Lat Pulldown Cable Machine
Introduction to the lat pulldown cable machine
The lat pulldown cable machine is designed to target the lattisimus dorsi muscle, or as most of us know it as, the lat muscles in your back. The basic principle is that you sit facing forward on the machine with your thighs under a support bar. You then pull down on a long horizontal bar which is attached to a cable. Pull the bar into the top of your chest and, once there, slowly and under control, return back to the start position with your arms stretched upwards. The bar you are pulling down is attached to a cable which is attached to a weight stack. You can select your desired weight with a pin and commence the exercise.
Lat pulldown cable machine construction
The mechanics behind how this machine works is with cables and utilizing the principle of levers. If you look at the construction of a cable lat pulldown machine you will see a steel framework with an integrated bench, a weight stack which has a cable attached to it. The cable runs over a number of pulleys and the other end is attached to a hook. A number of different bars can be attached to the hook in order to perform alternative exercises, but for the sake of this article we will stick with the wide lat pulldown bar.
Correct form while doing lat pulldowns
Always consider your personal safety while performing any exercise, particularly back exercises. One way to reduce the risk of injury is to perform the exercise with the correct form, so let’s have a look at what we mean.
Getting ready for the workout:
- Make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position facing the pulldown bar.
- Place your thighs under the padded support bar. This should be adjustable so make sure you have it at the correct height that supports your thighs, not too much of a gap and not pushed down too tight.
- Raise your arms up and grab the bar at the ends, if you can’t reach the bar, you may need to either adjust the length of the cable or get some assistance to bring the bar down so you can get a comfortable grip. Once you are happy with your workout position, relax and select your weight.
- Select your starting weight by inserting a pin into the desired weight; make sure this is not too heavy, but that it weighs enough that you really feel you have substantial weight to work with.
- Throughout this workout, make sure your back is held straight and you do not bring the bar down by leaning back.
Starting your workout
- Reach up and grab the pulldown bar at each end. Don’t forget: if you need help, make sure your spotter remains with you throughout the duration of your workout as they will need to hold the bar once you have finished.
- Once you have a comfortable grip, pull the bar down so it comes just past your chin. You can bring the bar down so it just touches the top of your chest. This motion should be slow and controlled.
- Throughout the downward motion, you should be breathing out, not in one big puff out, but in time with the downward motion.
- Once you pull down with sufficient weight, you will find this will almost pull you up out of the seat, which is why you should have your thighs firmly fitted under the support bar.
- Now to return the bar to the start position, this is done slowly and under control. This is the time to breathe in.
- At the top of the motion, allow the machine to stretch your arms and back, feel the stretch in your muscles as you do this.
- Continue this pull down and stretch up for eight to twelve repetitions, rest and then repeat for three or four sets.
Benefits of using Lat Pulldown Cable Machine
By focusing on your lats, you can improve your overall back strength as well as enhancing the width and size of your back. This also helps with improving your overall posture and pulling motion.
Having a stronger, bigger back not only looks good, it is essential when it comes to overall shape if you are a bodybuilder. The lat spread is one of the first moves you practice and keep checking after your workouts as it is easy to see the transformation and growth.
Alternative ways to use the lat pulldown cable machine
There are a number of alternative exercises you can carry out on the lat pulldown machine by simply changing your grip on the wide bar or by switching out the bar to an alternative design.
Reverse narrow grip pulldown
You can use the wide bar for this exercise as it just requires a different grip. Grip the bar so your palms are facing you, and make your grip with your hands at shoulder width. The movement is exactly the same as before, using slow and controlled pull down and stretch up movements. This alternative grip will get your biceps working along with the inner back muscles.
90 Deg grip bar
The bar with the 90 Deg grip allows you to grip the bar with your palms facing inwards. With this slightly altered grip, the focus on the lat muscle is just a little different and provides you with a more inclusive workout.
Light commercial or heavy duty commercial?
If you are looking to add the lat pulldown cable machine to your gym equipment, we think you need to consider the ‘level’ of machine you are going to purchase.
The light commercial level machine would be very suitable for any home or garage gym as these are designed for light use, approximately several dozen uses a day, which in the home gym routine would be way excessive. These machines are aimed at the hotel gym or the shared condominium style gym where the throughput of gym users is not that many compared to a higher traffic environment.
The light commercial machines are very well constructed with full adjustment and high grade materials being used in their construction. The weight stack would generally provide a total weight of around 160 lbs, sometimes more or sometimes less, depending on the brand. This is generally enough for the gyms they are targeted towards, including most high end home gyms.
The heavy weight commercial level machines on the other hand are designed for hundreds of uses per day and can be found in most membership style gyms. The construction of these commercial level machines will use heavier grade materials such as thicker steel, larger diameter cables and a heavier duty fabric and even the stitching on any padding.
The cost of these commercial leg extension machines will be higher than the light commercial versions because of the materials used and, and because they will almost always have a heavier weight stack, often over 250 lbs.
The lat pulldown cable machine is a core machine for any complete gym, including a home gym for those who have the space to put one. Increasing the strength and size of your back is not only beneficial for your overall health and posture, it also allows you to get those wing-like features all bodybuilders have. It is a must for any serious gym goer!
There are different levels of this type of machine; the light commercial machine is aimed at home gyms, hotel and condominium style gyms where the daily use is light, and the heavy duty commercial machine which is designed for hundreds of users per day and is aimed at the membership style gyms as well as university and military and similar training facilities.
There are multiple brands available on the market, however, we at Gym Gear Direct are focused on providing the very high quality options from both light commercial and heavy commercial cable machines from TKO Strength.