While the lat pulldown is a compound exercise that primarily targets the latissimus dorsi, it also engages the traps, abs, shoulders, and biceps to a certain extent. However, to really give your back muscles a thorough workout, it is best to include other exercises in your routine as well. This will help you target the muscles in a slightly different manner, hence promoting constant improvement.
Here are some of the best alternatives to the lat pulldown:
Pull-ups are a great way to exercise the latissimus dorsi, or lat, muscle. The lat is a large back muscle that helps you move your arms and legs. Pull-ups work the lat by pulling your body up against gravity.
- The Pull-Up
There are many benefits to doing pull-ups. They can help you build strength and muscle, improve your posture, and prevent injuries. Additionally, pull-ups are a great alternative to Lat Pulldowns.
Here’s how to do a proper pull-up:
- Start by hanging from a bar with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended.
- Use your back and leg muscles to help you pull your body up until your chin is over the bar.
- Lower yourself back down and repeat.
Doing pull-ups is a great way to improve strength in the latissimus dorsi muscle. This muscle is responsible for several key functions, including moving the arm and helping with posture. Pull-ups work the lat by making it work against gravity. In other words, as you pull yourself up, the lat has to work harder than usual to lift your body weight.
Not only are pull-ups a great exercise for building strength, but they can also help improve posture and prevent injuries. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk or in front of a computer screen, then strengthening your back muscles is crucial.
- The Feet-Supported Pull Up
One of the many benefits of doing pull ups is that they help strengthen and develop the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is responsible for much of the pulling motion. However, doing traditional pull ups with your feet off the ground can be challenging for some people. A great alternative is the feet-supported pull up.
To do a feet-supported pull up:
- Start by lying on your back underneath a pull up bar.
- Place your feet on an elevated surface such as a bench or chair.
- Reach up and grab the bar with an overhand grip, positioning your hands shoulder-width apart.
- From here, press your feet into the elevated surface and use your lats to lift your body up to the bar.
- Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 reps.
Not only does this exercise help you build strong lats, but it also strengthens your core and upper body since you are using those muscles to stabilize your body throughout the movement. Plus, since your feet are supported on an elevated surface, it takes some of the weight off your arms making it a bit easier than a traditional pull up. Give it a try next time you’re looking for a great lat exercise!
- The Chin Up
The chin-up is a great alternative to the lat pulldown because it works your back and biceps at the same time. It also requires less equipment and is easier to do than the lat pulldown.
Here’s a quick guide on how to do a chin-up:
- Position your hands shoulder-width apart on the bar with an overhand grip.
- Engage your back muscles and pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar.
- Lower yourself back down under control, maintaining tension in your back muscles.
- Repeat for reps.
Why are chin-ups so great? First, they target your lats, which are the largest muscles in your upper body. Second, they force you to use your own bodyweight as resistance, which can be quite challenging (and rewarding). Third, they can be done practically anywhere there’s a bar or sturdy object to hang from.
Give them a try next time you’re looking for a lat pulldown alternative!
- The Bent Over Barbell Row
The Bent Over Barbell Row is a great alternative to the lat pulldown because it works the same muscles in the back and shoulders while also providing a great workout for the biceps. The key to doing this exercise correctly is to keep your back straight and your core engaged throughout the entire movement.
Here’s how to do bent over barbell rows:
- Start by setting up a barbell at about hip-height. You can use a power rack, smith machine, or anything else that will support the weight.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart and hinge forward at the hips until your back is parallel to the floor. You can place your hands on either side of the barbell for stability.
- Take an overhand grip on the barbell (palms facing down) with your hands shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
- From here, drive your elbows back and row the barbell up to touch your chest. Pausing at the top, squeeze your shoulder blades together before reversing the motion and returning to the starting position.
- Repeat for desired number of reps.
Be sure to keep your core engaged and avoid swinging the weight up with momentum; both of these will put undue stress on your lower back and increase your risk of injury. If you can’t control the weight without swinging, then you need to lighten the load. Remember to breathe throughout the exercise; exhale as you pull the bar up and inhale as you return it back down.
- The Barbell Pullover
Most people think of the lat pulldown when they think of exercises for working the latissimus dorsi, but the barbell pullover is a great alternative. This exercise is good for developing shoulder stability and improving your overhead pressing strength.
Here’s how to do it:
- Start by lying on your back on a bench, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Your arms should be extended straight overhead, and your feet should be flat on the floor.
- Keeping your lower back pressed into the bench and your core engaged, slowly lower the barbell behind your head until your arms are parallel with the floor.
- Exhale as you reverse the motion, bringing the barbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 8-12 reps.
The key to performing this exercise correctly is to keep your elbows stationary and only move at the shoulder joint. This not only protects your elbows from unnecessary stress but also ensures that you’re getting an effective lat workout. Additionally, be sure to keep a good grip on the bar throughout the exercise so that you don’t accidentally drop it on yourself
The beauty of the barbell pullover is that it works not only your lats, but also your chest and shoulders. It’s a great exercise for building overall upper-body strength and size.
- The Plate Loaded Single Arm Row
The plate loaded single arm row is a great alternative to the lat pulldown. It is a compound exercise that works the lats, shoulders, and biceps. The single arm row can be done with a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell.
There are many benefits to doing the plate loaded single arm row. First, it is a great way to build muscle in the back and arms. Second, it is an excellent exercise for developing strength and power. Third, it is a great exercise for increasing stability and balance. Fourth, it is an effective way to burn calories and fat. And lastly, it is a great alternative to the lat pulldown.
So how do you do the plate loaded single arm row?
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Lean down at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor.
- Place your hand on the plate (or barbell/dumbbell) with an overhand grip and row it up to your chest while keeping your elbow close to your body.
- Lower the weight under control back to the starting position and repeat for 10-12 repetitions before switching sides.
Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement and move slowly and with control – don’t swing the weight. Also, start with lighter weights before progressing to heavier weights.
- The Kroc Row
If you’re looking for a lat pulldown alternative that’s just as effective, if not more, look no further than the Kroc row. Named after Matt Kroczaleski, a world-renowned powerlifter, the Kroc row is a back exercise that targets the same muscles as a lat pulldown.
Here’s how to do it:
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your shins are perpendicular. This is your starting position.
- From here, row the dumbbells up to your chest, leading with your elbows.
- Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat for reps.
So why is the Kroc row such a great lat pulldown alternative? For one, it allows you to use heavier weights than a lat pulldown, which means you can stimulate more muscle growth. Additionally, because you’re rowing the weight up with your elbows leading, you’re better able to target your lats (latissimus dorsi).
While the lat pulldown is a great exercise, there are plenty of alternatives that can provide a similar benefit. If you’re looking to mix up your routine or target different muscles, try any of the above exercises.
Each of these exercises will work your back muscles in a slightly different way, so experiment to see which one(s) work best for you. As with any exercise, be sure to use proper form to avoid injury and maximize results.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.