Back to Basics: Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Many of the greatest bodybuilders and physique athletes of all time used the wide grip lat pulldown as a staple in their back training routines. This cable movement may be simple to perform for most, but occasionally reviewing the little things can help you see new progress.

Two-time NPC Mr. Wisconsin and M&F/Flex Social Media Director David Baye goes over this back day favorite on the latest episode of “Back to Basics.” Baye covers why this movement is so beneficial and shares ways to make it even more effective for beginners as well as some of the advanced lifters that could use a refresher course.

Muscles Worked

Yes, the lats are obviously involved, but Baye explains that there is more to this movement than that area alone. “We’re also going to be working those rear delts, the traps, and as a secondary muscle group, the biceps.”

What to NOT Do

Sometimes knowing what not to do can be as beneficial as what you should do. Baye suggests not using too much weight and moving too fast. Jerking the handle and swinging to generate momentum aren’t good ideas either. Finally, don’t pull the handle too far down in front of you towards your abdomen. This doesn’t target the lats effectively.

To Strap or Not to Strap?

With most back movements, the discussion of using lifting straps comes up. This movement is no different. Beginners may want to use them for grip assistance until they have the form mastered. You should consider them for bodybuilding purposes so your grip giving out doesn’t limit the potential of your back development. Baye has them and explains that as he uses more weight, they come in handy. “As I get into my heavier weights, this is something that I definitely want.”

Setting Up and Form

As you get into position, the knee pads should be high enough that they are snug on your knees when you’re sitting down. Once you’re seated with a wide grip on the handle, Baye says that your chest and head should be up before starting the exercise.

Baye demonstrates the motion by performing a few reps under control. “I’m going to pull the bar back so that the bar somewhere around the middle of my chest. I don’t want it to touch the collarbone, and I don’t want it down at my lower chest.” He also instructs to have a slight arch in the back before starting the movement.

Elbow Position

What does the elbows have to do with back training? Baye shares that it makes the movement even more effective by pulling them in the right direction. “When you’re going through the motions, focus on pulling those elbows back and squeezing with your lats as opposed to pulling with your arms.”

What About Pullups?

Baye does share that if you’re someone who has the ability to perform full pullups with your bodyweight, then that would be a good idea. “Sometimes people look at it as an old-school exercise. It’s absolutely not old-school. The wide grip pullup is a great exercise.”

Sample Upper Back Workout Featuring the Wide Grip Lat Pulldown Exercise
Back 2 Basics: Sample Upper Back Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Wide-grip Lat Pulldown 3-4 10-12
Reverse-grip Lat Pulldown 3-4 10-12
One-arm Dumbbell Row 3-4 10-12
Seated Row Machine 3-4 10-12

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