Does anyone think lat pulldowns are ineffective ?

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    Does anyone think lat pulldowns are ineffective ?


    I stopped doing these awhile back. I could lat pulldown over 200lbs yet I felt like my gains on them were very minimal and slow.


    Since then I've been doing more weighted pull ups and the stimulation and effecct has been much greater. (homo)

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    Lat pulldowns are one the most butchered lifts when it comes to technique. I personally get a lot out of them.
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    I've read too many articles on how to do them properly I don't even know anymore. Some say slight tilt back, other say keep back straight the whole time, etc, etc.
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    I never felt them that much. Switched to pull-ups and have gone from an assist of like 50 lbs. to adding 15 lbs. and doing sets of 8. Much better results for me...
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    I read something while back that talks about differences between keeping your body stable but moving your hands (lat pulldown) vs. keeping your hands stable, but moving your body (pull ups).
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReaperX View Post
    I've read too many articles on how to do them properly I don't even know anymore. Some say slight tilt back, other say keep back straight the whole time, etc, etc.
    My preference is to be directly underneath the bar, pull back with the elbows to the clavicles, and slightly lean back (just enough to not hit your face). The chest must expand to fully contract the lats, so your torso is always moving while training back.
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    I like the hammer strength pull down machine.. It pulls like Up, and away from you.. I drop the seat super low, and I can really get a good stretch on it..

    For regular pull downs, i do a slight lean backwards, and really focus on doing a nice slow return, flaring my lats, and fighting the weight..

    I rarely put regular pull downs in my rotation tough.
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    Cleans, deadlifts, rows, weighted pullups > lat pulldowns
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    i had the same feeling not too long ago. We completely quit doing pull downs for about 8 weeks. Max Effort days, we would do body weight pull ups and dynamic we would do a row variation. Last night we did pulldowns for the first time in 8 weeks and my strength was through the roof. Great movement when treated as a pullup would be. It is almost as if i needed to relearn to move.

    Good luck...
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    ineffective no, non-optimal yes.

    I just have never had the reason/time to include them in training.
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    One thing I forgot to add. For some they can be very useful. particularly woman, lacking upper body strength or men unable to do pullups.
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    They work different muscles than the pull ups(palms facing away) and chin ups(palms facing you). I include lat pull downs sometimes and sometimes I don't. It depends on the program and or exerciuse's I choose for myself.
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    I like behind the neck pulldowns, I get a better feel out of them
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    I like them. I feel the burn each time in my lats.
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    pull ups > hammer strength pull downs > lat pulldowns, IMO. But I still feel they should be thrown in the mix occasionally.
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    I am a big fan of using a v-grip and doing a sub-scap pulldown, but rarely do I do a conventional pulldown. I did do one arm pulldowns for a training cycle once and I got great results from those and the stretch was amazing.
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    I don't think they should be a core of a back workout, but I include them regularly as my final lift. I do 2 sets of 15 reps, with a 4:2:2 scheme - that is, 4 second negative, 2 second positive, 2 second contraction. I feel this has helped me to develop my Anterior Serratus decently. They fit perfectly as a final cap on a very hard back workout; particularly if the focus of the workout was high-weight, low-reps.
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    i love pull-downs. as rodja said, most peeps bastardize the exercise. i do them after deads just so i do feel them better...and form is very strict unless i am tring to go heavy where looser form would be used for some extra reps. i switch grip often as well, neutral working best for me. switching to a straight bar opposed to the traditional bar also helped me!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    Lat pulldowns are one the most butchered lifts when it comes to technique. I personally get a lot out of them.
    I know what you mean. It's really easy to get sloppy on those things. I see a lot of people trying to use way too much weight, and they don't get near a full range of motion, and thus their progression slows down drastically. Good form is the most important thing here. Even if you have to lower your usual weight by a drastic amount! Weight is the means to and end, rather than the goal itself. I'm not saying you do this, but some people get so carried away with how much weight that they're throwing up, that they forget what the purpose of the exericse is; to stimulate and recruit as much muscle fiber as possible, reaching positive failure, and thus inducing muscle overload, which is a driving factor in muscle hypertrophy. Good form is so important because you want to recruit as many muscle fibers from your target muscle(s) as possible.. Period!!!

    I would just recommend re-evaluating your form, lowering the weight, and really concentrating on the movement, and contracting the lats at the bottm, while stretching them at the top. Really make those lats work!
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    If you do them properly there is zero difference between a lat pulldown and a pull up.
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    I don't get much out of the cable lat pulldowns. It is hard to get a feel.


    We have a hammer strength one which when you pull it it is like a letter 'C' movement. It curves and it comes up and down. I think we are talking about the same machine.


    I feel more contraction out of palms away pull ups. Maybe b/c my body is forced more to use the lats and i cannot cheat.
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    Are you moving your scapula across their plane of movement before executing the pull? That's a key step that many miss, IMO. I stretch the movement out in full, squeeze my scapula together, and complete a full ROM using exclusively my Lat from that point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletsoldier View Post
    Are you moving your scapula across their plane of movement before executing the pull? That's a key step that many miss, IMO. I stretch the movement out in full, squeeze my scapula together, and complete a full ROM using exclusively my Lat from that point.

