Lat Pulldown

Image of how to do Lat pull down


Type: Strength

Main Muscle Worked: Lats

Equipment: Cable

Level: Beginner

What are Lat Pulldowns?

The lat pulldown is a similar movement to the pull-up, which is one of the best exercises of all time and challenges your mid- and upper-back muscles, arms and grip, except you have more control over how much you lift and you can also slow the speed of the exercise down to help increase muscle size rapidly.

This exercise can be done as part of an upper body strength workout with a lat pulldown machine.

Muscles Worked in the Lat Pulldown

Back muscles

primary: Lattisimus Dorsi, Rhomboids

secondary:  Posterior Deltoids, Mid-Low Trapezius, Biceps, Forearms/Grip

Benefits of Lat Pulldowns


Different varieties

Performing the same exercise every day not only makes you bored, but it can also lead to physical boredom and training plateaus. With the lat pulldown exercise, you can use a variety of grips and handles on the lat pulldown machine to change the feel and emphasis of the exercise. You can perform the standard version of the exercise with an overhand grip that’s just wider than your shoulders on a long bar. You can also experiment with a wider grip or a close grip. Change out the long bar for D-handles, a V-handle or a short handle.

Easy to change the weight

In order for the body to continue to improve and adapt, you have to progressively overload the muscles and place increasingly greater demands on the body. One method for overloading the muscles is to increase the workout load by adding weight to an exercise. Unlike adding weight to barbell rows or pullups, adding weight to the lat pulldown exercise is quick and easy. All you have to do is simply pull the pin out of the stack and reposition it in the new weight on the lat pulldown machine.

Time efficient

The lat pulldown is a multi-joint exercise that involves movement at the elbows, shoulders and scapula. With just this exercise, you work several different muscles in your upper body. The main muscle used is the latissimus dorsi, which is the largest back muscle, which extends down each side of your spine. Also the biceps, rear delts, rhomboids and traps are also used during the lat pulldown exercise.

How to do Lat Pulldowns

Lat Pulldown

  1. 1. Sit on the lat pulldown machine and adjust the knee pad so that there is no free space and you’re tightly seated.
  2. 2. Place your feet flat on the floor, push your chest upwards and out.
  3. 3. Retract your scapula, which should create an arch leaning away from the machine.
  4. 4. Take hold of the bar, with your hands in a wide grip (this should be on the declined portion of the long bar, both sides).
  5. 5. When you’re in your starting position inhale and make sure your keep posture without letting your scapula loosen or your shoulders raise.
  6. 6. Exhale when you begin the movement
  7. 7. Pull through your elbows until you’re able to squeeze your lats at the bottom of the movement and your shoulder blades are together.
  8. 8. Slowly raise the bar back up until your arms are extended and back in the starting position.

Repeat for desired reps.

Mistakes commonly made in the lat pull-down


When performing the lat pull down do not use your momentum to lift the weights as this actually reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Quickly moving the weights allows momentum to reduce the tension within the muscles, especially at the top of the lift which reduces how much your muscles end up working in the exercise.

Using the Forearms

When performing the lat pull down make sure your forearms are not doing the work of pulling the bar down as you want your back doing the pulling instead.

Safety when performing the lat pull-down

The behind the neck variation is not recommended for safety reasons, as the rotation of the shoulder joint, and possible spine contact with the bar could lead to injuries. it can also be hard on the rotator cuff due to the hyperextension created by bringing the bar behind the neck. If you have any wrist, elbow, or shoulder problems, You should talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see if this exercise is appropriate for you. Stop this exercise if you feel any pain or too much stress on your shoulder joints.

Variations of the lat pulldown

Behind-The-Neck Lat Pull-Down

Many people believe this variation places too much stress and strain on the body. Which may be due to lack of shoulder flexibility for some, although many have reported that they can comfortably incorporate this movement pattern into their workout without pain, and are able to take full advantage of the benefits it offers.

People who can do behind-the-neck lat pull-downs find that they feel a stronger overall contraction using this range of motion, making it very beneficial for building lean muscle mass. Though proceed with caution: As the risk of injury is higher with behind-the-neck lat pull-downs. Start with a lighter weight and higher reps.

Behind the neck lat pulldown

  1. 1. Position yourself at a lat pulldown machine so that your thighs are under the leg pads.
  2. 2.  Grasp the bar so your arms are fully extended and your palms are facing forward with your hands wider than shoulder width apart.
  3. 3. While keeping your back straight, lean your upper body and head forward so that the bar is positioned directly over the back of your neck. This is your starting position.
  4. 4. Exhale as you slowly lower the bar straight down until it lightly touches the back of your neck.
  5. 5. Contract your back muscles for a moment and then inhale as you slowly raise the bar and return to the starting position.

Repeat for desired reps

To find out if the behind-the-neck lat pulldown is right for you, try it out one day in the gym, paying close attention to how it feels. If the movement feels natural to you, then you can add it to your routine without any problem.

If you do incorporate behind-the-neck lat pull-downs into your routine, emphasize shoulder mobility by doing plenty of shoulder and rotator cuff stretches as well before performing them.

Write below in the comments your opinion on the lat pulldown, if it works for you and any questions you might have.

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