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As you know, the lat pulldown is a very effective exercise for your lats. But what if you don’t have a lat pulldown machine?
Is there any alternative to lat pulldown, which can give you the same effect in building and strengthening your lats?
Yes, there are many alternative options you have instead of lat pulldown. And here, I have shared with you some of the best lat pulldown alternatives which will help you in building amazing lats. So first let’s look at the benefits of lat pulldown.
Benefits of Lat Pulldown
Before jumping on to the exercise, first let’s talk about some benefits of lat pulldown exercise
- It’s one of the best exercises to give that wider look to your back. That’s why it is one of the popular exercises in the gym.
- Lats are one of the most used muscles in day-to-day activities. So you should strengthen your lats to perform better in your daily activities.
- Lat pulldowns are helpful in improving the strength of your lats. It will help you in lifting heavyweights like bench press, squats, or deadlifts.
So now let’s look at some of the best lat pulldown alternatives !
Alternatives to Lat Pulldown
1. Dual Cable Lat Pulldown
This you can do on a cable machine. The prime muscles targeted are your upper lats, rhomboids, lower traps, and also your rotator cuff if you do it with a neutral grip. This will help in giving that wide look to your back.
How to do
- Grab the handles of cables and sit on your knees or a bench. The cable pulley should be attached on top of a cable machine.
- Roll your shoulders back and keep your chest up. Don’t bend your neck and back.
- Now slowly pull the arms down by flexing your elbow. Your shoulder should not raise or go forward during the movement.
- Pause at the bottom and flex those lats hard. Then slowly return back to the starting position.
Don’t go heavy on this. Try to create a good mind and muscle connection. You will feel a much better contraction on your last from this exercise than the regular lat pulldown exercise.
2. Pull Ups
You cannot ignore pull-ups from this list because it’s one of the best alternatives to lat pulldown. You can also do this exercise at home if you have a pull-up bar. This is both for the thickness and width of a back.
How to do
- Hang on a pull-up bar with both hands at shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your hands straight and take your shoulders back. Then start moving up.
- Pause when your lower part of your neck is in line with the pull-up bar. Squeeze you’re last tight.
- Come all the way down slowly and repeat the exercise.
Always remember to tighten your core so that you don’t swing during the movement. You can raise your legs a little bit to tighten your entire body. This will prevent swinging.
Even 1 pull up is better than doing no pull-ups. You don’t have to go fast with the movement.
3. One-Arm Lat Pulldown
Another great variation of lat pulldown. Here, you can concentrate on each side of your last separately. It will work your entire last from upper to lower.
How to do
- Grab the handle of a cable lat machine and sit with your side facing the machine. You can do this exercise on a cable machine also.
- Sit straight and start pulling the weights down. You don’t have to take your elbows back or forward. It should move straight on side of the body.
- Flex those lats at the bottom and then return back slowly to the starting position.
You don’t need to go heavy on this exercise. It’s very important to feel your last throughout the movement.
4 Half-Kneeling Lat Pulldown
It’s another variation of a single hand lat pulldown. Here you will engage your core and other body parts more. So that’s why it’s a good exercise even to burn fat.
How to do
- Attach a pulley at the top of a cable machine. Hold the handle from one hand and step back.
- Sit down with one knee on the floor while holding the handles. Your hips should be tight and your back should be straight.
- Start pulling the cables towards the side of your chest. You should not bend your back or no bow down during the movement.
- Pause at the bottom and squeeze your last hard. Then return back to the starting position with your hands completely stretched forward.
This is a good exercise for those who want to improve their core strength and engage their core during any movement.
5. Rope Lat Pulldown
Another great lat pulldown alternative exercise. This will add thickness to your back. Another alternative to regular pulldowns. This will target your mid and lower lats, along with rhomboids, mid and lower traps.
How to do
- Attach a rope on a lat pulldown machine or a cable machine. Hold the ropes from both the hands and sit down slightly away from the machine with your knees on the floor.
- Now start pulling the ropes and bring it towards your chest. Squeeze your lats hard at the bottom
- Slowly return to the starting position without bending your back.
Your back should not be rounded during any exercise. You can perform this in two ways mentioned in the above video. Try both and give your views in the comment section below.
6. Straight Arm Pulldown
This exercise will improve the stability of your back and shoulder. You should do this exercise quite often.
How to do
- Attach a pulley at the top and grab the bar. Bend your torso slightly without rounding your back.
- Extend your arms forward. If you can’t the step back into you can fully extend your arms.
- Now start moving your hands down toward the body with a slight bend in the elbow. Breath out as you go down.
- Pause at the bottom and return back slowly.
Keep in mind that your shoulder should be pinged back and down as you move the bar down. You should not round your shoulders forward during the movement.
7. Incline Dumbbell Rows
This is a great exercise for your lats. With an incline bench, your body is supported and stable. So tension will be more on your lats.
How to do
- Set up an incline bench to about 45° angle. Grab two dumbbells and lay down on a bench.
- Keep your neck straight. Now take the dumbbells up toward the side of your body.
- Pause at the top and squeeze your lats. Then go down and stretch at the bottom.
Maintain a 90° angle of your elbow, as you row up. Otherwise, it will activate more biceps which we don’t want here.
You can also go wide to the sides. It will target more upper back and rhomboids.
8. Rack Chins
This is one of my favorite bodyweight exercises for the back. It is the perfect alternative to lat pull down. I would highly recommend you to try this exercise if you haven’t done before.
How to do
- Set up the rack with a bar at about your waist height.
- Get under the bar and grab it. Your grip should be shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet at the ground with your legs straight forward.
- With your core tight, start going up by squeezing your lats. Your lower back should not overarch.
- Hold the top position when the bar touches just below the clavicle. Come down slowly to the starting position and repeat the movement.
You can make this exercise harder by placing the feet on the bench. As it will make your body more parallel to the bar which increases the difficulty of the exercise.
9. Bent Over Rows
This will target your whole back and is a great alternative to lat pulldowns if you don’t have access to the machine. This exercise is the foundational exercise for your back.
How to do
- Hold two dumbbells and stand with both feet at hip-width apart. Bend down by taking your hips back with an upright spine. Don’t round your lower back and keep your shoulders back.
- Start moving the dumbbells up while maintaining a proper posture. Your neck should be tucked in.
- Pause at the top and feel the tension on those lats. Then return back to the starting position.
Beginners should not go heavy on this. If you have been working out for a while, you can use heavy dumbbells. But make sure that the form is perfect and the back is not rounded during the exercise.
10. Lat Pulldown at Home
This will be a perfect lat pulldown alternative if you don’t have access to a gym. Here you just need a resistance band and you are good to go. This will target the same muscles and will give you a nice contraction on those lats.
How to do
- Take a resistance band and secure it around the legs of a dining table.
- Lay down on a straight line from the table while holding the bands.
- Now start pulling the band down by flexing your elbows. Your elbow should stitch with the floor and your shoulder should not come up.
- Flex as you reach the bottom and go back slowly.
It’s very important to do this exercise slowly with a good mind and muscle connection. Your elbow should be down. Don’t raise your neck during the exercise.
So there you go, we discussed in detail about 10 alternatives to the lat pulldown. Now it’s your time to implement these exercises into your workout routine. So start doing these exercises if you haven’t already and share your views in the comment section below.
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Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.