Fitness Articles

How to Use the Lat Pulldown Machine

Build a Strong Back

In this exercise, movement will come from the shoulders and elbows.

The Setup
Start by sitting on the seat and adjusting the leg-restraint pad to the appropriate height. Your feet should be flat on the floor and the pad should help keep your legs and feet from rising as you lift. Once adjusted properly, take your legs out of the restraint and stand up.

The Weight
Form is important, so start with a lower weight and adjust it later. The weight should be heavy enough to fatigue your muscles within 8-15 repetitions.

The Position
While standing and facing the weight stack, grab the lat bar with a wide overhand grip (your hands should be wider than your shoulders). While holding the bar, sit back down on the seat and place your legs under the restraint pad. Allow your arms to extend overhead (in a V shape). Keep your abs pulled in tightly and lean back just slightly.

The Movement
Keeping your body stationary, exhale and pull the bar down in front of you, down to chest level. Your elbows should point back. Inhale and slowly extend your arms back overhead—but not completely (the weight stack should not slam, but should come close to touching). Throughout this movement, you should not move forward or backward from the waist—remain still. Aim for 8-12 repetitions and 1-3 sets.

Body Benefit
Strong, defined back & better posture

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Member Comments

  • This machine sounds like the one that I use at the gym. I have had other people to try and help me to do it correctly. I remember them telling me to lean back slightly. I usually do it with 70 lbs. weight. I will decrease this amount until I learn the proper form. Thanks, Coach Nicole.
  • LUANNE613
    Iíve seen people sit up straight as well as lean back slightly, always wondered what was right. I will Len back a bit from now on. And for those wanting photos, Iíve found good info on line
  • Great information thanks!
  • I can never do those right and yes I wish that they did have pictures to show me what I am doing wrong.
  • Although I know how to do this as I have been strength training for a couple of decades, as the previous poster indicates, "A picture is worth a thousand words". Beginners may not be able to visualize these instructions, and we all know poor form can injure you. Please add a picture for those less informed.
  • Wish there was a picture.....
  • Great article. I really need help with learning proper form for the machines at the gym, so this helps me so very much.
  • When showing the lat pulldown, I always say something about making sure to do a back "scrunch" at the bottom of the movement, because so many people bring the bar close to the sternum and don't get that lat contraction.

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.