Gym Machine NOT to Skip, #3

lat pulldown2

I’ve noticed that Two Gym Machines Not To Skip is consistently one of my top-read posts.  Then it occurred to me, I really should have included the lat pulldown cable machine!  Here’s why:

~It is very difficult to target the latissimus dorsi muscles, in the outer part of your upper back, using free weights.  Strong lats, however, are important.  They’re a key player when it comes to adduction, extension and internal rotation of your shoulders.  Not to mention, strong lats give you awesome back definition.

~Access to a cable machine allows you to perform pulldowns to strengthen not only your lats, but also a number of other muscles, including your biceps, deltoids, trapezius, pectoralis minor and rhomboids.

*Note-Don’t bring the bar behind your neck!  I see people doing this in the gym all the time, but it is less effective and even possibly dangerous.  Behind the neck lat pulldowns offer no biomechanical advantages and can cause compression of the cervical spine disks, as well as disk damage if contact is made by striking the bar to the neck.  In addition, it can cause rotator cuff injuries. (Duvall, Robert. “Avoiding Shoulder Injury from Resistance Training”)

So there you have it.  The lat pulldown cable machine makes my “Not To Skip at the Gym” list.  Here it is, below:


  1. Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley. Make sure that you adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height. These pads will prevent your body from being raised by the resistance attached to the bar. (knee pads not pictured here)
  2. Grab the bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width.
  3. As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
  4. As you breathe out, bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull down the bar using the forearms.
  5. After a second at the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.
  6. Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.                                                                       Compliments of



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