More ways to utilise the the lateral pull-down machine…

If your familiar with the gym, you will know all about the lateral pull-down machine. But if not, below is a pic of it. The lateral pull down machine targets exactly what it says, the lats. The latissimus Doris (lats) are the largest muscle of the back and run down each side of the spine. Keen gym goes often refer to them as ‘wings,’ because they spread out from the back. However, the lat pull-down also works the rhomboids, traps, biceps and rear delts.

The conventional way to use the machine is as below. Position your hands wider than your shoulders, tilt back slightly and pull the bar towards your chest.

lats extended

lat pulldown

This is a great exercise for the back, however there are lots of ways to utilise this machine. Here are a few:

Single arm

This is a new one for me, but I am really enjoying it. Use a lighter weight, grip the bar and pull towards you, but keep your arms extended. Pull down one arm at a time, alternating arms as you go. This is great if you have one side weaker than the other, like I do. If one side is stronger it tends to take more weight and the weaker side never catches up. By doing one arm at a time you isolate each side so that they lift the weight evenly.

one arm

otger arm

Neutral grip

For this one you need to swap out the bar for the neutral grip (pictured below). You can either grip the handle with palms facing each other and pull down towards your chest, or the way shown in pic. The movement is similar, but instead of pulling on a angle towards your chest, your pull straight down. Brace your abs for this one and slow the speed down… This one hurts.

neutral grip extended

neutral grip pull

Underhand grip

Instead of the hands gripping over the bar, grip the bar from underneath, about shoulder width apart. Squeeze your back and keeping your elbows tucked in, pull the bar towards your chest. This one is great for targeting the lower lat muscles.

Standing pullΒ 

Stand up and take a wide grip on the bar. I like to take a split stance, with one foot slightly infront of the other for balance. Lean back slightly and pull the bar towards your chest

So if the gym is busy and you only have a lateral pull-down machine, don’t despair, there are heaps of exercises you can do.


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