Work for those wing-like lats while also boosting other upper body muscles to grow.
We all want to those wide lats to really give us that wing-like physique. The benefit to this is that it gives a physique to enhance all those upper body muscles. With wing-like lats, it gives off the appearance of a wide upper body, making our arms pop, shoulders appear more rounded, and of course, those six-pack abs looking more shredded than ever. While the lat pulldown is typically associated with an overhand grip, the underhand lat pulldown is not something to ignore.
Having strong lats is something often overlooked and it shouldn’t be. Aside from the obvious aid to our overall physique by giving off that wide aesthetic, what wide lats can do is aid in number of other ways to really boost your overall physical health and wellness. They can help with posture by helping to keep your shoulders pulled back. This will work to alleviate pain and help boost confidence. Any pulling motion you look to perform, whether it be sport specific or more functional, will be greatly enhanced with strong lats, as well as balance for those big lifts and overall everyday support.
Let’s take a look at the underhand lat pulldown and really see what this can do for our gains. From what it is, to muscles worked, the many benefits, and how to perform it, you may just want to throw this into your routine and see what it can do for those gains. Plus, we’ll talk about the difference between the overhand and underhand lat pulldown so you can decide for yourself which one is best for you.
What Is The Underhand Lat Pulldown?
The underhand lat pulldown, also referred to as the reverse grip pulldown, is a great exercise for building strength by targeting the lats and other back muscles, as well as your biceps and forearms for that added engagement. Your shoulders do get some work done as a result of the downward rotation of the shoulder joints. As a compound exercise, this is great for working multiple muscle groups at once and you only really need an adjustable lat pulldown machine (1). For those who may not have access, you can receive similar benefits with chin ups or pull ups as a bodyweight exercise.
Looking at the muscles worked with the underhand lat pulldown, we see it is a great upper body enhancer for multiple groups. The primary muscles targeted are the lats, aiding in that wide physique and great pulling strength. Along with the lats, other muscle groups that see good work are the forearms, biceps, delts, and other back muscles, all working for optimal engagement.
Benefits Of The Underhand Lat Pulldown
The benefits of the underhand lat pulldown can help with sport specific movements or those that are more functional. Benefits include:
Increased Strength: This exercise is great for increasing strength and will work to effectively build muscle for any pulling motions (2).
Enhanced Stability: Strong lats and an equally strong upper body can give you great stability and work to keep you grounded for those bigger lifts.
Great Upper Body Compound Exercise: Working multiple muscle groups at once, this exercise is a great upper body compound exercise giving you the best chance at seeing serious growth.
Wide Lats & Great Physique: The ultimate goal of this exercise is to build those wide lats in order to increase your chances at a great physique. With a wide upper body, other muscle groups are greatly enhanced and you will start to see that desired physique seriously come to life.
How To Perform It
Here are the steps for performing the underhand lat pulldown exercise.
Set yourself up on the pulldown machine and adjust for the right height. With an underhand grip, grab the bar and fully extend your arms. With an engaged core and your feet firmly planted on the ground, pull the bar towards your chest with your elbows close to your body. Pause at the bottom for a brief moment and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for your desired number of reps.
Differences Between The Overhand & Underhand Lat Pulldown
When it comes to the differences between the overhand and underhand lat pulldowns, they may be slightly different but it will potentially influence which option you choose to work out with. The overhand grip will target specific muscle groups slightly more than the underhand grip. What you’ll find is that the overhand grip will also offer less range of motion in terms of pulling the weight to your chest.
The underhand grip will allow you to pull the weight farther down than you normally would which results in maximizing contractions to help build stronger muscles. As mentioned before, the underhand grip will also allow you to work more upper body muscles for increased growth and more benefits to that physique. Ultimately, the choice between these two is up to you for you should decide what you want most of your lat workout. More isolation vs. more muscle groups, as well as more or less range of motion for contractions are some things to consider (3).
The underhand lat pulldown is a great exercise to boost not only growth in your lats and other back muscles, but also for other upper body muscles that give you a well-rounded and shredded physique. Having strong lats and a strong back can give you aesthetic benefits, as well as physical ones including stability and increased strength and the underhand grip should not be an overlooked exercise. Compared to the overhand grip pulldown you do get more bang for the buck, but ultimately the choice is yours for whatever you decide to go with depending on your goals. Look to add the underhand lat pulldown to your routine and see what it can do for your overall goals, as well as those wide lats.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Newton, Harvey; Kinzey, Stephen (1998). “The Lat Pulldown”. (source)
- Andersen, Vidar; Fimland, Marius S.; Wiik, Espen; Skoglund, Anders; Saeterbakken, Atle H. (2014). “Effects of grip width on muscle strength and activation in the lat pull-down”. (source)
- Sutton, Brian. “The Biomechanics of the Lat Pulldown: Grips and Form”. (source)