Pull Up Alternatives with Dumbbells

12 Super Effective Pull Up Alternatives with Dumbbells

Away from your usual pull-ups, these pull up alternatives with dumbbells are sure to add more diversity to your work out routines.

A pull up is an upper body, multi-joint, closed kinetic exercise done to improve stability, strength, and endurance. 

It focuses on the shoulder girdle and enables one to carry out pulling activities during swimming, rock climbing, and several other exercises.

This study demonstrates that pull-ups engage several muscles and muscle groups, including the lower trapezius, brachialis, external oblique, and teres major. 

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In the US military, endurance and strength tests for the upper body often involve pull ups. 

On some occasions, you may need to consider pull up alternatives with dumbbells. The idea behind these alternatives is to engage the same muscle groups that pull-ups use. 

You could replace pull-ups because you have no pull up bar. Sometimes you may not yet have developed the stamina required to do actual pull-ups.

These alternatives could be a great way of weaning your body into this complex exercise. 

They build muscle strength and improve your body composition.

According to this study, complex exercises improve lean mass and body muscular strength for better health markers. 

All you need to try these dumbbell/ chin-up alternatives is a pair of dumbbells and a routine that entails about 6 of these exercise options.

We compiled 12 pull up alternatives with dumbells which are simple yet effective.


12 Super Effective Pull Up Alternatives with Dumbbells


This exercise works the upper arms and shoulder girdle. 

Start by standing with your legs apart and knees bent. Then let your hands face downward as your elbows touch your waist. 

Raise your forearms until they are 90 degrees to your waist. Ensure that those forearms are parallel to the floor. 

As you hold two dumbbells, laterally move your elbows towards each other until they touch, then return to the original outside position. 

Repeat this 15 times, rest, then perform two more sets.


This exercise is a variant of the latter one. While lateral squeezes involve a forward lateral motion, this chin-up alternative involves a backward lateral motion. 

Start with your arms stretched outwards while carrying a dumbbell in each hand. Lift them until they are at shoulder length. 

Bend your arms in a right angle motion. Then push elbows backward until they get as close to each other as possible. 

Such an exercise is quite helpful for eliminating underarm fat. If you can’t do pull ups, rhomboid pulls are an effective way of achieving similar results without a lot of strain. 


Unlike the above exercises, this one involves longitudinal motions. Think of it like an overhead press designed to work your shoulders, back, and arms. 

Stand with your feet slightly apart and your hands holding dumbbells. Raise your hands over your head until there are completely straight. 

Begin lowering your hands slowly until you reach shoulder length. Once that is achieved, raise them again until they get to their original position. 

Repeat this 20 times, pause and perform two more sets.


This exercise requires you to lower your body. Just like the pull up, it is great for your abs, back, and shoulders. 

Start by assuming a plank position. Face downward and support your body using one hand and your toes; these are the only body parts that should contact the floor. 

As soon as you have done this, tighten your core and pull one dumbbell towards your chest while ensuring that your elbows maintain an erect position. 

Alternate on the opposite side and keep doing it until you feel the effort in your triceps, core, and shoulders.

Ensure that your spine remains straight throughout this process.


This exercise is a minor variation of the above and is great for your mid-back muscles. Instead of using one hand, you will need both hands. 

Stand with your feet apart, then bend over and ensure you have a straight back as you do. Hold a dumbbell or two with both your hands. 

Start by putting it between your legs close to your feet, then lift the dumbbell to your upper body and repeat. 


the reverse fly is a common pull up alternative with dumbells. To execuStand and bend your hips forward while ensuring that your back stays straight. Hold a dumbbell per hand and slightly bend your elbows.

Move your shoulder blades towards each other as you lift the dumbbells to your elbows. They should reach shoulder-length, then lower it and repeat.


Ideally, you should perform this exercise on a bench, but you could use a seat if one is not available. 

Rest one of your knees on the seat and support yourself with one arm. Let your other leg rest on the floor. The corresponding arm should be holding a dumbbell. 

Start by pulling the arm in a backward motion until you get to the shoulder level. Keep doing this until you feel the impact on your rhomboids, forearm, and lats.


This exercise is done as you lie down. You could also use a bench if you have one. 

In case you don’t lie on a solid surface and let your feet rest on the floor. 

Use both your hands to hold a dumbbell over your body. Move it from the start position, which is slightly over your head, to behind your heads as you keep your elbows straight. 

Repeat this for as many cycles as you need. 


A bicep curl is one of the simplest pull up alternatives with dumbbells. 

You stand with your feet apart, stretch out your hands, hold a dumbbell on each, and face your palms outwards. 

Curl the dumbbells from the stretched position to a 90-degree angle, then back. Do 12 repetitions for 3 sets. 


While bicep curls are a great chin-up alternative, reverse curls help to strengthen your biceps. In this exercise, start with your arms stretched outwards. 

Ensure that your palms also face outwards. Rotate those hands by 180 degrees until your palms meet each other at the back.


This exercise is done while you stand and squat. Hold the dumbbell with both hands outstretched forward and stand with feet apart. 

Move the dumbbell(s) from that position to the position between your feet as you bend forward. Ensure you squeeze your hips and move this part of the body as opposed to your knees. 

Remember to keep your core engaged and make sure that your chest stays down when you assume a plank position. 


You should use a heavier dumbbell for this exercise and the latter one. This exercise is very similar to the one mentioned above, except for the hand motion. 

Stretch out one hand outwards and hold a dumbbell with the other hand as you stretch it forward. It would help if you were standing with feet apart when your arm is stretched outwards. 

Bend overusing your hips, swing the dumbbell between your legs and repeat.


These pull up alternatives with dumbbells sets of muscles that are all targeted by pull ups. To get the whole experience, consider doing a mixture of these. 

You could combine back-oriented exercises with workouts that target the triceps and then the core muscles. 

Consistency is essential in achieving tangible results.