Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 101 Guide - Proper Form & Benefits

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 8, 2024
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As a certified fitness trainer, I highly recommend the wide-grip lat pulldown for crafting a stunning V-taper.

This exercise targets the outer lats more effectively than the standard lat pulldown, making it ideal for upper back development.

However, improper technique can harm your shoulders.

To ensure safety and maximize benefits, I've compiled essential tips to perform this exercise correctly and avoid injury.

Quick Summary

  • The best wide-grip lat pulldown variations are close grip lat pulldowns, cable straight arm pulldowns, and resistance band kneeling lat pulldowns.
  • The benefits of wide-grip lat pulldown workouts are improved overall upper body strength, improved posture, and stability on the shoulders.
  • According to a study from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a wide grip on pull-downs heavily engages the lats.
  • After you've mastered the wide-grip lat pulldown, I recommend doing wide-grip pull-ups and face pulls to enhance your lat gains.

How To Do Wide-grip Lat Pulldowns

Guy performing wide grip lat pulldown alone

Here's everything you need to know on how to perform wide-grip lat pulldowns.

Experience has taught me that the right equipment and set-up are almost as important as your exercise form.

1. Equipment

You will need a lat pulldown machine found in the gym.

If working out at home, you need a cable device to set the resistance from a high angle and a lat bar attachment.

2. Set-up

Here's how you set yourself up on the lat pulldown machine:

  1. Sit on the seat under the machine and lock in your legs using the knee pads.
  2. Keep your lower back in a straight position.
  3. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, your hands wider than shoulder width apart and arms completely extended.

3. Action

Here's how you perform the lat pulldown:

  1. Exhale as you pull the bar down slowly until it reaches your chest.
  2. Pause for a count or two and contract your shoulder blades.
  3. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the movement for recommended reps.

Recommendation

Complete at least 3–4 sets of 10–12 reps of this exercise and adjust the number of sets and reps as you go on to challenge yourself.

Other similar exercises:

What Muscles Does the Wide-grip Lat Pulldown Work?

Working muscles when performing wide grip pulldown

The wide-grip lat pulldown primarily targets the latissimus dorsi muscles in the back, which are crucial for achieving a wide, V-shaped torso. Additionally, it engages the biceps, rear deltoids, and the muscles of the middle back, including the rhomboids and trapezius.

This exercise effectively works these areas, contributing to overall upper body strength and improved posture.

Wide-grip Lat Pulldown Benefits

From my experience as a fitness trainer, incorporating wide-grip lat pulldowns into my routine has significantly enhanced my upper body strength and appearance. Here are the key benefits:

  • Enhances V-taper aesthetics: It accentuates the V-taper of the torso by broadening the lats.
  • Strengthens upper-back muscles: This exercise robustly targets and strengthens the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. According to a study from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a wide grip on pull-downs heavily engages the lats [1].
  • Improves posture: Doing this exercise over time helps in correcting and maintaining good posture.
  • Increases grip strength: The wide grip position also contributes to improved grip and forearm strength.
  • Versatile for all levels: This exercise is suitable for beginners to advanced athletes, with adjustable resistance for progressive training [2].
  • Supports pulling movements: It lays a strong foundation for other pulling exercises and daily functional movements.
  • Balances muscle development: It helps in balancing the muscle development between the front and back of the upper body.
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Mistakes When Doing This Exercise

Over the years, I've seen people make several mistakes when performing the wide-grip lat pulldown. Here are the three most common ones and how to fix them.

1. Using Your Arms Too Much

Pulling using too much of your biceps makes it more of a shoulders workout than a lats isolation workout.

Engage more of your back muscles by using your elbows to pull the bar down.

2. Leaning Too Far Back

Leaning too far back does not primarily target the lats, so try to lean back slightly and perform the pull in proper form.

3. Pulling the Bar Behind Your Neck

It is dangerous to pull the bar behind your neck because it is an unnatural movement. It may cause various shoulder injuries, so avoid performing the lat pull in this form.

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown Variations

Here are my two variations of the wide-grip lat pulldown.

1. resistance band kneeling lat pulldownResistance Band Kneeling Lat Pulldown

  1. Fix a resistance band on a door or wall so that the two ends of the band hag down.
  2. Grab the resistance bands with your palms facing out.
  3. Get down on one or both knees and lean slightly forward with your head between your arms.
  4. Bring the bands down, squeeze your shoulder blades, and pause.
  5. Release the bands and repeat.

 

2. Cable Straight Arm PulldownCable Straight Arm Pulldown

  1. Stand under the pulley and hold the bar with a wide overhand grip.
  2. Keep your arms straight, squeeze your back muscle, and pull down until it reaches your thigh.
  3. Release the bar and repeat.

Wide-grip Lat Pulldown Alternatives

Man doing a wide grip lat pullup

After you've mastered the wide-grip lat pulldown, I recommend doing the following exercises to enhance your lat gains.

Wide Grip Pull Up1. Wide Grip Pull-up

The pull-up is a great back, shoulders, and core workout.

Here's how you do the wide-grip variation:

  1. Grasp the bar with your palms facing forward slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Keep your lower body straight and squeeze your lats to pull your body upwards until your chin reaches the bar.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

face-pulls2. Face Pull

To do a face pull:

  1. Grab the handle with an overhand grip. Step about two steps back.
  2. Pull the handles towards you, and the handles should go on either side of your face.
  3. Return to the starting position to complete one repetition.

Reference:

  1. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2014/04000/effects_of_grip_width_on_muscle_strength_and.35.aspx
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282178642_A_Comparative_Analysis_and_Technique_of_the_Lat_Pull-down
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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