The Lat Pulldown primarily targets the back. More specifically, the Lat Pulldown targets the Latissimus Dorsi or ‘lats’ muscles. It also works the lower and middle trapezius, the rhomboids, and the serratus anterior. The lats are powerful stabilizers for when you do exercises such as Squats and Deadlifts. With that being said, the Lat Pulldown is one of the best overall exercises you can do for your upper and mid back. Pay close attention to the instructions and the proper form demonstrated on the video. This exercise unfortunately is done incorrectly quite often in pretty much every gym that has a Lat Pulldown Machine.
Grab the bar with the palms facing forward. As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
As you breathe out, bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull down the bar using the forearms.
After a second at the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement. Repeat this motion for the amount of repetitions prescribed.
Be careful, and avoid bringing the bar below your chest. Avoid momentum and swinging. Also, most people should avoid the “behind the neck” Lat Pulldown. Most people do not have the proper shoulder strength and flexibility. It can injure your rotator cuffs, not to mention, it can put your spine and your neck in a weighted flexed position, which can cause neck injuries and low back pain.