9 Best T Bar Row Alternative Exercises To Build Strong Back Muscles

T bar row exercises can help you isolate and build your back muscles with a T bar. This guide will look at the best T bar row alternative exercises that can help you achieve that goal without using expensive equipment

The T bar row, aka landmine row, is an effective exercise that can help you isolate and build your back muscles. You need a T bar and some weights for that. That could be a problem if exercising at home or if your gym doesn’t have a T bar installed. The good news is there are quite a few T bar row alternative exercises that can give you the same benefits.

Why T Bar Row

man performing the t bar row exercise

There are quite a few different types of exercises that can help you target and build your back. But the advantage of T Bar Row over other upper body building exercises is the way you grip the exercise bar.

Unlike bent-over rows, you hold the bar with your palms facing each other when doing T bar rows. Biomechanically, this is the most effective position for pulling form.

Lifting the bar with both hands when doing T bar rows makes it possible to load more weights on the bar. That is something you can’t do when doing dumbbell rows. And the effectiveness of the T-bar row to strengthen the back cannot be understated.

I will, in this article, discuss some best T bar row alternative exercises. I will look at which muscles they target, and how to perform these alternatives to t-bar row.

Best T bar row alternative exercises that can help you build and strengthen your back muscles

Criteria For a Good T Bar Row Alternative Exercise

To qualify as a T bar row alternative exercise, exercises should have two qualities:

  1. Tone the same muscle groups as the t bar row

T-bars rows can sculpt your back muscles – from the traps and lats to the rhomboids and rear deltoids.

While performing the t-bar row, you are exercising your:

  • latissimus dorsi or lats – located in your middle back
  • rhomboids – located between your shoulder blades
  • trapezius or trap – muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back
  • biceps brachii – located in front of your upper arm

The exercise also engages your biceps, along with your abs, hamstrings and glutes (due to the standing bent-over position).

2. Place less compressive force on the lumbar spine

The exercise involves using a bar loaded with weights. One end of the bar is attached to the floor with a landmine. This creates a linear bar path to make the workout relatively easier by removing many of the technical aspects.

As a result, the t-bar row enables you to isolate the back muscles. That helps reduce the risk of back injury to a great extent.

A good T bar row alternative should be able to do the same by requiring less core muscle activation and postural stability.

Here are some excellent T bar row alternative exercises that you can perform as substitutes for t-bar rows

Pendlay Row

pendlay row t bar row alternative exercises

Muscles engaged: Rhomboids, lats, and traps
Intensity: Beginner
Equipment required: Barbell with appropriate weight

Steps to Follow

  • Set up the bar with a manageable weight.
  • Stand with your knees bent slightly and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hinge forward at the hips to apply an overhand grip to the bar, placing your hands in a straight line from your shoulders.
  • Before you lift, make sure your back is flat in a neutral position.
  • Apply some force, and in one movement row the barbell up to the bottom of your rib cage and back down.
  • Do 8-10 reps in one set.

Quick Tip: Make sure you maintain a neutral spine during the row.

Resistance Band Bent Over Row

t bar row alternative - bent over row resistance band

Muscles engaged: Rhomboids, lats, and traps
Intensity: Beginner
Equipment required: Resistance Band

Steps to Follow

  • To perform this T bar row alternative exercise, stand on a resistance band of suitable tension with your feet at shoulder width, such that you have two loops to grip on either side.
  • Bend over slightly while maintaining a straight back.
  • Hold both loops under your knees.
  • Lift the band towards your chest with both elbows inside whilst squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Lower the band and repeat.

Quick Tip: To make the resistance band bent over T bar row alternative more challenging, you can increase the level of resistance by using more than one band.

Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

chest supported dumbbell row

Muscles engaged: Rhomboids, Lats, and Traps
Intensity: Beginner
Equipment required: A pair of dumbbells and a workout bench.

Steps to Follow

  • Set up a bench at a 30-45 degree angle.
  • Rest your chest and torso on the inclined part of the bench, don’t forget to place each dumbbell on both sides of the bench so you can easily reach them.
  • With your arms initially straight and pointing toward the floor, hold your dumbbells in each hand.
  • Pull the dumbbells towards your body with your elbows in, keeping your forearms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pause briefly when coming to the maximum height of this movement.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells whilst keeping your forearms perpendicular to the floor and repeat.

Quick Tip: To get out of this T bar row alternative exercise, your dumbbells should be aligned with your hips at the maximum height of the movement.

Bent Over Dumbbell Row

dumbbell bent over T bar row alternative

Muscles engaged: Rhomboids, Lats, and Traps
Intensity: Intermediate
Equipment required: You will need a pair of dumbbells for this T bar row alternative exercise.

