How To Do Lat Pulldowns Using Power Rack
Lat pulldowns are like the Swiss army knives of exercises; they do a little bit of everything.
Even though it's just one type of workout, lat pulldowns help you to stand taller, lift heavier, and boost your metabolism.
If that still isn't enough for you, consider that lat pulldowns also work to strengthen your arms, stabilize your shoulders, and can even improve your runs.
While there are always alternatives you can use for virtually any workout, cutting corners will only hinder your own progress.
Let's face it; it's simply not worth hurting yourself or limiting your range of motion. The best way to ensure that you're correctly doing your lat pulldowns is to use a power rack
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know before starting your lat pulldowns, and which power racks can get you the most out of your workout.
How To Do Lat Pulldowns Using Power Rack
Muscles to Activate
Lat pulldowns work your back, shoulders, arms, and your core all at once.
Here's a quick breakdown of all of the muscles you'll be using throughout your lat pulldowns according to anatomical grouping.
That's more than ten muscles that you'll be engaging and, as a result, strengthening using just one exercise!
Of course, lat pulldowns are known mainly for their ability to primarily target the Latissimus dorsi muscle that stretches in a triangle shape from your shoulders and tapers at the base of your spine, hence the name.
Your lats are responsible for maintaining your posture and a variety of daily activities that require pulling motions, including mundane things like starting a lawnmower or opening a door.
What's the Perfect Form?
Before we get into how to do a lat pulldown, let's first go over how to set up your machine and maintain proper form throughout your exercise.
This is essential to maximizing the effects of your workout, and if you're not getting real results from your workout, then what's the point?
Start by adjusting your power rack weight and handles so that when you sit down on your machine, you can reach the handles from a seated position by extending your arms fully overhead.
You can also adjust your knee pads to be secured at a 90-degree angle to make sure you remain in contact with your machine throughout your workout.
Now that your machine is set up, you can take a seat on your machine and get focused on achieving the perfect form.
When it comes to lat pulldowns, it's important to remember that even the slightest mistake in something as seemingly irrelevant as your grip can result in a limited range of movement.
Here are some key points to keep you on track with your form during your workout:
- Your hands should be spread further apart than your shoulders, but not by more than 2-3 inches.
- Your back should be in a neutral position, with your hips slightly flexed out and, if necessary, a slight lean backward.
- Your torso should be stationary throughout your movements.
- Your elbows should be directly below the bar during the entirety of your lat pulldowns.
Once you have a good idea of what your lat pulldowns should look like in action, you're ready to take a seat on your machine and actually get to your workout.
- Sit down on your power rack machine with your feet flat on the floor, and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
- Reach up and grab the handle so that your hands are just further than shoulder-width distance apart, and your palms are facing away from you. Your back should have a slight curve to it, and your arms should be fully extended and straight. This is your starting position.
- Squeeze and retract your shoulder blades to pull the bar down. Pause at the bottom of your pull when the bar is level with your chest.
- In a slow, controlled movement, extend your arms fully once more to resume the starting position and complete a single rep.
Try to complete between 8 and 12 repetitions at a time when you're first attempting lat pulldowns.
Tips and Tricks To Do It Right
As a personal trainer, I often get asked if there are any insider secrets or tricks of the trade that I can impart to make working out less intense.
The reality is, as previously mentioned, there are no shortcuts in life, and the same is true for exercise.
However, there are a few tips and tricks that you can use to improve your performance and get more out of your workout for it.
- Avoid leaning too far back; this can cause you to use your body weight to pull as opposed to working your lats as intended.
- Stop your pull before your elbows go backward to avoid adding injury or stress to your shoulder joint.
- If possible, go for a power rack that has an angled handle to help ease the strain on your wrists during your workout.
- Keep your movements slow and controlled. If you allow momentum to take control of your motion, you'll reduce the use of the muscles you're trying to train
- You can adjust your knee pad to sit on top of your thighs to increase core muscle engagement and minimize movement.
- Make sure your pulling power comes from your back and remember to disengage your forearms if you start to feel them taking over the workload.
- Start with light weights for your first couple of tries on the power rack machine. Once you become more comfortable with the machine and more confident in your form, you can begin to think about upping your weight load.
- You can use alternative grip styles to target specific muscle groups. For example, close-grip pulldowns specifically target your forearm muscles, whereas a straight-arm pulldown targets the upper arm muscles like your Triceps.
Recommended Power Racks
If your gym doesn't have a power rack, or if your gym has yet to reopen, it may be time to consider including a power rack in your home gym.
But with such a large, and as a result relatively expensive, piece of heavy equipment, it can be challenging to know where to start the buying process.
That's why we put together a list of our top three recommended power racks that you can purchase for your home.
Rep Power Rack PR1000
The Rep PR1000 has a maximum weight capacity of 700 lbs and retails for around $499. The cage on this power rack weighs in at 130 pounds and is made of 14 gauge steel.
The PR1000 also has conveniently placed storage pegs for your weight plates on the bottom of the frame to help give the power rack added stability.
One thing to consider when purchasing this model, however, is that the price does not include a knee stopper bar for your lat pulldowns.
So, you'll have to pay an additional fee on top of your initial purchase for your knee stopper or any other attachments you may want to add to the unit.
The HulkFit is probably one of the sleekest looking power rack machines currently on the market.
Unlike most machines that come in standard black or silver, the HulkFit 1000 comes in an eye-popping yellow and has sleek black accents.
The HulkFit retails at $440 and already comes with all of the attachments you'll need for lat pulldowns, rows, and dips.
My favorite aspect of HulkFit 1000 is its unbeatable stability.
The HulkFit 1000 uses an H-frame and rubber feet for durability as opposed to having to bolt it down into your home or garage.
Because of this added stability, though, the HulkFit 1000 is the heaviest machine out of my three recommendations at 165 pounds.
Merax Athletics Power Rack
My number one recommendation for Power Racks has to be Merax Athletics Power Rack.
Like the HulkFit, Merax Athletics employs an H-frame for maximum stabilization but is cheaper at only $400 retail price.
The adjustable cage has 17 different height positions and is made out of 140 pounds of chrome-plated solid steel.
One of my favorite features of the Merax Athletics Power Rack is the knurled grip on the chin-up bar that provides comfort throughout even the most intense chin-ups.
And the four weight plate storage pegs are a fantastic feature for people like me who would otherwise have a pile of weight plates stashed in a corner somewhere.
Lat pulldowns are, without a doubt, one of the most beneficial exercises you can use to build up your back strength.
The fact that they also help with posture, boost your metabolism, and work a litany of other muscles is just the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae.
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