The majority of athletes trying to gain more upper body strength could achieve a lot more with a lat pulldown cable machine in their home gym.
The simplest posture and hand adjustments could trigger slightly different effects in the wide range of muscles in your shoulders and upper back.
But as with every other piece of equipment, there are a ton of crappy machines out there.
That’s why we teamed up with friends and colleagues to test as many machines as possible and come up with this list of best lat pulldown machines
Our Lat Pulldown Machines
1 - XMark Heavy Duty Lat Pulldown Machine (Editor's Choice)
The XMark lat pulldown stood out for us the most.
It has a very solid steel frame that reduces wobbles to a minimum, and you also get five different handles, including a triceps rope.
It’s also easy enough to adjust to high and low pulley stations to get the flexibility of a seated row.
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Machine comes with five different handle attachments
- 11 gauge steel frame ensures it doesn’t wobble
- Allows for adjustment to low row functionality
- Use with standard and Olympic plates
- May not be the most suitable for very tall athletes
The only downside was that taller people might not get a full range of motion.
2 - SYL Fitness LAT Cable Pulley System
This lat pulldown machine is a lot simpler and more cost-effective as it doesn’t provide a frame with it.
You get a pulley system that you can attach to a ceiling hook or an existing power rack that you have in your home gym.
We also liked that you get a pulldown bar and triceps attachment.
- Weight capacity: 150 lbs
- Simple and cost-effective solution
- Machine comes with a triceps and barbell attachment
- Might be suitable for limited home gym space
- You’ll need a strong support frame or ceiling anchor
Just be aware that the maximum capacity is limited by what you attach it to, which may take some careful planning.
3 - YaNovate Fitness LAT and Lift Pulley System
This is another lat pulldown machine that is just the pulley and cables.
But we liked the smooth motion that you may get, even when you pile on some weight.
Plate loading may also be pretty easy with both standard and Olympic style plates.
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Allows for pull-down and lift motion
- Loading pin is long enough to attach several weight plates
- Smooth pulley allows for a wide range of motion
- Ultimate weight limit will depend on the frame you attach it to
Again, these types of lat pulldowns require some more careful planning to make sure it has the right support.
4 - LFJ LAT Pull Down Machine
One thing we noticed straight away with this home lat pulldown machine is that the pulley assembly seems to rotate smoothly.
That should allow you to get into different body positions without making adjustments to the setup.
We also found the triceps rope to be solid and comfortable, which should give you more confidence at higher weights.
- Weight capacity: 200 lbs
- Pulley attachment rotates 360 degrees for more flexibility
- Good quality triceps rope allows for many different workouts
- Suitable for Olympic and standard weight plates
- The weight capacity is a bit limited
The only downside is that you might find it a bit limited from a capacity point of view if you tend to pile up the weight plates.
5 - Body-Solid Powerline PLM180X Lat Pulldown Machine
This is a more basic design, but it seems to work very well. It’s high enough to suit taller people, but the overall dimensions shouldn’t require a huge amount of space in home gyms.
The pulley stations seem to run smoothly, which may reduce a stuttering effect that could impact your training.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Compact design makes this suitable for home use
- Smooth motion may provide a better resistance
- It’s very easy to assemble without the need for a second person
- Cannot be converted to high and low pulleys
The only downside is that there’s no way to convert it for attaching a low row bar.
6 - DELUXUP Lat Pulldown Machine
Here’s another lat pulldown machine that you would attach to a ceiling hook or a squat rack if you have one.
It’ll fit Olympic and standard weight plates, which may give you more flexibility for what types of plates you buy.
Users have also commented on the pulley system, which seems to be solid with a smooth rotation.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Suitable for standard and Olympic plates
- Heavy-duty triceps rope feels comfortable
- Solid pulley with a rotating design
- The weight limit might be a bit low even on a solid frame
Compared to other similar lat pulldown machines, this doesn’t seem to support as much weight.
7 - Fitness Reality X-Class Light Commercial Olympic LAT Pull Down
We like these glide post designs, as they may provide a smoother motion, especially if you occasionally add some lubricant.
Users also highlight that there’s no shaking or wobbling effect due to the solid steel tubing in the frame.
And you may quickly adjust it for use as a high and low pulley to give yourself more options for upper body workouts.
- Weight capacity: 360 lbs
- Smooth-glide post may improve effective arm motion
- Solid design reduces shaking and vibrations
- Includes a low pulley setup for rowing
- Needs to be installed into a compatible cage
Just keep in mind that this isn’t a free-standing machine but needs to be attached to a compatible rack.
8 - KINGC Home Heavy Duty Lat Pulldown Machine
This is one of the lat pulldown machines with a higher weight capacity that we’ve seen a few bodybuilder clients work on.
