Best Pull Day Workout Routine + 11 Most Effective Exercises

May 06, 2022 14 min read

If you're following the push, pull, leg day (PPL) routine, you know that pull day is all about working your back and upper body with targeted pull exercises.

Before you can start seeing results, though, you'll need to build an effective workout based entirely around the right movements.

This article will walk you through everything you need to know about pull day workouts and introduce you to 11 of the most effective pulling exercises.

We'll then let you in on our preferred pull day workout routine so that you can start seeing results too.

What is Pull Day?

Pull day is the second day of the PPL workout routine. If you aren't familiar with PPL, it works as follows: First, you hit push day, then pull day, and finally, leg day.

This day is all about building your back and upper body muscles - your lats, traps, rhomboids, lower back muscles, and biceps.

These workouts are built around compound and isolation pulling exercises, such as deadlifts, curls, pull-ups, and rows.

By adding pulling exercises to your routine, you can build a muscular upper body and improve your posture by strengthening the muscles that support your spine.

If you're already following the PPL program, you know that it's brilliant for muscular hypertrophy and recovery. If not, now's the time to switch up your workout routine.

PPL is quickly becoming one of the most popular workouts, and many people are already seeing major gains thanks to the program.

The 11 Best And Most Effective Pull Exercises

Putting together a good pull workout may be challenging for you since there are a lot of different exercises to choose from.

But if you want to see results, you'll need an effective routine. To help you out, we've put together what we believe are the 11 best pull exercises.

Mix them into your current pull day and see the difference they can have on your physique.

1. Pull-Ups

The pull-up is one of the most effective exercises for building a thick and wide back. A lot of lifters start their pull workout off with this key movement.

The movement requires the muscles of the back and arms to work together to move the body upwards.

If you can't do pull-ups, try finding a pull-up assist machine or use a band to make the movement lighter for you.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by gripping a pull-up bar with your knuckles facing towards your face and your arms fully extended.
  2. Bend your knees and cross your feet behind you.
  3. Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
  4. Lower yourself back into the starting posture.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  6. Tips: Make sure to extend your arms for an optimal range of motion fully. If you can do more than 12 repetitions, try adding weight by wearing a weight belt or holding a dumbbell between your feet.

Common Mistakes: The #1 most common mistake is not using the full range of motion. Make sure to pull yourself up so your chin is above the bar and straighten your body. Do not swing your body. Instead, keep the movement strict.

2. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are one of the most popular compound exercises for bodybuilders, and that's for a good reason.

Performing a deadlift properly activates the majority of your back and leg and even your core muscles. Because it can hit so many different muscle groups, it's considered a must-have for pull day.

Be careful when deadlifting, though. The exercise can put a lot of stress on your back if you lift too heavy or incorrectly.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Bend your hips and knees while holding the bar and position your hands roughly shoulder-width apart.
  3. Keeping your back straight, lift the bar off the ground and stand up.
  4. Lower the bar back to the ground and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Tips: If you cannot do a deadlift with proper form, try doing them with a lighter weight or try using a trap bar.

Common Mistakes: The most common mistake lifters make when deadlifting is rounding their backs. This can cause injury to your lumbar region, so keep your back straight as you move. It can take some time to learn the deadlift form, so take your time to get it nailed down.

3. Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns are an excellent exercise for targeting your latissimus dorsi, or lats, which are the muscles on the sides of your back.

The lats are what give you that V taper. If you're looking to build a strong and detailed back, we highly recommend adding lat pulldowns to your routine.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by sitting on a lat pulldown machine with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Reach up and grab the bar with your palms facing away from you and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Pull the bar down to your chest, keeping your back straight and your elbows in.
  4. Slowly return the bar and repeat the motion for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Tips: Make sure to stretch your arms at the top to activate the lats optimally. Go all the way down to your upper chest and repeat.

Common Mistakes: Many people go too heavy on the lat pulldown, meaning they use momentum to pull the bar down. This is not optimal for activating your lats, so make sure to use proper form. Use a weight that you can control throughout the entire movement.

4. Barbell Rows

Barbell rows are another great exercise that you should include in your pull day workout. If you want to target different muscle groups, you can experiment with a range of grip widths.

A shoulder-width overhand grip will work your upper back, whereas a narrower and underhand grip will focus the tension into your biceps and lats.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knee.
  2. Bend at your hips and grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Keeping your back straight, lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor.
  4. Row the bar up to your abdominals, keeping your elbows tucked in.
  5. Return the bar and repeat the motion for the desired number of repetitions.
  6. Tips: If you struggle to lift the weight while bending over, use a lighter weight or an assisted rowing machine until you master the motion.

Common Mistakes: As with deadlifts, it's crucial not to round your back when performing barbell rows. You may feel compelled to do so since you are bent over, but this can cause injury to your lower back. Instead, keep your back straight throughout the entire movement and avoid jerking the bar upwards. It should be a single smooth motion.

5. Dumbbell Rows

Dumbbell rows are similar to bent over barbell rows in that they target the same muscles. You can do this exercise one arm at a time or use two dumbbells simultaneously.

