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Top 10 Lat Pulldown Variations for a Stronger, Wider Back

Looking to tone your back muscles, and you’re searching for lat pulldown variations? Try these 10 variations and see your back get broader than before.

Joe Wlison
lat pull-down machine workout
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Are you tired of the same old back workouts and not seeing the results you want? Well, you need to try lat pulldowns

This powerhouse move is about to revolutionize your back routine, giving you that stronger, wider look you've been chasing. 

We've got the best ten lat pulldown exercises that will shake up your workout and target those hard-to-reach muscles. 

Whether you're a new or a seasoned pro, these pulldowns are your ticket to a more defined, impressive back. 

So, get ready to pull your way to greatness!

What Is a Lat Pulldown?

The lat pulldown is a gym exercise where you pull a weighted bar down towards you. 

It mainly works the muscles in your back, especially the lats (large muscles on the sides of your back). 

You sit, grab the bar, and pull it down to chest level, then let it go back up. It's great for building a stronger, wider back.

You can perform lat pulldowns with three grips, including overhand, underhand, and neutral grip. 

Lat Pulldown Variations

Lat pulldowns can be performed with cable machines and resistance bands. Here are some variations of this exercise:

1. The Standard Pulldown

The Standard Pulldown

This is the most common variation of the lat pulldown exercise that gives your back muscles a good hit despite being very simple and straightforward.

  • Simply sit down on the bench with your legs tucked under the pads.
  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the bar down to your chest. 
  • That's one rep.
  • Make sure to keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the exercise.
  • Perform as many reps as you can.

2. The Wide-Grip Pulldown

The Wide-Grip Pulldown

The wide-grip pulldown is a great exercise for targeting the lats. Lats are responsible for bringing the arms down and back, making them an important muscle group for activities like rowing and swimming. 

  • The wide grip pulldown is performed by sitting at a lat pulldown machine and gripping the bar with a wide, overhand grip. 
  • From there, simply pull the bar down to chest level, maintaining a strong posture throughout the movement. 
  • Remember to keep your elbows close to your sides and resist the temptation to swing the weight - this exercise is about controlled movement. 

3. The Reverse-Grip Pulldown

The Reverse-Grip Pulldown

This variation is performed with an supinated grip (palms facing you), which targets the lower fibers of the lats. It's a great exercise for adding width to your back.

  • Start by sitting at a lat pulldown machine and adjusting the seat so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Next, grab the bar with an underhand grip and then position your hands so that they are shoulder-width apart. 
  • Slowly pull the bar down from there until it is level with your chin. 
  • Be sure to keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the motion. 
  • Finally, return the bar to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Note: If you are new to this exercise, starting with a lighter weight may be helpful until you get the hang of the movement.

FYI: Can you do lat pulldowns with resistance bands? Yes, you can do lat pulldowns very easily with a resistance band. Here's how to do it:

  • After securing your resistance band to a raised fixture, sit or kneel down on the ground. 
  • With arms extended and palms facing downwards, grab hold of the band. 
  • Next, pull downward with your lats as far as possible before squeezing them tightly at the bottom. 
  • Finally, slowly return to the starting position.

4. The Close-Grip Pulldown

The Close-Grip Pulldown

The close-grip pulldown is performed with a close grip on the bar (hands placed close together). The minor change in the placement of hands makes all the difference. It becomes an upper back muscle specialist with this slight change of grip. 

  • Sit at a lat pulldown machine with the weight stack set to your desired weight. 
  • Then, grasp the bar with a narrower grip than shoulder width. 
  • Simply pull the bar down to your chest while keeping your elbows close to your sides. 
  • Be sure to keep your upper body still and your shoulders pulled down and back throughout the movement. 
  • Reverse the motion and return to the starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps.

5. The Single Arm Kneeling Pulldown

The Single Arm Kneeling Pulldown

This unassuming movement is often overshadowed by its more popular cousin, the seated lat pulldown. But the kneeling single arm lat pulldown is a powerful exercise in its own right and can be a valuable addition to your workout routine.

The kneeling position helps effectively engage arms and shoulder muscles along with the lats- the primary target. Additionally, this exercise allows you to use a greater range of motion than the seated lat pulldown, which can help you build muscle. 

And because you're not anchored in a machine there is an added core stimulus involved.

