Gym Shorts: The Lat Pull Down

New to the lat pull down or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

The Lat Pull Down

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps:

  • Choose Your Grip
    • Underhand Close Grip
    • Overhand Grip
    • Overhand Wide Grip
  • Underhand Close Grip
    • Grab the bar standing up
    • Palms facing you (supinated)
    • Arms straight up
    • Sit down
    • Big stretch at the top
    • Pull elbows down
    • Meet the bar with your chest
  • Overhand grip
    • Thumbs around bar
    • Hands just outside shoulders
  • Overhand wide grip
    • Grab the angled part of the bar

The lat pull down requires access to a lat pull down machine or an attachment to a power rack that enables a pulley that is attached to some weight. Luckily, more options are becoming available for home gyms, so more people can perform this movement.

Lat pull downs allow people who cannot perform chin ups or pull ups to execute a similar movement (an upper body vertical pull) and this can also be a great thing to put at the beginning of a workout to help warm someone up if they struggle getting into the squat rack position.

Different grips emphasize different muscle groups, with a supinated grip enabling more contribution of the biceps.

While nothing is quite as good as chin ups or pull ups, and working on banded and negative chin ups or pull ups is the best way to get your first chin up or pull up, lat pull downs can help stress the muscles used in chin ups and pull ups.

We tend to program lat pull downs for higher rep ranges, so often 8-15 reps, often at the end or near the end of a workout. If you’re on an upper/lower 4-day split, we usually do these on the upper day.

To progress these, you can usually first add weight, though, eventually, you’ll have to focus on increasing the tonnage through manipulating the sets, reps, and weight. Another option is to start at a lower weight with higher reps (e.g. 3×15) and keep adding weight until you get to something close to 3×5. You also can do AMRAP sets with these, where each set you will likely do fewer reps.

If you have the ability to do lat pull downs and can’t do chin ups or pull ups, this is a GREAT accessory lift to strength your upper back, shoulders, and arms.

Click HERE to a video on how to get your first chin up and HERE to learn how to barbell row, another great upper back exercise.

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