HomeExercise LibraryHow To: Lat Pulldown

How To: Lat Pulldown

Lat Pulldown
The go-to piece of exercise equipment for hotel and home gyms alike, the lat pulldown is a worthy isolation exercise for the back, however I cannot stress that the lat pulldown should not be prioritized or used instead of the pull-up.

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Back

Required: Lat Pulldown Machine

Optional: N/A

Lat Pulldown Form:

Assume a grip on the lat pulldown bar slightly wider than shoulder width with your palms facing away from your torso.

Tilt your torso 30 degrees, this will be the angle your torso maintains for the duration of your set.

Pull your arms down and back, contracting your shoulder blades while maintaining the 30 degree torso tilt, when performed correctly you should feel the stretch coming through your lats as opposed to your arms.

Once the bar reaches your upper chest hold and contract this position for 1 second.

Slowly extend your arms to return the bar to the starting position with arms fully extended.

Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Lat Pulldown Variations

Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Utilizing a close grip attachment on the lat pulldown places emphasis on building the thickness of the back (as it works the inner portion).

Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown

By switching up your grip and utilizing a supinated (palms facing you) grip you'll place additional emphasis on the biceps.

See also
How To: Bent Over Row

Common Lat Pulldown Mistakes

Using Partial Range Of Motion

Each repetition should begin with your arms fully extended  and end with the close grip attachment up against your upper chest with your shoulder blades squeezed together.
Most guys continue to up and up the weight as their range of motion and form begins to degrade... don't be one of them.

Jerking Your Body To Complete The Repetition

The duration of the repetition should be slow and controlled, the top (contraction) portion of the repetition is by far the hardest, and if you're jerking your entire body to get the contraction this is a clear sign it's time to drop the weight down a bit.

Remaining Too Upright

If you're sitting too upright you'll find you begin to round your shoulder to pull the weight down, the slight lean back mitigates this.

Not Squeezing The Shoulder Blades Together

Every back exercise comes down to getting the correct contraction - the contraction is a result of squeezing your shoulder blades together and tensing your back muscles as you've pulled the weight towards your torso. You cannot get this contraction without squeezing the shoulder blades.

I feel as if I repeat this point far too often, however for years I was merely training my back without contracting the muscles correctly... needless to say for a few years my back lagged behind the rest of my physique in terms of both size and strength.

See also
How To: Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Bent Over Row
  • Seated CableRow
  • Pull-Ups
  • Inverted Row

Any Questions Regarding The Lat Pulldown? Ask Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.
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