Straight Arm Pulldown
The straight arm pulldown is an isolation exercise targeting the lats, not to be confused with various versions of the triceps pushdown.
In order to feel and perform the straight arm pulldown correctly you must start light and learn to pull through the lats as opposed to the arms, watch the video below to see correct form.
Required: Cable Machine + Straight Bar Attachment
Straight Arm Pulldown Form:
With your straight bar attached to the top pulley of your cable machine grip the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip.
Take 3 steps back before bending your torso forward 30 degrees and fully extending your arms (while maintaining a slight bend in the elbow).
Squeeze your lats together while maintaining straight arms to pull the bar down until your arms are next to your upper legs.
Slowly return the bar to the top pulley starting position with straight arms.
Straight Arm Pulldown Variations
Straight Arm Rope Pulldown
The big benefit of the rope pulldown over the bar pulldown is the ability to further stretch and contract your lats at the bottom of each rep.
With form being identical the 1 second contraction is far more effective when performed with a rope as you're able to pull the rope apart and squeeze at the same time, unlike the mere downward pull and contraction with the straight bar.
Common Straight Arm Pulldown Mistakes
Using Partial Range Of Motion
Each repetition should begin with your arms fully extended below your torso and end with the barbell up against your torso with your shoulder blades squeezed together.
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 lower the number of repetitions per set.
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.
Similar & Substitute Exercises
- Bent Over Row
- Seated Cable Row
- Lat Pulldown