How to do Lat Pulldowns (AVOID MISTAKES!)

Do you know how to do lat pulldowns? If not, you’re in luck. In this video, I am going to show you exactly how to perform a lat pulldown so that you can perform the exercise every time without making a single mistake. Remember, it’s not just what exercise you do, but how you do them that matters the most and I want to make sure that you get the form right every time you do the lat pulldown.

Step 1 of this lat pulldown guide is setting the proper height of the leg pad:

To set the proper height of the leg pad when performing a lat pulldown, you will want to make sure that there is contact between your thighs and the pad. Don’t set it too low, however. While the pad should be in contact with your thighs, you will need to allow for your heels to raise 1-2 inches off the ground. Doing so will allow your body to travel just enough with the bar as it ascends to the top. Setting the pad too high and removing contact with your thighs means you will lose all leverage in your pull and with heavy enough weight, will bring your entire body off the seat and up with the bar.

Step 2 of this lat pulldown guide is establishing the proper grip:

Using a straight bar, you will want to be using an overhand grip. How wide your grip is on the bar will be dependent on your body’s dimensions, but you will want to aim for having your hands just outside of shoulder width. The best way to establish this grip width so that you can perform the lat pulldown with good form is to make sure that your wrists are directly over your elbows. If your grip is too wide, you will focus the exercise onto your teres major. Too narrow and you will be shifting the focus to your forearms.

Step 3 of this lat pulldown tutorial is torso angle:

For proper lat pulldown form, you need to make sure that your torso is set to the right angle when you pull the bar down. Leaning back from upright / vertical means that you will be shifting the focus of the exercise to the muscles in your upper back. For better lat activation, you will want to remain as upright as possible. Whichever you are targeting will dictate how much you lean back.

Step 4 of this lat pulldown guide is the pull target point:

The target point of the lat pulldown is extremely important for proper lat pulldown form. You need to target your upper chest around the height of the collar bones. It is important to note however, that caving your chest forward and down while pulling the bar down is incorrect. Instead, you want to visualize bringing your upper chest to the bar as you pull it down.

Step 5 of this lat pulldown how-to is elbow positioning:

What you are targeting will dictate where you need to focus your elbows’ movement. If you are focusing on building bigger lats, then you will want to imagine yourself driving your elbows down towards your front pockets as you are seated. If you want to shift the focus of the exercise onto the muscles of the upper back, then it would be in your best interest to drive your elbows back further behind you.

Step 6 of this lat pulldown tutorial is controlling the eccentric:

When you do the lat pulldown, you need to make sure that you are in control of the eccentric portion of the lift; the ascent of the bar. While you can either cheat the concentric lowering of the bar or perform it strict, you need to always control the eccentric raising of the bar. This will allow for for more stretch on the lats by taking them through their full range of motion which will lead to greater muscle growth.

Step 7 of this lat pulldown how-to is intensifying the exercise:

If you are a more advanced lifter looking for intensity techniques to make the exercise more difficult, you can incorporate partial reps and / or paused reps. Performing partial reps after reaching failure is not bad lat pulldown form, instead, it is taking the exercise to and through failure. As we know, failure is incredibly important for muscle growth especially for seasoned gym vets. Paused reps in the stretch position takes advantage of the loaded stretch benefits for stimulating new muscle growth.

With this guide, you now know exactly how to do the lat pulldown with perfect form.

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