The Lat Pull-down is a phenomenal exercise for working the upper back muscles and even the abdominal wall in the background, building strength in a large part of the back muscles, back of the shoulder, between the shoulder blades and arms depending on the grip.
It’s performed on a work station with adjustable resistance, and although it may seem like a very simple exercise, mistakes are frequently made when performing it…
How do you do a lat pull-down?
The lat pull-down has a wide range of motion and is an excellent exercise as long as you follow the steps below to perform it correctly.
- Starting position: Adjust the load to the amount of weight/plates you can lift, as well as the bar so that you can almost completely stretch your arms and lower triceps to the side without leaving the seat.
- Concentric phase: Hold the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip facing forward and with the torso upright to work the lats fully.
The correct movement is to keep your elbows pointing downwards, as if you’re pulling the bar with your elbows and your hands are simply gripping the bar.
- Eccentric phase: Stretch your back to stretch the muscles more and bring your arms up, but without stretching them completely
What muscles are being worked?
This exercise works several muscles of the upper body simultaneously:
- The main muscles involved in this movement are the latissimus dorsi, teres major, and biceps brachii.
- The secondary muscles are the pectoralis major (lower and external), triceps and biceps longus, teres minor, rhomboid, brachioradialis, trapezius (lower) and deltoid.
The lat pull-down focuses on working the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is the “the broadest part of the back”, demonstrating the power of the exercise to strengthen the back as a whole.
Benefits of the lat pull-down
Among the benefits of doing this exercise are:
- Strengthening the shoulder muscles.
- Improving strength and increasing the size of your back muscles.
- Correcting body posture.
- Preventing back pain.
- Compensating for imbalances between the front and back of the body.
Mistakes to avoid when performing a Lat Pull-down
There are some common errors when performing the lat pull-down that not only make the exercise ineffective, but can also lead to neck or shoulder injuries.
Here are some of the most common mistakes:
- Pushing the bar forward with your arms, rather than pulling the pulley down with your back muscles: do not push your hands down with your elbows pointing backwards once the bar is down by your chest.
- Using momentum to pull the bar down, rather than in a slow and controlled manner: using momentum to pull the bar down often shortens the range of motion, which reduces the effectiveness of the latissimus dorsi.
- Pulling the bar to the chest: some people don’t have the flexibility to pull the bar to the chest, and that’s fine. If you pull the bar to this height against your flexibility, you’ll be lowering your arms too far (the forearm won’t be vertical).
Types of pull-down grips
- Prone grip: When the hands face forward. We can also find two types of variants: wide or narrow.
- Wide grip: The wider the grip, the more the latissimus dorsi will have to be worked during the exercise. This is a prone grip with the hands at a width greater than that of the shoulders (it can be up to the ends of the bar).
- Narrow grip: In this prone grip, there’s less separation between the arms and the hands are closer to the body in the concentric phase.
Chin pull-down with a wide grip.
- Neutral grip: Hands facing inwards. The bar is replaced by the triangle (allows pulling with a neutral wrist grip). In this grip, we also need to lean slightly backwards so that the shoulder sockets point slightly upwards, which will allow us to better activate the lats.
- Supine grip: We place our hands facing us. Through this grip, it’s possible to pull further downwards, achieving a greater range of movement and maximising contraction of the ridges in each repetition. It can improve on the prone grip in certain respects.
Some people have difficulty controlling the shoulder blades, and this essential to mastering the pull-down technique.
- We show you the best back exercises.
- If you want to improve your grip strength, check out this article.