15 Best T-Bar Row Alternatives

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: November 3, 2022

The T-bar row is a popular and effective exercise for building a behemoth back. But it requires special machines or equipment that some gyms don’t have.

So I’ve put together a complete list of T-bar row alternative exercises to replicate the benefits and build your back muscles.

T-Bar Row Alternative

What Is a T-Bar Row?

The T-bar row is a back exercise involving a cantilevered bar. One end of the bar has a pivoting anchor, while the other end moves. And you can add weights to the end to increase resistance.

T-bar rows often use a straight handle that runs perpendicular to the bar, making a T shape. However, you can also use a neutral or close grip handle.

Types of T-Bar Rows

There are three types of T-bar rows, each requiring specific equipment. Let’s look at each one before getting into alternatives.

Landmine T-Bar Row

First, the landmine row is the most popular version of the T-bar row because it uses the most basic equipment.

Usually, landmine rows involve a unique landmine base that holds one end of a regular barbell and allows it to pivot. But you could stick one of a barbell in a corner where the walls and floor met.

Next, you place a handle around the free end of the barbell and straddle it between your legs. Then you can add weight plates to the end of the barbell to add resistance.

Again, some gyms have dedicated handles to fit over the end of the barbell. But you can use a regular V-bar close grip handle as well.

Landmine T-Bar Row Alternative

Machine T-Bar Row

The machine T-bar row uses equipment designed specifically for this exercise. It involves a cantilevered beam or bar with a fixed handle.

In addition, the bar is centered between foot platforms, allowing for an increased range of motion even with 45 lb plates.

Other than that, the exercise is essentially the same as the landmine row.

Machine T-Bar Row Alternative

Chest Supported-T Bar Row

Lastly, the chest-supported T-bar row is another dedicated piece of exercise equipment. It has a cantilevered bar with a fixed handle, like the regular machine T-bar row.

However, this machine also includes an angled chest pad that holds your upper body in position during the exercise. The support takes your legs and momentum out of the exercise, making it more challenging for the back muscles.

Chest Supported T-Bar Row Alternative

T-Bar Row Muscles Worked

The T-bar row works all the major muscles of the back, including the latissimus dorsi (lats), lower traps, rhomboids, teres major/minor, and infraspinatus.

In addition, the rowing movement also engages the rear delts and biceps to varying degrees depending on the handle and grip used.

All of the T-bar row variations below work similar muscle groups. But you can also target specific muscles depending on the exercise used.

T-Bar Row Alternative Muscles Worked

15 T-Bar Row Alternative Exercises

Now you know what a T-bar row is and how it works your back, here’s a list of the top 15 T-bar row alternatives:

  1. Bent Over Barbell Row
  2. Supinated Barbell Row
  3. Pendlay Row
  4. Dual Dumbbell Row
  5. Single Dumbbell Row
  6. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row
  7. Seal Row
  8. Bent Over Cable Row
  9. Seated Close Grip Cable Row
  10. Seated Wide Grip Cable Row
  11. Single Arm Cable Row
  12. Smith Machine Row
  13. Machine Low Row
  14. Machine High Row
  15. Inverted Row

As you may have noticed, I ordered this list based on the equipment used. In the sections below, I also grouped the exercises by equipment to make it easier for you to find T-bar row alternatives for your gym setup.

Next, let me show you how to do each exercise with descriptions, short videos, and pictures.

Barbell T-Bar Row Alternatives

The standard barbell is a valuable piece of equipment for training your back. And you can also use it for exercises similar to the T-bar row.

1. Bent Over Barbell Row

The bent-over barbell row is a staple back exercise using similar body mechanics and muscle activation to the T-bar row.

With an overhand grip and hands about shoulder-width apart, the movement is almost identical to T-bar rows using a straight handle.

2. Supinated Barbell Row

The supinated row uses an underhand grip on the barbell. While this is a minor hand position change, it dramatically impacts the muscles worked.

The supinated row is great for hitting the lower lats and puts your biceps in a stronger position to pull more weight.

3. Pendlay Row

The Pendlay row is a unique variation of the barbell row, where you keep your back parallel to the floor. Also, each rep begins from the floor instead of the standing position.

One benefit of the Pendlay row is that it helps you develop explosive power. And it targets more of the upper back muscles compared to other rows.

Dumbbell T-Bar Row Alternatives

Next up, we have T-bar row alternatives using dumbbells. These exercises are great for those working out at a home gym without barbells or machines.

4. Dual Dumbbell Row

The dual dumbbell row is like a bent-over barbell row performed with a dumbbell in each hand.

