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The back is a huge area and performing different exercises is essential in order to strengthen the upper posterior region. A great compound exercise that strengthens the back is the lat pulldown.

Below we’ll look deeper into lat pulldowns and we’ll cover the following:

  • Muscles involved in lat pulldowns
  • Benefits associated with lat pulldowns
  • How to properly do lat pulldowns
  • Common mistakes when performing lat pulldowns
  • Video on how to do lat pulldowns
  • Back exercises to complete your back workout

What Muscles Do Lat Pulldowns Work?

Primary Muscles

  • Latissimus dorsi: This is the largest muscle in the back that starts under the tail end of the trapezius and goes all the way down to the sacrum, and out onto the posterior iliac crest. It also has some fibers arising from the lower four ribs, and occasionally from the tip of the scapula. It is a powerful adductor of the humerus and a depressor of the scapula.
  • Rhomboids:  Muscles located in the upper back in between the scapula. They support and draw the scapula superomedially, and rotate the glenoid cavity.

Secondary Muscles

  • Forearms: Located in the upper limbs between the elbows and the wrists. They help hold the weight.
  • Erector Spinae (lower back): Set of muscles that run vertically along the side of the vertebral column, originating at the hip and extending up to the skull. These muscles help rotate and extend the spine and neck.
  • Trapezius (large paired muscles that extend longitudinally from the posterior top of the neck to the middle of the back and laterally from one end of the scapula to the other end). They support the arm and retract, rotate, and depress the scapula.
  • Biceps (biceps brachii): The muscle on the front of the arm or biceps brachii has 2 heads (short and long head).
  • Deltoids: These muscles are part of the shoulders and are divided in the anterior, lateral, and posterior delts.

Lat Pulldown Benefits

  • Strength: Lat pulldowns help strengthen your back.
  • Hypertrophy: They help you to get that awesome V-back. Besides increasing width in the upper back, lat pulldowns give you thickness.
  • Posture: Lat pulldowns help correct that forward-head / rounded-back posture. Getting used to the movement helps train your body to bring down (depress) and pull together (adduct) the shoulder blades, giving you a straighter posture and a more confident figure.
  • Lower Back Stability: Strengthening the lats helps stabilize your lower back. This can help you perform other exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and even chest presses.
  • Back Pain: Lat pulldowns help you deal with and prevent back pain since back pain is commonly caused by an unstable lower back.

How to Do Lat Pulldowns

  • Approach the lat pulldown machine and grab the bar a little wider than shoulder-width.
  • Bring your shoulders back and keep your chest tall.
  • Sit down with the bar in your hands so your arms are fully extended.
  • Move your upper back slightly backward and keep a tall neutral spine.
  • Bringing your shoulder blades down and together, pull the bar down between your chin and chest.
  • Keep your elbows pointed down and squeeze your lats.
  • Allow the bar to come up slowly in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat

*️⃣ You can perform lat pulldowns in diverse ways. You can switch the grip from neutral, as delineated above, to a close or wide grip. You can also switch from an overhand grip to an underhand grip.  Additionally, you can switch the long bar for D-Handles, short handle, or a V-handle.

If you don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine, you can also perform a variation using dumbbells: Bent Over Pulldowns.

Lat Pulldown Mistakes

  • Improper posture: Keeping the shoulders back and your low back neutral allows you to perform the exercise correctly and gain all its benefits.
  • Pulling the bar behind the neck: People used to perform lat pulldowns behind the neck, which can cause injuries and avoid targeting the lats properly. You should always keep the bar in front of you.
  • Bringing the bar down below your chest allowing the elbows to point back: This removes the tension from the lats and causes the shoulders to come forward. Not only that but it can cause injuries.
  • Using momentum: Bouncing removes lat engagement toward middle back engagement. If you are using momentum to move the weight, you need to go lighter.
  • Grabbing the bar too wide: Being too wide shortens the range of motion and can irritate the shoulder joint. 

Lat Pulldown Video

Strong Back: How to do Pull Downs

Back Workout

You can complete your back workout with Bent Over Underhand Barbell Rows, Dumbbell Pullovers, and Renegade Rows

Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, and Live Healthier!

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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