If you want to know how to do the close grip lat pulldown with proper form, what muscles it works, and what the alternatives are, this page will show you what to do.
- Introduction and Benefits
- Close Grip Lat Pulldown: Muscles Worked
- How To Do the Close Grip Lat Pulldown: Proper Form
- Alternative Exercises
- Frequently Asked Questions
Introduction and Benefits
The close grip lat pulldown is a compound exercise used to train the muscles in your back and arms.
There are several different hand positions you can use to do the exercise:
- Reverse/supinated grip
- Overhand/pronated grip
- Neutral/hammer grip
This article focuses on the close grip pulldown done with a V-bar and a neutral grip, which means your palms face each other.
Close Grip Lat Pulldown: Muscles Worked
- Latissimus dorsi
- Teres major
- Elbow flexors (biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis)
- Posterior deltoid
How To Do the Close Grip Lat Pulldown: Proper Form
1. Attach a V-bar attachment to a lat pulldown or cable pulley machine.
2. Adjust the seat position and/or height of the knee pads so they sit snugly on your thighs, and provide enough pressure to stop your body being lifted off the seat.
3. Take hold of the V-bar attachment and sit down on the lat pulldown machine, facing the weight stack.
4. In the starting position, your arms should be straight and your body upright.
5. Keeping your elbows tucked in, pull the bar down towards your torso in one smooth movement.
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6. As you pull the bar down, lean back slightly, and think about lifting your chest up towards the bar while retracting your shoulder blades.
7. The bar should come down to the point where it’s roughly level with your chin.
8. Pause briefly at the bottom, squeeze your lats, and return the weight under control to the starting position.
Close Grip Lat Pulldown Video
Close Grip Lat Pulldown: Technique Tip
As you pull the V-bar down to the front of your body, make sure to lean back slightly, rather than remaining upright.
If you stay too upright, and pull the bar down in a straight line, you’ll end up pulling towards the clavicles.
But with a slight backward lean, the bar will come down to the sternum. This a healthier position for your shoulders, as well as maximizing activation of the lat muscles.
Workouts, Sets and Reps
The close grip pulldown is a vertical pulling exercise that can be placed anywhere in a pull, back, full-body or upper body workout.
For complete development of all the upper back muscles, it’s also a good idea to include some horizontal pulling exercises (e.g. barbell rows, seated cable rows, or dumbbell rows) in your workout routine.
Depending on how your overall training program is set up, aim for 2-5 work sets of 8-15 reps, resting for 2-3 minutes between each set.
TRX Lat Pulldown
Resistance Band Lat Pulldown
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should you lean back during the lat pulldown?
You want to lean slightly back, and pull the bar down towards your torso. However, there’s a difference between leaning back slightly and loading up the lat pulldown machine with so much weight that you need to swing and use momentum to complete a rep. Nor do you want to lean so far back that you turn the exercise from a pulldown into a row. A slight backward lean in the upper body is enough.
2. Which is better, lat pulldowns or pull-ups?
Studies show that lat pulldowns and pull-ups are equally effective for working the lats. But for many people, lat pulldowns are the better exercise, simply because they’re not strong enough to do pull-ups and chin-ups. You can and will build make your back muscles bigger and stronger using only lat pulldowns, and in many cases they’re a better option.
3. Can I get abs from just doing lat pulldowns?
4. If I do the close grip lat pull down, do I need to do wide grip pull downs too?
There are various lat pulldown variations, from the wide grip pulldown to the single-arm lat pulldown to the reverse grip lat pulldown, all of which hit the back muscles from a slightly different angle.
Although the same muscle groups are being worked during the various pulldown variations, certain upper back muscles are going to be more or less involved depending on which of the alternative grips you use.
As a general rule, I think it’s a good idea to include pulldowns that are done with both a wide grip and a narrow grip in your training program.
And by a wide grip, I’m talking about your hands being positioned slightly wider than shoulder width. With a narrow grip, your hands will be positioned no wider than shoulder width.
Personally, I like to include both the close grip lat pulldown (done with a narrow underhand grip) and wide grip lat pulldown in my workouts.
However, rather than use different grips in the same gym session, I’ll alternate between the two from one gym session to the next.
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