Many gym-goers are nicely conscious of the pull-up, however battle to carry out their first rep. While it might be pretty simple for some, for others, it’s a for much longer journey that may be shortened by spending time constructing the energy of the again musculature.

This is the place the lat pulldown, generally known as the entrance pulldown, is available in. It’s equally efficient for inexperienced persons, intermediates, and superior lifters as a result of it may be carried out with a wide range of attachments and requires minimal tools to execute. Here’s learn how to get essentially the most out of this basic back-building train.

How to Do the Lat Pulldown

Because the lat pulldown makes use of a cable machine, it supplies an ideal alternative for muscle growth. Master the essential motion, after which you may manipulate your physique place and bar attachments to focus on your again muscle groups in a wide range of methods.

Step 1 — Grab the Bar and Sit Down

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Attach a large bar to the pulldown cable attachment. Take a seat and modify the kneepads to maintain your decrease physique locked into place. Stand up and seize the bar wider than shoulder-width utilizing a pronated grip (palms going through away from you).

Keep maintain of the bar with barely bent arms and use your body weight to descend into the seat. Shift your thighs underneath the pads and firmly plant your toes on the ground.

Form Tip: Stand together with your thighs as near the pads as potential earlier than descending that can assist you higher get into place easily. Locking your legs beneath the pads helps to offer stability and may reinforce a strict higher physique place.

Step 2 — Pull the Weight to Your Chest

Woman performing pulldown exercise in gymCredit: lunamarina / Shutterstock

Remain in an upright place and create a really slight arch in your decrease again, opening your chest in direction of the ceiling. Pull your shoulder blades collectively and down. Engage your core and pull the bar till it’s beneath your chin or touches your chest with out utilizing any momentum.

Your torso ought to stay principally stationary all through all the rep. Rather than simply considering “pull using every muscle available,” an ideal cue is to consider pulling your elbows out to the edges and down into the ground.

Form Tip: Imagine you’re sporting pants which have again pockets and take into consideration pulling your shoulder blades again and down in direction of these pockets. This scapular retraction and despair helps to interact extra higher again muscle groups.

Step 3 — Raise Your Arms, Lower the Weight

Woman in gym performing pulldown exerciseCredit: Slatan / Shutterstock

Once you have got reached the underside, increase your arms underneath management, remaining seated. When your arms are totally stretched, launch your shoulder blades from the pulled again place. Don’t shift or swing your higher physique whereas your arms transfer.

Form Tip: When ascending again to the highest of the motion, it’s common to see individuals shifting too quick. By not controlling the load, you lower stress on the again muscle groups and permit arms to take over. Take the time to really feel your again muscle groups as they slowly stretch and totally lengthen. This physique consciousness creates a way of mindfulness and lets you use your again muscle groups extra successfully on this and different workouts.

Lat Pulldown Mistakes to Avoid

While your decrease physique is ready in place, your higher physique is unsupported and easy errors in method can cut back muscle activation and total effectiveness.

Pulling the Bar Behind Your Neck

While behind the neck pulldowns are technically an train variation and never essentially a “mistake,” it’s necessary to know that the motion can put you prone to shoulder damage.

Woman in gym performing behind the neck pulldownCredit: Zoriana Zaitseva / Shutterstock

Due to the positioning of the shoulder joint, you might end up with some discomfort and irritation of the shoulders. (1)(2) Avoid this motion altogether and preserve the bar in entrance.

Avoid It: Lifters usually use the behind the neck pulldown considering that it targets the again muscle groups in a different way. However, analysis has proven that this variation is not any more practical at coaching the lats than your normal lat pulldown, but has a better potential for damage. (3)

Gripping the Bar Too Wide

Some lifters use a particularly huge grip, usually on the excessive ends of the bar, within the hopes that it’s going to assist to construct wider lats. Unfortunately, “wide grip = wide lats” doesn’t pan out.

Muscular man in gym performing wide grip pulldownCredit: NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock

Research has proven that the wide-grip variation shouldn’t be more practical than the usual lat pulldown for coaching your lats. (4)

Avoid It: Maintain a normal grip, barely wider than your shoulders. To construct a wider again, deal with performing the train correctly, contracting the muscle groups, and attaining an entire stretch.

