Skip to content

Straight Arm Pulldown — How to Do, Benefits, Variations & the Muscles Worked


Straight Arm Pulldown — How to Do, Benefits, Variations & the Muscles Worked
Table Of Contents

A shredded back translates to a shredded body; You can't do any severe weightlifting without it, and the wider your back is, the smaller your waist seems. Furthermore, a solid upper back is essential for preserving sound shoulders.

Good lats represent strength and power, and to achieve that back look; you must be familiar with straight-arm pulldowns.

The straight-arm pulldown is often misunderstood because it looks similar to the triceps pulldown. But it’s an isolation movement that targets the back, not your arms muscle, so read on if you plan to build some wings.

The straight-arm pulldown exercise is a version of the conventional lat pulldown. In this exercise, you move upright and keep your elbows locked out. It is an isolated workout focusing on the upper back while also targeting the shoulders and arms as supporting muscles.

The straight-arm pulldown strengthens the lats through a long range of motion and is helpful for persons who have problems feeling their backs work on standard pulldown exercises. As a result, it’s a terrific technique for focusing on lat growth.

How to Do Straight Arm Pulldown

Following are the detailed steps on how to perform a straight-arm pull-down:

  • Hook up a lat bar or wide-grip bar to the uppermost attachment point on the cable machine.
  • Grip the knob using an overhand grasp. The distance between your hands and your shoulders should be wider.
  • Take a few steps away from the cable machine to transfer the weight of the cable stack.
  • Keep your head and neck in a neutral position and stand up straight. You want your shoulders to be ahead of your hips by a small amount.
  • It's best to keep your elbows close to your sides and hold your arms in front of you comfortably.
  • Keep your chin tucked in as if you clutch an egg beneath your chin throughout the action.
  • Take a firm footing by actively engaging your toes and spreading your weight over your feet.
  • Prepare by tensing your hips and shoulders and tightening your abdominal muscles.
  • Actively use your lats by rotating your shoulders outward. This is the starting point for all repetitions.
  • Squeeze your lats and drag the bar toward your hips to start the descent while keeping your arms at shoulder length. Don't restrict the natural motion of your shoulder blades.
  • At the bottom, be sure to contract your lats.
  • Get moving in an upward direction. Maintaining your posture, carefully bring your arms back to the beginning position. This weight must not touch the weight stack.
  • Wait at least 2 minutes before starting the next round of repetitions.

You may perform three to four sets of 10-15 reps of the straight-arm pulldown. Pick your sets and reps based on how easily you can keep your form intact throughout the workout.

Muscles Worked By the Straight-Arm Pulldown

The teres minor and latissimus dorsi (lats) are the primary target muscles for the straight-arm pulldown form. The basic movement of this exercise is to extend the arm, which uses both of these muscles. The triceps will also be indirectly strengthened because of their role in arm extension.

Latissimus Dorsi

Although the lats are commonly thought of as the slab of muscle beneath the armpit, they are the largest back muscle and extend to the pelvis. Arm adduction, internal rotation, and extension are all helped by the lats.

Despite their lack of relevance to bulking up, the lats are important for breathing and are hence referred to as a respiratory auxiliary muscle.

Teres Minor

One of the rotator cuff's four muscles, teres minor, helps stabilize the shoulder joint. It's a tiny muscle that helps when you rotate your shoulder externally. It attaches to the scapula. It also helps in the adduction and extension of the arm.


Technically, the shoulder is the only joint involved in the pulldown (or pullover). But your triceps could feel a little sore after each set, though. Your triceps brachii are anatomically constructed in such a way that causes this.

The triceps have three heads. However, only the "long" head crosses the shoulder and elbow joints. Accordingly, it can lend a hand in bringing your upper arms closer to your sides. On the pulldown, it's natural to feel muscle activation in the triceps.

Benefits of Straight Arm Pulldown

Besides helping you develop a great back, straight-arm lat pulldowns have several other advantages. These are the results:

Develops Mind-Muscle Connection:

Many lifters find it difficult to "feel" their lats while using the row or pulldown versions. By keeping your arms straight throughout the straight arm pulldown, you can better feel and concentrate on your lat muscle because your biceps won't take over.


The lats move through a wider range of motion than in normal pulldowns, which has a greater potential for muscle growth because you're standing and not bending your elbows during shoulder extension.

Strength Translates to Other Exercises:

Maintaining a neutral spine and maintaining the bar close to the body while performing a straight-arm pulldown trains the lats just as they are used during a deadlift. In addition, tight lats prevent the squat from turning into a nice morning and improve the course of the bar while bench pressing.

Biceps Get a Rest:

Many lat workouts include elbow flexion, and after a few lat movements, your biceps could become fatigued rather than your lats. Pulldowns with straight arms help you isolate your lats without using your biceps. You can exercise your lats even if your biceps are exhausted.

Straight-Arm Pulldown Variations

While sticking to the fundamentals is always a good idea, a little originality never hurts. You can find various methods to vary the standard straight-arm pulldown by changing your grip position, attachment, or bar route.

