Pull Down

About

The wide grip pull down station is a piece of equipment which is found in most commercial gyms, and is a useful tool for targeting the muscles of the upper back. The primary targets of the pull down are the latissimus dorsi (often referred to as the "lats"), teres major, rhomboids, rear deltoid head, and the trapezius.

It is common to hear personal trainers and gurus talk about the wide grip nature of the pull down focusing on the wide areas of the back (i.e. the lats), but this is not really true. The wider grip forces the elbows to flare somewhat away from the body, unlike during a chin up where the arms are brought close in towards the torso during the contraction. The flaring of the upper arms away from the body has the effect of taking stimulus away from the latissimus dorsi and more to the other upper back muscles responsible for transverse extension of the shoulder.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Set the correct weight on the weight stack and ensure a wide grip bar is attached to the pulley
  2. Grasp the bar with a wider than shoulder width, over hand grip
  3. Sit down on the seat, thighs under the pads, and arms fully extended above gripping onto the bar

Execution

  1. Pull the bar towards your collar bone, whilst maintaining an erect torso
  2. Once peak contraction is reached, slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position
  3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

About

We have included the behind the neck pull down in our exercise directory because it is fairly commonly performed in gyms. We do, however, recommend athletes choose an alternative pull down exercise in which the line of resistance is in front of the body, such as with traditional chin ups or pull ups.

That said, the behind the neck pull down targets the upper back muscles, albeit in a fairly hazardous manner. Some people hold the belief that the behind the neck pull downs better target the latissimus dorsi and therefore develop back width. However, the opposite is correct. If you watch someone perform the behind the neck pull down you will notice the arms are flared outwards away from the body during the exercise. This causes less engagement of the latissimus dorsi, and instead places greater load on the other upper back muscles.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Set the correct weight on the weight stack and ensure a wide grip bar is attached to the pulley
  2. Grasp the bar with a wider than shoulder width, over hand grip
  3. Sit down on the seat, thighs under the pads, and arms fully extended above gripping onto the bar. Lean your torso forward to allow the bar to descend to the back of your head during the exercise

Execution

  1. Pull the bar down towards the back of your head, whilst maintaining an erect torso
  2. Once peak contraction is reached, slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position
  3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

About

The row pull down (or narrow grip pull down) is an extremely effective exercise for targeting the latissimus dorsi a.k.a. the "lats". This is the large muscle which is responsible the width of the back. The lats are in a mechanically advantageous position during the row pull down as they recruit to pull the upper arm down towards the torso.

Additional upper back muscles such as the rhomboids and teres major are exercised during the narrow grip pull down, as are the arm flexor muscles. However, due to the neutral grip used for the row attachment, the biceps are not heavily involved during the exercise.

Do not swing or jerk the weight during the exercise, the torso should remain stationary throughout.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Set correct weight on the weight stack and attach a row handle attachment to the high pulley
  2. Sit on the seat, place thighs under the pads, extend arms above your head and grasp the handles. Torso should remain erect

Execution

  1. Pull the handle towards your upper chest
  2. Once peak contraction is made, slowly reverse the movement back to the starting position
  3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

About

The straight arm pull down is a great way of isolating the latissimus dorsi (otherwise known as the "lats"); which when developed gives an athlete pronounced upper back width. Other upper back muscles play a role in the exercise, such as the teres major and rhomboids. Unlike traditional pull/chin ups, the arm flexors are not dynamically involved in the straight arm pull down.

It is important to retain a slight bend in the elbow joint during the straight arm pull down to reduce the stress placed upon the joint.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Set correct weight on the weight stack and attach a wide handle to the pulley
  2. Stand facing the station, and grasp the bar with an over hand, shoulder width grip
  3. Take a step backwards so your arms are extended. Retain a slight bend in the elbow throughout the exercise

Execution

  1. Whilst keeping your torso erect and arms fixed, pull the bar down until it reaches your hips and your arms are down near your sides
  2. Slowly reverse the movement back to the starting position
  3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

Other Back Exercises

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