If you choose to do both arms simultaneously, be careful to focus on technique. The added weight can make it difficult to control your movements.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and one knee resting on a bench.
  2. Bend at your hips while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Place the other hand on the bench for support.
  3. Keeping your back straight, lower your torso until your body is at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Pull the dumbbell up to your chest, keeping your elbow close to your side.
  5. Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  6. Tips: If you'd prefer to row using both arms simultaneously, simply stand with a slight bend in your knees and lean forward until your waist is at a 45-degree angle.

Common Mistakes: Be careful not to round your back while lifting the weight. Instead, keep your back straight throughout the entire movement. Also, be careful to tuck your elbows into your sides. You shouldn't be rolling your shoulder back with each motion.

6. Pullovers

Next up, we have Pullovers, which are a great way of isolating the lat muscles. You can perform these with a dumbbell to really stretch the lats during the exercise.

If you don't like doing pullovers with dumbbells, it's optional to do them with a straight cable bar on the cable machine.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by lying on a bench with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold the dumbbell with your palms facing away from you and your hands roughly shoulder-width apart.
  3. Raise the weight over your head while keeping your arms straight.
  4. Bend your arms at the elbows and lower the weights until they are completely behind you.
  5. Raise the weight back over your head and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  6. Tips: If you're using a dumbbell, hold it with both hands.

Common Mistakes: Be careful not to overextend your motion, as it can cause injuries, but also, don't cut your movements too short. You have to find the sweet spot for yourself. Lower the weight behind your head and raise it over your face before continuing with the next rep.

7. Dumbbell Shrugs

If you want to work your trapezius muscles - the muscles that run from the base of your neck to the middle of your back - add a few sets of dumbbell shrugs into your routine.

They're very effective at activating the trapezius muscles and will make them grow if done correctly. You can do these one side at a time to focus on form or use both dumbbells simultaneously.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your curled fingers facing the sides of your thighs.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, lift your shoulders up to your earlobes.
  4. Lower your shoulders and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Tips: Make sure to squeeze the trapezius and lift your shoulders up to your ears for maximum contraction.

Common Mistakes: As with all exercises, be careful to use the proper form. The most common mistake people make when doing shrugs is rounding their shoulders. Instead, keep your shoulders back and down throughout the entire movement.

8. Face Pulls

Cable face pulls are a good way of targeting your rear deltoids, which are the back sections of your shoulder muscles.

It's also good to know that face pulls are a great way of improving your posture. It's recommended to add these in at the end of your workout.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Grip the cable with your palms facing away from you and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Pull the cable towards your face, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
  4. Slowly return the cable to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Tips: If you're having trouble keeping your arms straight, try using a lighter weight.

Common Mistakes: Make sure you're using a weight you can handle. If you go too heavy, you won't hit the rear delts correctly. You should be able to pull the weight forward without shifting your upper body.

9. Barbell Biceps Curls

No pull day workout would be complete without a few sets of barbell bicep curls. Curls are one of the most well-known and staple exercises for biceps growth.

There are a lot of different curl variations, but we prefer to use a barbell, though. That's because they help you focus on both arms simultaneously and develop perfect form and technique.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grip a barbell in your hand with your palms facing your thighs.
  3. With your elbows tucked into your sides, lift the barbell towards your shoulders.
  4. Lower the weights back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Tips: If you don't like using barbells, you can use dumbbells to work your biceps individually.

Common Mistakes: The most common mistake people make when doing bicep curls is using momentum to curl the weight. Instead, focus on using your bicep muscles to curl the weight. You should also be careful not to swing the weight up and down. Instead, keep the motion smooth and controlled.

10. Dumbbell Preacher Curls

If you're looking to grow your biceps during your pull day, dumbbell preacher curls are a great way of making that happen.

The exercise gets its name from sitting at a preacher curl bench, which has a pad that supports your arms. This helps to take the stress off of your lower back and allows you to focus solely on training your biceps.

This exercise will give you a great mind muscle connection with the biceps, so we highly recommend adding it to your routine.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by sitting on a preacher curl bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Grip a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your thighs.
  3. Rest your arms on the pad in front of you and curl the weights up to your shoulders.
  4. Lower the weights back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Tips: Fully extend your arms nearly all the way down to activate the biceps completely.

Common Mistakes: A lot of people don't use the full range of motion when performing preacher curls. Make sure to lower the weight all the way down, so your arms are fully extended before curling the weight back up.

11. Cable Curls

Cable curls are similar to regular dumbbell curls in that they target your biceps. The main difference is that you use a cable machine instead of dumbbells.

By using cables, you can hit it from a different angle. Many people like adding at least one cable exercise in their pull workout for biceps.

To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grip the cable with your palms facing away from you and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, curl the cable up to your shoulders.
  4. Lower the cable back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Tips: We recommend using individual attachment to isolate your bicep muscles specifically.

Common Mistakes: Don't cheat the weight up when performing cable curls, as this won't be optimal for growth. Pick a moderate weight that you can perform for a good number of repetitions.

Pull Day Workout Routine

Now that you have a good idea of which exercises are the most effective - let's look at our go-to pull day workout routine.

