Strength Training Secrets – the Lat Pulldown

Written by: Blake Lombardi AEP ( Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

You have heard it all before, but it’s no surprise that with the constant sitting we do today, our postures have adapted to the sustained position we find ourselves spending a lot of our time in.

So if you spend a lot of your time driving, sitting down or doing work behind a computer, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But more specifically, what I’m talking about is posterior chain neglect.

You’re probably thinking “Yeah Blake, I know I need to do more stretches and work on my posture – I’ve heard all this before”.

But what if I told you there was an exercise that if used correctly, it can really improve your posture in more ways than just stretching?

Just stay with me on this one…

Have you been using the Lateral Pull Down correctly?

In my opinion, it is one of the most underrated pieces of equipment within any gym, and I’m going to explain why.

See, the Lateral Pull Down works in a unique way; it has the ability to stretch and strengthen muscles that have either become dominant or neglected.

When we sit down for long period of time, the upper back begins to become neglected because it just isn’t being used.

The posterior muscles of the back become elongated and weak, while the anterior chest muscles become short and tight.

If you can envision this rounded upper back posture, you know I’m talking about a Kyphotic curvature in the spine.

Unfortunately, this posture has become a norm in society today, and with it we increase our risk of developing things such as musculoskeletal imbalances, impaired shoulder stability, poor breathing technique and even structural and nerve problems involving the spine.

So, just so we’re on the same page with this exercise, try to visualize the technique involved and how it can address the posture I’ve been talking on about.

When we pull the bar towards the chest, we are stretching the shortened chest muscles from the position they have adapted to – and we’re also controlling the weak and elongated muscles to contract and ultimately become stronger than before.

I’ve attached a great video from one of my old mentors who does a great job explaining the technique involved with this exercise.


So if you struggle using the Lateral Pull Down or if you’re a beginner who wants to add this exercise into your training, watch this video and try to add the small cues and tips into your training.

Lat Pull Down Tips to Remember

  • Select a weight that allows you to have complete control of the bar. If you feel that your arms are doing a lot of the work. Drop the weight and really focus on using technique first.
  • Depress and retract your shoulder blades so you can involve more muscles of the upper and mid-back region.
  • At the end of the movement, try to push your chest to the ceiling so you’re extending the upper back and moving your torso from a flexed to an extended position.
  • This exercise can improve so many other exercises that require thoracic mobility and shoulder blade control. From a barbell squat to a bench press. If you want to get more bang for your buck for your training – give the pull down a try.