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The lat pulldown is one of the most classic lats and back building exercises performed in back workouts. That said, there are some limitations to the exercise when it comes to developing all of the muscles of your back. In this video, I’m going to show you four lat pulldown alternatives for a better back that you can use in addition to the classic exercise the very next time you train.
To start, there are many different ways to do even the traditional pulldown exercise. You can perform it with your hands gripped underhand for instance. This helps to activate the biceps a bit more allowing you to lift more weight while also getting an anatomically good stretch on the lats in the top position of the rep. You can grip overhand and do so either narrow or out wide. The wider you go the more likely you are to activate the teres major muscle (an important yet overlooked muscle of the back).
That said, there are many other things that you can do with the lat pulldown machine that aren’t exactly pulldown grip or width changes. For instance, you can begin by swapping out the attachment that you are using to perform the exercise. Don’t always use the default bar to perform your lat pulldown reps. Instead, try attaching a rope and doing what may be my favorite all time back exercise, the face pulldown. The face pulldown is a variation of the face pull (which is something that I recommend you do at the conclusion of every back workout you do). Instead of pulling purely horizontal as is often the case with the standard version of this, you’ll be getting a vertical pull and will be able to use slightly heavier weights here for more hypertrophy.
Next, you can keep the rope in place and perform a straight arm pulldown. The rope, by virtue of the fact that it hangs lower than the bar, gives your arms more room to travel up and down and therefore get a better contraction of the lats at the bottom. If you used the bar you likely would have to stop because you run out of room on the pulley at about upper chest height. This will limit the degree of contraction that you are able to get in your lats. Instead, with the rope you can squeeze your lats hard and get the hands down to about waist level for a stronger contraction on every rep.
Now you can always use the traditional bar attachment as well, just perform your exercises differently for a different effect. Here you would want to try the straight arm scapular strength pulldown. This may be the most grueling but effective of them all. This is a variation of an exercise I did on instagram that caught the attention of Sylvester Stallone. This works a key element of scapular strength that often gets overlooked. Not anymore.
Finally, the scapula pulldown is another one of those small muscle exercises that delivers big results. Try to pull the bar and shoulder blades down without bending your elbows. This forces the muscles of the mid and lower traps to do it correctly. These muscles of the back often do not get the work that they should. Doing this exercise this way will deliver big results in a short period of time.
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