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)
Lat pulldowns are one the most butchered lifts when it comes to technique. I personally get a lot out of them.
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.
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...
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).
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.
Cleans, deadlifts, rows, weighted pullups > lat pulldowns
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.
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ineffective no, non-optimal yes.
I just have never had the reason/time to include them in training.
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.
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.
pull ups > hammer strength pull downs > lat pulldowns, IMO. But I still feel they should be thrown in the mix occasionally.
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.
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!
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!