Does your gym workouts include pulldown exercises? This traditional exercise usually includes the lat pulldown machine. The “lat” in this exercise refers to the latissimus dorsi muscle. You can also do alternative exercises using dumbbells instead of gym equipment. As always there are pros and cons to using free weights instead of machines to do this exercise. However, when you don’t feel like going to the local gym or simply don’t have a gym membership you can do alternative exercises that will work the same muscles. It’s still important to use proper form to get the best results from the exercise.
The pulldown exercise can provide several benefits. It provides an outstanding upper-body workout, works for several muscle groups at one time, and helps build lean muscle mass. These are all benefits that anyone can benefit from including athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders. The traditional method is to use lat pull-down equipment. However, you can also get similar benefits by using dumbbells for alternative exercises. This provides similar benefits for the same muscle groups and new ones like using your muscles to maintain balance. When you don’t have access to the machine you can also get benefits from using free-weights.
What’s the Lat Pulldown Exercise?
This is the first issue to take up before discussing dumbbell alternatives. The exercise is done using the lat pull-down machine that’s common equipment found in gyms/health clubs. The design is used to do a seated exercise.
Here’s how it works. The first step is to sit on a seat/bench and grab a bar attached to a weighted cord. He/She then pulls down versus the cord’s upward resistance. It’s possible to also use free weights, like dumbbells. The main reason is that free weights get resistance from gravity. Meanwhile, pull-down equipment uses upward resistance.
The lat pull-down machine can help exercisers isolate arm muscles that are not used when using other kinds of fixed-weight equipment. These machines often are a single station that is often recommended by trainers for workout programs.
There are usually different weight options. That allows lifters to increase weight gradually by adding a little more weight at a time to make the exercise tougher.
There are various steps to take to get the best results. They include adjusting the seat before doing lat pull-downs so you’ll get the best results. Another important step to take is to hold the machine’s handle properly.
Another important issue to consider is forming when using this exercise equipment. You should keep your back straight. So when you bring the bar down your body is somewhat close to the descending path.
You should also bring down the bar to the chest’s top part instead of the bottom part. That can help to angle the exerciser’s head. That will provide the bar enough room to line up with the chest’s upper region.
Lat Pulldown: Dumbbell Alternatives
Bench Supported Row (Single-Arm)
It is a unilateral exercise that lets you load one side of the body. This type of exercise is good for developing equal mass/strength using the body’s left/right sides. This exercise focuses on various body parts including:
Here’s how to do the exercise. Hold the dumbbell on one extended arm. Then row the free weight upwards toward the ribs. The elbows should skim the sides. Hold for one second at the top of the movement. Then return to the starting position.
Dumbell Bent Over Row
This exercise is another alternative to the lat pull-down. It’s a bilateral exercise, so you’ll have to use the left/right side at the same time. It works different body parts like lats, traps, and rhomboids.
Here’s how to do the exercise. First, hold both dumbbells using extended arms. Then row using a straight line towards the rib cage. Keep elbows at 45-degrees. Squeeze shoulder blades together when you’re at top of movement. Then return to start position.
This unilateral exercise focuses on the same muscles as the one-arm row. The difference is, it is done without using the bench for full support. That makes it a tougher version of the Single Arm Row. That’s due to the core stability that’s needed.
Kroc Row uses one dumbbell. First, place your hand on the surface so you can put the body at a 45-degree angle. You should also maintain a neutral spine/neck. The feet should be split, with weight placed on the front foot.
Hold a dumbbell on the extended arm. Hang in a neutral position and row using a straight line from that position towards the rib cage. Hold for one second at top of movement. Next, return to the starting position.
Top Lat Pulldown: Benefits and Mistakes
- Offers flexibility by allowing a change in grip width
- Strengthens biceps, forearms, back muscles, and latissimus dorsi (lats)
- Trains same muscles as a pull-up
These are all benefits worth considering when picking exercises.
1. Using too much spine motion
Make sure you avoid this process when trying to lift the weight. If the weight is too heavy, it can affect changes in the back angle, which you’ll want to avoid. That is yet another of the situations you’ll want to avoid to get the most from this exercise.
2. Letting shoulders rotate at the bottom
That often happens when the weight is too heavy, or you’re doing high reps. In both cases, these are situations to avoid. Make sure to keep your upper back arched and shoulder blades back. If you’re unable to do the last rep, don’t force the bar. The reason is it could cause a shoulder injury and also result in shoulder discomfort. Those are both situations you’ll want to avoid.
3. Not bringing weight fully down
Using a full range of motion provides the most benefits and avoids cheating yourself instead of making the exercise easier. Make sure you get the most out of this exercise for your muscles. Make sure to use good form to get the best results when doing the lat pulldown.