There’s also the flexibility to switch to a low rowing setup, making this a very flexible piece of fitness equipment.
- Weight capacity: 395 lbs
- Has one of the higher weight limits to push yourself further
- Low rower included for more flexible workout routines
- Good value for money given the multiple exercise options
- Taller people may struggle to fully extend their arms
If you’re a bit taller than average, then the height might not be enough to get a full range of motion from the lowest seat pad position.
9 - Vanswe LAT Pulldown
This lat pulldown machine stood out for us because of the high-quality thicker frame.
It seems quite a bit sturdier than other lat machines.
It’s also easy to switch to the low pulley, which could give you some additional exercise options like biceps curls, as well as seated and standing rows.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Solid 12 gauge steel frame to minimize wobble
- Adjustable for a low pulley to do seated rows
- Fits both Olympic and standard plates
- Some additional bars and ropes would be great
You might need to invest in a few extra attachments to get more flexibility with your hand positions.
10 - Akonza Home Workout Lat Pulldown Machine
The final one of our recommended lat pulldown machines is another one that brings the weight limit to a more professional range.
We noticed that even with a heavy load, the movement is smooth with no stuttering or wobbling.
- Weight capacity: 395 lbs
- Feels smooth even when loaded up with heavy weights
- Comes pre-configured with a low row cable
- Comfortable adjustable seat to get set up for your height
- It could be a bit higher to get a better reach for taller athletes
Some taller athletes have commented that the seat pad isn’t low enough to allow them to fully extend their arms.
Here are the four areas that you have to make sure you consider before buying a lat machine.
1. Weight Limits
All lat machines specify a weight limit, but it’s important to pay close attention to the wording.
We saw a few machines that looked a bit flimsy, but they specified a limit of over 450 lbs.
When we looked at the specifications a bit closer, that limit was the combined user and load limit, which might be a bit misleading.
Unless you’re the size of Ronnie Coleman or The Mountain, focus on how much you can load on the weight stack.
2. Adjustment Settings
There are two things to look at here.
First of all, the seat should ideally be adjustable so that you can comfortably reach the lat bar with stretched out arms.
This may be particularly important for taller people as a lat machine that doesn’t give you a full range of motion might limit the effectiveness.
Secondly, the thigh pad that should help to keep you on the seat during the lat pull down movement should be adjustable as well.
3. Exercise Options
People often look at a lat pull down machine and only see one type of exercise to work on their back and shoulders.
But you can get so much more out of them.
One thing to check is whether the lat pulldown machine offers a low row function.
“The lat pulldown is a fantastic exercise to strengthen the latissimus dorsi muscle, the broadest muscle in your back, which promotes good postures and spinal stability. Form is crucial when performing a lat pulldown to prevent injury and reap the best results.” - PiedmontHealthcare.org
Sometimes, there are separate pulleys for this, which is the ideal solution to save time. But even one where you need to switch the lat bar from high to low could be a good solution for more exercise flexibility.
4. Different Attachments
A lat pulldown machine should give you quite a bit of flexibility by attaching different bars, handles, and ropes.
One of my favorites is the triceps rope.
In a standing position, this might be more effective than any other lat bar.
You’ll also want different length bars to give yourself the option for a wide and closed grip movement.
Does lat pulldown work your chest?
Yes, lat pulldown may work your chest depending on the type of bar and exercise. It may target the pectoralis minor , but you shouldn’t be doing this type of exercise to broadly target your entire chest. A slightly better option might be switching to a low rower setting.
Where Should You Feel Lat Pulldowns?
You should feel lat pulldowns in your latissimus dorsi . This is the broadest muscle in your upper back, which connects the arms to your back. These are large muscles that play a key role in upper body strength and posture.
Do Lat Pulldowns Build Mass?
Yes, lat pulldowns build mass. While they mainly target the lats, the compound exercise also engages other muscles in your back and neck, as well as your upper arms and chest. The result is an increase in strain and growth hormone release, which may help with more effective bulking.
Can Lat Pulldowns Replace Pull-Ups?
Yes, lat pulldowns can replace pull-ups, especially if you’re currently struggling with doing a full pull-up. Some bodybuilders also prefer them because it allows them to better track progress on the weight stack, which wouldn’t be impacted by body weight fluctuations.
So, Which One Is The Best Lat Pulldown Machine
It took a bit of debating and negotiating on our team, but we eventually agreed that the XMark machine was the most suitable for a home gym.
It’s not too bulky but doesn’t sacrifice sturdiness, and the weight limit should suit most people as well.
But it’s also not just a lat machine. We found it easy to change into a rower, which you can comfortably use by sitting on the ground.
Order yours today and share some photos of how it fits into your home gym with us.
HAVE QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
Join the discussion here on Facebook.