4 Chin Up Alternatives That’ll Make Your Back Super Strong

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Recently, Team Remix Virtual Workout Class member, Doug. M almost had me stumped when he asked;


“Is it possible to replicate a chin-up at home, or work the same muscles as those used in a chin-up, using the basic materials we have?” 


The truth is, not everyone has access to a chin up bar and I’ve always said that training your back is one of the hardest things you can do at home. 


However, if you get a little creative with the equipment you have at home, you can definitely work out the same muscles used in a chin up and pull up. 


Muscles Involved in a Chin Up

4 Benefits of Training Your Back

The chin up and pull up are staple exercises done in any strength training regiment and for good reasons! 


1. Supports the main structure of the body 

2. Helps stabilize and brace your spine

3. Prevents chronic neck pain 

4. Maintains good shoulder health

4-Home Exercises To Mimic a Chin Up

Here are my 4 Chin Up Alternatives That’ll Make Your Back Super Strong.

1. Pull Down w/Band

One of the first exercises that I start with to get my back activated and ready for exercise.

Muscles Used:

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Teres Major
  • Trapezius

2. Back Row w/Band

Now that we have our Lats activated, it’s time to get those Rhomboids in action.  

Muscle Groups Used:

  • Rhomboids
  • Biceps

3. Scapula Push Ups

It isn’t exactly a “back” exercise, but the pushups will train your body to use both your back and shoulders together. This will help to reduce injuries in the shoulder and back. 

Muscles Used:

  • Scapula
  • Shoulder
  • Serratus Anterior

4. Pull Up w/Equalizer

If you don’t have an equalizer or something to hang off of, this exercise is not possible to do. BUT using a tool like the Lebert Equalizer or similar apparatus will definitely up your chin up and pull up game.

Muscles Used:

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Rhomboids
  • Teres Major
  • Trapezius 
  • Biceps

Can I still train my back with a band?

Of course you can workout your back using dumbbells or free weights with exercises such as: 

  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Deadlifts
  • Sumo Squats
  • Shoulder Shrugs
  • Upright Rows
But you also…

Need to SIMULATE Vertical Pulling Motions

Your back requires multiple different plains of movement in order for it to be worked out correctly:

  • Horizontal Pulls: Barbell Bent-Over Rows,  Dumbbell Rows,
  • Vertical Pulls: Chin Ups, Pull-Ups, Lat Pulldowns
  • Retraction: Band Pull-Aparts, Reverse Flyes

The horizontal and retraction exercises can be done with free weights and a barbell but the vertical pulls used in chin ups is a really tough one to mimic without a band or something to hang off of. 

How to use these exercises?

If you are new to working out, take it easy.   Progressively add these exercises into your back and shoulder routines. 

*Pro Tip  I would highly recommend doing the band exercises first before lifting any weight to help stimulate and activate the muscles in your back. 

If you feel that your neck is working harder than the muscles in your back, reset and start the position over again. Your neck becoming fatigued or sore is the FIRST sign you are doing the move incorrectly or that the resistance is too high. 

How many times?

If you are a beginner and new to exercise, the following is the recommended sets and reps:


Band Pull Down 

2 sets: 15 reps


Back Row w/Band

2 sets: 15 reps


Scapula Push Up

2 sets: 10 reps


Pull Up w/Equalizer

2 sets: 5-10 reps


Let me know what you think of the exercises in the comments and share with me which one is your favourite.

Need More Help?

You don’t have time to think about what exercises to do and when? 


Join our next set of LIVE Virtual sessions where you can train with other professionals who workout from home everyday. 


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