Lat Pulldowns: How To, Tips, Benefits

The lat pulldown is a staple exercise in your back-day training split. Lat-pulldown specifically focuses on the latissimus dorsi, or “lats” isolating the back muscles, to develop a bigger, wider, and more defined physique.

Lat Pulldown

The few studies which have been published investigating the effects of the lat pulldown, show that is it extremely effective for targeting and isolating the lats for further muscular development. The lat pulldown is not a compound exercise by traditional standards, however like many other exercises it does stimulate other muscles within the arms, back and shoulders such as the deltoids, rhomboids, and stabilizers such as the rotator cuff [R].

Lat Pulldown Variations Include

  • Close-Grip Lat Pulldown
  • Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
  • Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown
  • Behind The Neck Lat Pulldown

Lat Pulldown Benefits

  • Increased Strength
  • Better Posture
  • Stronger Upper Back
  • Better Back Definition
  • Better Core Stability
  • Improved Muscular Balance

How To Do A Lat Pulldown

Lat pulldowns are performed at a workstation using cables, and stackable plates for increased load and resistance. 

  • Start out by adjusting the lat pulldown machine to fit your body, with the seat and pads.
  • Adjust the pads, so that your knees are placed securely below with your feet flat on the floor and the hips and knees at a 90° angle.
  • Reach up and grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Draw in and brace your core, tightening your muscles for better spinal stability
  • Slightly lean back your torso 20°-30° to match the line of the pull down with your latissimus dorsi
  • Keep your spine in a neutral position and avoid excess lumbar extension
  • Pull the bar down to your chest, bringing your elbows back focusing on your scapulae retraction/depression (squeezing your shoulder blades together).
  • Lower the bar until you feel a slight stretch in the pectorals and your lats fully contract your scapulae retract together.
  • As you let the weight raise back up, keep your trunk and core stabilized and avoid swinging through the movements, keeping good posture and fluid motion throughout the lift
  • Maintain full control over the bar and weight when allowing the bar to rise, to enable an ideal eccentric muscle contraction.

Lat Pulldown Tips And Tricks

  • Adjust the weight accordingly and avoid swinging your body. No one cares how much weight you lift.
  • Ensure proper form, slow extension and flexion reaching to the top of the lfit and stretching your core, then pulling down and squeezing your shoulder blades together for maximal contraction.
  • Adjust the knee pads and leave little to no room, so your trunk and hips do not lift during the eccentric phase of your lift.


Sperandei S, Barros MA, Silveira-Júnior PC, Oliveira CG. Electromyographic analysis of three different types of lat pull-down. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Oct;23(7):2033-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b8d30a. PMID: 19855327.

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