Swinging Your Torso

Some lifters carry out the lat pulldown like a fish out of water, with their complete higher physique swaying forwards and backwards. In some instances, you’ll even see their decrease physique come up off the seat. This shouldn’t be the best way to get outcomes.

Man in gym performing back exercise with cable machineCredit: SofikoS / Shutterstock

Avoid utilizing any weight that causes you to sway excessively. This instability of your torso will displace stress from the muscle groups you wish to goal, which can take away from the effectiveness of the train.

Avoid it: Engage your core musculature and flex your abs whereas imagining being “stuck in the mud.” You wish to be so steady that if somebody tried to shove you from any angle, you stay in place.

Benefits of the Lat Pulldown

The advantages of the lat pulldown start with its simplicity in arrange and potential to be progressed (made more difficult) or regressed (made simpler) past merely growing or decreasing weight.

Older woman performing pulldown exerciseCredit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

Pulldowns might help to enhance a variety of qualities within the higher physique similar to muscular energy, muscle hypertrophy, muscular endurance, and efficiency.

Constant Tension

The use of the cable locations a major quantity of stress on the muscle groups because of the fixed rigidity being positioned all through all the vary of movement. This makes it a useful train for lifters working to construct measurement, as a result of a larger period of time underneath rigidity has been proven to stimulate extra muscle development. (5)


The pull-up and chin-up will all the time reign as kings for higher physique vertical pulling workouts, however the lat pulldown can nonetheless be an ideal train for lifters new to coaching. You is probably not robust sufficient to carry out a pull-up, however the lat pulldown will help in creating your again musculature as you change into stronger over time.

The lat pulldown locations comparatively much less demand in your physique, which implies you may practice with a substantial quantity of quantity by growing your units and reps every week, making it an ideal train to construct muscle and energy in your again.

Muscles Worked by the Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown works a bunch of muscle groups in your again, together with the big lat muscle groups and all the higher again.

Muscular man performing back exercise on pulldown machineCredit: Nikolas_jkd / Shutterstock

This pulling motion, like most again workouts, additionally supplies some stimulation to the forearms and biceps.

Latissimus Dorsi

The lats are the huge muscle groups on both aspect of your again. They have two capabilities — to deliver the arm in nearer to your physique when it’s out to the aspect and to deliver the arm nearer to the physique when it’s out in entrance. The path of your elbow and higher arm follows each of those actions, which is why pulldowns hit goal the lats effectively.

Upper Back

The trapezius, rhomboids, teres, infraspinatus, and posterior deltoid work collectively to type the higher again musculature. They management a wide range of actions on the scapulae (shoulder blades), together with elevating and decreasing, pinching collectively, extending, and pulling downwards.

Biceps Brachii

The biceps are recruited throughout practically all again workouts, notably pulldowns as the load is lifted and your arm bends and straightens on the elbow. “Lifting with the arms” can happen when your elbows are bent too rapidly and the biceps transfer the load, moderately than lifting together with your again muscle groups by specializing in shifting your higher arm on the shoulder.


The forearm muscle groups, particularly the wrist flexors on the palm-side of the arm, are closely activated to safe your grip to the bar whereas lifting and decreasing the load. Some lifters might have their grip energy change into a limiting issue when pulldown weights get excessively heavy. Progressing step by step, or contemplating lifting straps, ought to assist to keep away from the issue.

Who Should Do the Lat Pulldown

A variety of lifters could make use of the lat pulldown inside their programming as a result of its versatility, simplicity in its arrange, and talent to offer a major quantity of rigidity on the vast majority of the again muscle groups.

Training for Muscle

You would suppose by the identify of the train that it might particularly goal the lats, but, most individuals are shocked that analysis has proven it truly trains the vast majority of your again muscle groups very successfully. (6)

Not solely can you utilize comparatively heavy weights, since this train recruits nearly each main muscle group in your again, however you additionally don’t want to make use of a number of workouts inside your exercise which makes the lat pulldown a great, time-efficient selection.

How to Program the Lat Pulldown

To maximize muscle growth and energy, a wide range of rep ranges can be utilized on the lat pulldown. However, it’s best to by no means use a weight so heavy that it takes away from executing the train correctly.