Steps to Follow

  • Hold a dumbbell of suitable weight in each hand and bend over with feet at shoulder width and knees slightly bent, while making sure to maintain a straight back.
  • Initially position your arms such that they are straight and perpendicular to the floor.
  • Pull the dumbbells, leading with your elbows slightly out, and keep pulling until your elbows are slightly past the back.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells to the initial position and repeat.

Quick Tip: Experiment with your back aligned at different angles to maximize muscle growth.

Bent Over Barbell Row

barbell bent over row

Muscles engaged: Lats and Rhomboids
Intensity: Intermediate
Equipment required: Barbell with weights

Steps to Follow

  • Start this T bar row alternative exercise by setting your barbell with a suitable amount of weight.
  • Hinge forward from the hips with your feet at shoulder width, and bend your knees slightly, while remembering to maintain a straight back.
  • Hold your barbell with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width using an overhand grip.
  • Initially position the barbell such that it is slightly below the knees.
  • Pull the barbell up until it touches your abdomen, and pause briefly.
  • Slowly lower the barbell into the initial position and repeat.

Quick Tip: Reverse your grip to make the exercise more challenging and increase the work done by the lower traps.

Inverted Row

man doing the inverted row - t bar row alternative exercise

This is another effective T bar row alternative exercise that can help you build your back muscles

Muscles engaged: Rhomboids, Lats, Delts, and Traps
Intensity: Beginner
Equipment required: You will need a Barbell and a Smith machine for this T bar alternative exercise. But you can also use a barbell set up at an appropriate height on a rack or a pair of dip bars for the exercises

Steps to Follow

  • Set the barbell at waist height on the smith machine.
  • Lie down under the bar facing upwards with eyes looking at the ceiling.
  • Reach for the bar and grab it using an overhand grip, tighten your core to get your body straight, your body should not touch the floor when your arms are fully extended, the only part touching the floor should be your heels, which also act as a pivoting point.
  • Adjust your grip so your arms are positioned slightly wider than your shoulders.
  • Pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar.
  • Lower yourself until your arms are fully extended and repeat.

Quick Tip: Reverse your grip to make this alternative to T bar row challenging and to increase work done by the biceps.

Seated High Cable Row

woman doing seated high cable rows

Muscles engaged: Lats, rhomboids
Intensity: Intermediate
Equipment required: Cable machine

Steps to Follow

  • Set the cable machine at the appropriate weight and place a bench in front of the machine.
  • Grab the handles of the cable and sit down on the bench while pulling the cables down, you should be facing the machine when sitting down.
  • Lean back slightly and extend your shoulders and arms fully, keeping the arms close together, make sure to maintain a straight back throughout.
  • Slowly pull the handles towards your chest and part your hands such that they almost touch the shoulders.
  • Extend your arms and shoulders to the initial position and repeat

Quick Tip: Try to keep your body still while you move your arms

Narrow Grip Pull Downs

close grip pull downs

Muscles engaged: Lats, traps, rhomboids
Intensity: Intermediate
Equipment required: Pull down the machine with the close grip handle attached

Steps to Follow

  • Set the pull-down machine to the weight you find suitable.
  • Sit on the bench while facing the machine and place your knees in a comfortable position below the pads to prevent your body from moving while doing the workout.
  • Reach for the close grip handle and grab it with your thumbs inwards and arms fully extended.
  • Slightly lean back, tighten your core and slowly pull the handle until it touches your chest, pause briefly while squeezing your lats.
  • Slowly move the handle to the initial position and repeat.

Quick Tip: Avoid pulling the handle below chest level as it disengages the back.

TRX Row

trx inverted row alternative exercise

Muscles engaged: Upper back – Lats, Traps, Rhomboids. Also targets your Shoulders, Core and Biceps
Intensity: Intermediate
Equipment required: TRX suspension trainers or any type of suspension trainers. You can also use a pair of gymnastic rings for this T bar row alternative exercise instead of suspension trainers.

Steps to Follow

  • Grab the handles or rings in each hand
  • Step backward away from the anchor point of the suspension trainers to a point where your arms and the suspension trainers are in a straight line. Extend your elbows and ensure your arms are extended straight in front of you.
  • Bend your elbows, and pull your body up until you get to the handles of the trainers. Ensure your body and legs remain straight, and your feet remain stuck to the ground.
  • Move your body slowly back to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps.
Final Words From LiveLife

You don’t really need a T bar to build and strengthen your back muscles. The listed T bar alternative exercises discussed here can help you to achieve that goal.

You will need various gym equipment for each of the exercises we have discussed. But quite a few of them are lowly priced items that most may be able to manage to equip their home gym with. Bearing in mind that most commercial gyms do not have T bars installed, it is something to consider if you want to strengthen and build your back muscles.

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