    That's primarly where I am messing up. I've noticed when I do latpulldowns, my biceps take over the first 2/3 of the movement, then the lats pick up at the end. LOL.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReaperX View Post
    That's primarly where I am messing up. I've noticed when I do latpulldowns, my biceps take over the first 2/3 of the movement, then the lats pick up at the end. LOL.
    Yeah, try to visualize two endpoints on each of your scapula Reaper; before beginning to execute the 'pull' part of the motion, bring the endpoints together, forming the base of your range of motion. This effectively decreases the plane of movement under which your biceps guide the pull, and elongates the plane of movement under which your lats guide the pull. For example, if you were to stick your hands straight out in front of you, and pull them back to your chest, your bicep completed the entire movement; whereas if you supinate your scapula prior to that, you'll notice even without any weight your lats complete the movement. I think you if you attempt to integrate that specific type of movement into your pulldown, you'll find it is a very effective exercise for imparting shape to the anterior serratus area.

    I'd add that this method of bringing the scapula together, at least in my opinion, should be applied to almost all pull movements. I do a very similar technique with DB/BB Rows, Seated Cable Pulls, Pull-Ups, and so on. It increases the range of motion too much to not do it.
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    Rack chins are one thing I would choose over lat pulldowns...since they havent been mentioned
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    Quote Originally Posted by Royd The Noyd View Post
    Rack chins are one thing I would choose over lat pulldowns...since they havent been mentioned
    Definitely, I would choose almost everything mentioned over them. But the original question was are they ineffective: I don't think they are useless, just not a core workout.
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    Thanks Mullet. I'll focus on pulling the scapula back. I'll focus on pulling in a 'V' shape outwards, inwards ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReaperX View Post
    Thanks Mullet. I'll focus on pulling the scapula back. I'll focus on pulling in a 'V' shape outwards, inwards ?
    I'm unsure what you mean by V shape inwards/outwards? Could you clarify that a small bit?
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    Personally, I never got good gains nor strength increases from them. So, I stopped doing them. I'm sure it was my form and technique that hindered it.

    Anyway, I just started doing pull ups instead to experiment and I have noticed much better results. I went from assisted pull ups to added weight pull ups.
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    I have been doing chins and wide grip palms facing each other pullups the last coupld months and my back is noticeably bigger. Not bad since i have been doing lat pulldowns for 15 years.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletsoldier View Post
    I'm unsure what you mean by V shape inwards/outwards? Could you clarify that a small bit?

    I think that might have came out inaccurate. So essentially flex your back and pull the blades together early in the pull ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rugger1 View Post
    If you do them properly there is zero difference between a lat pulldown and a pull up.
    Sure, except for that whole closed-chain vs open-chain thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReaperX View Post
    I think that might have came out inaccurate. So essentially flex your back and pull the blades together early in the pull ?
    Yes, exactly. This creates the base of your range of motion; once you have 'primed' the lift, you effectively relegate the biceps to a very small role within the lift. Start out light (considerably lighter than normal) and focus on contracting as hard as you possibly can, holding that contraction, and achieving a maximum stretch at the top.
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    i always start my back workouts with lat pulldowns...there is more than one proper way to do them but most miss it entirely. i pull to my neck personally. My back is by far not lacking strength or development as it is probably my most developed muscle group but i to this day have trouble doing conventional pull ups. I use lat pulldowns as a warm up and a nice stretch before i bang out the meat of my back workout. They are effective if you know what you are doing imo. Maybe some people get more from pullups and some get more from pulldowns idk. If they were ineffective you wouldnt see just about every top IFBB bodybuilder doing them in their workouts....
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    Every exercise has its place. Just understand some apear to work better then others, and will stimulate the CNS in a different manner.
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    I only feel they are effective when the weight you are pulling is less than your bodyweight. I have trouble staying on the seat when I pull more than my bodyweight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
    I only feel they are effective when the weight you are pulling is less than your bodyweight. I have trouble staying on the seat when I pull more than my bodyweight.
    good point man! i never go over my bodyweight with them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreakyStyley View Post
    Sure, except for that whole closed-chain vs open-chain thing.
    In terms of muscle development your argument bears no relevance. If you wanted to get technical you could have just said the pull down machine isn't a pull up bar. The ONLY reason that closed/open would matter is for ****wads who can't use proper form on a lat pull down machine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rugger1 View Post
    In terms of muscle development your argument bears no relevance. If you wanted to get technical you could have just said the pull down machine isn't a pull up bar. The ONLY reason that closed/open would matter is for ****wads who can't use proper form on a lat pull down machine.
    In terms of muscle development, one could certainly talk about how pullups will activate more muscle than pulldowns, so perhaps it's more relevant than you're indicating.
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