Too many lifters pile on the load and swing their torso to get it shifting, considering they’re overloading their again when all they’re doing is stressing their joints, not their muscle groups.

Moderate Weight, Moderate Repetition

To maximize muscular hypertrophy, coaching inside an in depth proximity to muscular failure within the six to 12 rep vary for 3 or 4 units is the simplest method to program this train.

Light Weight, High Repetition

The use of the cable machine creates fixed rigidity, growing the muscle-building stimulus. This might be additional exploited on the finish of a exercise to totally exhaust all muscle fibers. Using two to 3 units of 12 to twenty reps will serve you finest.

Lat Pulldown Variations

The lat pulldown is a extremely adaptable train that can be utilized in a wide range of methods by merely attaching a distinct deal with or attachment.

V-Bar (Neutral-Grip) Pulldown

The neutral-grip variation makes use of a V-bar attachment to permit your palms to face one another. This adjusted grip place supplies you with a mechanical benefit which lets you elevate extra weight.

This is a good variation to make use of for working the encircling muscle groups of the scapulae via a full vary of movement whereas strengthening your again within the course of.

Supinated-Grip Pulldown

The supinated variation makes use of a normal lengthy bar together with your palms going through you. The key distinction with the supinated lat pulldown is that it trains the biceps greater than the usual pulldown, with the lats being educated extra in the usual motion. (7)

This might be seen as an identical relationship between the pull-up and chin-up, with the chin-up emphasizing the biceps and the pull-up emphasizing the lats

Single-Arm Pulldown

Attaching one single deal with to the pulley and coaching every arm individually means that you can establish any muscular imbalances between sides of the physique. By specializing in either side independently, you may strengthen and proper any variations.

The free motion of a single deal with additionally means that you can use a wide range of hand positions, both impartial (palm going through you), supinated, pronated, or rotating in the course of the motion. Each hand place will barely alter muscle recruitment and may cut back stress on elbow or shoulder joints.

Lat Pulldown Alternatives

Once you have got constructed a stable basis of energy on the lat pulldown, your again can be higher developed to progress into extra superior train alternate options. It is necessary to notice that the lat pulldown can nonetheless be used inside your exercises, however the order of precedence might change.

For instance, you might carry out more difficult workouts earlier in your again exercise when your energy, focus, and power is greater and practice pulldowns later within the exercise.


The purpose of efficiently performing a pull-up (or chin-up) ought to be on each lifter’s thoughts since it really works all the again, might be achieved practically anyplace, and is very easy to progressively overload.

Mastering this basic body weight train can profit any lifter or athlete.

Assisted Pull-Up

The assisted pull-up, both with a machine or utilizing resistance bands, is a good train to transition from pulldowns to full pull-ups This train means that you can observe the right positioning of the higher physique and reinforce method that can be required when performing a pull-up.

Use this train to deal with feeling the again musculature all through the eccentric (decreasing)and concentric (lifting) parts of the elevate whereas additionally working towards your means to interact your core and preserve your torso steady.


Is there a “best” pulldown attachment to make use of?

All of the variations of the lat pulldown are very efficient workouts that ought to be used throughout a number of phases of coaching. To maximize total again growth, it might be a good suggestion to rotate one or two of those variations into every part of your programming.

This will assist lower any muscular imbalances which will happen when solely specializing in one train, however also can make it easier to establish any weak factors that you could have when utilizing sure variations.

How lengthy till I can carry out a body weight pull-up?

Every particular person will progress at their very own means primarily based on numerous particular person elements, so there isn’t any set timeline to attaining your first body weight pull-up. However, in case you are incorporating a mixture of the above pulldown variations into your exercises, this provides you with the most effective alternative at lastly attaining that body weight pull-up or chin-up quicker.

While the pull-up could also be thought of as the final word purpose, as soon as you are feeling that your again is powerful sufficient, beginning with the chin-up various will can help you observe the identical common method concerned within the pull-up, however it’s comparatively simpler to carry out because of the slight mechanical benefit utilizing a supinated grip.

Perfect the Pulldown

The lat pulldown is a dependable back-builder, good for inexperienced persons and superior lifters. It ought to be a staple in any again routine, whether or not you’re on the best way to your first pull-up or can knock them out by the dozen.


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