Lat pulldown: how-to, features of the exercise and proper form


In most cases, lat pulldown acts as the main exercise on the back. It is generally accepted that traction is only a substitute for pull-ups, but this exercise has a number of advantages that make it not an alternative, but a worthy “competitor”. In this article, we will consider all the features of the traction technique, as well as the main mistakes that significantly reduce the effectiveness of this exercise.

Advantages and features of lat pulldown

The uniqueness of the thrust of the upper block lies in the fact that this exercise is used both by beginners who have just arrived in the hall and by professionals who perform at competitions. With the right technique, the movement perfectly develops the back, focusing on the broadest muscles. This allows:

  • progress in increasing muscle mass (and not only the back due to the involvement of a large number of muscle fibers and the subsequent anabolic response);
  • improve posture;
  • to increase strength indicators in any exercises where the back is involved;
  • to prepare muscles, joints, and ligaments for performing full pull-ups;
  • the ability to exclude biceps from work as much as possible, which cannot be done in pull-ups on the horizontal bar.

How to fix forward head posture fast: perform chin tucks, which help to strengthen neck muscles and correct alignment. Incorporate chest stretches to relieve tightness that contributes to forward posture. Additionally, practice mindful posture corrections throughout the day by keeping your ears aligned with your shoulders.

It is especially worth noting that, as with pull-ups, traction involves many muscles. This contributes to a better anabolic response, which is good for the growth of all muscles. For this reason, the movement is recommended for beginner athletes and at least in the first year and a half workouts should be one of the main movements for the back. If we consider which muscles work when performing vertical traction, then it is worth highlighting:

  • back muscles (latissimus, trapezium, back extensors);
  • shoulders
  • arms.

It should be borne in mind that with the help of changes in the technique of the exercise, you can change some conditions. For example, reduce the load on the biceps, which will automatically increase the efficiency of traction for the back muscles.

Grip width variations in lat pulldown machine: close grip pulldown, wide grip lat pulldown, neutral grip pulldown

Despite the fact that the exercise looks quite simple and you just need to pull the handle of the upper block, there are many nuances that can change the effectiveness of the exercise. In order to get the most out of thrust, it’s important to know all the details. The first thing you should start with is determining where to pull the handle. There are two options: behind the head and to the chest. That is, front or back, relative to the head.

For an unknown reason, among thousands of athletes, the option of traction for the head, which is considered anatomically unnatural, has spread. As a result, 4 out of 5 athletes significantly distort the technique, which they would not do when lowering the handle in front of them. Therefore, the option “for the head” is better to exclude from your program. It is much more traumatic, especially for the shoulders, less efficient and does not allow working with large weights without distorting the technique.

The second important nuance is swinging the choice of grip width. There are three main options for a standard long curved handle:

  • close (shoulder width);
  • wide (much wider than shoulder level);
  • medium (averaged version).

It is impossible to say exactly what width will be the most correct. This is an individual question, which depends on the length of the hands and other factors. It is important to remember that with a narrow grip, biceps are more involved in the work. Considering that the latitudinal muscles of the back should be maximally involved in the exercise, this is a significant minus. With a wide grip, the load falls mainly on the broadest muscles, but there is also a minus – the amplitude is reduced, and the lion’s share of the effectiveness of the exercise depends on it.

Therefore, it is best to choose a neutral grip that combines the optimal value of the disadvantages and advantages. The only exceptions are cases when the athlete is best suited for a specific grip width and it is in this mode that he feels the maximum work of the latitudinal muscles.

Correct lat pulldown form and technique. Reverse grip pulldown technique.

Consider the classic execution technique, which is the foundation. If you master it, you can correctly pull in any style. Also, for beginners, when mastering the technique, it is recommended to try to strain the desired muscle region, that is, the widest, but the hands, on the contrary, should relax, excluding them from work. The technique itself will look like this:

  • Grip the handle with the desired grip, then sit in the block simulator and pull the handle down. In the initial position, you must hold it with tension, on outstretched arms.
  • Slowly begin to lower the hilt as low as possible to the chest.
  • At the bottom point, pause briefly and then slowly return to the starting position.

Reverse grip pulldown. Try to sit so that you can fully lock the body and perform movement only at the expense of the back, shoulders, and, to a lesser extent, the arms.

There is also an alternative exercise, in which you need to pull the weight to the chest with a reverse grip. It has its pros and cons. The main plus should include an increase in amplitude and a change in the load on the widest. By cons – biceps are more involved in the work. Nevertheless, if you know how to concentrate the load on the right muscles when doing the exercise, the reverse grip can be a good alternative to the classical technique. It is important to remember that with this style you need to use a narrow grip.

Otherwise, all the conditions are the same – pull the hilt to the chest, try to maximize the widest at the lowest point, and always make a short pause.

Lat pulldown: Basic rules and common mistakes

Despite its simplicity, there are some details without which the traction will be almost useless. Therefore, it is important to remember the most basic rules:

  • Correct positioning is a key aspect. The traction efficiency will depend on this. Remember that the back should be even, the pelvis should be left back so that there is a natural deflection in the lower back. Also, put your chest forward and bring your shoulder blades a little, this will help keep your back and neck straight.
  • It’s strictly forbidden to swing the case back and forth (unfortunately, many gym visitors sin this). To do the exercise correctly, you need to move the body back a little. This will lower the hilt to the chest correctly and avoid swaying.
  • When you tilt the housing back, it is important to remember that the cable should move straight down. To fulfill this requirement, you must sit as far forward as possible, this will allow you to deflect the body and pull the weight vertically (the reception is great when you imagine a straight line that continues the cable and is directed towards the middle of the spine. Lower the handle exactly along the given path).
  • It is necessary to return the weight back a little slower than pulling it towards you. The negative phase of the exercise is equally important.
  • At the top, you need to feel the stretching in the latissimus dorsi.
  • Try to do the exercise in full amplitude. If this fails, then reduce the weight.
  • Remember that elbows should be taken back, not down. For this, it is necessary to tilt the case back, otherwise, it will not be possible to properly retract your hands.

To some extent, sitting harder is harder than pulling up. If in the last exercise everything is simple and you need to correctly lift the body up, then there are a lot of small parts in the draft on the block simulator. Their observance critically affects the effectiveness of the exercise. If you evaluate how to replace lat pulldown, then you can give as an example only one exercise – pull-ups.

But most professional athletes perceive both movements as separate complete exercises, each of which is present in the training program.


In most cases, the lat pulldown is recommended for beginners as the main exercise for developing the back, which is absolutely correct. Firstly, this will ensure rapid progression, and secondly, rarely among beginner athletes can perform at least two full-fledged approaches to strict pull-ups. No less, as practice shows, all the technical disadvantages that were not corrected during the development of traction remain with the athletes for many years and are perceived not as errors, but as technical features. As a result, every second visitor to the gyms pulls with a significant violation of technology.

Here you can find much info about anazole if want to use it during workouts. This applies even to those who work with serious weights. Remember that in this exercise the technique will always prevail overweight because the better it is, the more effective the pull.

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