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Straight Arm Rope Pulldown: The #1 Back Finisher

The Straight Arm Rope Pulldown

When it comes to building an impressive back heavy barbell rows (Pendlay and T-bar variations) along with weighted wide grip pull-ups are a proven formula.
As your back starts to fatigue during your workout and your strength starts to fatigue these exercises can be dangerous to perform – with many guys compromising their form and rounding their lower backs and jerking the way to get through their later sets.

This is a recipe for disaster.

There’s a far better way to tackle your back workout.

Hit 4 – 5 sets of pull-ups and your row variations (or until you’re unable to lift the prescribed weight) and then enter the #1 back finisher exercise.

Enter The Straight Arm Rope Pulldown

Before we delve into the correct form of the straight arm pulldown let’s discuss what makes this an excellent ‘finisher’ exercise.

You’re not at major risk of injury with small slips in form

When performing the T-bar row, Pendlay row and Kroc row we’re trying to maintain a fairly horizontal position for the duration of each set – as we begin to fatigue your lower back will often begin to round while trying to hold this position with any sort of substantial weight, not only that but it also becomes hard to maintain correct form – using momentum and bouncing your knees to get the weight up takes away any benefit from the row as momentum takes tension off the targeted muscles.

When performing the straight arm rope pulldown it’s easy to maintain a slight bend in your knee and a forward lean while grasping your rope attachment as we don’t really need to load up a large amount of weight to reap the benefits.

You don’t need to lift heavy to get benefits from the pulldown

The straight arm rope pulldown is all about the contraction. The heavier you lift the harder it will be to really get that squeeze and brief pause at the end of each repetition.
This makes the rope pulldown the #1 finishing exercise for your back workout – regardless of how little you’re able to lift after smashing out your heavy rows and pull-ups you’ll be able to get some great work in with a light weight on your cable machine.

It’s an easy exercise to drop-set

There are certain exercises that’re slow and ard arduous to drop set, this includes most back exercises.

Want to drop set your weighted pull-ups? You’ve got to undo your dip belt, remove weight plates from the chain and reconnect your weight belt comfortably.

Want to drop set your T-bar rows? You’ve got to lift up the barbell and try and slide some of your plates off, this isn’t too bad when you’ve got a training partner but it can be time consuming alone and often ruins the intensity of your workout.

When it comes to the straight arm pulldown all you have to do is take a few steps forward and adjust the weight on the stack, this literally takes 2 seconds.

Here Are A Few More Details Regarding The Straight Arm Rope 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.

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Back

Required: Cable machine + Rope attachment

Here’s How To Perform This Finisher Correctly…

With your rope attachment attached to the top pulley of your cable machine grip the rope with a neutral 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 rope down until your arms are next to your upper legs.


Seperate the rope slightly further apart to optimize the contraction at the bottom of each repetition.

Slowly return the rope to the top pulley starting position with straight arms.

What’s Your Take On The Straight Arm Rope Pulldown? Let Me Know Below! 

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
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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