The Australian pull-up or incline row. A big step towards your first pull-up!

The Australian pull-up or incline row is a bodyweight exercise that helps to build and strengthen the back, arms, and your core.  This exercise improves overall body posture. It particularly counters the forward head position that is most prevalent in our daily activities like typing, texting, and such by strengthening the upper mid-back muscles and neck muscles – the sternocleidomastoid, rhomboids (major and minor), latissimus dorsi and the trapezius.  Australian pull-ups are the perfect exercise to increase the upper body pulling strength.

Incline row or Australian pull-up is a variation of the pull-up. It is a push-up turned upside down. All you need for Australian pull up is your body and a sturdy horizontal bar. The Australian pull-up exercise places the performer horizontally under the bar so that it can work your muscles from different angles.

Setting up for an incline row

Find an object, preferably a lower bar, that you can grasp within a tightened grip. Make sure the object is immovable and sturdy. The object should be at a height that will allow you to carry out the exercise properly. Other options are to find a barbell held in place, a suspension trainer or use a sturdy and robust table.

Follow the next steps to achieve a perfect Australian pull-up

Lie on your back under the bar in such a way that the bar is just about your waist height, about the level of your sternum. Grab for the bar at a distance that is slightly wider than your shoulder width. You will end up at an angle close to that of an upside-down push-up.

Keep your body in an extended position and your back straight with your feet slightly apart and keep your arms extended.

Also keep your spine aligned to allow your head, neck, torso, waist, legs, and feet form a straight line.

Brace your whole body and exhale as you pull your chest upward towards the bar and making contact with it. Make sure not to bend your hips or raise the shoulders. This will make your forearm and elbow attain a 45-degree angle.

Take a few seconds pause when your chest is about an inch or two from the bar. Inhale as you lower back down to your starting position to complete a single rep.

Repeat the steps for as the number of repetitions you desire.

Plyometric Australian pull up

As you get stronger in performing the Australian pull-up, you can modify it into the plyometric Australian pull-up by adding plyometric movements which involve switching from wide grips to narrow grips between reps. With alternate reps, you can also switch back and forth from underhand to overhand grips.

The plyometric Australian pull up especially helps to build speed and power in the horizontal pulling pattern. This variation is a combination of speed, elastic energy, and power. To perform this variation,

You use the force generated from the first pull, let off your hands when your chest is just about to touch the bar.

This is a short moment where gravity comes to play; gravity overcomes the force generated from your pull. Then start to fall back to the ground. Grab the bar again and control your lowering or descent allowing yourself to drop quickly.

With every descent, you are building elastic energy by the rapid lengthening of your muscles.

Make sure to pull immediately into the next step once your elbows are fully extended.

Tips for beginners

As a beginner, set the height of the bar higher to make it easier to lift your body weight. Setting the bar higher will set your body higher making it easier to perform Australian pull-ups.

As you get stronger with the progression of the exercise, you can drop the bar until you are parallel when pulling your weight back up. Another way to make it easier is to decrease the incline by putting your feet closer to the bar

Simple tricks to perform the Australian pull-ups

Avoid sagging your butt, Squeeze your glutes, keep your stomach flexed, and keep your body firm from head to toe.

Avoid flailing your shoulders. Don’t flail or shrug your shoulders to keep your elbow and forearms at a 45-degree angle to your body.

Always tighten your core. Tighten your abs throughout the length of the exercise. Your body should form a straight line with only your arms moving.

Pull the bar to the middle of your chest. Avoid pulling the bar up towards your throat, or down towards your belly. Pull directly up to the center of your chest around your sternum.

Try pulling your scapula (shoulder blades) together, it widens and strengthens the neck and back muscles.

Get to the top of the exercise. Make sure to keep your body extended and as low as possible when going down and make sure your chest touches the bar when raising.

The benefit of incline rows over ordinary pull-ups

Even though the incline row is easier to achieve than the regular pull-up both exercises focus on back muscles, but Australian pull up is exceptional in that it targets the muscles more intensely.

It targets more of the big back muscles, unlike the standard pull-up that focuses the back in general.  It gets your body stabilized and targets your arms and obliques. The incline row is a horizontal pull and targets muscles more differently from the other pull-ups.


The Incline row is an extremely versatile exercise that is done to develop strength, endurance and muscle mass. It is one of the progressions toward a regular pull-up. Master the incline row, and you will be able to achieve your first pull-up in no time!

The particular effects you achieve from the exercise depend on the volume, reps, and tempo at which you carry out the exercise. If you desire to make the exercise harder,  you can do so by increasing the lever,  decreasing the height of the bar and decreasing the mechanical advantage. The only way to progress at Australian pull-up is by you being consistent in your practice.

Are you able to perform this exercise? Let us know and share your knowledge in the comments below!


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