The benefit of this exercise is that each arm must work independently. And it has the potential for a greater range of motion at the top of the movement.

In addition, the dumbbells allow for more variation in hand position and grip. For example, you can use an overhand, underhand, or neutral grip.

T Bar Row Alternative Dual Dumbbell Row

5. Single Dumbbell Row

The single dumbbell row is another great back exercise. Generally, you lean forward and support your body with one hand on a bench or rack while rowing with the other.

The single-arm variation allows for greater concentration on the mind-muscle connection. And you can add a slight torso twist to increase the range of motion.

6. Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

The chest-supported dumbbell row involves laying face-down on an incline bench set to roughly 45 degrees. With your feet firmly planted, you perform the dual dumbbell row.

This row variation replicates the strict form of the chest-supported t-bar row.

T Bar Row Alternative Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

7. Seal Row

Another chest-supported row variation is called the seal row. You lay face down on a flat bench for this exercise while doing the dual dumbbell row.

The change in angle makes this exercise like a strict dumbbell Pendlay row. You will most likely have to elevate the bench to allow for a full range of motion at the bottom of the movement.

Cable T-Bar Row Alternatives

Next, here are some T-bar row alternatives you can do on the cable apparatus at your gym.

8. Bent Over Cable Row

The bent-over cable row uses the adjustable pulley station set at the lowest position. And you can use the straight bar attachment or any handle of your choosing.

Next, stand in the same bent-over position as the barbell row and pull the handle towards your navel. Unlike free weights, weight isn’t straight down, so it may feel different.

9. Seated Close Grip Cable Row

The seated cable row station is another option for replicating the T-bar row. Using the V-bar close grip handle results in an exercise similar to the landmine T-bar row.

For maximum lat activation, don’t lean back to generate momentum. Instead, maintain a slight forward lean throughout the exercise.

10. Seated Wide Grip Cable Row

The wide-grip seated cable row is another excellent alternative to the T-bar row. The straight bar attachment with a broader grip replicates the machine T-bar row.

Again, try not to lean back or use your torso to generate momentum. Instead, keep your back at a constant angle and only pull with your arms and back muscles.

11. Single Arm Cable Row

Single-arm cable rows are the equivalent of a single dumbbell row. So you can concentrate more on the working muscle and get a slightly longer range of motion.

In addition, the single-arm cable row provides more constant resistance than free weights. Plus, it’s easy to do at the seated cable station or standing, as shown below.

T-Bar Row Alternative Single Arm Cable Row

Machine T-Bar Row Alternatives

Now let’s shift gears to T-bar row alternatives you can do on machines commonly found in fitness clubs or commercial gyms.

12. Smith Machine Row

Most gyms have Smith machines, a barbell on vertical or angled guide rails. The bar replicates the feel of free-weight movements, while the rails fix the movement path like a machine.

So the Smith machine row gives you the best of both worlds and helps you hit your back muscles while using fewer stabilizers to balance the load.

13. Machine Low Row

The machine low row is a piece of equipment consisting of a seat, chest support, and two handles. While this machine can use weight stacks or be plate loaded, the exercise is the same.

You begin with your hands extended in front and then pull back at a low angle towards your hips or waist. This low pulling angle makes this exercise ideal for targeting the lower lats.

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14. Machine High Row

By comparison, the machine high row looks more like a lat pulldown, except your hands start extended at an angle above and in front of your body. Then you pull down and back.

This pulling angle is in between a pulldown and a row. So the high row works a mixture of muscle groups in your back.

Other T-Bar Row Alternatives

Finally, we have a T-bar row alternative you can do even if you have the most basic gym setup.

15. Inverted Row

You can do the inverted row with a squat rack barbell or a Smith machine. Either way, you set the bar anywhere between 3 to 5 feet off the floor.

Then hang from the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart and your legs straight with your weight supported on your heels. From here, pull your chest up to the bar with a rowing motion.

The higher the bar, the less resistance you feel, and vice versa. In addition, a higher bar replicates a high row, while a lower bar replicates a low row.

Inverted Row High Row Machine Alternative

More Back Workouts

Now you have a complete list of T-bar row alternatives from which to choose. But here are some other back stretches, exercises, and workouts to add to your routine.

Warm Up With These Lat Stretches

Resistance Band Back Exercises

19 More Cable Back Exercises

Best Dumbbell Lat Exercises

7 Killer Lower Lat Exercises

Lower Lat Exercises (1)

I hope you found this article informative and helpful. Before you leave, check out some of my other fitness-related content!

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By |November 3, 2022|Workouts|0 Comments
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