How To

Lat Pulldown - Pin Loaded


The lat pulldown is a great way to strengthen the latissimus dorsi muscle, the large, flat muscles across your mid-back. As the broadest muscle in your back, it helps to promote good posture and spinal stability.

You’ll use your lat muscles to pull something down from a high shelf, swinging your arms as you walk, run, row, or even push something. So it’s a great exercise to develop your back muscles and achieve that v-taper look.

Why perform this exercise?

The lat pulldown is one accessory movement many overlook when training back. Pull-ups are one of the best for building muscle and upper-body strength —  but they can be hard!

The lat pulldown uses a similar movement to the pull-up, targeting your mid- and upper-back muscles, arms and grip, but you’ll have much more control. Developing stronger lats will help with your squats, deadlifts and, most effectively, your bench press technique.

Targeting The Lateral Muscles

The lats are such large muscles that they’re involved in several compound exercises (Exercises that involve multiple muscles and joints). Deadlifts are one of the exercises that the lats play a part in; several muscles in the back are activated when performing this movement, and each one must be able to handle a share of the load because the deadlift is one of the most taxing exercises. 

As for squats, by activating your lats when prepping for squats, you’ll have more muscle thickness and width in your back and, therefore, will be able to maintain a tighter form throughout the movement, making squats easier to perform.

Lat Pulldown Technique

Lat pulldowns have a similar range of motion to pull-ups. However, you can use a stricter form because of your seated posture and adjust the weight depending on your level of strength.

  1. Sit on the lat pulldown machine and adjust the knee pad so there is no free space, and you’re tightly seated.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor, and push your chest upwards and out.
  3. Retract your scapula, which should create an arch leaning away from the machine.
  4. Take hold of the bar with your hands in a wide grip.
  5. When you’re in your starting position, inhale and keep your posture without letting your scapula loosen, or your shoulders raise.
  6. Exhale when you begin the movement (concentric contraction). Pull through your elbows until you can squeeze your lats at the bottom of the movement, and your shoulder blades are together.
  7. Slowly raise the bar until your arms are extended and back in the starting position.

Common mistakes and how to fix them

The lat pulldown is one of the most badly performed moves you’ll see in the gym, so you must get the technique right. You’ll regularly see people leaning back and yanking the bar towards their chest, using their full body weight to start the movement. Not only does this mean you’re not activating the lats (your whole reason for using this machine), but you’ll also be putting extra stress on the pelvis and lower back.

Your reps should be slow and controlled to make the most of the lat pulldown. Here are some other mistakes and how you can fix them…

Pulling the bar down past your chest 

Pulling the bar way past your chest and almost in line with your stomach takes virtually all the tension away from the lats and back. You can avoid this by keeping your chest high and stopping when you reach your upper chest.

Using momentum

Swing the weight backwards to build momentum also takes all of the tension away from your back muscles, so you’re essentially not using them! Keep your chest upright and maintain a good posture. Keep as stationary as possible throughout.

Shrugging the shoulders 

This is a clear sign the weight is too heavy for you. As you pull the weight down, your shoulders will lurch forward like a shrug. During the movement, your shoulder blades should stay down, with your elbows by your side.

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