What muscles does the lat pull down work?

The latissimus dorsi is the main muscle targeted. It’s the broad muscle that covers your upper and mid back and goes across the ribs. The lat pulldown also engages other upper back muscles such as the rhomboids and trapezius as well as the biceps and forearm muscles.


How to perform the lat pull down:

Adjust the pad so it sits on your thighs when seated. Grasp the bar with a wide (wider than shoulder-width) overhand grip (close your grip with your thumbs).

Sit upright then slightly lean back (keeping your back straight). Keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at 90° angle.

Retract your shoulders (imagine bringing your shoulders together) and look forward. Now you’re ready to pull the bar down towards the top of your chest. Keep a slight bend in your elbows when returning to the starting position.

Video demo:

Pro tips:

  • To avoid shrugging and protracting your shoulders, imagine that you are pulling yourself towards the bar.

  • The bar should be pulled somewhere between your top and mid chest, above the nipples.

  • Your back shouldn’t swing too much when you’re performing the exercise. The pulling movement is coming from your arms.

How to tell if you’re doing it right?

You should feel the exercise in your upper and mid-back. If you feel it more in your forearms and biceps then you need to adjust your posture.