  • Start by kneeling on a mat or bench. 
  • Use a cable machine, grasp the handle with a neutral grip. 
  • If using a resistance band, anchor it to a sturdy object at about head height. 
  • Pull the handle down towards your shoulder and keep your back straight and your core engaged. 
  • Squeeze your lat at the bottom of the movement, then slowly return to the starting position. 
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps per side.

6. Standing Straight Arm Lat Pulldown 

Standing Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

The standing straight arm lat pulldown is another great way to add core stability to your usual lat pulldowns. It engages and strengthens the lower back and helps build more muscles in your arms and shoulders. Plus, it is so simple to execute. There is no complexity involved at all.

  • Stand in front of a cable machine with attachment set around head level and grasp the rope with a neutral grip. 
  • Pull the rope down to your hips, then return to the starting position. 
  • Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire range of motion to prevent your lower back from arching.
  • Release and extend your arms upward in a controlled fashion.
  • This is one rep.
  • Repeat the desired number of reps.

7. Supinated Machine Lat Pulldown 

Supinated Machine Lat Pulldown

The supinated machine lat pulldown is a great way to target your lower lats (a problem area for most people). This grip on your lats can help alleviate your lower back pain caused by weak muscles in that area. 

  • To do this exercise, sit on a lat pulldown machine with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Grasp the bar with an underhand grip. 
  • Pull the bar down to your chest, then return to the starting position.
  • This is one rep.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

8. Face Pulls 

Face Pulls

Face pulls are among the best moves that help correct poor posture and evenly develop strength throughout the upper back musculature. Poor posture often leads to rounded shoulders, which can result in hunched posture popularly referred to as 'text neck' these days.

Face pulls may not be as flashy as deadlifts or as popular as pull-ups, but they're a crucial part of any well-rounded back workout. 

  • Start by attaching a resistance band to a sturdy object at about shoulder height. 
  • Step back until there is tension on the band, and then grip the band with your hands about shoulder-width apart. 
  • Pull the band towards your face, maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement. 
  • Be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.

9. V-Bar Lat Pulldown

V-bar lat pulldown is an amazing exercise that specifically targets your latissimus dorsi (lats) besides activating the shoulders, biceps, and middle back muscles. 

Its neutral hand placement helps reduce stress on shoulders while vertical pulling. 

  • Sit down at the lat pulldown machine and hook up a V-bar. 
  • Grab the bar with your palms facing each other. 
  • Start by pulling your shoulder blades down, then bend your elbows and pull your arms back. 
  • Pull the bar down to where your elbows line up with your sides. 
  • Then, let the bar go back up slowly to where you started. 
  • Do this as many times as you want.

10. Behind the Neck Lat Pulldown

It is a lat pulldown variation where you need to sit on a pulldown machine, and the weighted bar is held behind the neck. Besides targeting lats, it engages rear deltoids. However, it is not suitable for beginners or people with shoulder issues. 

  • Grab the bar with your palms facing away and start by pulling your shoulder blades down.
  • Bend your elbows and pull the bar down behind your head until it's close to your neck. 
  • Let the bar go back up slowly to the start. 
  • Do this as many times as you've planned.

FAQs

1. What is an alternative to lat pulldowns?

You can do pull-ups or inverted rows if you don't have access to a lat pulldown machine. 

They work the same muscles as lat pulldowns; you can do them at home without a machine.  

2. What do different grips on lat pulldown do?

Different grips on lat pulldowns help target the lats in many different ways, isolate the back muscles more efficiently, improve the range of motion, 

It targets specific parts of the lats. Various grips also make this move more of a compound movement engaging shoulders and arms. 

3. Is lat pulldown the same as pull-up?

The lat pulldown is a machine-based routine in which you draw a bar toward your chest. 

The pull-up is a bodyweight exercise in which you hang from a bar and pull yourself until your chin is over the bar. 

Both work the same muscles- back, shoulders, and arms.

Conclusion 

Lat pulldowns are the way to a stronger, wider back. There are multiple lat pulldown variations; you can try any one of them based on your preference. 

Whatever the variation you choose, you need cable attachments for different lat pulldowns and do them effectively. 

Use DMoose Cable Machine Attachments and get the best lat pulldown results. These are sturdy attachments with rubber grips. 

Grab them now and transform your back!

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Joe Wilson

Mr. Wilson is a motivated fitness instructor accomplished in helping clients of all fitness levels get into shape and achieve their health and fitness goals. Strongly believes health is a conscious lifestyle choice necessary for longevity and happiness.

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