Your elbow should be in to make it an exact alternative for T bar row. You can also do it with your elbows out as shown in the video.

Return to the starting position and do subsequent reps in a controlled way.

8. Cable T Bar Row

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This exercise is exactly similar to a T bar row. But here, we use cables instead of a barbell which puts less tension on the lower back and is good for isolation.

Targeted muscles– latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids

How to do

Fix a pulley down on a cable machine and attach a v handle on it. Now grab the handle and step back.

Bend your body by taking your hips back and keeping your chest up. From this position, start pulling the cable toward the lower part of your chest.

Squeeze your lats harder at the top and then slowly return to the starting position. Make sure that your lower back is not rounded during the movement.

9. Chest Supported T Bar Row

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This exercise is done on the machine. You will find this easily in a gym. This will work the same muscles

Targeted muscles– lats, rhomboids, teres major, traps

How to do

Lay on to the T bar row machine and hold the machine bar with your hands. Keep your chest up and shoulders back. You can do this exercise in both wide and narrow grip.

Start moving the weights by bending your elbows and flexing your lats. Your neck should stay neutral and your back should be straight.

Flex at the top and then return to the starting position. Make sure to squeeze your lats throughout the exercise.

Keep in mind that as you go wider your elbows will go out. On the other hand, if you use a narrow grip, then your elbows should be in.


Rather than using both hands, try to do this with one hand. This will make it more challenging and you can concentrate on each side separately.

10. Rope Pulldown

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Another great T bar row alternative. This will add thickness to your back. Another. It will strengthen your mid and lower lats and will give you that fuller look from behind.

Targeted muscles– lats, rhomboids, teres major, traps

How to do

Attach a rope on a lat pulldown machine or a cable machine. Hold the ropes from both hands and sit down slightly away from the machine with your knees on the floor.

Now start pulling the ropes and bring them towards the chest. Squeeze your lats harder during that full contraction.

Slowly return to the starting position without bending your back.


Before taking the ropes down, move your shoulder back, and then squeeze your lats harder to create maximum tension on the back.


So here we are at the end of this article. I hope you will include these exercises in place of the T bar row. All these exercises are not only alternatives but are very powerful exercises to create a thick and monster back!

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