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

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
BONDMANUS2002
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
I feel somewhat foolish in saying this, but - could we have a few photos to demonstrate the steps? Report
One of my favorite machines. No lore back fat. :) Report
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. Report
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 Report
Great information thanks!
Report
Thank you. Report
I can never do those right and yes I wish that they did have pictures to show me what I am doing wrong. Report
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. Report
Wish there was a picture..... Report
Great article. I really need help with learning proper form for the machines at the gym, so this helps me so very much. Report
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. 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.
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