How to Do a Lat Pulldown: With & Without Machines

The lat pull down can be a great alternative to the pull up. While pull-ups are so difficult most people can only do a few of them in a row, the lat pulldown is much easier and requires less exertion but uses a lot of the same muscles.

Your body goes through many of the same motions to do a lat pulldown as it does a pull up, so you can enjoy life and benefits without quite as much exertion.

Do you know how to do a lat pull down? Most people don’t, and if you ask a lot of personal trainers, they will tell you this is one of the most poorly performed exercises in the gym.

If you don’t know how to do an exercise properly, you can miss out on a lot of the benefits, and you could put yourself at risk for injury. Why strain yourself when you can learn how to do a proper lat pulldown?

Doing a lat pull down improperly can mean putting extra strain on your lower back and your pelvic area. If you watch some people perform this move who don’t know what they’re doing, they may lean backwards and pull the bar quickly to their chest, relying on body weight for the exercise. This doesn’t allow the lat move to work properly and causes extra strain.

If you’re going to perform a lat pulldown properly, to use slow, controlled movements rather than jerky ones. I’ll show you how to properly do a lat pull down that gives you the full benefits and doesn’t cause injury.

The Proper Way to Do a Lat Pulldown

You want to start by making sure that the pad you’re sitting on is in the right position. It should rest between your thighs to keep you from moving around very much.

Then, check your grip position. You should have a wide grip on the bar and your torso should be bolt straight. Once you are in the proper position, you’re more likely to do the lat pulldown properly without much instruction. A lot of it comes down to positioning as well as how you use your body weight.

From this position, retract your shoulder blades and pull the bar slowly toward your chest. Your lats should be squeezed while you’re at the bottom of the exercise. Try not to lean backwards to put your body weight into this move. That is the wrong way to do it, and you rob yourself of some of the benefits while stressing out your body.

You want to give your arms or rest from time to time as you do lat pulldowns. That’s because gravity will drain the blood from your arms. Take a break every so often and consider reducing the weight on the pulldown bar so that you can do more reps in a single sitting.

You want to have some weight on the pulldown bar but not a lot. You should be able to do a lot of reps in a single go, and you’ll only be able to do that if the weight isn’t too much for you.

This exercise should give your back a really good workout, so make sure that you’re able to do a lot of reps. Otherwise, you’re mostly benefiting your arms and chest and leaving your back in the dust. A lower weight setting and more reps will do wonders for your back, helping to develop your lower back muscles.

This is important if you want to avoid lower back pain and back injuries and you would like to strengthen your back. The lat pulldown is a great move for people who suffer from lower back problems and who want to reduce their risk of future back injuries.

One of the most important things I can tell you about how to do a front lat pulldown is to do the move slowly. Going too fast and going too quickly will mean you won’t get through very many reps this way.

How to Do a Wide Grip Lat Pull Down

If you have a wide grip as you do this exercise, your latissimus dorsi will get more of a workout, carrying more of the load. Your lats are large, flat muscles around the middle of your back, and this move is great for strengthening your back.

If you have a strong back, you’re likely to have a strong chest as well. So, if you’re doing some serious lat pulldown reps, you’re going to be able to handle chest exercises like bench pressing and other weightlifting challenges.

With a wide grip, you can stretch your arms further than you would for a regular lat pull down. Even so, the regular lat pulldown grip is pretty wide compared to something like your bench press spacing.

For the wide variation of the lat pulldown, you’re going to place your hands on both ends of the bar. You keep everything else the same about your arm position and the way you do this exercise compared to the standard lat pull down.

Just make sure you’re doing the move and avoiding jerky movements. Pull the bar toward your chest and hold it there for a second as your lats squeeze.

Then, return the bar back up to the original position while keeping it under control. Everything should be done slow and evenly. This will help you to get the most benefits from it and to stay safe while you’re doing the move.

How to Do a Standing Lat Pulldown

Why would you want to do a lap pull down from a standing position? This isn’t the variation that most people prefer, but it’s a great way to work on your upper body strength and develop big lat muscles. It’s also good for improving your posture.

This exercise works best when you have a cable machine with a pulley system and a lat bar attached to it. Start by standing straight and facing the cable machine and extend your arms to grasp the lat bar. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart and your palm should be pointing away from you.

As you hold the bar, step back from the bench and put one foot on the bench for stability. From that position, lean back only slightly. This is your starting position for standing lat pulldowns.

To do the move, you need to engage your core and bring your shoulders back and down. On the bar until it comes to the top of your ribs. Hold the bar there for just a moment, allowing your lats to squeeze, and then return the bar to its original position. This is a single standing lat rep.

How to Do a Lat Pulldown without a Machine

If you don’t have a lat pull down machine or you don’t have access to a gym, you can still do this exercise. I’ll show you how to do the lat pulldown using resistance bands. These rubber tubes are flattened bands that will typically have a handle on either end.

You can either use a figure eight band or a flat band, and these come in latex and non-latex varieties. Check the resistance on the bands to make sure it fits your workout needs. You may benefit from a different strength level and want to choose either a light, medium, or heavy resistance band.

Start in a standing position and grab the middle of the band using both hands. Your arm strength and raised the bands over your head. Your palms should be pointed away from one another.

From that position, bend your elbows and pull your hands apart while at the same time lowering the band to your chest. Hold the band there for a few seconds and then return slowly to the original position.

As with the other forms of the lat pulldown, you want to do this slowly and using smooth motions.