5 Lat Pulldown Alternatives To Build The Wide Back Of Your Dreams

November 16, 2020 / Exercise, Muscle
5 Lat Pulldown Alternatives To Build The Wide Back Of Your Dreams

From its name alone, lat pulldowns are an incredibly effective exercise at targeting your back muscles, especially the latissimus dorsi or lats. Proper training and development of the lats can give you that sexy V-taper that so many bodybuilders dream of. But besides their aesthetic value, your lats perform a wide range of functions, including adducting, rotating, and extending the arms. While pulldowns have incredible value for shaping your lats, here are some alternatives you should consider in place of them. 

5 Lat Pulldown Alternatives For Your Dream Back

Before moving on to the alternative exercises, let’s talk about the mechanics behind a lat pulldown. 

This exercise is performed at a lat pulldown machine with a wide grip handle attachment. You grasp the handle with a double overhand grip and assume a seated position. The movement is initiated by depressing the shoulder blades, pulling your elbows close to the lats. Afterwhich, you slowly return to your starting position, ensuring a controlled pace throughout the entire motion. 

Man Doing Pulldown Alternatives exercise


The most obvious alternative for a lat pulldown is a pullup since the two movements are incredibly similar. The primary difference between them is that you pull yourself towards the bar in a pullup instead of the bar to you in a pulldown. Much like the pulldown, this exercise will work your lats, rear delts, scapula, and traps.

Despite their similarities, many athletes consider pullups as one of, if not the most challenging bodyweight exercise, regardless of skill level. But what makes pullups so great is how little equipment you will need to perform them since you’ll just be using a bar to hang from and yourself as the weight. 

Here’s the step-by-step guide in performing this movement:

  1. Start by hanging from a bar with your grip a bit wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Pull your shoulders back and down to engage your scapula.
  3. Pull yourself up until your chin meets the bar, and your elbows are kept tucked close to your lats. 
  4. Squeeze your lats at the top of the movement.
  5. Control your descent, keeping your body tight.
  6. Repeat for desired reps.

Barbell Rows

Unilateral exercises like dumbbell rows allow you to work each side individually, but barbell rows help you lift heavier. This is hugely advantageous if you’re trying to build muscle mass, as lifting heavier weights leads to greater gains. They’re also a full-body compound movement that works your upper and lower back, arms, and hips. 

  1. To start, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, ensuring that your mid-foot is under the bar. 
  2. Bend over and grab the bar with a double overhand grip.
  3. Straighten your back, and keep it parallel with the ground. With your chest broad and out, keep your hips high and unlock your knees.
  4. Pull the bar until it reaches your lower chest or upper abdomen.
  5. Squeeze your lats at the top of the movement.
  6. Repeat for desired reps.

Incline dumbbell rows

Incline dumbbell rows are quite similar to barbell rows without the majority of the difficulty and are fantastic at isolating the lats. To perform this exercise, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells and an adjustable bench.

  1. Start by setting your adjustable bench’s incline to a 45-degree angle. 
  2. Lay your chest and abs against the bench.
  3. With a dumbbell in each hand, retract your scapula.
  4. Pull the weights towards you by pulling your elbows back.
  5. Squeeze your lats at the top.
  6. Repeat.

Single Arm Bench Row

Unilateral movements like the single-arm bench row allow you to focus and isolate your efforts on fixing imbalances if there are any. 

  1. Start by grabbing a thigh-high bench and a dumbbell.
  2. Place one side’s knee and hand on the bench, so you feel stable. (If you’re rowing with your right arm, you should balance with your left knee and hand.)
  3. Place your standing foot where you feel most balanced.
  4. Bend over with your chest out so that your upper body is parallel to the ground.
  5. Pick up the dumbbell with a neutral grip (palms facing you).
  6. Pull the weight towards your lower chest, concentrating on letting your lats do the lifting instead of your arms. 
  7. Squeeze your lats at the top of the movement.
  8. Slowly lower the weights in a controlled manner.

Decline Dumbbell Pullovers

While this last exercise is typically associated with chest and triceps, it can also be great for lats when done correctly. As with the incline dumbbell row, you’ll need an adjustable bench that you can decline. 

  1. Adjust your bench so that you may lay at a decline.
  2. Place your head on the lower side while hooking your legs on the other.
  3. Grab your weights and start the motion with them above your chest, fully extending your arms. 
  4. Slowly bring the weights overhead, maintaining fully-extended arms. Your arms should align with your upper body at the end of this motion. 
  5. Bring the weights back to the starting position.

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Terrence Tan Ting Author for Legalsteroids.com

About The Author

Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.