Lat Pulldown Variations for Developed Back

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Do you want to build a big back that looks like an airfield? Or, you are simply bored with the same exercises on the lat pulldown machine and wish to modify your back workout a little bit?

I have good news for you because I’m going to show you some lat pulldown variations that will boost the size of your back. Also, you can target one particular muscle group better to get rid of your weak points. So, your back training will be more versatile and effective.

1. Single Arm Lat Pulldown for Back

single arm version

Single arm movements are great to cure muscle imbalances. For example, if your one side is stronger than the other. Also, because the load is on one side, your core muscles are activated to keep the balance of the body. To sum up, you can improve the symmetry of your body.

This exercise is an excellent alternative for single arm dumbbell row if for a reason you do not want to do that.

Instead of the bar, attach a single handle. Sit on the bench, fix your knees, and grab the handle. Pull down by keeping your arm close to your torso until your elbow is a bit behind your back. Then, slowly with a controlled technique, return the weight to the starting position.

If you have not done this exercise before you may find it hard to keep your upper body vertical since the resistance wants to tilt out of your balance. You may help yourself by grabbing the upright bar of the machine with your other hand. Even better if you use light weights first, and gradually increase the resistance so that your muscles get used to the new practice.

2. Wide Grip Reverse Lat Pulldown exercise

reverse grip variation
Reverse grip pulldown

Another excellent exercise for lower lats development and for strengthening your lower lower back. However, if you have problems with your wrists, you may find it uncomfortable to perform it. Because of the underhand grip.

Because of the reverse grip, you can focus on back muscles much better as if you were doing the traditional pulldown. Also, it is a great progression exercise for chin-ups if you want to start bodyweight training.

By the way, the best is if you combine it with close grip pull down which targets the middle parts of your back.

The starting position and almost the whole motion is virtually the same as the regular lat pulldown form. But because of the reverse grip, at the top of the movement, you cannot straighten your elbows, but that is not a problem.

3. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

This is an excellent exercise to isolate your lats. However, most of the gym goers do it incorrectly.

Grab the lat bar a few inches wider than your shoulders. You can bend your elbows a little a bit so that you can target your lower lats accurately. When you pull the bar down keep your back straight and lean forward about 70-80 degrees. At the end of the motion pull as much as you can so that your shoulder blades come close to each as near as possible. At the top stop for a moment and squeeze your back. Finally, slowly let the bar back to the starting position.

4. Narrow natural grip V-bar pulls

lat pulldown variations
V bar pulldown

Because of its nature, among the lat pulldown variations this provides the strongest grip. Therefore, you can lift a heavy weight that leads to more effective muscle mass and strength development. Actually, this is my favorite workout machine exercise.

The targeted areas are your latissimus dorsi, but also your lower back, abs, and biceps are activated. Hence, it is a great compound move for strength.

The starting position is the same. Pull the V-bar towards your lower chest while your elbows go backward. When the bar reaches your chest, you may stop for a moment and tighten your back.

5. Alternating standing lat pulldown back exercise


In this case, the range of motion is the shortest, but because of the alternating pulling and standing position, we can target the latissimus
well. Anyway, it is a sort of the variation of the first exercise on this list, but a bit easier. Although, in this case, both sides are still working since one performs the pulling move while the other arm holds the weight and gives counterbalance.

There is no need to use heavy weights, it is better to do high reps (25-30) and do it as back workout finisher for pumping.

7. Seated Row

Depending on the machine, sit on a bench or on the floor and grab the close grip handle. Put your feet against the lat machine with your knees slightly bent to maintain a neutral spine. Keep your shoulders down and your chest out. This posture will help to keep your shoulder blades pinched throughout the whole exercise.

Now pull the bar towards your torso. When the bar reaches your body, squeeze your back. When you let the bar backwards make it with a controlled motion. Do not just drop it. Breath in when you let weight back, and out when you pull.

More reasons to these lat pulldown alternative exercises

As we mentioned before, with the help of these variations, we can target the back muscles from different angles for size and definition. Also, we can make the routine more versatile.

However, a lot of people have problems with how to do lat pulldowns correctly. And, these practices help to improve the correct for. Hence, they are ideal progression lat exercises for beginners. Just they need to use lighter weights that they can comfortably handle so that resistance does not go detriment of the correct form.

Note for home training: While we are talking about lat machine exercises, you can do these practices at home with the help of rubber bands or similar equipment. Fix it somewhere higher, and sit on a chair instead. A bit more complicated, but still much better than nothing.


What are the lat pulldown benefits?

It is compound exercise meaning that it works more than one muscle group at once. But, the min targeted muscle group is the lat. Another benefits is that, thanks to the machine, we can set the resistance to our level of strength.

lateral pulldown muscle groups
Wide grip lat pulldown muscles worked

Which grip is the best?

That depends on your aims. If you want to broaden your back, the wide grip is the winner. If you’re going to focus on your lower lats and lift heavier weights to build strength, then the close grip is the winner.

Here is a study about the topic.

I believe versatility is vital for development. If you always do the same exercises, the fibers get used to and stop growing.

To sum up

I hope you like these lat pulldown machine exercises, and you will include in your workout one or more. You will not regret it since your back training will be more complete leading to a more defined and bigger back. If you know other variations, please let us know on the comment section below.

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