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How to Do the Pulldown

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Updated March 21, 2007

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How to Do the Lat Pulldown -- Positioning the Body
The lat pulldown

Starting position for the pulldown

(c) Paul Rogers

The pulldown or 'lat' pulldown is an exercise mainly for the back although the shoulders and arms get some workout as well. The equipment for the cable pulldown is usually a weighted cable pulley station with adjustable weights and seat.

The latissimus dorsi on either side of the middle to upper back is the main target muscle group and is also the msucle from which the exercise gets its casual name. These muscles are called 'the lats' for short.

Muscles worked: the lats; shoulders and arms to a lesser extent.

Body Position

  • Sit on the seat and adjust the thigh pads so that the quads above the knees sit comfortably under the support. This is to prevent the knees rising up as you exert effort to pull the bar down.

  • Grasp the cable bar with a wide overhand grip, knuckles up and sit on the seat with thighs under the support. Alternative grips, narrow and underhand, are possible, but use the wide grip when starting out.

  • You should just be able to reach the bar when you stretch up. If you can't, adjust the seat or bar hanger cable or chain.

  • A slight stretch upward to grab the bar is not harmful but you don't want the bar so high that you have to drag it down under pressure so that you can sit down.

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