Wide Grip Pulldowns - Back Exercise Guide with Photos
Muscles Targeted: Wide grip pulldowns target your back muscles.
The "back" covers a wide area, but for this exercise,
it specifically hits the latissimus dorsi (lats), which are shaped
like two large wings and gives bodybuilders that manta-ray look.
The most prominent bodybuilder who dominated the back pose is Arnold
Schwarzenegger. The secondary muscles targeted are the biceps and
Exercise Instructions: Position yourself
on the lat pulldown machine and grab the bar using an overhand
grip with your hands a little wider than shoulder width. Slowly
pull the bar straight down in front of you until it is about
even with the middle of your chest. Pause for a brief moment
at the bottom and then slowly return the weight back up to
the starting position and repeat.
Why This Exercise is Important: A well-shaped back has many
aesthetic benefits. It gives bodybuilders that classic V-shape (or
"V-taper") and creates an illusion of small waist. It
also conveys a statement of strength and power. A wide, well-defined
back is one of the most coveted muscle groups by bodybuilders. Chin-ups
and wide grip pulldowns are some of the best exercises for developing
the width of your lats. Aside from making you look good, the lats
draw the arms back and downwards. It's the muscle you use when you
need to rotate your arms back to reach towards the side, moving
towards the front and vice-versa. This is the muscle that tennis
players rely on when serving to their opponent. For the non-athletes,
if you don't work the back area, you can become prone to frozen
shoulders, especially if your job entails long periods of immobility
(e.g. working in front of a computer for extended periods of time).
At the same time, the lats also play a major role in scapular retraction,
or when you pull your shoulder blades together. It's the muscle
you use when you throw a ball or push against an object. A strong
back ensures that you have good posture and your lats are part of
these important interconnected muscles. Those who have experienced
back pain know the importance of strengthening this area.
Things To Avoid: Grip the lat bar as wide as possible. Lean
back slightly and position yourself with your chest slightly up.
Feel the squeeze in your lats as you initiate the movement of the
wide grip pulldowns. Choose a weight that is not too heavy that
you are lifted off the seat nor too light that you don't feel the
movement. Pull the bar in one smooth movement, avoiding any jerky
motions that might result in an injury. Hold the contraction for
a second or two at the peak, then slowly return the bar all the
way up for a good stretch. Don't rock back and forth as you perform
the repetitions. Stay relatively upright as you perform the exercise.
Be mindful of your form all throughout the reps and for every set.
Do not hunch over or drop your shoulders.
Reps and Sets: Choose a weight where you can do 10-12 reps
of wide grip pulldowns but is also challenging enough that you cannot
do more. Perform 1-2 sets for beginners, and 3-4 sets for the intermediate
to advanced exercisers.
Other Exercises To Use: If you want the classic V-taper
look, spend some time doing exercises to widen your lats, such as
reverse grip pulldowns. It's also advisable that you do thickness
exercises for the back. Try using T-bar rows and seated
cable rows along with wide grip pulldowns so that your back
area will not look shallow. View our extensive database
of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that
target the back.