Don’t Ignore Your Lats! Using the Lat Pulldown Machine Correctly


Charge up your back day routine with proper techniques and variations of the lat pulldown

The lats (lattimus dorsi) are the main “pulling muscle” on your back, originating on the lower vertebrae and ribs and inserting into the bicipital groove on top of the humerus
upper arm

Incorporating the lat pulldown machine into your workout routine can provide several benefits, including better muscular balance, better posture, better aesthetics and an increase in overall strength. We will dive into lat pulldown benefits as well as some proper techniques and variations using the lat pulldown machine

Benefits of Lat Pulldown Machine

As opposed to pull-ups, which are even difficult for serious lifters, lat pulldowns allow you to adjust the weight per your strength level. The seated position, immobilizing your quads underneath the knee-pad, allows for a tighter form and more isolation of the lats, as compared to pull-ups

Lats are also integral muscles in deadlifts, squats and even bench.  For deadlifts, lats are one of the main muscles used to achieve lockout after the initial lift-off. When it comes to bench, the thickness of your lats can shorten the ROM for your arms, allowing you to press more


We all know the guys that bench too much and don’t hit their back. I like to call them “knuckle-draggers” because their weak back can’t support their front side. Using the proper form on the lat pulldown machine will allow you to potentially improve your posture by balancing out weak muscle groups and strengthening your spine

Lastly, what woman doesn’t love a glorious, “V-Shaped” back? All women feel safe behind a man that has strong, wide lats

Proper Lat Pull-down Technique

Even if you normally use the lat pulldown machine every week, improper use may lead to serious back problems. Check out this step-by-step process with to properly execute a lat pulldown

Adjust knee-pad so that your body is immobile
Set your feet flat
Bring your chest towards the machine
Retract your shoulder blades. The rule of thumb here is to pretend like you are putting your shoulder blades in your back pocket

Grab the angled portion of the long bar with a normal grip we will dive into grip variations later
Breathe in and stabilize shoulders
Breathe out and begin to pull the bar towards the top of your chest until you can feel your lats pressed together
Slowly go back to your starting position and repeat Emphasize the eccentric movement, as this is just as important as the pull, for lat strength and growth

A common mistake that people make while performing back exercises is they emphasize their biceps over their lats. Any back movement starts with retracting and depressing your scapulas. In other words, bring your shoulder blades together and down, and only after that, you use your biceps. A lot of the time, you will burn out while doing lat pulldowns due to overuse of your arms

Elbow position also plays a major role in which part of the back you are stressing. To emphasize the side of your lats, keep your elbows within your vision (in front of you) and bring the bar to your chest. Keeping your elbows behind you will emphasize more of the upper lats. Make sure your head and neck remain in a natural position to reduce strain

Lat Pull-down Variations

Normally, lat pulldowns are performed with a bar that has a slight angle on each end. But don’t neglect to use different attachments! For those who have a difficult time “feeling” their back during lat pulldowns, try using a soft attachment, like a rope. It allows you to use a more natural grip and doesn’t exhaust your arms. Trust me, you will see the difference


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About Tamer El Sheikh

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
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