T Bar Row Alternatives (10 Substitutes For A Stronger Back)

T bar rows are one of the most popular rowing exercises. The movement allows you to pull large amounts of weight safely and add serious mass and strength to your back muscles. 

While the T bar row is a very popular exercise for the back, sometimes you need to switch up your routine. This could be to bust through a plateau, or because you don't have access to a good olympic barbell. The good news is that there are plenty of excellent T bar row alternatives that will work the same muscles used to perform the traditional T bar row! 

1. Pronated Grip T Bar Row Substitute 

The traditional T bar row is usually performed with a neutral grip, but there are a number of other ways that you can perform the T bar alternative by using a bar attachment or a pronated grip.

The pronated grip will change the biomechanics of the T bar row, and it will allow you to hit the back muscles differently. It is one of the best T bar row alternatives because of the similarity to the traditional T Bar rows. 


  • T bar 
  • Handle attachment 
  • Plates 


  • Stand with your feet in a neutral stance and straddle the T bar row. 
  • Lower your body and hold the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Remember to bend your legs. 
  • Stand up straight. 
  • Then bend over with slightly bent knees and let your torso come down until it has hit 45 degrees or below. 
  • Pull the weight up, pull your elbows back and keep them close to your body. 
  • Pull the weight up until it comes to your chest while also pulling your shoulders at the top together. 
  • Slowly lower the weight. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • 3 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions. 
Pronated Grip T Bar Row Substitute

2. Seated Cable Row 

A great T bar row alternative is the seated cable row, which you can use with a neutral grip. Being seated instead of bending over helps to take the strain out of your lower back, but it still allows you to pull heavy weight. 


  • Cable pulley machine 


  • Sit on a padded seat and put your feet on the placements. You should sit at a distance with a slight bend in your knees. 
  • Bend over and hold the handle with a neutral grip. 
  • Pull the shoulder blades together and stick out your chest. 
  • Pull the elbows back and keep them close to the body. 
  • Pull the cable until the elbows hit the lower stomach. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • Three sets of 6 to 12 repetitions. 
seated cable row

3. Pull Up 

The pull-up is a great exercise that you can add to make the best of an upper-body workout. It is also an excellent T bar row substitute that will train all of your upper back muscles, including the biceps, core, lats, traps, and rhomboids

The pull-up is easy to add to a home gym because the only piece of equipment that you need is a good pull-up bar. We have researched and compared ceiling mounted and wall mounted pull up bars.


  • Pull up bar 


  • Hold the pull-up bar with your hands pronated, slightly more than shoulder-width apart. 
  • Engage the core and retract the scapula. 
  • Pull the body up to the bar as you pull the elbows down to the side. 
  • Come back down slowly. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • Pull-ups are a bodyweight exercise, which means that the repetitions will be slightly different. Once it gets easy to complete three sets of 10, think about adding a weight belt. 

4Bent-Over Barbell Row 

The bent-over barbell row makes an excellent T bar row alternative because they are both bar rows. The only difference is that the bent-over barbell row is a 100% free weight exercise, while the T bar row is attached to the ground.

In the bent-over barbell row, you will train the core and lower back along with the upper back muscles because you are bent over. 


  • Barbell 
  • Weight plates  


  • Stand in the middle with your feet hip-width apart in a natural stance as you hold a loaded barbell. 
  • Take ahold of the bar with a pronated grip or slightly more than shoulder-width apart. 
  • Pick the bar up and stand straight. 
  • Slightly bend your knees and drop your torso down. You might want to stick out your butt and drop the body in front of your toes. 
  • Lower the body until you reach a 45-degree angle. 
  • The key is to let your body come out in front of the toes, and your hands should be able to hang straight down in front of your knees. 
  • Engage your core and pull up the bar as you focus on driving up your elbows. 
  • Make sure that your elbows are close to your side, and do not let them flare. 
  • Pull up the bar into your stomach. 
  • Control the bar and let it come down. 
  • Remember not to bounce and keep your torso in the same position. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • Three sets of 6 to 12 repetitions. 

Related Article - T Bar Rows Vs Barbell Rows

Barbell Bent Over Row

5. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row 

The dumbbell row is another T bar row alternative and uses dumbbells instead of a barbell. It will give your back muscles a great workout. 

Single-arm exercises let you focus on one arm at a time, unlike a T bar row which uses both arms. You will be able to identify and train against imbalances in your muscles by performing the single-arm dumbbell row. 


  • Bench 
  • Dumbbell 


  • Arrange a bench and carry a dumbbell. 
  • Put a hand and a knee from the same side on the bench. 
  • Hold the dumbbell and slightly arch your back. 
  • Keep the shoulders level and pull the dumbbell into the lower stomach. 
  • Lower the dumbbell slowly. 
  • Then switch the arms. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • 3 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

6. Kroc Row 

The Kroc Row is an intense type of row utilizing one arm at a time. Utilizing heavy weights and a high number of reps, this is one exercise everyone should include if they want to build size and strength. 


  • One dumbbell 
  • An item for support 


  • Bring a dumbbell to a support structure for you to rest your hand (such as a bench or a box). 
  • Put one of your hands on the support, and alter your legs. The leg on the side of the lifting arm should be forward, and the lifting leg should be at the back. 
  • Lean over so that the back is flat at a 45-degree angle. 
  • Grab the dumbbell and bring it up by pulling the elbow back to let the dumbbell come up to the rib cage. 
  • Bring the dumbbell back down.
  • When you perform the repetitions, remember to use the momentum with your body to make room for more repetitions because Kroc Rows are a heavy and high repetition movement. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions. 
Kroc Row

7Resistance Band Bent Over Row 

The resistance band bent-over row is a great exercise to add to a home gym or a home workout routine. It is an excellent T bar row alternative for beginners, and the only piece of equipment you will need is a resistance band. 



