How To Do The Lat Pulldown: The Complete Guide

The Lat Pulldown is one of the best exercises you can do for upper back strength. It mainly works the latissimus dorsi, the biceps and muscles of the forearm act as helpers. Several of the muscles of the rotator cuff also assist as you pull the bar down.

While Pull-ups are phenomenal for upper-body strength and building muscle, but they’re hard. Hence, not many people are able to do them for more than a couple of reps. So, Lat Pulldowns are an excellent way to increase your pulling strength and gaining substantial muscle mass in the process but first, you got to learn how to do them properly.

Learning The Lat Pulldown

  1. Sit on the Lat Pulldown machine while adjusting the pad over your thighs so it fits perfectly in order to minimize movement.
  2. Now, grasp the bar with a wide pronated(knuckles up) grip and lean back a bit slightly.
  3. Retract your shoulder blades and pull the bar down in front of your upper chest. Squeeze your lats at the bottom of the movement.
  4. Perform the exercise with a slow and controlled movement.

Common Mistakes

  1. Using Your Forearms – Be sure your forearms are not doing the work of pulling the bar down—you want it to come from your back.
  2. Pulling Down Too Far – Stop at the point where your elbows would need to go backward to continue pulling the cable down. If the elbows go backward it will put excessive stress on the shoulder joint.
  3. Using Momentum – As with most weighted exercises, perform the pulldown slowly and with control. Doing it fast uses momentum and reduces the use of the targeted muscles.
  4. Pulling the bar behind your neck – It will lead to rotator cuff injuries and also, you are shortening the range of motion. This should be avoided at all cost.
  5. Go too wide – There is also no need to go too wide as this can also shorten the range of motion and for those with cranky shoulders this is a surefire way to irritate the joint. Again, I recommend grabbing the bar above or just outside your shoulders, which is typically where the bar bends.

Related Exercises

Commando/Renegade Rows
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
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