Follow it exactly as we do or change the sets and or reps to suit your individual goals. Before diving into the exercises below, we recommend doing 5 to 10 minutes of cardio on the cross trainer to get the blood flowing and the muscles warm.

  1. Deadlifts – Start off with heavy deadlifts to work as much of your back as possible. Do one or two warmup sets and proceed to do 3 working sets of 6-8 reps. Make sure you're lifting heavy but with good form!
  2. Pull-Ups – Next up, it's time to fire up your lats by doing 3 sets of pull-ups. Work until failure on each set with a short break in between. If you can't do these, do lat pulldowns instead.
  3. Barbell Rows – We continue to hit the back with heavy barbell rows. Perform 3 sets and aim for 8 to 12 reps in each set.
  4. Pullovers – Now that we're nearly done hitting back, we finish off with 3 sets of pullovers, with 10 to 15 reps in each set. Make sure you're not using a weight that's too heavy so you can get a good stretch.
  5. Cable Face Pulls – From there, we work our traps and shoulders with 3 sets of face pulls. Aim to get 15-20 reps in each set by using a comfortable weight that you can control the entire movement.
  6. Dumbbell Curls – We then move on to hitting our biceps with 3 sets of classic dumbbell curls. These sets should have at least 8 reps each but no more than 12. If you can do more than 12, increase your weight.
  7. Preacher Curls – Finally, we finish working our biceps with 3 last sets of preacher curls. Aim for 12 to 15 reps in each set. Make sure to squeeze the biceps throughout the exercise.

The above is what a good pull day workout looks like. It gets started off with a compound movement, followed by a lot of great isolation exercises to make sure your back, rear delts, and biceps get hit from all angles.

The total number of working sets in our above pull workout routine is 21. You can adjust this depending on how experienced you are. If you're new to lifting, you may want to reduce the number of working sets.

If you're experienced and have been training for years, you may want to increase the volume. As far as resting between sets goes, we advise waiting 30 to 90 seconds between sets.

We've put together a video that walks you through our pull workout video. Check out the video to make sure your form is on point.

Useful Tips for Your Pull Day Workout

We've also put together a handful of valuable tips - check them out.

Keep the Intensity High

You have to keep the intensity going to gain the benefits of muscular hypertrophy. If you're resting for more than 90 seconds between each set, you'll lose momentum depending on the exercise.

For example, avoid resting for more than 60 seconds with bicep curls but allow yourself the full 90-second break after a heavy deadlift.

Make Sure to Progressively Overload

If you're not already using progressive overload, it's time to start. This means increasing the amount of weight or reps with every consecutive workout to push your body to its limits continuously.

We recommend logging every lifting session.If you start to feel overly comfortable with a weight or rep-count, you're not getting the full benefit of PPL.

Use Proper Form

One of the most important things you can do on pull day is to use proper form. This means using a weight you can handle and not swinging it around.

If you can't control the weight, you're using too much. Also, be sure to focus on the muscle groups you're working. This will help you get the most out of each set and avoid injury.

Supplements to Maximize Your Pull Day Performance

Adding just a few supplements to your daily intake can make a huge difference in your performance.

If you're not already taking supplements, consider these four products and watch as they help you crush your pull day routine.

Creatine

There's no doubt that creatine monohydrate is the best all-natural muscle-building supplement. It's highly effective, backed by science, and has been used by bodybuilders for nearly three decades.

Best of all, though, it's 100% safe. Creatine Monohydrate is a must-have for your supplement stack so go ahead and add it to your daily routine. It's going to help you get through intensive and heavy pull workouts.

Whey Protein

Next up, we have whey protein, a supplement most of you will be familiar with. Many of us consider this one of the staple products in a supplement stack.

Whey protein boosts your daily protein intake, which is extremely important for growing muscles and progressing. By adding in two scoops of Huge whey protein after your workout, you're boosting your protein intake by nearly 50 grams.

This will have a significant impact on muscle hypertrophy, meaning it's going to benefit you greatly.

Pre Workouts

Pre-workout supplements give you the energy and power you need for an intense workout. That's why we've formulated Wrecked to be potent in every way possible.

Over 17 powerful ingredients can help you unlock a surge of energy and motivation when you need it the most.

Should You Warm Up for Your Pull Day?

Yes, it's important to warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes before starting a pull day routine. Spend that time doing some cardio, such as a cross trainer, to get your heart pumping.

Then, follow it up with two or three 20-rep sets of lat pulldowns using a light weight. This should warm your muscles up and prepare you for the intensity to come.

Warming up before your pull workout is important because it helps reduce the chance of injury. Of course, you want to avoid getting injured, so make sure to take the time to warm up properly.

Conclusion

Now you know everything you need to finish a pull day workout properly. Combine the various exercises with the correct form, and you will start to notice improvements in your physique.

Of course, it's crucial to combine the PPL routine with proper nutrition. If your nutrition isn't optimal, you won't see results that quickly.

Make sure you warm up before the routine and push yourself to maintain the intensity.

Increase your weights to incorporate progressive overload, and don't be afraid to add some supplements into your daily intake to speed up your results.


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