The 12 Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives for Back Size

There aren’t many muscle-building or strength-focused training programs that leave out the traditional lat pulldown. Many constructive workouts include this classic, and for good reason.

Pulling in a vertical pattern strengthens your back, shoulders, and arms, while moreover towers the muscles that support and stabilize your shoulder blades. This maintains healthy joint function which, in turn, keeps your unshortened upper soul strong.

person in undecorous shirt performing pulldown when exercise
Credit: Tom Wang / Shutterstock

However, the lat pulldown isn’t unbearable to build thickness in your unshortened when and it’s not the only way to alimony everything strong, healthy, and balanced. Eventually, you need to make some adjustments. Over-focusing on archetype straight bar lat pulldowns without any transpiration in angles, grip, or technique won’t be unbearable to for well-constructed development.

If you know which muscles and nature you’re looking to address, you can wisely segregate the right exercises for largest results. Here are 12 of the weightier alternatives to build a bigger, stronger, increasingly well-constructed back.

Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives

Behind-the-Neck Pulldown

“Scapular tenancy is as tomfool as a really wide back,” said no person ever. Maybe you don’t do standard pulldowns to target the muscles that tenancy your shoulder blades, but the vital movement does train muscles that tenancy and rotate them. Pulling the bar overdue your neck creates an plane increasingly efficient path.

Why Use the Behind-the-Neck Pulldown

By slightly interchange the mechanics and path of this vertical pull, you train the supporting muscles of the shoulders and shoulder blades through a increasingly well-constructed range of motion. If you have suitable shoulder mobility and can perform the motion without pain, pulling overdue your throne allows you to target the muscles that rotate and lower the shoulder blades.

The kicker here is that when your shoulders and scapulae (shoulder blades) are well-positioned, with the behind-neck movement, your soul can create higher levels of strength and develop increasingly noticeable upper-back muscle.

How to Do the Behind-the-Neck Pulldown

Set up on a lat pulldown machine as you normally would. Use a long bar zipper and grab it with an overhand grip vastitude shoulder-width. Sit with your stovepipe straight overhead and shoulders “shrugged” up. Alimony your forehead, chin, and sternum in line as you lean slightly forward. Let your stovepipe be pulled slightly back, in line with your hips. Alimony your soul forward as you pull the handle down. Ideally, aim to touch the bar to the wiring of your traps, near your neck, but pull to a well-appointed depth based on your overall mobility.

Think well-nigh trying to shrug your shoulders “down” as you wrench your stovepipe and momentum your elbows down. In the marrow position, squeeze your shoulder blades lanugo surpassing straightening your stovepipe and executive the weight up. Let your shoulders rise as the subscription pulls you into a controlled overhead lat stretch. Start with light weight and a full range of motion, and increase slowly without sacrificing form.

Rhomboid Pulldown

This movement may finger a little funky at first, but it’s a simple and constructive way to shift focus from your big lat muscles to the smaller muscles of your upper and mid-back. To do these, you’ll use tropical or neutral-grip zipper and a very specific soul angle.

Why Do the Rhomboid Pulldown

The rhomboids are deep muscles between the shoulder blades that pull your upper when together. If these supportive muscles don’t function well, there’s a good endangerment you will sooner deal with some shoulder dysfunction, pain, or injury. The rhomboid pulldown targets these muscles while moreover towers muscle in the part-way of your mid-back, which for many, is lacking thickness and development.

How to Do the Rhomboid Pulldown

Grab the a close-grip zipper with your palms facing each other. Lock your legs under the pads, but lean your torso when to create a roughly 45-degree wile between your upper soul and the floor. Pull your hands to your sternum and indulge your elbows to flare out at a 90-degree wile to your shoulders. Alimony your trunk braced and stable as throughout the exercise.

In the marrow position, think of pulling your shoulder blades together and your shoulders lanugo to the ground. Tenancy the weight on the way up, but alimony your torso wilted wrong-side-up for the unshortened set.

Stiff-Arm Pulldown

This single-joint (isolation) exercise is arguably largest at towers lat thickness than traditional pulldowns considering the work it washed-up only by the lats with minimal assistance from the shoulders and arms.

