How to do Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns

Wide grip lat pulldown or simply know as Lat Pulldowns is a great exercise for targeting your upper back muscles (Latissimus Dorsi). How to do the lat pulldown.

The Wide Grip Lat Pulldown is very common exercise that is easy to perform and virtually every gym known to man has the cable machine required to perform it.

The Lat Pull Down exercise is like a Pull-Up in reverse. When you perform a Pull-Up you pull your body up to the bar or your chin up to the bar, with Lat Pull Downs you pull the bar down your chest.

This is an ideal exercise if you can’t yet perform Pull-Ups properly. It uses and strengthens the same muscles as when performing Pull-Ups. You can simply use a light weight to build up your strength to improve your Pull-Up performance.

Even if you have no interest in performing Pull-Ups it’s still a great Lat/Back exercise.

Exercise Information

  • Primary Muscles Targeted – Latissimus Dorsi
  • Secondary Muscles Targeted – Biceps, Shoulders and Middle Back
  • Exercise Type – Compound
  • Equipment Needed – Cable Machine with Wide Bar Attachment

Different Grip Widths

  • Wide – Wider that shoulder width
  • Medium – This is shoulder width Grip
  • Narrow – Grip smaller than shoulder width

Using a wider grip focuses more on the Lats. Narrower grips focus more on the middle back muscles.

How to do lat pulldowns

  • Sit down on the pull down machine, adjust the seat and knee pad to a suitable and stable position. Adjust the knee pad so you are not lifted up by the bar.
  • Grab the bar evenly to which ever width you desire, wider than shoulder width targets the Lats.
    Pull the bar down to your chest, keep your body straight, leaning back slightly, only move your arms during the exercise.
  • Now slowly allow the bar to lift back up, keep the tension on your muscles, when you lift the bar back up don’t fully straighten your arms.
  • Repeat the motion for your desired reps.

Other Back Exercises

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Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

How to do the dumbbell Romanian deadlift. This includes step by step instructions. Also what are the benefits of this exercise.

This is a variation of the Romanian Deadlift exercise, using dumbbells rather than the standard barbell.

Exercise Summary

  • Primary muscles targeted – Hamstrings and lower back.
  • Secondary muscles – Glutes and calves.
  • Equipment needed – Dumbbells.
  • Exercise type – Compound exercise.

For more leg and back exercises you can see the categories section to the right.

The Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift is a variation of the standard Romanian deadlift which is performed with a barbell. Why use this version over the standard Romanian deadlift? because exercise and workout variety helps with workout and muscle stimulation. Some people may find using dumbbells more comfortable than using a barbell as it offers more freedom of movement. Or maybe you simply only own a pair of dumbbells therefore you have no choice but to do this version.

Benefits

This exercise will help to build and strengthen your hamstrings and lower back for a more stable core helping to prevent injuries. With it being a compound exercise it also offers good fat burning benefits, compound exercises require more energy to perform and also to recover from than isolation exercises, this extra energy will burn more calories and fat.

How to do the dumbbell Romanian deadlift

  • Pick up the dumbbells and stand up straight, hold the dumbbell in front of you in a horizontal position.
  • Keep your chest up and back straight ideally keep your back arched and your knees slightly bent.
  • Now slowly lower the dumbbells until your back is almost parallel with the floor, or as far as you comfortably can. (You should feel the stretch in your hamstrings)
  • Now in a controlled fashion using your hips return to the upright position, repeat for your desired reps.

Exercise Tips

  • Use a light weight until you have comfortable with the technique.
  • If you have back problems consult with your doctor for advice on whether you should attempt this exercise.
  • Performing the normal Romanian deadlift is better for muscle and mass building as it’s easier to perform with a barbell using heavier weights.

How to do Deadlift & Stiff Leg Deadlift

How to perform the Deadlift exercise and what are the benefits of performing this exercise.

The Deadlift is a compound exercise which is great for strengthening many major core muscles and it’s considered to be one of the best exercises for overall muscle and strength development.

Equipment that can be used to perform the Deadlift

  • Barbell
  • Smith machine
  • Dumbbells

Deadlift Benefits

The deadlift is considered by many people to be the ultimate strength and mass building compound exercise. The deadlift targets the muscles in your back including the lower back and the latissimus dorsi (upper back), also the glutes, quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings and trapezius which are the main focus points, however it works many more different muscles across the body. Perform this exercise and you will benefit from a strengthened core which is the foundation for any strong balanced physique.

The deadlift should be a primary exercise for most, as well as other great exercises such as Squats, Benchpress and compound pulling exercises.

Deadlift Variations

  • Romanian deadlift – much like the stiff leg deadlift except you bend your knees slightly.
  • Sumo deadlift – legs/feet wider than shoulder width, how wide depends on your flexibility.
  • Stiff leg deadlift – this version targets your hamstrings the most.
  • Clean deadlift/Snatch deadlift – mainly used for power lifting.

Caution!

Using poor technique especially with heavy weights can lead to injuries of the back and possibly knees. Always be careful and seek advice from qualified instructors.

How to perform the deadlift

Muscles worked – Thighs/Quadriceps – Hamstrings – Lower back – Trapezius – Latissimus dorsi – gluteus maximus – increases hand grip strength.

Technique (Recommend using a weight support belt)

  • Keep your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees and grab the bar with an alternating grip. (using an alternating grip, one hand facing in and the other facing out, this helps to make the exercise more comfortable, especially lifting heavy weights)
  • Keep your back straight and your legs in a squatting position, your knees should be bent at about 90 degrees, with your thighs parallel or almost parallel.
  • Lift the bar using your legs (keep your back straight) raise yourself and lift until your body is straight, hips forward and shoulders back, hold for short moment.
  • Lower back down using your legs, keeping your back straight, return the barbell to the floor and repeat.

Stiff Leg Deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift is a common variation of the deadlift and it’s an exercise that I regularly perform. It’s very good for working the lower back and hamstrings, similar to the deadlift except you keep your legs in a straightened and fixed position.

Muscles worked – lower back – hamstrings

Technique

  • With your legs bent grab the barbell with a normal grip, palms facing inward, hands about shoulder width apart.
  • Lift up the bar with your legs, stand up straight holding the barbell.
  • Keep your back and your legs straight, now slowly lower the barbell as far as you comfortably can and hold for a brief moment, now slowly straighten back up keeping your back straight and then repeat.

Make sure you start out with a very light and comfortable weight.

How to Perform Bent Over Lat Rows

How to do bent over lat rows, barbell and single arm dumbbell version. The lat row and its many variations is a great exercise for your upper back/Latissimus Dorsi.

Benefits of Lat Rows

The lat row exercise is a compound exercise and it’s great for working your whole back, especially the upper back. It will give your back width and thickness.

The lat row like other exercises that involve a pull action is also very effective for working your biceps. Other benefits include improved upper body fitness and strength which helps to develop a fit and balanced physique.

Equipment that can be used to perform the exercise

  • Barbell
  • Dumbbell
  • Bench – anything that can be used to support your body weight – for the single arm dumbbell rows
  • Cable machine
  • Lat row pin machine
  • Row bar

There are a few different versions of the lat row

  • Barbell rowing
  • One arm dumbbell row
  • T bar row
  • Row bar version
  • Row machines

How to do Barbell Lat Rows

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees, lean forward with your body keeping your back as straight as possible.
  • Hold the barbell with your arms straight in a vertical position.
  • Pull the barbell up to your lower abdominal area and hold for a brief moment then slowly lower the bar back down and then repeat.Barbell Lat Row

 

How to do Dumbbell Lat Rows

  • Kneel over the side of the bench with your left knee, use your left arm as support, extend your right leg out to the side angled slightly back, or use a technique like the one above if you’re performing this exercise at home with no bench.
  • Hold the dumbbell in your right hand, with your arm fully extended, shoulder stretched forward slightly.
  • Pull up your arm until your upper arm is about horizontal, keep your elbow near to your body, hold for a moment then slowly lower to the starting position.

Dumbbell Lat Row

The T-Bar Row is another variation of the Lat Row, it can be performed on a special T-bar row setup or sometimes with a modified barbell which resembles a T, it can also be performed just using a standard barbell. The technique can vary, many people use a fairly upright technique however this is not the best way to perform the exercise. Performing the exercise with your back in an almost horizontal position is the recommended technique. It will be far more effective for targeting your lats, it will also be better for strengthening your lower back.

You can use a wide grip or a narrow grip, each will target different areas of your back. You should experiment with your grip to help you determine the best and most effective way of performing the exercise. If done correctly you should feel your back being worked during the exercise, if not alter your technique until you feel the target muscles being worked. Start off with a very low weight as this exercise puts your lower back under stress.

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How to Perform Pull Ups – Back Exercise

How to perform pull ups correctly. Pull ups is a really great exercise that has some very good benefits. It’s one of the best exercises for working the Latissimus Dorsi/ or Lats for short (this is the muscle responsible for giving your back width) and it’s also very effective at working the biceps.

You do need a strong upper body to perform them properly, however your strength will improve with time and repetition. There are various different techniques for giving assistance when performing pull ups. Use a weight assisted pull up machine if you have trouble performing the exercise.

Muscles Targeted

  • Latissimus Dorsi/Upper Back
  • Deltoids/Shoulders
  • Biceps

Equipment needed to perform the pull up

Pull up bar

You can buy pull up bars for the home that you can fit inside a door frame, others fit over the door frame, resting on the top of the frame. Different types of pull up bars are available, some have angled grips that allow for a more natural hand position, they’re often found in gyms. Other types of bars are straight, both are very effective.

Pull up variations

Different grips can be used

Palms facing forward

  • Normal width – Hands just wider than shoulder width, good focus on your upper back muscles.
  • Wide width – You can go as wide with the grip as you comfortably can, very difficult to perform, a wider grip is useful if the normal grip is too easy, plus it will focus even more on your lats.

Palms facing inward

  • Narrow grip – also known as the chin up, much easier to perform than the palms facing forward version, it has less focus on your upper back(Lats) and more focus on the biceps.

Pull up assistance machine

This machine has a pad for you to place your knees on, this pad offers you assistance during the pull up, it has an adjustable weight which is used to aid you during the exercise.

Struggling to perform the exercise?

If you don’t have access to one of the above machines however you struggle to perform the exercise without assistance. You can place an object beneath you, for example a chair, table or bench and then you can push up with you legs to assist you, until you have the necessary strength to perform the exercise without assistance.

You can also use a spotter to grab your legs and give you a little help.

Are normal pull ups too easy for you?

If doing pull ups using only your body weight becomes too easy, there is various equipment that can be used to add weight.

  • Belt and chain – Special belt and chain that you can attach weights to.
  • Belt hook – The hook can be attached to a weight belt, you can add weighted plates to the base of the hook.

Behind the neck

The exercise can also be performed by having your head forward so the bar touches the back of your neck, however this is not recommended because it puts unnatural pressure on your shoulders. It’s basically bad for your rotator cuffs, so it should be avoided.

How to perform pull ups

  • Grip the pull up bar just wider than shoulder width, with your palms facing forward.
  • Now pull yourself up slowly until your chin is about in line with the bar, keep your legs as still as possible, cross your feet and bend your knees for stability.
  • Hold for a short moment and then slowly lower yourself back down and repeat, don’t fully straighten your arms to keep the tension on your muscles.