Pull-ups are a phenomenal exercise for upper body strength and muscle, but they’re hard. That’s where the lat pull-down can take over. It involves a similar movement, putting huge demands on your mid and upper back muscles, arms and grip, but you have more control over how much you lift and can slow the tempo right down to get added benefits for muscle size.
As the name suggests, the move targets the latissimus dorsi, the large, flat muscles across your mid back. Latissimus dorsi translates to “broadest of the back”, underlining the power of this move for giving you a strong back and contributing to a V-shaped torso.
A strong back is also vital for a strong chest, meaning the more you work on your lat pull-downs, the better equipped you’ll be to go big on the bench press.
However, along with the lateral raise, it’s one of the most badly performed moves in the gym. You’ll typically see someone leaning back and yanking the bar towards their chest, using their bodyweight to initiate the move. Not only does this mean the lats aren’t working properly, they’ll be putting extra stress on their pelvis and lower back. To make the most of this move, reps should be slow and controlled. Here’s how to do it properly.
How To Do A Lat Pull-Down
Adjust the pad so it sits snugly on your thighs to minimise movement. Grasp the bar with a wide grip, looking forward with your torso upright. Retract your shoulder blades and pull the bar down in front of you to your upper chest. Squeeze your lats at the bottom of the move. Resist the temptation to lean back too far to aid the movement.
A final word of warning: grip is typically the first thing to give up with most pulling movements – especially with this lift, since gravity is making all the blood drain down your arms. To ensure your back gets a tough enough workout, reduce the weight once your grip goes so that you can continue with the move and aim for high reps that will continue to challenge your lat muscles.
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