How to Use the Lat Pulldown Machine

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

I don't think i've ever used that type of machine before. Report
Excellent Report
Good to know, thanks! Report
Thanks for this.... proper form is important Report
Thank you for sharing. Report
I agree with the others... pictures or an animation to show how it is done properly would be great for those learning. Report
Thanks Report
Thanks! Great info that all of us should know! Report
Trying hard to maintain a knowledge takeaway without at least illustrations or a video here. Report
Good need-to-know information, thanks. Report
Good article. Report
Article definitely needs an animation or real-life video attached so the proper form can be visualized. Like squats and deadlifts I'm sure this exercise is improperly done all the time. Report
Absolutely great Report
These are my first machine to go to, on the Universal and I pyramid the weight. I notice people doing the pull down dangerously close to their teeth and fast. So they are jerking up at the top givng the shoulder girdle a shock. Report
Thanks for the info Report


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.