Pure Gym Limited

Lat Pulldowns

What is a lat pulldown?

Lat pull down exercise

See all lat pulldown variations

The lat pull down machine is used to target the latissimus dorsi muscle (i.e. your back). It is typically performed seated, facing towards the machine, where you pull a long bar attached to the cable, towards your chest, and then slowly extend your arms back to starting position.

The lat pulldown can help to improve back strength and increase the size of your back muscles. It's a popular exercise for the back for beginners up until advanced gym goers. 

For lat pulldown variations, check out our guides which include a step by step breakdown on how to perform the exercises below.

Check out our other back exercises: Rows


What is a good weight for a lat pulldown?

A good weight for a lat pulldown would differ from person to person. If you’re new to performing the lat pulldown, start with a light weight and focus on learning good technique. Once you’ve learned how to execute a lat pulldown with good form, you can add more load to a manageable weight that challenges you but also doesn’t compromise your form. As you perform these consistently week over week, you will find your body will get stronger, and you can adjust the weight if needed.

How to do a lat pulldown without a machine?

If you don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine, an alternative piece of equipment you can use is a resistance band and a wooden stick. Make sure you can attach your resistance band to a …

Is a lat pulldown the same as a pull up?

The lat pulldown targets the same muscles and replicates the same vertical pulling down motion as the pull up.

Both can be good exercises to help build back muscle and upper body strength. The lap pulldown is performed using a weight-adjusted cable exercise machine whereas a pull up is typically performed hanging from a bar using your own bodyweight.

The lat pulldown is good if you do not have the strength to pull your own bodyweight or if you want to perform drop sets, as you can adjust the resistance on the machine. As it requires less core and scapula control, it can be easier and more manageable for beginners.

Lat pulldown tips

  • Resist the temptation to use momentum to pull the bar towards your chest. Instead focus on recruiting your back muscles to pull the bar.
  • Once you've pulled the bar towards your chest, release the weight in a controlled manner by slowly extending your arms forward.
  • Brace your core when your perform this exercise to keep your torso stable.

Lat Pulldown Variations

How to do lat pulldowns

Conventional lat pulldowns are an excellent back and bicep exercise that is ideal for both strength and hypertrophy.

How To Do Lat Pulldowns
How to do close grip lat pulldowns

Close grip lat pulldowns train the lats through a greater range of motion and engage the traps and rhomboids to a greater degree.

How To Do Close Grip Lat Pulldowns
How to wide grip lat pulldown

The wide grip lat pulldown shifts tension away from the biceps to help isolate the lats more. 

How To Do Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
How to do reverse grip lat pulldowns

Reverse grip lat pulldowns have more involvement from the biceps, allowing a heavier load to be moved.

How To Do Reverse Grip Lat Pulldowns
How To Do Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns

The straight arm lat pulldown switches tension from the biceps to the lats and rotator cuff muscles. 

How To Do Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns
Single arm lat pulldowns

Single arm lat pulldowns help to address muscular imbalances and improve strength, stability, and coordination. 

How To Do Single Arm Lat Pulldowns
Kneeling lat pulldowns

Kneeling lat pulldowns are a great alternative that can be carried out on any cable machine. 

How To Do Kneeling Lat Pulldowns

If you’re not sure whether a work out is suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. If you're unsure of how to perform any of the above exercises, please ask help from a PT at your gym.