Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Proper Range of Motion Part 3: Lat Pulldown

The mistake men make with this exercise is using too much weight with too small a range of motion, and using the legs to assist by rising out of the seat at the top of the movement. The tendency with women is to use too little weight and go through too great a range of motion at the bottom of the movement.

At the top of the movement, your lats should feel a stretch going deep into the muscle. It is possible to allow the lats to stretch fully while keeping a very slight bend in your elbows if you concentrate and practice. At the bottom of the movement, if your palms are faced away from you (pronated), and if you stay perfectly upright, the bar shouldn't go down much past your chin. At that point, the lats are fully contracted. If you want to go past that point, you can lean back slightly, which would allow you to pull the bar to your upper chest.

*You shouldn't lean back at the beginning to accelerate, or cheat, the movement.

If you can pull the bar down further with an upright posture, you are rotating it down with your shoulders. Using light weight, concentrate on using only your lats and biceps and see where the bar stops, then continue downward movement by rotating your arms down. See what I mean? I've seen people doing this to the extent that the exercise looked like a lat pulldown into a tricep pushdown.

This probably won't hurt your rotator cuff, which is strong in that direction, but it could. You don't need to exercise your rotator in that direction, only the reverse direction, which is much weaker.

The main issue is that if you are able to rotate the weight down, then it's not nearly enough weight. Your lats and biceps are much stronger than your rotator cuff, and if you are using a weight with which the tenth rep of the set is tough, you simply can't make this mistake. Up your weight. Lat pulldowns are for strength and muscle building, not cardio.

Lat Pull Down demonstrated at

Next: Seated Cable Row

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