A pull-up is an excellent compound exercise for increasing upper-body strength and muscle mass, but they are challenging. Many individuals will give up after only a handful of pull-ups, which may really destroy your desire all throughout the workout.
Fortunately, this is where the lat pull downs workout shines. It’s comparable to a pull-up in that it tests your mid- and upper-back muscles, grip, and arms, but you have greater control over how heavy you lift and can slow down the tempo to help you gain muscle mass quickly.
A stalwart amongst bodybuilders, lifters, and fitness enthusiasts alike, the pull-downs offer multiple variations to target your back in a variety of ways and with very few adjustments to achieve strong and well-defined back muscles. Good form is critical, so before you start pulling up some weights, here’s what you need to know to perfect your back game.
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Do Lat Pulldown
- Lat Pulldown Benefits
- Common Lat Pull Downs Mistakes to Avoid
- Lat Pull Downs Muscles Worked
- Lat Pull Downs vs Pull-Ups
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and programs
- Lat Pull Down Variations
- Lat Pull Down Alternative Exercises
- Frequently Asked Questions About Lat Pull Downs
How To Do Lat Pulldown
What You’ll Need:
- Lat Pulldown Machine – It is normally performed sitting, facing the machine, with your arms gently extended back to the beginning position after pulling a long bar linked to the wire towards your chest.
- Barbell – Putting weights in a barbell for pullovers is an alternative to lat pulldowns.
- Lat Pulldown Attachment – Various options of lat pulldown bars in different lengths and grips, making the workout more focused and challenging.
- Bench – The bench must be padded to lie on your stomach while performing the exercise comfortably.
Step 1: Position Yourself In The Machine
Your starting position is to set the thigh padding of the lat pulldown machine to fit firmly on the top of your thighs and sit in the machine, securing your lower extremities.
Brace your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine, and try not to arch your low back before, during, and after the exercise.
Step 2: Reach and Hold The Bar
Grab the bar with both hands, firmly grasping it shoulder-width apart. Depress and retract your scapulae as you draw your shoulder blades back and down while your arms are stretched above, and try to maintain this posture for the duration of the exercise.
Lean slightly back and support your body with your legs as you keep your head in line with your spine.
Step 3: Pull The Bar Down
Release the tension as you exhale slowly and begin the downwards pull by compressing your scapulae first, then dragging the bar down towards the top of your chest.
Pull in a manner that brings your elbows directly down to the floor, lowering your elbows to the sides of your body. During the pull movement, avoid any extra backward lean.
Step 4: Control Its Way Up
Controllably pull the bar until it comes close to or reaches your chest or until you see your elbows no longer traveling downward but instead starting to travel backward. Avoid further pulling since it adds additional pressure to the shoulder joint.
Step 5: Hold And Repeat
Hold for a second, then gradually return to your starting position by letting the bar ascend until your elbows are completely extended, then allowing your scapulae to rise slightly.
Then that counts as one rep, and repeat the process until you have achieved your desired reps and sets.
4 Lat Pulldown Benefits
1. Building Muscle and Strength
If you want to improve your pull-ups, you must perform pull-ups. However, if you aren’t yet able to execute one, or if you cannot perform enough pull-ups to get a significant level of training volume in, you should utilize the lat pulldown to raise your fitness levels.
To develop a stronger pull-up, you may also employ large weights, eventually nearing your body weight.
2. Helps You Achieve A Wider Back
Lat pulldowns can assist you in expanding the width and size of your back. Lats could be trained directly in huge quantities, using heavy weights and various grips.
Most people are unable to execute pull-ups in sufficient amounts; thus it’s recommended to do the exercise many times per week to induce significant back muscular growth.
3. Increased Upper Body Strength and Improved Posture
Lat pulldowns can stimulate muscular growth across your back and shoulders by stimulating your latissimus dorsi and rear delts. Also, lat pulldowns can strengthen your posture during regular tasks by training the muscles in your back.
4. Beneficial For Other Exercises
Lat pulldowns can increase your performance overall, especially during other complex workouts that require your back muscles, such as pull-ups and chin-ups.
Common Lat Pull Downs Workout Mistakes to Avoid
Pulling the Bar To Your Waistline
When individuals drag the bar to their lower rib or waist area, it’s generally an error to make. The issue with this movement is that the arm muscles are engaged rather than the lat muscles. This way, it’s a pointless movement that serves no purpose.
Furthermore, going that low puts additional strain on the shoulder muscles as this is the most typical error to make in this exercise. With that in mind, pay close attention to moving the bar to the top of your chest.
Too Wide Of A Hand Grip
Because most bars are quite wide, many believe that the wider they grab it, the better. The bar, on the other hand, is wide since it must be adequate for everyone in the gym. There are several reasons why having a very wide grasp is a bad idea.
The first effect will be a reduction in range of motion. That suggests the muscles aren’t being engaged and stimulated as well as they should be. As a result, they will not grow as much.
Another issue with the wide grip lat pulldown is that it places additional strain on the shoulder muscles since they are awkward. This might potentially lead to shoulder problems.