Kayak Pulldown

This exercise is a hybrid of a straight-arm pulldown and a kayak row, as the name would imply. Increase your range of motion and feel your lats working during the kayak section of the exercise. It's the ideal combination with the straight-arm pulldown to produce a strong back pump and fry your lats.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start in a straight-arm lat pulldown position while standing in front of a cable machine.
  • Get a hold of a straight bar or rope and, keeping your arms straight, pull it to each side of your body as if you were rowing a kayak.
  • To ensure that you get an even workout, you should repeat the motion so that you row on both sides and with both arms in the top and bottom positions.

Dumbbell Pullover

If you want to train your lats through an extension pattern but don't have access to a cable tree, look no further. The lying dumbbell pullover is a great free-weight option for isolating your lats and practicing the biomechanical movement of shoulder extension.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit on the end of a secure weight bench as you get ready for this workout.
  • Put your feet on the ground with a small gap between them and the bench.
  • Dumbbells should be held in each hand. Roll backward so that you are now lying on the bench. Your head, neck, and back should be completely supported.
  • Spread your arms across your chest and toward the ceiling. Your elbows should be slightly bent, and your palms should face each other.
  • Taking a deep breath, raise the weights above your head and back while maintaining a solid core and back. Reach a fully stretched position where the weights are behind—but not below—your head in about 3 to 4 seconds.
  • Slowly exhale while bringing your arms back to the beginning position.

All variations of the pullover, whether performed with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or even a barbell, provide the lats a wonderful stretch and exercise them throughout their entire range of motion.

Common Mistakes

The straight-arm pulldown isn't that complicated. You pull the bar to your thighs while maintaining a straight arm position. Watch out for a few things to make the most of this exercise.

Too Much Weight:

Let's just state the obvious. Due to the less load than the lat pulldown, some lifters let their egos get in the way and go too heavy. Avoid doing that; you want to feel your lats, not your arms.

Bending the Elbows:

The straight arm lat pulldown is another exercise where lifters commonly bend their elbows when the load is too heavy. This diverts attention away from the lats, which is what this exercise is about. Your arms should be fully stretched or slightly bent, but they must stay bent the entire time. Avoiding elbow flexion and extension while performing reps is a good idea. Hold your elbow in place.

Bad Shoulder Positioning:

Before starting the workout, shrug your shoulders back and down to form a pack over your upper back.

Not Using a Full Range of Motion:

The straight arm pulldown is superior to other exercises for developing strong lats because it allows for a greater range of motion. You won't get the full benefit of the exercise unless you fully extend your lats at the finish of the movement and draw the bar down to your thighs.

Including Straight Arm Pulldown in Your Workout

For some reason, when trying to bulk up their backs, many weightlifters neglect the straight arm lat pulldown. It's not as flashy as other rowing or pulling versions, and it doesn't require as much weight, so it's sometimes disregarded. That being said, the lats are effectively targeted in this workout.

When performed at the end of your session in conjunction with other efficient, compound back exercises, you will completely exhaust your lats, resulting in more significant improvements.

Don't be afraid to mix things up by alternating between straight bar, wide bar, rope attachment, and resistance band pull downs from time to time.

Reading List

Healthier and Happier Life is One Step Away.

Get information on health, fitness and wellness with our weekly newsletter.

Write a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Comment are moderated
  • How to Track Fitness Progress: 10 Ways to Meet Your Goals

    Have you ever started a new workout routine full of enthusiasm and excitement, only to find that your motivation d...

  • 7 Reasons Why Bodybuilders Tan

    Bodybuilding! The art of bulging muscles, chiseled abs, and veins that pop out like spider webs. It's a world wher...

  • 7 Nutrition Rules You May Be Breaking Without Realizing as a Beginner

    When it comes to nutrition, it's easy to focus on what you should be doing. Eat your vegetables, drink plenty of w...

  • 8 Best Natural Ingredients for Weight Loss That Works

    Are you tired of fad diets and searching for a natural way to shed extra pounds? Look no further! Several powerful...

  • Beef Up Your Bench Press - 10x3 Workout Program
  • How to Strengthen Your Shoulders and Get the Muscles You Want

    One of the primary goals for a gym enthusiast is getting broader shoulders. It doesn't only enhance the overall ap...

  • 8 Fast Bodyweight Exercises for Weight Loss
  • Ice Cold Baths for Quick Fat Burn — Fact or Myth?

    History tells us that people from different cultures worldwide have been using ice-cold baths for various health b...

  • Stressing Out Vs. Freaking Out: Understanding the Crucial Distinction Between Stress and Anxiety

    How many times have you found yourself saying "I'm stressed" when what you truly meant was "I'm anxious"? It's a c...

  • Dive Into Weight Loss: Effective Strategies for Swimming and Fitness!

    Establishing a sustainable exercise routine is crucial for weight loss, according to Russell F. Camhi, a sports me...

  • Start your fitness journey today!

    Take an extra 10% off your order.

    reach out

    Toll Free: (833) 366-6733

    5700 Crooks Road, Troy, Michigan 48098

    *By submitting this form you are signing up to receive our emails and can unsubscribe at any time.

    Related Products to This Article