A lat pulldown is one of the best exercises for targeting and building biceps and other muscles. But more and more people are looking for alternatives.
While a lat pulldown offers the best in terms of target muscle strengthening, improving muscle development, and overall development of shoulder muscles, it’s far from a perfect solution.
Done incorrectly, a lat pulldown or straight arm pulldown can lend itself to injury, especially from common mistakes such as using forearms instead of your back; letting your elbows go backward, or performing the lat pulldown too quickly.
The other problem? Lat pulldowns require exercise equipment, usually in the form of a cable pulley machine (lat pulldown machine). Cable pulley machines are available at most gyms, but if you don’t have a gym membership, there’s a good chance you don’t have a cable pulley machine.
A cable pulley machine (pull down machine) costs anywhere from a few hundred to even a few thousand dollars and can be quite heavy and take up a lot of space.
So while lat pulldowns are an excellent exercise, there’s a need for alternatives. In this article, we’ll cover you a guide to the best alternatives and then give you frequently asked questions about lat pulldown exercises.
What the exercise is
The classic pull up is a staple workout for a reason. Like a lat pulldown, pullups mostly target back muscles. Generally, performing a pull up requires three stages: the first position, where you hang from the bottom; the mid position, as you pull halfway up, and the final position, as your chin exceeds the bar.
In order to do a proper pull-up, you should grip the bar with both hands, shoulder width apart, and hang with elbows facing out.
As you pull yourself up, your back should be held firmly, but you should make sure not to tense your neck too much. After your chin exceeds the bar, come down for the completion of a rep.
Pullups are beneficial in a number of ways. For one, lat pulldown, pullups are considered a compound exercise, meaning they engage multiple joints and muscles at once, mostly for the upper body and back. Unlike some full body or even upper body exercises, pullups are actually considered relatively gentle on joints.
Pull-ups primarily target the upper back (Latissimus dorsi) as well as other shoulder and bicep muscles (such as the traps; muscles along the spine; shoulder blade muscles; and muscles under the armpit). As you can see, pull-ups are one of the most straight forward alternatives to a lat pulldown.
Pull-ups require a simple pull up bar that is not only widely available in gyms but can be easily installed at home and cost anywhere from under twenty dollars to around one hundred.
A lat pulldown works not one, but multiple muscles at once, which is why it’s considered among the more effective exercises for a total strengthening workout. The main muscle, latissimus dorsi, the most prominent muscle in the upper body/back, tasked with extension and horizontal abduction, and rotating the arm. In addition, a lat pulldown works biceps and forearms.
A lat pulldown may work many muscles at once, but it’s also considered targeted muscle exercise. It’s also said to encourage synergy between different muscle groups, meaning they will move more effectively and in conjunction with one another. They also may help ease pain from common issues associated with poor posture and hunching, and, of course, provide the general benefits of muscle workouts (increased metabolic rate and reduced risks for osteoporosis and arthritis).
Doing a lat pulldown properly can not only improve workout benefits but prevent injury. While using the pulley machine, you should bring your chest to the bar with your elbows facing straight down, with your chin lowered right around the bar. It’s also important to squeeze your lats as you perform the pulldown.
A standing pulldown combines two major exercises: the lat pull down with the seated row. It’s still very much targeted muscle work, but you’ll be targeting in a different way than you would with lat pulldown, but still building muscles in the back. This modified exercise works by using a barbell on the back of the rack around hip height and using a bar with a wide grip.