Muscles Targeted: The reverse grip pulldown exercise targets the back muscles which include the latissimus dorsi (broadest muscle of the back) or more commonly known as the “lats”. The exercise specifically targets this muscle group as it internally rotates the arms together with the scapula. To help improve the execution of reverse grip pulldowns, the body also requires the help and stability of the deltoids or shoulder muscles. The trapezius muscles also provide stability for the movement and compliments that of the shoulders. In addition, the upper arms, specifically the bicep muscles, coordinate the movement for a better grip and sustains the movement during repetitions. The reverse grip pulldowns are a good alternative for individuals who have difficulty with the range of movement in their shoulder complex but still want to see improvements and overall development in their lats.
Exercise Instructions: Position yourself on the lat pulldown machine and grab the bar with an underhand grip while keeping your hands at about a shoulder width distance. Pull the bar straight down using your back muscles and bring the bar in front of you until it is about even with the middle of your chest. Slowly return the weight back up to the start position and repeat.
Why This Exercise is Important: The importance of reverse grip pulldowns is specific to engage the development of the lats as well as improving the full range of movement in the shoulder joints and scapula. This exercise also increases and develops the stability of the shoulders through the help of the trapezius muscles and the biceps during the movement. Because of the coordination of these different muscle groups, the reverse grip pulldown is a much better alternative than the regular grip lat pulldown exercise especially for individuals who have stiff shoulders and a limited range of movement. For this exercise, the full range of movement of the shoulder complex is assisted with the help of the biceps, making it an important substitute for other pulling exercises for the lats. Using the reverse grip pulldown also provides increased grip strength with the forearm muscles working to keep a firm grip on the bar during each repetition.
Things To Avoid: When executing reverse grip pulldowns try to avoid any type of fast and jerky movements making sure that with every repetition you are able stabilize and keep a constant controlled tempo and repetition pace. Always pull the bar towards the top of the chest in a gradual manner with enough control and finish the movement in the same manner. Another important tip is to avoid crouching or hunching the back during the execution of this exercise. To keep the back straight for the entire duration of the movement, always make sure to keep the shoulders pulled towards the back by bringing the chest out and keeping the chin up.
Reps and Sets: If muscular endurance is your goal with reverse grip pulldowns then perform 15-18 repetitions and 2-3 total sets. In turn, if muscular strength needs to be improved, you can perform 10-12 repetitions and 4-5 sets. If power is your primary concern then perform 6-8 repetitions and 5 sets.
Other Exercises To Use: Reverse grip pulldowns are best included with other back exercises such as T Bar Rows, Seated Cable Rows and Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows to complete a workout that will help build up your back muscles and not hinder with the stiffness of the shoulder joints while contributing to improve the range of movement within the shoulder complex. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the back.