  • Stand inside or on top of the resistance band in a natural stance with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Push your butt to the back as you bend over until the back is at a 30 to 45-degree angle. 
  • Pull the arms back until the band reaches the stomach. 
  • Let the arms come down slowly. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • 3 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions. 
Resistance Band Bent Over Row

8. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row 

Chest-supported dumbbell rows are a great T bar row alternative because they train and isolate the upper back muscles due to the chest being supported on the bench. Therefore, it will get rid of momentum that can be caused by using the body. 


  • A bench that is adjustable 
  • A good set of dumbbells 


  • The bench should be at a 45-degree angle. 
  • Lay your chest on the bench pad and pick up a set of dumbbells. 
  • Push your feet into the ground. 
  • Let the dumbbells sink beneath your head, and let your arms come into full extension as you stretch the back. 
  • Retract the scapula and pull the elbows back while you push the chest into the bench. 
  • Allow the dumbbells to come back slowly. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. 
Chest-Supported Incline Dumbbell Row

9. Pendlay Row 

The Pendlay row is named after the famous Olympic coach Glenn Pendlay. The Pendlay row is a great T bar row substitute and is similar in nature to the bent-over barbell row.

However, the barbell begins on the ground and ends on the ground for one repetition, similar to a deadlift. The Pendlay row is a favorite among intermediate and advanced gym-goers. 


  • Barbell 
  • Weight plates 


  • Stand in front of a barbell with your feet in a natural stance. 
  • Bend over so that you can grab the bar with a flat back. 
  • Pull the shoulder blades. 
  • Pull the elbows into the rib cage. 
  • Remember to squeeze the shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. 
  • Lower the bar to the ground slowly. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions. 
Pendlay Row

10. Seated High Cable Row 

The seated high cable row is very similar to the traditional seated cable row. However, the only difference is that the cable is placed at a higher level. 

This particular T bar row alternative is similar to other types of cable rows, except that you will be pulling down at an angle instead of pulling horizontally. 


  • Cable pulley system 


  • Keep your feet grounded as you sit down on the padded seat or ground. 
  • Sit at a distance and make sure that your knees are bent to offer support. 
  • Put the cable at a high setting. 
  • Grab the handle with a neutral grip. 
  • Lean back at a 45-degree angle and pull the shoulder blades together as you stick the chest out. 
  • Pull the cable with your elbows as you pull them back and keep them close to the body. 
  • Pull until the elbows hit the lower stomach. 

Sets and Repetitions: 

  • 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. 
Seated High Cable Row

T-Bar Row Basics 

Before we get into detail about the top T bar row alternative exercises, we should look into the benefits of performing the original movement and why it is good for building the size and strength of the back. 

  • Comprehensive back exercise 
    The T Bar Row exercises a lot of muscles, including your lats, biceps, erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, middle trapezius, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids. It is a very time-efficient exercise.
  • Less lower back stress than barbell bent-over rows 
    The T bar row helps to take the stress off your lower back because you can sit back and keep the weight over your feet. The T Bar Row means that your lower back does not have to work as hard as it usually does when you perform the barbell bent-over rows.
  • Easier to learn than barbell rows 
    Barbell rows help to build a large group of muscles in your back, as most bodybuilders know, but they can also be a challenging exercise to master. You will have to consider your hand position carefully, angle your spine in the right way, and even have to think about the position of your feet. Furthermore, you will have to deadlift the bar off the floor in order to maneuver into the right place for you to start rowing. The T bar row is a relatively straightforward exercise, it is great for beginners, and it is ideal for anyone looking for a less complicated back exercise.
  • Different grips available 
    The T Bar row machine offers many different placement options for the hand, including angled, overhand, underhand, wide, narrow, straight, and parallel. If you change the hand position, then it will affect your muscles in a slightly different way, and it will add some variety to your workout.
T-Bar Row Basics

What is so Good About the T Bar Row? 

If you are interested in building your back to gain explosive power, then you need to practice the T Bar Row! It is an excellent exercise which trains the biggest muscles in the body, your lats. 

The T bar row involves a pulling motion utilizing heavy weights. This is why it has such good potential to build huge lats. It is an excellent exercise for your trapezius muscles, rhomboids, and deltoids. You will be able to work all of the big muscles in the upper back and work towards building a chiseled physique. 

It is essential to have a strong back when it comes to performing exercises. You will also be able to hit a number of other muscles by performing the T bar row, such as the hamstrings, glutes, biceps, triceps, abdominal muscles, and obliques. 

It is a wise move to incorporate the T bar row, or a T bar row alternative, into your workout routine if you are looking to achieve excellent results in your upper body. 

deep and superficial muscles

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Which is better, T bar rows or barbell rows? 

They are both excellent exercises, and you should try to incorporate T bar rows and barbell rows into your workout routine. 

Is the T bar row dangerous? 

There is always a small risk of injury when performing any type of exercise or sport. However, if you perform the T bar row correctly, then it is an extremely safe movement.

Remember to build weight slowly, and you will definitely grow stronger. The good news is that building strength will also prevent injuries. 


If you want to develop a muscular and strong back, then rows should always be included in your workout routine. You might think that pull-ups and pulldowns are important, but rows are just as crucial. You should know that rows are an integral exercise in building a strong and impressive back! 

T bar rows are a great exercise, but it is essential that you mix it up and change your workout routine now and then. If you cannot get to the gym or you are unable to perform a T bar row, then one of the exercises that we have listed will prove to be effective for you. 

Paul J

Last Updated on May 23, 2022