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)?

What is range of motion?

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
Vice President, International Training and Education

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