Pulling The Bar Behind Your Head
The issue with this movement is that it is out of the ordinary. It’s considered unnatural, and it’s certain that people don’t’ do this as it’s harmful to your shoulders in the long term. While the shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body, it was not meant for such a movement.
If done over an extended period of time, it can lead to various shoulder problems, including rotator cuff tears. Instead of pulling the bar behind your neck, pull it to the top of your chest, near your collarbones.
Lat Pull Down Muscles Worked
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Trapezius Muscles
- Upper Arm Muscles
- Muscles in The Rotator Cuffs and Shoulders
The overhead pulling movement of the lat pulldown activates forearm muscles and also multiple muscle groups of the shoulders and back, which is why it is such a vital exercise. The latissimus dorsi, or lats, are the wing muscles that may be seen on someone with a well-defined back.
They are the primary movers in this multi-joint exercise and the greatest muscles in your back. The lats are a broad muscle that runs from the mid and lower spine, the top of the pelvis, and the lower scapula to the front of the humerus.
The lats are in charge of arm adduction, horizontal abduction, extension, and internal rotation. When the arm is anchored above, the lats pull the body in an ascending motion toward the arm.
Lat Pull Down vs Pull-Ups
Pull-ups are mostly used to improve upper-body muscle. They primarily work on your upper-back muscles, including your lats and abdominals. Hold the pull-up bar with your elbows and pull upwards while pulling your shoulder blades back to perform a pull-up. The goal is to get your chest to the bar.
On the other hand, Lat pull downs work your upper-body muscles as well. It has frequently been stated that when performing this exercise, proper technique and form are required to get the most out of it. Begin by gripping the handlebar with a wide grip and sitting up straight. Begin the workout by pushing the bar lower towards your chest while seated.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:
For Muscle Gains
To have a properly developed back, incorporate heavier lat pulldowns on a third training day. But in both the mild, medium, and high rep levels, the back muscles strengthen in response to increased volume and loss.
With this exercise program, you could train your back a couple of times each week using a diversity of rep ranges for optimum growth. Begin by scheduling three to five sets of 10-15 repetitions with moderate to heavy weights.
Or you could do two to four sets of 15-25 reps with moderate to heavy weights to near failure, with rest times ranging from 45 to 90 seconds.
To Build Strength
The lat pulldown exercise may be used to improve overall upper body strength and to build the muscles of the back. Maintain proper form and concentrate on moving the heavy load with your back rather than your entire body.
Avoid slacking back, jerking with your upper arms, or applying too much force. The objective is to improve back strength rather than total body strength. Begin with 3-5 sets of 5-10 repetitions with heavy weights, resting as required.
Lat Pull Down Variations
Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Down
If you want to enhance the diameter of your back and improve general upper body strength, the wide grip width variant is a fantastic alternative. This version will also improve your pull-up strength by allowing you to train your lats with proper form throughout the whole range of motion.
The V-bar pulldown is a terrific alternative for strengthening your core while still working your lats. If you opt for the V-bar, lean back a bit more than usual to allow for a complete range of motion as you lower the bar to your chest.
While fully extender, keep your grip at shoulder-width apart, which will assist you in achieving maximal strength advancement because of the wide range of motion.
Single-Arm Lat Pull-Down
If you’ve ever done a lat pulldown, you’ve most likely utilized both hands simultaneously. If you need to get in and out of the gym quickly, this conventional bilateral lat pulldown increases the amount of weight you can lift while also making good use of your time.
However, underestimating the value of the single-arm lat pulldown would be a mistake. Nothing matches the single-arm lat pulldown for experiencing the mind-muscle connection and increasing the pressure at the bottom of the movement.
Kneeling Lat Pulldown
Kneeling lat pulldowns increases the range of motion, making previously effective actions even more effective. You also have to manage your body more and stabilize yourself, which adds to the difficulty.
Lat Pull-Down Alternatives
The fundamentals of the pull-up are quite similar to that of the lat pulldown exercise, and it works your lats almost as hard. The majority of individuals are also stronger in the Pull-Up, and the entire workout gives you a terrible burn in your abdominal and core.
The sole disadvantage of this exercise is the degree of strength required to finish a full rep and set range.
Barbell Pull Over
This exercise involves a Barbell and is performed by lying down flat, keeping your arms rigid and hands shoulder-width apart, and pulling the bar back and above your head, then bringing it to its initial position. It’s comparable to a Skull Crusher, but you move your entire arm instead of flexing at the elbow.
When extending, aim to settle back so you feel a comfortable stretch in your lats and maintain your motions controlled and firm to avoid over-extending your elbow joints.
Seated Low Cable Row
The seated low cable row is an excellent workout to include in your regimen if you want to train your entire back while also getting an awesome bicep pump. It also exercises your glutes.
By activating your core and using your legs, you can alleviate some of the tension, making this the ideal exercise to end your workout with.
Chest Supported Incline Dumbbell Row
This eliminates the need to brace with your core and eliminates any form of motion with your upper chest. You will be able to concentrate on your back due to this. Check out our post for more of Lat Pull-Down Alternatives that can make your workout more challenging and beneficial.