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How to Use the Lat Pull Down Machine

This machine is used to work the muscles in the back (lats or latissimus dorsi) and can be tricky to use.

Setting up the machine
  • To set up the machine, first adjust the seat height. When seated, your feet should be flat on the floor and knees in line with your ankles. If your knees are pointed too far forward, try lifting the seat until you are at a comfortable seated position.
  • Set the machine to the desired weight load.
How to use
  • There are two ways to use this machine: you can face the machine so that the knee pads are under your upper thigh, or face the opposite way, with your lower back pressed against the padding for support as shown in the photo below.
  • Reach up and grab the handlebars on each side with a wide overhand grip. Place your arms as wide as possible. The wider you reach, the more emphasis you are able to place on your lat muscles during the exercise.
  • Ensure your arms are balanced and that the distance between the center of the bar and your arm distance is the same on both sides.
  • Pulling down on the handlebars, slowly lower yourself on the machine.
  • Keeping your back straight without arching excessively, take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, slowly lower the bar in front of you, pointing your elbows inwards towards your torso.
  • Bring the bar down as far as comfortably possible.
  • Hold for a count of one and return to the starting position.
  • Do not let the weight plates touch between repetitions and control the movement throughout. This will allow you to focus on your back muscle and build it up without harming or jerking your body.

If you are doing heavier loads, or feel uncomfortable, you can turn and face the machine instead, securing your knees under the roller pads. This will allow you to stabilize your body and pull down heavier weights.

You can also target different regions of the back muscle by adjusting your grip distance position on the bar. Remember, bringing your arms closer together will focus more on the muscles running next to the spine (rhomboids), while performing the exercise with a wider grip will allow you to focus more intensely on the larger back muscles the lats.

You can also change the bar to one of the other grip adjustments for different variations.

Caution: Always try to bring the bar down in front of you where you are able to see and control it better. By bringing it behind your neck, you run the risk of pulling down too hard on your neck and possibly damaging your cervical spine and nerves in that area of the neck.

Author: Dimi Ingle.
Copyright 2009: Remedium. This article may not be copied, in whole or in part, without the written consent of Remedium.

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