Why Do the Stiff-Arm Pulldown

The stiff-arm pulldown, moreover known as a straight-arm pushdown, is unconfined at towers lat size and unstipulated mobility considering the muscle has to overcome resistance through a long range of movement. You need to tenancy the resistance through a long arc that puts your lats in a significant stretch toward the top. This is one of the few exercises that unquestionably strengthens shoulder extension (raising the arm) withal with training your shoulder blades to slide downward into a stable position.

How to Do the Stiff-Arm Pulldown

Attach a straight bar or rope to a subscription near the top of your head. Stand tall, grab the bar or rope with your elbows slightly wilting and your palms facing lanugo (on a bar) or facing each other (with a rope). Maintain a bent-arm position as you “sweep” the zipper toward the top of your legs.

At the bottom, imagine pulling your shoulders overdue your torso surpassing you let the weight pull your stovepipe when up. Tenancy the weight and let your stovepipe come all the way up for an zippy stretch at the top.

Lying Subscription Pullover

Dumbbell or kettlebell pullovers are sometimes used as an volitional to pulldowns or, increasingly specifically, an volitional to stiff-arm pulldowns, but expecting people to do those self-ruling weight exercises light unbearable to limit the contribution of the chest, arms, and shoulders is like asking them not to squint at themselves in the mirror without a good arm pump. Lying subscription pullovers are a increasingly constructive way to emphasize the wrinkle of the lats and other when muscles with relatively light weight and upper tension.

Why Do the Lying Subscription Pullover

This exercise gives you all the same benefits of stiff arm pulldowns — increased lat recruitment with limited spare muscles — while moreover increasing the elapsing that the muscle held under tension. And the longer the muscle is contracting under tension the increasingly muscle and strength can be built. (1)

How to Do the Lying Subscription Pullover

Lie on a unappetizing seat with a subscription set slightly whilom head-level. Use a rope zipper to indulge for increasingly range of motion. Grab the rope with your hands facing each other. Maintain a slight wrench in your elbows and pull the rope toward your legs while keeping your lower when unappetizing versus the bench.

Keep your hands facing one flipside and try to touch your pinky fingers to the floor. In the marrow position, squeeze your shoulders together and think of pushing your triceps through the floor surpassing executive the resistance all the way back. Let the resistance pull your stovepipe as far when as you can tolerate, whilom and overdue your head.

Crossed Wreath Pulldown

This movement is perfect for using resistance bands rather than a subscription machine considering the tension of the bands combines with the long range of motion to target the smaller muscles of the back. The crossed wreath pulldown can moreover be tabbed a “banded rhomboid pulldown” considering it works those smaller upper when muscles similar to a rhomboid pulldown.

Why Do the Crossed Wreath Pulldown

By pulling the bands in a cross-body motion, you are training the muscles that move and support the scapulae with a specialized effort you wouldn’t be worldly-wise work with cables. These supportive muscles not only alimony your shoulders functioning properly, but they provide the stability needed to build high-level pressing and pulling strength, and they contribute to unique thickness of the when musculature.

The resistance bands allows for increasingly tension at the end range (peak contraction), which is where most people need to build increasingly scapular control. As you pull the band, it becomes increasingly challenging and the muscles have to create increasingly tension, compared to steady resistance with subscription pulleys.

How to Do the Crossed Wreath Pulldown

Anchor two resistance bands to the top of a squat rack, pull-up bar, or other upper and stable structure. Space the bands to be just outside the width of your shoulders. Grab the left wreath with your right hand and vice versa, and sit on the floor between them.

Keep a neutral spine, not protuberant or rounded, and pull the bands wideness the front of your body. Try to momentum your elbows toward the floor overdue you. Hold and squeeze the contacted position for one second surpassing executive the bands into a stretched position with straight arms.

Supinated-Grip Pulldown

To alimony your shoulders healthy and your upper when strength balanced, you need to do vertical pulls with your palms both facing yonder (pronated grip) and facing toward you (supinated grip). The supinated-grip pulldown, or “chin-down” (as opposed to a bodyweight chin-up), is a unconfined option to build this supinated-position strength whether you can do chin-ups or not.

