Purpose of a Lat Pulldown Exercise

by Jolie Johnson

About Jolie Johnson

Based in Austin, Texas, Jolie Johnson has been in the fitness industry for over 12 years and has been writing fitness-related articles since 2008 for various websites. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy from the University of Illinois.

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The lat pulldown is a multi-joint strength exercise that targets several muscle groups in your upper body. Use different grips to create a new feel to this exercise. A lat pulldown simulates a pullup, except you pull the weight toward you instead of pulling yourself up. This allows you to do a pullup type movement with less than your body weight.

Execution

Sit in a lat pulldown machine and grab the lat bar with a wider than shoulder-width, overhand grip. Lean back slightly at your hips to extend the range of motion. Do not round or arch your back; keep your spine in a neutral position. Pull your shoulder blades down and maintain this posture throughout the movement. Exhale as you pull the bar into your upper chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows to your ribs.

Function

The lat pulldown exercise is a strength exercise for strengthening and building your back and biceps muscles. Your latissimus dorsi, the large back muscles that run down the outside of your upper back are the primary movers. Other muscles in your upper back, such as the rhomboids and traps, assist with the movement, as do your biceps muscles. The lat pulldown exercise has the same movement pattern as the pullup. For this reason, the lat pulldown is a good exercise to start building the strength necessary for a pullup.

Variations

Use a cable machine or exercise bands to do the lat pulldown exercise if you do not have access to a lat pulldown machine. Try different grips to change the feel of the exercise. Flip your hands so your palms face up for a reverse grip, which is the same grip used for the chin-up exercise. Take a wide grip, close grip or medium grip. If you use a cable machine or exercise bands, add a twisting motion or use a neutral grip, where your palms face each other.

Considerations

If you take too wide of a grip for the lat pulldown exercise, you will limit your range of motion. Some versions of the lat pulldown exercise have you pull the bar back behind your neck. However, position this places undue stress on the front shoulder muscles. Pulling the bar to the front reduces this stress.

Photo Credits:

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.