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Lat Pulldowns: Wide Grip for a Wide Back…Fact or Fiction?


commercial lat pulldown

Heard the one about “wide grip for a wide back”? Well, when you take the wide grip option on Lat Pulldowns or Chin-ups you are certainly using a long lever (moment arm, defined as the perpendicular distance between the pivot, your joint, and the load, your grip on the weight/bar/cable).  By choosing such a grip we are mechanically disadvantaged so it will feel harder but did those who advocate this option stop to consider Range of Motion (ROM)?  ROM in this option is actually shortened, meaning that you are working the muscle hard but through a small range.  As many of you know, strength conditioning is basically joint-angle specific – meaning that you get little or no transfer if you don’t train in that ROM so why not try a heavier load than you use for your wide-grip pulldowns but use a narrower grip which will increase your ROM.  Better yet try using a diverging movement pattern machine – this simply means that your hands move apart during the movement, which increases the ROM at the shoulder and therefore works the Lats through a greater ROM.  Try it for better latissimus dorsi targeting…

Ben Wilde
Director of International Training and Education
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want to know lats pull back is it advisable or not. reasons. 
Posted @ Monday, July 11, 2011 11:19 AM by rabin jaunky
Behind-the-neck pulldowns tend to force the user into cervical spine flexion, which may also be accompanied by lumbar spine flexion, leading to potential postural and alignment issues over time. Additionally, pulling the bar behind the neck often requires external rotation of the arm, and thus places additional stresses on the shoulder joint. 
If the user can maintain adequate cervical and lumbar posture, and can move through a complete range of motion without any discomfort, then pulling the bar behind the neck is reasonable. Otherwise, or to prevent potential issues, it is normally advisable to pull the bar to the chest. 
Paul M. Juris, Ed.D.  
Executive Director, CYBEX Institute for Exercise Science 
Posted @ Monday, July 11, 2011 2:50 PM by Dr. Paul Juris
I wanted to confirm that you are recommending starting with a narrower grip for the front lat pull down using heavier than normal weights, then moving hands to a wider grip as one pulls the bar towards the upper chest? Thanks.
Posted @ Monday, July 11, 2011 4:01 PM by Lana Taylor
@ Lana 
This is actually a very technical issue, biomechanically, so the answer to your question is not so simple. 
Using a very wide grip brings the angle of force closer to the shoulder joint and farther from the elbow. The result is an easier challenge for the lats, but a much greater challenge for the elbow flexors...not exactly the objective of the exercise. 
Bringing the hands in on the bar may increase the torque load at the shoulder, getting the lats to work harder with less contribution from the elbow flexors. 
This is probably a good place to start, but it doesn't have to involve heavier weights. In fact, try it at a comfortable workload before increasing the challenge.
Posted @ Monday, July 11, 2011 5:02 PM by Dr. Paul M. Juris
I am a senior male, in reasonably good health and shape. Are Lats recommended for seniors. If so, at what weight? # of reps?
Posted @ Friday, May 18, 2012 10:05 AM by Berdel
Sorry to be obtuse, but it's difficult to recommend an exercise without knowing one's exercise and physical history. If your posture is good, you have full range of motion at your shoulders, and you have no back pain, then performing lat pulldowns would generally be alright. Do pull to the chest, however. If your posture is slightly rounded, you can't move your shoulders through a complete, pain-free range of motion, or you have back pain, then avoid lat pulldowns and opt for horizontal rowing exercises. 
Weights can be adjusted as tolerated, there's really no magic formula here. Start light and work your way up. As an alternative, try doing sets for time, like 30 seconds to 1 minute, performing as many reps as you can in that interval.
Posted @ Friday, May 18, 2012 11:25 AM by Paul M. Juris, Ed.D.
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