Why Do the Supinated-Grip Pulldown

This hand position doesn’t magically make it a biceps-only exercise. This grip variation trains the connections between the biceps, delts, and upper-back muscles differently from a pull-up or pulldown. (2) It moreover builds increasingly well-turned upper when stability and increasingly shoulder mobility.

How to Do the Supinated-Grip Pulldown

Use a straight bar zipper and set up just as you would for a standard pulldown. Grab the bar with palms facing you and hands placed right at or a little wider than shoulder width apart.

Pull the zipper lanugo by driving your elbows to the ground and try to touch it right unelevated your collarbone. Squeeze the elbows lanugo surpassing executive the subscription when up.

Weighted Pull-Up

Most don’t think that pulling exercises that target the upper when should overly really be loaded heavy, but that line of thinking is a big mistake.

If you’re looking to build your when as big as you can, you need to combine high-rep sets with heavy weights. The weighted pull-up is an extremely effective, if slightly advanced, way to get the job done.

Why Do the Weighted Pull-Up

Pull-ups are typically washed-up to build muscle size using only your soul weight for as many reps as possible. But they can and should sometimes be loaded as heavy as possible and performed in rep ranges as low as three to five per set. This will expose you to new types of muscular stress that leads to muscle growth.

How to Do the Weighted Pull-Up

Take an overhand grip with your stovepipe at, or just a little wider than, shoulder-width. Pull from a straight-arm hang to your chin or neck reaching bar-level. Warm-up with bodyweight-only sets and then add a weight using either a dip whup or a weighted vest. Start with a weight that you know you can do at least five reps with.

Perform multiple sets of three to five reps, subtracting just a little weight without each set. When you reach a very challenging weight and finger like you can only grind two or three reps, stick with this weight and try to do two to four increasingly sets.

Mechanical Drop-Set Pull-Up

It’s important to do vertical pulling exercises with a variety of hand positions – overhand, underhand, and neutral-grip. Each grip is mechanically variegated in terms of difficulty and muscle recruitment, and this can be venal to do increasingly quality volume, which results in greater strength and muscle growth. (3)

Why Do the Mechanical Waif Set Pull-Up

A pronated (palms away) hand position is most challenging and prioritizes the lat muscle and upper back. A supinated (palms toward you) hand position is slightly easier and emphasizes the biceps and shoulders, and a neutral position (palms facing each other) offers the greatest leverage and is least challenging, recruiting the brachialis and shoulders. (4)

A “mechanical waif set” is a specialized technique that allows you to do as many reps as you can with the most difficult hand position. This causes the emphasized muscles to work hardest. You then protract to add increasingly tension to the same muscle groups with a supinated grip, and finally using neutral-grip hand position. In total, you are worldly-wise to do increasingly volume than you could normally unzip using exclusively any one grip.

How to Do the Mechanical Waif Set Pull-Up

Take a shoulder-width overhand grip on a pull-up bar and lift yourself from a straight-arm hang to your chin near bar-level. As you reach muscular fatigue, let go and reset your grip to take a shoulder-width underhand grip. Protract performing spare repetitions until you reach fatigue again. Let go and finally take a neutral (palms facing) grip. Protract the last phase of the set with increasingly reps.

One constructive tideway with this method is to pick a pre-determined rep count for each hand position. For example, if you can do five standard (overhand) pull-ups, you may segregate to do two or three reps of each grip. This increases your pull-up volume significantly considering you end up doing a total of six to nine repetitions instead of only five.

Inverted Row

The inverted row is often washed-up with your soul parallel to the floor, with your feet elevated to make it a true horizontal rowing motion. While this is a unconfined variation to build the unshortened mid-back and lats, doing these at a 45-degree wile with your feet on the ground may be an plane increasingly efficient way to strengthen your when muscles similar to a lat pulldown.

Why Do the Inverted Row

This is a unconfined option to replace or add increasingly bodyweight movements. Strong or experienced lifters tend to neglect bodyweight training, maybe throwing in a few push-ups here or there, but that’s short-sighted. Bodyweight pulling movements, in particular, demand trunk stabilization and good scapular tenancy which siphon over to strength and stability in nearly all exercises.

If you can’t do bodyweight pull-ups, you need to find other ways to train your pulling muscles. The 45-degree inverted row uses your bodyweight to build strength and muscular coordination. This moderate wile makes it a variegated and constructive way to strengthen the scapular muscles and still build the lats, comparable to a traditional pull-up or pulldown.

How to Do the Inverted Row

Set a barbell on a rack somewhere virtually ab-height. You can moreover use a Smith machine. You may have to retread this higher or lower once in position depending on your arm length. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, with your stovepipe a little wider than shoulder-width. Slide your feet out until your soul is at roughly a 45-degree wile with the floor.

Keep your legs straight and pull yourself toward the bar. Aim to touch your chest to the bar surpassing lowering under tenancy and repeating for the set number of reps.

Ultra-Wide Grip Wilting Over Barbell Row

The wide-grip barbell row might be one of the weightier exercises to increase thickness in your lats and traps while building strength that carries over to other big lifts. If you see someone who does this exercise often, heavy, and well, you can count on them having a big and powerful back.

Why Do the Ultra-Wide Grip Bent-Over Barbell Row

The ultra-wide grip row not only makes your lats wider, but it builds thickness in the mid-back largest than many other exercises. The challenging wide grip moreover taxes your forearm muscles, making them worthier while towers a stronger grip. The bent-over position requires your hips, trunk, and hamstrings to stabilize you soul and create tension to support the weight. This total-body recruitment makes you stronger for pretty much anything else in the gym or on the field.

How to Do the Ultra-Wide Grip Bent-Over Barbell Row

Stand over a barbell with your feet hip-width apart. Swivel forward at the hips, squat down, and grab the bar with a palms-down grip as far wide as your grip will allow. The bar should be difficult to hold, but be sure you can alimony it in your hands for the unshortened set. Stand straight up with the bar in your hands and your stovepipe straight. Slightly wrench your knees as you swivel from your hips.

Keep your knees slightly wilting and wrench forward until your when is tropical to parallel with the ground. Hold this position with your elbows locked and alimony your when unappetizing and your abs braced. Row the bar toward the marrow of your sternum. Tenancy the weight when lanugo to a straight-arm position, and repeat for repetitions.

Landmine Row

The landmine row can train the lats increasingly without causing, or worsening, any potential shoulder problems considering it places a unique demand on the soul compared to other barbell or dumbbell exercises. The wile and leverage of the landmine create a variegated stress on the muscles and joints. It allows the lifter to retread their soul position and transpiration the pull of the weight.

Why Do the Landmine Row

This exercise is washed-up using a “v-bar” attachment, which requires a neutral-grip. This helps you contract your lats through a full range of motion while permitting the shoulder blades to move into a natural position. This not only helps to reduce shoulder pain but moreover reinforces and builds the shoulder-stabilizing muscles.

Because landmine row moves though an arc range of motion rather than a straight line, it creates variegated leverages for your muscles. For that reason, the weight typically feels heavier at the marrow and lighter at the top, which is the opposite of most exercises. This “reversed” strength lines ways that the landmine row can train the lats differently by placing them under greater tension at the marrow position.

How to Do the Landmine Row

Put one end of a barbell in a landmine unit, or in the stable corners of a squat rack. Attach a neutral-grip v-bar handle virtually the self-ruling end of the barbell just unelevated the collar. Straddle the bar, squat lanugo to grab the handle, and stand up supporting the bar with straight arms. Make sure your when is scrutinizingly completely parallel with the floor and your legs are slightly bent.

Row the bar up and try to touch your wrists somewhere between the marrow of your sternum and your abs. Lower the weight by straightening your stovepipe under control. Try not to “hitch” or vellicate as you lift the weight. The increasingly strict the movement, the largest it is for towers muscle and strength.

Single-Arm Squatter Pull

Standard lat pulldowns are usually washed-up in hopes of towers wider backs, but it’s not really just well-nigh towers when width. You need to build muscle on your upper when and wideness the backs of your shoulders, as well. There are increasingly focused ways to develop these key areas than just using the simple pulldown.

Why Do the Single-Arm Squatter Pull

The single-arm squatter pull targets the rear delts (back of the shoulder) and the upper and inner parts of your back. These muscle groups not only need to be strong for optimal shoulder health and stability, but they need to be well-developed if you want your when to squint as thick as possible.

