Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and More

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
December 16, 2022

Aside from bulging pecs and biceps, the lats are one of the most desired muscles for many lifters to develop, and the wide-grip lat pulldown is considered one of the best exercises to sculpt that v-shaped body. The latissimus dorsi, commonly known as the lats, is the body's widest muscle. Although the lats are a posterior muscle, they are quite noticeable from the front when one has already grown those impressive wings. 

The wide-grip lat pulldown is one of the most popular compound exercises in the gym. It is an upper-body workout that engages a lot of muscles, especially the lats, by pulling on a cable. The exercise is a variation of the standard lat pulldown. However, the wide grip on the cable bar is thought to put more emphasis on the lats.

Due to its pronated hand orientation, the wide-grip lat pulldown reduces the participation of the biceps muscles, placing greater emphasis on the lats. Although, as most research suggests, there is little to no significant difference in muscular activation concerning grip width variations.

What is a Wide Grip Lat Pulldown?

The wide-grip lat pulldown is a multi-joint exercise that primarily targets the back muscles, especially the lats. The pulling motion involves shoulder adduction and elbow flexion, which are produced by several upper body muscles.  

wide grip lat pulldown

This routine is performed seated on a bench using a cable machine and a wide-grip cable bar. Although it is widely believed that the workout gives better activation of the lats, some research suggests that a wide grip hand placement has no distinct advantages over a medium grip lat pulldown.

In a study by Andersen et al., they found no significant differences between a narrow, medium, and wide grip. However, hand orientation was found to be a more critical factor than grip width when it comes to lats activation, with pronated grips producing greater muscular activation.

How to Perform A Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

When executing the wide-grip lat pulldown, use a comfortable weight to complete three sets of five to ten repetitions. It is essential to use an appropriate amount of weight to maintain correct form and technique throughout the routine.

To begin, attach a wide-grip cable bar to the cable machine and take a seat facing the bar. Next, one should adjust the knee pad so that the knees are bent at an angle of 90 degrees and firmly beneath the pad, and the feet should be placed in a planted position on the floor.

Grab both ends of the wide-grip cable bar using a pronated grip. The back should be straight, with the chest sticking out and the core engaged. While slightly leaning back, pull the cable bar towards the chest.

Hold for a second at the bottom of the movement and give the lats a squeeze. Then, slowly return the bar to the starting position. Repeat the action for the desired number of repetitions.

Muscles Worked by a Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

The latissimus dorsi, sometimes known as the lats, is one of the back muscles belonging to the superficial extrinsic back muscles. Other members of this group include the levator scapulae, trapezius, and rhomboid muscles. The lats are the broadest muscle in the human body, and they cover practically all of the back muscles located at the posterior trunk, except the trapezius.

wide grip lat pulldown musculature

The latissimus dorsi muscle is responsible for both the brachial and thoracic motions. It has connections to the scapula, spine, pelvis, and ribs in addition to the humerus. It does its action on the shoulder joint, which allows the arm to be extended, rotated, and adducted.

There are several smaller muscles in the upper back to which the scapula is linked. Some of these muscles are the rhomboids, the teres major and minor, and the infraspinatus. The muscles in the upper back and the lats function in conjunction with one another to enable the motion of the arms around the shoulder joint. When doing lats workouts, they also help control and stabilize the shoulder blades and scapular movements.

The big, diamond-shaped muscle that links the neck, shoulders, and upper back is called the trapezius, and it is also commonly referred to as the traps. The lower traps get a substantial amount of work when doing workouts that focus on pulling actions.

Benefits of a Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

The back is an intricate and delicate structure composed of several different muscles and ligaments. Therefore, vertebral fractures are possible with any form of workout that requires the participant to hold their back in an awkward posture for an extended period of time. This may lead to ongoing discomfort or even more severe damage, such as bulging or ruptured discs in the spine.

Back Pain Relief

Common causes of back pain include insufficient strength in the spinal extensors and instability in the lower back. Pulldowns on the back of the shoulders, also known as lat pulldowns, help strengthen the lats, which in turn help stabilize the lower back and may reduce back discomfort.

Because the vertebrae are not subjected to any weight or extra stress due to how lat pulldowns are done, this exercise is an excellent choice for pepeopleho suffer from chronic back pain and want to strengthen their backs.

Better Posture

Good posture is essential for one's health and comfort. It aids in the prevention of spinal injuries and damage caused by wear and strain. Conversely, poor posture may cause back pain and other serious health issues.

The wide grip lat pulldown has the potential to improve one's posture while also helping to stimulate muscles that are often not put to use. One will be able to maintain good posture in no time if regular exercise of the back muscles is a part of their routine.

A Bigger, Stronger Back

Because this particular variation of the lat pulldown places less strain on the biceps, the lats are required to exert more effort to bring the weight down. Because of this, they can maximize the contraction of the lats, which is one factor that leads to the development of a more robust back. One has to have a strong back to increase their entire performance, whether in sports or in day-to-day activities.

Mistakes to Avoid When Performing the Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

Leaning Back Too Far

When doing a wide-grip lat pulldown, some individuals lean back too much, bringing the workout close to being the same as a barbell row. It is important to remember that one should only lean back as much as necessary to allow the bar to pass in front of the body without hitting the head.

Using Momentum to Lift the Weight

When a lifter utilizes too much weight for the wide-grip lat pulldown, it is more likely that they will use their body to produce momentum to pull the bar. They help themselves finish the workout by rocking their upper body back and forth.

Bouncing the Bar off the Chest

Some lifters perform the exercise by pulling too rapidly on the bar and letting the bar strike the chest with force. This does not correctly engage the lats. The pulling movement should be moderately smooth and controlled.

Final Thoughts

Pull-ups need a certain level of upper-body strength, and one of the best exercises to build that strength is the wide-grip lat pulldown. In addition to that, it works a lot of the muscles in the upper body that help with posture and pulling power.

There are numerous ways to do the lat pulldown, each of which works different muscles in the upper body depending on the hand orientation used. However, as some studies suggest, grip width has little to no effect on muscular activation.

References

1. Andersen, Vidar1; Fimland, Marius S.2,3; Wiik, Espen1; Skoglund, Anders1; Saeterbakken, Atle H.1. Effects of Grip Width on Muscle Strength and Activation in the Lat Pull-Down. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: April 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 1135-1142 doi: 10.1097/JSC.0000000000000232 

2. Ronai, Peter M.S., FACSM, ACSM-CEP, ACSM-EP, EIM Level III, CSCS. The Lat Pulldown. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: 3/4 2019 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 24-30 doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000469 

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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