The Lat Pull Down is a wonderful exercise to develop that V-tapered look which not only makes you look strong but also makes your waist look small. Unfortunately, many people do not perform this exercise in a way that actually benefits these physique-defining muscles. If you are going to exert yourself pulling down on a bar, be sure you learn the following 3 tips to ensure that your back muscles will, indeed, get stronger and more defined:
TIP#1 – Grip the bar at a width in which the hands are as wide as the elbows when the elbows are bent ninety degrees.
Generally, using the above grip width will target the back muscles the best and allow for the biggest range of motion.
TIP#2 – Stay retracted with a “chest up/shoulders back” posture the entire time.
Keeping your upper body retracted helps ensure that the back muscles stay engaged with the motion. It is very beneficial to keep the back muscles really engaged while the bar is going both downward and upward. Therefore, keep your back arched and retracted the whole time. It helps to envision the backside of your torso taking on a concave shape similar to a banana.
TIP#3 – Keep your elbows in line with the trajectory of the bar.
When you do lat pulldowns with the elbows pulling from and within the same plane of motion of the force (the trajectory of the bar), then you are geometrically positioned to maximize the use of the targeted back muscles. The most common mistake I see with the lat pulldown is that people pull in a way where their elbows go further behind the trajectory of the bar. And this causes, or I should say necessitates, internal rotation of the shoulders. Sadly, this not only decreases the use and tension of the lats but also puts unnecessary strain on the shoulders. Therefore, keep your elbows directly below the path of the bar instead of behind it.
Note: sometimes people tend to come out of retraction (TIP #2) when they move their elbows forward to the correct position.
Challenge: Work on both staying retracting and keeping your elbows tucked forward underneath the bar’s trajectory, and you should see and feel the difference.
So envision executing the lat pulldown according to these 3 tips and give it a go the next time you are in the gym. Below is a video demonstrating these tips: