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A Comparative Analysis and Technique of the Lat Pull-down



Exercise Technique
The Exercise Technique Column provides detailed
explanations of proper exercise technique to optimize
performance and safety.
A Comparative Analysis
and Technique of the Lat
Ronald Snarr, MEd, CSCS*D,
Ryan M. Eckert, BS, CSCS, CPT,
and Patricia Abbott, PsyD
Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and
School of Nutrition and Health
Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona
The lat pull-down (LP) is a multi-
joint exercise involving move-
ments of the shoulder complex
(e.g., glenohumeral, scapulothoracic,
etc.) and the elbow joint, and is de-
signed to increase muscular capacity
of both the upper extremities and
torso. This exercise will provide a ben-
efit to those athletes requiring in-
creases in upper-body strength and
endurance. Although most sports do
not require an overhead pulling
movement, strengthening of the latis-
simus dorsi and glenohumeral sup-
porting musculature may enhance an
individual’s ability to transfer power
between the upper and lower extrem-
ities during movements, such as
swinging, throwing, and even sprint-
ing. Athletes who may gain the most
benefit from an overhead pulling
movement include gymnasts, swim-
mers, and wrestlers.
Key musculature: latissimus dorsi, pos-
terior deltoid, rhomboids, trapezius,
biceps brachii (BB).
Secondary: teres minor, teres major,
pectoralis major, triceps brachii, infra-
spinatus, brachialis, and brachioradialis
The LP is a multijoint exercise that is
designed to increase muscular capac-
ity of the upper body, particularly
strengthening of the musculature of
the primary mover (i.e., latissimus
dorsi [LD]). The LD is an integral
component of the posterior oblique
subsystem and also serves as part of
the posterior kinetic chain (1). This
subsystem plays an important role in
the transfer of forces between upper
and lower extremities, and is impor-
tant for movements such as opposite
arm swing, propulsion of gait, and
rotational movements (e.g., swinging
and throwing) (1).
Although previous techniques of the
LP consisted of pulling the bar behind-
the-neck, a more modern and safer
way to perform the exercise uses a pull
in front of the body (2,7,11,13). Pulling
the bar behind-the-head puts the
glenohumeral joint in a comprised
position (i.e., externally rotated, ab-
ducted, and horizontally abducted)
increasing the risk of shoulder injury
(6,13). Chronic use of the behind-
the-head LP increases the likelihood
of developing anterior instability (AI)
in the shoulder joint (6,9). AI in the
shoulder joint is often associated
with a variety of other soft tissue in-
juries such as supporting rotator cuff
Copyright ÓNational Strength and Conditioning Association Strength and Conditioning Journal | 21
musculature, ligamentous, and carti-
laginous damage (10). With a transfer
to an anterior pull (i.e., in front of the
tional movement and reduces the
prevalence of injury (4).
By incorporating different variations
of the LP regarding grip width or
orientation, it may be possible to
emphasize and strengthen varying
muscle groups. The pronated, wide
grip LP (WG) is the most commonly
performed variation of the LP with
activation of the LD. A close grip
LP (CG) typically consists of a pro-
nated grip roughly shoulder width
apart. By decreasing the distance
between the hands, the arms can no
longer primarily adduct to complete
the movement and therefore must
work in both the frontal and sagittal
plane simultaneously (i.e., adduction
and extension). This change in joint
motion causes a substantial increase
in the range of motion through the
glenohumeral joint (508)andthe
elbow (158)(4).AneutralgripLP
(NG) is typically performed using
a v-bar. When performing this varia-
tion, the major difference is the
action at the shoulder joint during
the movement. Instead of primarily
adduction, the shoulder is concentri-
cally extending during the NG,
which affects muscular recruitment
(11). A supinated grip LP (SG), also
known as a reverse grip LP, is
performed with an underhand,
shoulder width grip on a traditional
pull-down bar. As with the NG, the
action at the shoulder is extension
compared with adduction. Although
all of these grip widths and orienta-
tions are possible during training, the
following provides a review of liter-
ature examining the electromyograph-
ical (EMG) patterns during these LP
A study performed by Signorile et al.
(11), compared the primary and sec-
ondary EMG activity of the shoulder
musculature during 4 types of the LP
(i.e., pronated WG anterior to the
body, WG posterior to the body,
pronated CG, and SG). Their results
demonstrated a greater activation of
ceps brachii during the WG when
compared with the remaining varia-
tions (11). Although the pectoralis
major and posterior deltoid showed
no significant differences between
close, supinated, or WG anterior (all
were significantly greater than the
WG posterior) (11). However, Lehman
et al. (7), showed only a small, but
nonsignificant, increase in LD activa-
tion during the WG when compared
with a SG.
Sperandei et al. (13), elicited results
that provided no differences in LD
activation between 3 variations of
the LP. However, supporting muscu-
lature (i.e., pectoralis major, poste-
rior deltoid, and BB), all presented
significantly greater values within
the exercise variations. For instance,
pectoralis major showed significantly
greater activation during the WG in
front of the body compared with
a CG and behind-the-neck LP. The
BB activation was greater during the
behind-the-neck variation (13).
Furthermore, Lusk et al. (8), pro-
vided a closer examination of fore-
arm orientation and grip width
during the LP. Researchers tested 4
variations of the movement (pro-
nated WG, pronated CG, supinated
WG, and supinated CG) to deter-
mine whether an EMG difference
existed within the LD, BB, or
middle trapezius (MT). Results dem-
onstrated that the LD was activated
to a greater extent with a pronated
grip (regardless of width) when
compared with the SG. However,
despite grip width and forearm ori-
entation changes (8).
More recently, Andersen et al. (2),
studied 3 different pronated grip
widths (i.e., WG, medium, and nar-
row) to determine whether the LD,
MT, BB, or infraspinatus was acti-
vated to a greater or lesser extent
among the variations. Researchers
also wanted to see if the grip
variations made a difference during
a 6 repetition maximum (RM) pro-
tocol. Results indicated that a narrow
in EMG activity with load lifted, but
both were significantly higher than
WG. In terms of EMG patterns, there
was no difference between the grips
for the LD, MT, or infraspinatus.
However, when the movements were
analyzed concentrically and eccen-
trically, significant changes were
present. The LD and infraspinatus
were significantly higher during the
WG versus the narrow grip in the
eccentric phase; however, BB activ-
ity was significantly greater during
the concentric phase of the medium
grip when compared with the nar-
row (2).
Although all of the above aforemen-
tioned grip and orientation changes
can produce various differences in
EMG activity, LD activity may be
increased with proper instruction
alone. A study performed by Snyder
and Leech (12), demonstrated that
with specific training instruction
and kinesthetic feedback during
a LP, participants were able to sig-
nificantly increase LD activity while
still maintaining BB and teres major
activation levels. This study reinfor-
ces the aspect that without proper
technique during complex move-
ments, individuals may not be
receiving maximal benefits of an
exercise. Thus, the proper technique
for the WG is described in detail as
follows. The WG was chosen as it is
the LP.
Before taking a seated position,
adjust the machine so the handles
can be grabbed from the seated posi-
tion, but while the arms are still fully
extended overhead.
Adjust the knee pad (if necessary) so
that knees are secured at an approx-
imate 908knee bend. This ensures
Exercise Technique
that the exerciser remains in contact
with the seat during the exercise.
Grasp the handles slightly wider
than shoulder width apart with
a closed, pronated grip.
Throughout the exercise, keep the
feet flat on the floor and the spine
in a neutral position with a slight
backward lean, approximately 70–
808of flexion at the hips (Figure 1).
Exhale while adducting the shoulder
and flexing the elbow in order to pull
the bar downward in front of
the body.
Avoid internally rotating the shoul-
der joint while pulling the bar
towards the body by keeping the el-
bows pointed towards the floor.
Continue to pull the bar toward the
body until it reaches chin level
(Figure 2).
This should be performed under
control at a rate of 2–4 seconds.
Inhale while controllably abducting
the shoulder and extending the
elbow as the bar ascends toward
the initial starting position.
Continue to abduct the shoulder and
extend the elbow until the elbows
reach full extension (avoid shrugging
the shoulders to maintain muscle
tension throughout the shoulder
adductors and elbow flexors)
(Figure 1).
This should be performed under
control at a rate of 2–4 seconds.
While performing the WG, fitness
professionals should monitor the tech-
nique for the following key check-
points and common errors:
While in the seated position, allow
for only a slight backward lean,
approximately 70–808of flexion at
the hips.
Avoid an excessive backward lean
(i.e., less than 708of flexion at the
hips) and trunk flexion (rounding).
Keep the spine and neck in a neu-
tral position throughout the
Avoid elevation (i.e., shrugging) of
the shoulders at the top of the eccen-
tric phase to maintain tension in the
shoulder adductors.
Maintain a slow and controlled
tempo (2–4 seconds) during the con-
centric and eccentric phases.
Be sure to avoid the use of momen-
tum (by swaying backward) to assist
the movement. If this occurs reduce
the load lifted.
Also, be certain to avoid lifting off of
the seat by either use of the knee pad
(if available) or by reducing the
external resistance.
For certain individuals, access to the LP
machine may not be practical (e.g., in-
dividuals using a wheelchair or shorter
athletes who can successfully stabilize
the lower body with the knee pad).
Therefore, a variation or modification
to the traditional LP may be necessary.
The same movement can be performed
using a cable crossover station in which
2 independent handles are used in place
of a traditional LP bar. The handles
should be set to an overhead position.
This can either be performed in a stand-
ing position for shorter athletes, or the
use of bench for a seated position is also
advised. Individuals performing this
variation should be instructed to grasp
a handle in each hand and perform the
LP with the same movement tech-
nique, by adducting at the shoulder
joints and flexing at the elbows to pull
each handle toward the body in the
frontal plane. The modification for in-
dividuals using a wheelchair is per-
formed using the same techniques as
stated above as well. However, the indi-
vidual should position themselves in
the middle of the cable crossover
Please note: A spotter may be neces-
sary for these variations and modifica-
tions to assist the individual with
Figure 1. Starting position of the lat pull-down.
Strength and Conditioning Journal | 23
pulling each handle from the machine
to start and replacing them when
Programming variables (e.g., sets,
loads, and repetitions) depend on the
overall goals of the individuals, as well
as their level of experience. The guide-
lines below are recommended by the
National Strength and Conditioning
Association in Essentials of Strength
Training and Conditioning (3).
Strength: 3–5 sets, #6 repetitions, 2–
5 minutes of rest period.
Hypertrophy: 3–5 sets, 6–12 repeti-
tions, 60–90 seconds of rest period.
Endurance: 2–3 sets, 12–25 repeti-
tions, #30 seconds of rest period.
When the desired goal is muscle
hypertrophy, novice, and intermediate
exercisers are recommended to use
loads of 67–80% of 1 RM for 8–12 rep-
etitions, 1–3 sets, and with a rest period
of 1–2 minutes. Advanced exercisers
may use 67–85% of 1 RM for 6–12
repetitions, 3–6 sets with rest ranging
from 30–90 seconds based on load.
Additionally, when the desired goal is
local muscular endurance, training rec-
ommendations include loads of 65–
75% 1 RM for 10–15 repetitions, 1–3
sets, and with rest period of less than 30
seconds (3).
The LP is one of the more popular
back exercises providing an increase
in the muscular strength and endur-
ance of the shoulder adductors, partic-
ularly the LD. This multijoint
movement may also lead to an
increased ability to transfer power
between the upper and lower extrem-
ities; thereby potentially providing
a benefit to athletes in which throwing,
swinging, and overhead-type move-
ments are essential. Although research
in this area is inconsistent, individuals’
may still benefit from using multiple
variations of the LP while avoiding
the behind-the-neck pull-down.
Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding:
The authors report no conflicts of interest
and no source of funding.
Ronald L. Snarr
is a Ph.D. student
at The University
of Alabama,
Tuscaloosa, AL.
Ryan M. Eckert
is a M.S. student
at Arizona State
Phoenix, AZ.
Patricia A.
Abbott is a M.S.
student at
Arizona State
Phoenix, AZ.
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Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006. pp.
2. Andersen V, Fimland MS, Wilk E,
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of grip width on muscle strength and
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Cond Res 28: 1135–1142, 2014.
3. Baechle TR and Earle RW. Essentials of
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Figure 2. Ending position of the lat pull-down.
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Strength and Conditioning Journal | 25
... Pull-Down is one of the weight lifting exercises and trains several body joints which involving complex shoulder movement for example glenohumeral joint, scapulothoracic joint, hand elbow and designed to add muscle capacity from upper extremity and chest/torso [2]. This exercise is usually performed the first time when a person wants to shape their body into ideal or more muscular in fitness place because this exercise adds the capacity of Latissimus Dorsi muscles [3]. ...
... This exercise is usually performed the first time when a person wants to shape their body into ideal or more muscular in fitness place because this exercise adds the capacity of Latissimus Dorsi muscles [3]. One of the ways for pulldown exercise is using fitness lat pull-down to get maximum result and minimalize shoulder injury during pull-down exercise, should follow proper training technique and guided by a Trainer [2] [4] [5]. ...
... Strengthening the Latissimus dorsi and Glenohumeral muscle will be adding the ability of the individual to transfer movement between upper and lower extremities during activities such as swinging, throwing, and possibly running. [2]. ...
Full-text available
Exercise is an essential contributor to physical and psychological well-being. Regular exercise reduces many chronic diseases, such as heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc. Pull-down is one of the Weight Training exercises. Engaging in physical activities such as Weight training, stretching exercises and aerobic exercises requires proper execution and awareness of the exercises to avoid bodily injuries and get maximal results. In this study, software that can analyse technique exercise of Pull-down. As research material, because of a degree, each human elbow is different, distribution data of Trainer elbow degree is calculated using measure standard deviation and displayed as a normal distribution graph. The method used in this study to analyse proper Pull-down exercise technique is compared to elbow angle Trainee with elbow angle Trainer . The output of this software is elbow angle, the correctness of the methods performed by the Trainee . The average percentage of accuracy from the results of testing the analysis software using the value of the angle of 56.87 ° ± 7 ° Trainer is 88%.
The lat pulldown is an open kinetic chain, multijoint exercise that is appropriate for novice, intermediate, and advanced level exercisers and can be performed with a number of types f equipment and requires minimal equipment to perform. It can be progressed or regressed to increase and improve upper body muscular strength, endurance, hypertrophy, and performance of tasks that require upper body pulling strength. Its utility as a safe and effective strength development tool is predicated on sound instruction, effective supervision, and proper execution.
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This study aimed to compare the accuracy of different velocity-based methods and repetitions-to-failure equations for predicting the one-repetition maximum (i.e., maximum load that can be lifted once; 1RM) during two upper-body pulling exercises. Twenty-three men were tested in two sessions during the lat pulldown and seated cable row exercises. Each session consisted of an incremental loading test until reaching the 1RM followed by a set of repetitions-to-failure against the 80%1RM load. The 1RM was estimated from the individual load-velocity relationships modelled through four (~40, 55, 70, and 85%1RM; multiple-point method) or two loads (~40 and 85%1RM; two-point method). Mean velocity was recorded with a linear position transducer and a smartphone application. Therefore, four velocity-based methods were used as a result of combining the two devices and the two methods. Two repetitions-to-failure equations (Mayhew and Wathan) were also used to predict the 1RM from the load and number of repetitions completed. The absolute differences with respect to the actual 1RM were higher for the repetitions-to-failure equations than velocity-based methods during the seated cable row exercise (P=0.004), but not for the lat pulldown exercise (P=0.200). The repetitions-to-failure equations significantly underestimated the actual 1RM (P<0.05; range: -6.65 to -2.14 kg), while no systematic differences were observed for the velocity-based methods (range: -1.75 to 1.65 kg). All predicted 1RMs were highly correlated with the actual 1RM (r≥0.96). The velocity-based methods provide a more accurate estimate of the 1RM than the Mayhew and Wathan repetitions-to-failure equations during the lat pulldown and seated cable row exercises.
The present paper is aimed at the study and biomechanical analysis of the ap-chagui pick with taekwondo athletes of the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE, Sangolqui, Ecuador. Biomechanics is considered the science that studies the internal and external forces that act on the human body, as well as the effects produced by those forces. As a science biomechanics allows more effectiveness and efficiency in any academic, sport and social activity. It will be made a biomechanical analysis to a technique of the Ap-Chagui kick of taekwondo, applying a mathematic model and the Kinovea program, which allows determining factors such as: speed, acceleration, articulatory angle, strength, power, kinetic energy, among others. The scientific knowledge is vital for students, practitioners, teachers and coaches, since the biomechanical models will help us considerably in the improvement of the move due to non-perceptible factors in the execution of the technique.
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Based on electromyographic (EMG) studies, an anterior (in front of the face) wide grip with a pronated forearm has been recommended as the optimal lat pull-down (LPD) variation for strengthening the latissimus dorsi (LD) (Signorile, JF, Zink, A, and Szwed, S. J Strength Cond Res 16: 539-546, 2002; Wills, R, Signorile, J, Perry, A, Tremblay, L, and Kwiatkowski, K. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26: S20, 1994). However, it is not clear whether this finding was because of grip width or forearm orientation. This study aimed to resolve this issue by comparing wide-pronated, wide-supinated, narrow-pronated, and narrow-supinated grips of an anterior LPD. Twelve healthy men performed the 4 grip variations using an experimentally determined load of 70% of 1 repetition maximum. Two trials of 5 repetitions were analyzed for each grip type. Participants maintained a cadence of 2-second concentric and 2-second eccentric phases. The grip widths were normalized for each individual by using a wide grip that corresponded to their carrying width and a narrow grip that matched their biacromial diameter. Surface EMG of the LD, middle trapezius (MT), and biceps brachii (BB) was recorded, and the root mean square of the EMG was normalized, using a maximum isometric voluntary contraction. Repeated-measures analysis of variance for each muscle revealed that a pronated grip elicited greater LD activity than a supinated grip (p < 0.05), but had no influence of grip type on the MT and BB muscles. Based on these findings, an anterior LPD with pronated grip is recommended for maximally activating the LD, irrespective of the grip width (carrying width or biacromial diameter).
Andersen, V, Fimland, MS, Wiik, E, Skoglund, A, and Saeterbakken, AH. Effects of grip width on muscle strength and activation in the lat pull-down. J Strength Cond Res 28(4): 1135-1142, 2014-The lat pull-down is one of the most popular compound back exercises. Still, it is a general belief that a wider grip activates the latissimus dorsi more than a narrow one, but without any broad scientific support. The aim of the study was to compare 6 repetition maximum (6RM) load and electromyographic (EMG) activity in the lat pull-down using 3 different pronated grip widths. Fifteen men performed 6RM in the lat pull-down with narrow, medium, and wide grips (1, 1.5, and 2 times the biacromial distance) in a randomized and counterbalanced order. The 6RM strengths with narrow (80.3 ± 7.2 kg) and medium grip (80 ± 7.1 kg) were higher than wide grip (77.3 ± 6.3 kg; p = 0.02). There was similar EMG activation between grip widths for latissimus, trapezius, or infraspinatus, but a tendency for biceps brachii activation to be greater for medium vs. narrow (p = 0.09), when the entire movement was analyzed. Analyzing the concentric phase separately revealed greater biceps brachii activation using the medium vs. narrow grip (p = 0.03). In the eccentric phase, there was greater activation using wide vs. narrow grip for latissimus and infraspinatus (p ≤ 0.04), and tendencies for medium greater than narrow for latissimus, and medium greater than wide for biceps (both p = 0.08), was observed. Collectively, a medium grip may have some minor advantages over small and wide grips; however, athletes and others engaged in resistance training can generally expect similar muscle activation which in turn should result in similar hypertrophy gains with a grip width that is 1-2 times the biacromial distance.
The purpose of this study was to compare kinematics and muscle activity between chin-ups and lat-pull down exercises and between muscle groups during the two exercises. Normalized electromyography (EMG) of biceps brachii (BB), triceps brachii (TB), pectoralis major (PM), latissimus dorsi (LD), rectus abdominus (RA), and erector spinae (ES) and kinematics of back, shoulder, and seventh cervical vertebrae (C7) was analysed during chin-ups and lat-pull down exercises. Normalized EMG of BB and ES and kinematics of shoulder and C7 for chin-ups were greater than lat-pull down exercises during the concentric phase (p < 0.05). For the eccentric phase, RA during lat-pull down exercises was greater than chin-ups and the kinematics of C7 during chin-ups was greater than lat-pull down exercises (p < 0.05). For chin-ups, BB, LD, and ES were greater than PM during the concentric phase, whereas BB and LD were greater than TB, and LD was greater than RA during the eccentric phase (p < 0.05). For lat-pull down exercise, BB and LD were greater than PM, TB, and ES during the concentric phase, whereas LD was greater than PM, TB, and BB during the eccentric phase (p < 0.05). Subsequently, chin-ups appears to be a more functional exercise.
Despite case reports implicating anterior instability (AI) as an etiological source of shoulder pain among weight-training (WT) participants, a paucity of case-controlled evidence exists to support this premise. The purpose of this study was to determine if WT participants have clinical characteristics of AI and hyperlaxity. Additionally, we investigated the role of exercise selection. One hundred and fifty-nine healthy male participants (mean age 28) were recruited and included 123 individuals who engaged in WT a minimum of 2 days per week; and 36 controls with no history of WT participation. Prior to testing, participants completed a questionnaire summarizing their training patterns. Upon completing the questionnaire, three reliable and valid tests used to identify clinical characteristics of AI were performed on both groups and included the load & shift, apprehension, and relocation maneuvers. Load & shift test results identified significantly greater anterior GH joint hyperlaxity in the WT group compared to controls (p=.004). The presence of positive apprehension (p < .001) and relocation (p< .001) tests were also significantly greater in the WT group. A significant association existed between performance of exercises that require the "high-five" position (behind the neck latissimus pull-downs and military press) and clinical characteristics of AI. Conversely, an inverse association between performance of external rotator strengthening and clinical characteristics of AI existed. Findings from this study suggest that individuals participating in WT may be predisposed to AI and hyperlaxity. Modification of exercises requiring the high-five position; as well as efforts to strengthen the external rotators may serve as a useful means to mitigate characteristics associated with AI and hyperlaxity. Future intervention based trials are needed to investigate a causative effect of exercises.
Anterior glenohumeral dislocation is common among athletes and may progress to recurrent instability. The pathoanatomy of instability and specific needs of each individual should be considered to prevent unnecessary absence from sport. Traditionally, primary dislocations have been managed with immobilization followed by rehabilitation exercises and a return to sporting activity. However, arthroscopic stabilization and external rotation bracing are increasingly used to prevent recurrent instability. In addition to the typical capsulolabral disruptions seen following a primary dislocation, patients with recurrent instability often have coexistent osseous injury to the humeral head and glenoid. In patients without significant bone loss, open soft-tissue stabilizations have long been considered the 'gold standard treatment' for recurrent instability, but with advances in technology, arthroscopic procedures have gained popularity. However, enthusiasm for arthroscopic repair has not been supported with evidence, and there is currently no consensus for treatment. In patients with greater bone loss, soft-tissue stabilization alone is insufficient to treat recurrent instability and open repair or bone augmentation should be considered. We explore the recent advances in epidemiology, classification, pathoanatomy and clinical assessment of young athletes with anterior shoulder instability, and compare the relative merits and outcomes of the different forms of treatment.
The purpose of this work was to evaluate the activity of the primary motor muscles during the performance of 3 lat pull-down techniques through surface electromyography (EMG). Twenty-four trained adult men performed 5 repetitions of behind-the-neck (BNL), front-of-the-neck (FNL), and V-bar exercises at 80% of 1 repetition maximum. For each technique, the root mean square from the EMG signal was registered from the pectoralis major (PM), latissimus dorsi (LD), posterior deltoid (PD), and biceps brachii (BB) and further normalized in respect to that which presented the highest value of all the techniques. A series of two-way repeated measures analysis of variance was used to compare the results, with Tukey-Kramer as the post hoc test and alpha = 0.05. During the concentric phase, PM value showed the FNL to be significantly higher than V-bar/BNL and V-bar higher than BNL. During the eccentric phase, FNL/V-bar was higher than BNL. For LD, there was no difference between techniques. PD presented BNL higher than FNL/V-bar and FNL higher than V-bar in the concentric phase and BNL higher than V-bar in the eccentric phase. BB exhibited BNL higher than V-bar/FNL and V-bar higher than FNL in both concentric and eccentric phases. Considering the main objectives of lat pull-down, we concluded that FNL is the better choice, whereas BNL is not a good lat pull-down technique and should be avoided. V-bar could be used as an alternative.
It has been observed anecdotally that while performing the multijoint lat pull-down exercise, novice strength trainers often rely on the elbow flexors to complete the movement rather than fully utilizing the relevant back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi (LD) and teres major (TM). The primary aim of the study was to determine whether specific technique instruction could result in a voluntary increase in LD and TM electromyographic (EMG) activity with a concurrent decrease in the activity of the biceps brachii (BB) during the front wide-grip lat pull-down exercise. Eight women with little or no background in strength training were asked to perform lat pull-down exercise with only basic instruction, performing 2 sets of 3 repetitions at 30% max. After a brief rest, subjects then performed the same 2 sets of 3 repetitions following verbal technique instruction on how to emphasize the latissimus while de-emphasizing the biceps. EMG activity of the LD, TM, and BB were recorded, converted to root mean square, and normalized to the maximum isometric EMG (NrmsEMG). A significant increase was seen in Nrms EMG in the LD (p = 0.005) from the average of preinstruction NrmsEMG to the average of postinstruction NrmsEMG. No significant differences were observed between pre- and postinstruction muscle activity in the BB or TM. The results show that untrained individuals can voluntarily increase the activity of a specified muscle group during the performance of a multijoint resistance exercise, but the increase probably does not represent "isolation" of the muscle group through voluntary reduction of activity in complementary agonist muscles.
This study aimed at investigating the effects of different hand positions on the electromyographic (EMG) activity of shoulder muscles during the performance of the lat pull-down exercise. Ten healthy men performed 3 repetitions of the lat pull-down exercise using their experimentally determined 10RM (repetition maximum) weight. Four different common variations of the lat pull-down were used: close grip (CG), supinated grip (SG), wide grip anterior (WGA), and wide grip posterior (WGP). Normalized root mean square of the EMG (NrmsEMG) activity for the right posterior deltoid (PD), latissimus dorsi (LD), pectoralis major (PM), teres major (TM), and long head of the triceps (TLH) were recorded using surface electrodes and normalized using maximum voluntary contractions. Repeated measures analysis of variance for each muscle detected statistical differences (p < 0.05) in myoelectric activity among hand positions during both the concentric and eccentric phases of the exercise. During the concentric phase, NrmsEMG results for the LD included WGA > WGP, SG, CG. For the TLH: WGA > WGP, SG, CG and WGP > CG, SG. For the PD: CG, WGA, SG > WGP. For the PM: CG, WGA, SG > WGP. During the eccentric phase, the LD produced the following patterns: WGA > WGP, SG, CG and WGP > CG. The TLH pattern showed WGA > SG and CG. For the PD: CG > WGA, WGP. The results indicate that changes in handgrip position affect the activities of specific muscles during the lat pull-down movement. Also, performance of the lat pull-down exercise using the WGA hand position produces greater muscle activity in the LD than any other hand position during both the concentric or eccentric phases of the movement.