Muscle group:   The back muscles, the arm muscles

Trained muscle:   Latissimus, biceps, forearm

Focused muscle:   Latissimus

Fitness level:   Beginner; advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Machine exercises


Lat pulldown represents a very popular exercise for the latissimus muscle. It also works out the brachioradialis of the forearm and the biceps of the upper arm. The exercise is familiar with the pull-ups.

Lat pulldown

Lat pulldown is typically performed on the cable machine. But there also are lat pulldown machines without cable that can be used. The motion sequence and execution don’t change among the different machines. But there is quite a large variety of different handles we can use and positions we can take to work out.

The classic lat pulldown is executed to the neck. We take an upright position and fixate our legs with the provided cushion from above. If you can adjust the seat it is quite comfortable to have the knees slightly below or in one line with the hips. Sit close to the machine so that the cable is running down straightly. Grab the bar widely with the back of your hands pointing backward. In a controlled movement you pull down the bar to your neck (head bends forward). The bar can smoothly touch your neck but not hit it hardly. Bring it back up but don’t extend your arms completely. The passive structure of the arms would be strained considerably in complete extension. Also, it would deactivate the latissimus what is not desirable during the lat workout.

Lat pulldown variations

Lat pulldown variations

Lat pulldown machine

Lat pulldown machine

Lat pulldown to the chest

Lat pulldown can also be practised to the chest. The execution stays the same. We now have to lean a little backward pressing the chest outward. Be careful with your back. Keep your abdominal muscles tensed and avoid a hollow back.

Another variation of the lat pulldown is when we lean even further back. Here, we can chosse a narrower grip with the front of our hands pointing toward the body. Press your chest outward. Pull the bar down toward your chest with your arms close on the sides of your body. In this version you have to stabilize your body a lot. Don’t work with momentum at all. Keep the muscles of your trunk tensed.

Latzug mit verschiedenen Griffen

Latzug mit verschiedenen Griffen

Lat pulldown variations

Performing lat pulldown we can also choose between different handles. The range extends from narrow to wide grips with different hand alignments. But we could also work out with imaginary resistance. We sit on a chair, bench or the ground and imagine a bar or handle in our hands with high resistance. Move your hands up and down according to the execution described above. Tense all muscles of the trunk and focus on your latissimus. You could also choose other hand positions as explained above.

Lat pulldown with imaginary resistance

Lat pulldown with imaginary resistance

All variations of the lat pulldown become extremely intense when we work out in small impulses in the area of highest muscle tension (handle bar pulled down) as described here: Best form of exercise


Antagonist: Chest muscles, triceps

Stretching: Lat stretches

Dieser Post ist auch verfügbar auf: German