Training one are at a time helps you narrowly focus on properly moving your shoulder and shoulder blade. Single-arm exercises like this moreover train your trunk to resist rotation so, as an widow benefit, you’re moreover training cadre stability.

How to Do the Single-Arm Squatter Pull

Attach a single handle to a subscription pulley at forehead-height. Grab the handle palm-down with one hand. Straighten your arm and step when until the subscription slightly pulls on the weight stack to lift it up. Stand tall with your knees slightly wilting and your feet well-nigh hip-width apart.

Keep your palm facing lanugo as you pull the handle toward your ear. Think “chicken wing” to alimony your elbow upper and pointed out. Focus on pulling your shoulder stipule in toward your spine. Hold and squeeze at this end position for one second. Don’t let your shoulder shrug upward. Tenancy the weight when without letting it pull your shoulder too far forward as your arm straightens.

Benefits of Lat Pulldown Variations

There are three vital reasons to include this vertical pulling motion in your training: muscle size, muscular strength, and musculoskeletal health. Whichever reasons are on your goal list, there are plenty of constructive movements to get the job done.

Increased Muscle Recruitment

Many people want to build their lats thicker and wider. Worthier lats requite an sturdy squint many people want. Whether it’s on a bodybuilding stage, at the beach, or just for your own personal physique goal, a well-developed when includes wide lats as well as a solid upper and mid-back.

The lat pulldown, on its own, isn’t sufficient for targeting the multiple muscles involved in towers well-constructed when size.

Improved Strength Development

The increasingly overall when strength you have, the increasingly weight you can lift. When strength is essential for a strong, stable upper body. This strength and stability carries over to big lifts like the deadlift, when maintaining proper position for efficient technique.

Man in white sleeveless t-shit squatting with a loaded barbell wideness his back
Ivan Kochergin / Shutterstoc

A stronger when plane carries over to lower soul exercises like the squat, to help your upper soul transfer power from your legs through your cadre and upper body.

Joint Health

Healthy, well-functioning shoulders and shoulder blades (scapulae) are essential for any lifter. If you printing weights overhead (up), you need to pull weights down. Vital muscular symmetry helps to reduce the risk of shoulder and upper soul injuries. (5) Vertical pulling trains coordination and tenancy between your shoulders and the scapulae, and it reinforces the postural muscles surrounding your scapulae and the unshortened middle back.

Get Lanugo with All the Pulldowns

The lat pulldown is one of the most popular vertical pulling exercises for towers muscle and strength. It’s an constructive and time-tested exercise, but you still need to stress the upper and mid-back muscles with variegated angles and demands to create a maximum training effect. You can’t haphazardly add variations and hope for the best, considering that can be a counterproductive waste of time. Review the exercises above, icon out which suit your specific needs, and plug them into your training plan. Soon enough, you’ll have all the variety you need for a well-rounded, and well-widened, back.


  1. Burd, N. A., Andrews, R. J., West, D. W., Little, J. P., Cochran, A. J., Hector, A. J., Cashaback, J. G., Gibala, M. J., Potvin, J. R., Baker, S. K., & Phillips, S. M. (2012). Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. The Journal of physiology, 590(2), 351–362.
  2. Lusk, S. J., Hale, B. D., & Russell, D. M. (2010). Grip width and forearm orientation effects on muscle worriedness during the lat pull-down. Journal of strength and workout research, 24(7), 1895–1900.
  3. Leslie, Kelly & Comfort, Paul. (2013). The Effect of Grip Width and Hand Orientation on Muscle Worriedness During Pull-ups and the Lat Pull-down. Strength and Workout Journal. 35. 75-78. 10.1519/SSC.0b013e318282120e.
  4. Plantz MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Brachialis Muscle. [Updated 2022 Feb 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  5. Drigny, J., Gauthier, A., Reboursière, E., Guermont, H., Gremeaux, V., & Edouard, P. (2020). Shoulder Muscle Imbalance as a Risk for Shoulder Injury in Elite Adolescent Swimmers: A Prospective Study. Journal of human kinetics, 75, 103–113.

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