Lat pulldown machines can be found in every gym. They may seem like a one-trick pony, but in reality, these machines have a variety of uses to help strengthen your back and realign your spine.
The lat pulldown machine works multiple muscles in your upper body, most notably the latissimus dorsi (aka the lats). Many people assume this is where the “lat” in the name comes from. But it’s actually referring to lateral, based on the bar that is pulled on the machine.
Wondering how to do a lat pulldown? You’ve come to the right place. We’re going to break down some lat pulldown machine benefits, and how to use the lateral pulldown machine, fixing some of the most common errors. Let’s get into it.
Lat Pulldown Machine: How to Use
There are multiple different variations of exercises that you can perform on the lat pulldown machine, which we’ll come onto. But first, here’s how you perform the most standard variation of the lat pulldown.
- Hold the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
- Sit down on the seat, with your arms above your head.
- From this starting position slowly start to pull the handles downwards towards your chest area ensuring you are using both arms equally.
- As you reach the midpoint of the downward motion with the bar in line with your upper best, squeeze your lats and engage your core.
- Slowly reverse the movement. This is one rep.
Lat Pulldown Machine Exercises
The lateral pulldown machine is extremely versatile. Here are just a few exercises you can do.
Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown
Sit under the bar and grab it with a reverse grip (underhand), hands shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar down to your collarbone, leading with your elbows. As always, maintain a straight back throughout the exercise.
Single Arm Lat Pulldown
Sit under the bar and grab it with one hand using an overhand grip. Pull the bar down to your side, keeping your elbow close to your body throughout the exercise. Repeat on the other side.
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
Sit under the bar and grab it with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar down to your collarbone, leading with your elbows and keeping your back straight throughout the exercise.
Close Grip Lat Pulldown
Sit under the bar and grab it with an overhand grip, hands closer than shoulder-width apart (around 6 inches). Pull the bar down to your collarbone, leading with your elbows and keeping your back straight throughout the exercise.
V-Grip Lat Pulldown
This exercise keeps the hands in a neutral position, keeping them together in front of your body as you hold the handle of the attachment. As a result, you’ll be working less of your biceps, to further isolate your lats.
What Are the Benefits of Lat Pulldowns?
Lat pulldowns are compound exercises that target multiple muscles in the back. But they’re also an exercise that has an array of benefits beyond strength and muscle building.
Back Pain Relief
An astounding percentage of people experience regular back pain. This can be due to sitting all day, or having poor posture (we’ll come onto this!). Either way, many people searching for relief. One of the lat pulldown machines benefits is helping to alleviate back pain.
This exercise improves shoulder function and stabilizes the lumbar spine and pelvis. Often, the cause of back pain is instability and poor positioning of the spine, which can lead to cramping and trapped nerves.
Strengthening the lats – the widest muscle in the back – helps to realign and readjust the spine and combat pain.
73 percent of Brits have reported feeling unhappy with their posture. 60 percent admit to slouching, and 51 percent think it’s the cause of their recurrent back pain. The good news is that exercise can help! Specifically, using the lat pulldown machine can help to strengthen and realign the spine, leading to better posture and a reduction in posture-related back pain.
If you have a job that requires long hours of sitting or if you’re just someone who doesn’t get enough physical activity on a regular basis, you probably have some degree of postural issues.
- Slouch over when sitting?
- Sit at a desk all day?
- Sit cross-legged?
- Have an uneven shoulder line when standing?
- Have shoulders that roll forward instead of staying aligned?
If so, it’s time to do some lat pulldown exercises! Lat pulldowns depress and adduct the shoulder blades. In simple terms, they “un-round” a rounded back!
Common Lat Pulldown Mistakes
There are many mistakes that people make when using a lat pulldown machine. Some of the most common include:
You’re Arching Your Back
It is important to maintain a straight back throughout the entire exercise motion in order to avoid injury and get the most out of the workout. Arching your back puts unnecessary stress on the spine and increases your risk for injury.
You’re Using Your Forearms
Many people mistakenly think that they should be using their forearm muscles to power the exercise motion. However, this takes tension off of the lats and limits results. Instead, focus on using your lats to do the work.
Your Grip is Too Wide
A wide grip may feel more natural, but it actually decreases lat activation and makes it more difficult to perform the exercise correctly. Instead, use a shoulder-width grip on the bar for optimal results.
You’re Pulling Down Too Far
It is important not to pull down too far, as this can strain your shoulder joints. Instead, stop when your elbows are at about 90 degrees or when your hands are at chin level.
The lateral pulldown machine has an array of uses and benefits. If you want to fix poor posture, alleviate back pain, and add functional strength and size – the lat pulldown machine is for you.