How to do Lat Pulldowns Correctly and Safely

 
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INTRODUCTION

The lat pull down is one of the only useful machines in the weight room. It allows you to train a large group of muscles at once making it efficient and functional. The cable pulley system also allows for a more free range of motion of the weight as compared to other machines where the motion is rigid and fixed.

LAT PULLDOWN FORM VIDEO TUTORIAL

 

BENEFITS OF THE LAT PULLDOWN

  • Strengthens the upper back muscles, the biceps, the forearms and the lattisimus dorsi

  • Provides versatility by allowing you to change the width of your grip

  • Trains the same muscles as a pull-up, which is one of the best exercises of all time

 

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE LAT PULLDOWN

  • Lattisimus Dorsi
  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior Deltoids
  • Mid-Low Trapezius
  • Biceps
  • Forearms/Grip

 

BEHIND THE NECK PULLDOWN PRECAUTION

It is not recommended that you do this exercise behind the neck. It can place excessive strain on your shoulder and rotator cuff

 

PERFORMING THE LAT PULLDOWN

  • Approach a pull-down machine with a bar that allows you to maintain a grip outside of shoulder width

  • Adjust the knee pads to a height where you can keep your shins roughly perpendicular to the floor

  • Grab the pulldown bar with your palms facing forward at a grip outside of shoulder width

  • Place your knees under the knee pad and sit down

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  • From this position, arch slightly at the upper back so that your chest is sticking out slightly

  • Next, depress and retract your scapula to lock your shoulder blades in place

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  • Maintain this position and do not let your shoulder blades protract

  • Maintain a flat neutral back throughout the rest of your spine

  • Take a big breath and begin pulling the bar down

  • Initiate the movement by pulling your elbows down towards your pockets

  • Bring the bar down to touch clavicles

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  • Concentrate on squeezing your upper back muscles at the end position

  • Slowly return the bar back to the starting position

  • Do not change your back position in an effort to artificially make it seem like you are bringing the weight lower

 

WHAT ABOUT A CLOSE GRIP LAT PULLDOWN?

The lat pulldown could be performed from different grip widths. The wider your grip, the more back muscles are used (more lats), and the closer your grip is, the more arm muscles are used. A good place to set your grip when starting out is just outside of your shoulder width.  Every 8-12 weeks vary your grip width to get a slightly different stimulus.

 

 

SUMMARY OF THE LAT PULLDOWN TECHNIQUE

 
 

Click on each blue circle to view the key technical aspects of this exercise

 

COMMON LAT PULLDOWN MISTAKES

NOT BRINGING THE WEIGHT ALL THE WAY DOWN

If you do not perform a full range of motion, you are only cheating yourself and not working the muscles to their full potential. Touch your clavicles on every repetition but do not compromise your form

 

ALLOWING YOUR SHOULDERS TO INTERNALLY ROTATE AT THE BOTTOM
 

This usually happens when the weight is either too heavy, or you are performing too many reps. Keep your upper back arched and your shoulder blades back. If you cannot finish the final rep of the set, don’t try and force the bar to touch your clavicles. This will cause wear and tear injury to your shoulder and lead to anterior shoulder discomfort.
 

 
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USING EXCESSIVE MOTION OF THE SPINE TO LIFT THE WEIGHT

The weight is too heavy. Do not allow your back angle to change much during the lift

 

INTEGRATING THIS EXERCISE INTO YOUR ROUTINE

Want to know how to use this exercise in your workout? Check out The Best Workout Template For Busy Individuals to learn how to integrate it into your training!

 

LAT PULL DOWN ALTERNATIVES

 

Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here