A bigger, stronger back can help improve a slew of lifts while making your back look larger. A key to achieving this is the development of the latissimus dorsi— aka your lats.
Your lats are a large slab of muscle on your back. Basically, bigger lats make your upper half look bigger while making your waist look smaller. Pulldowns are a great exercise that targets these muscles. To get the most out of each rep, follow these tips …
#1. Avoid behind-the-neck pulldowns. Why? The risk isn’t worth the reward. Instead of putting the stress on your lats, you are upping the chances of injury to your neck or shoulders.
#2. If you’re sitting while reading this, mimic the motion of a pulldown by pulling an imaginary bar from overhead straight down to your upper chest while sitting erect. And now do it again but lean back slightly. That slight lean allows you to achieve a greater range of motion and activate more muscle fibers.
#3. Perform each rep with control and squeeze the muscle at the bottom of each repetition. That squeeze at the bottom is crucial; it’s a way to stimulate more muscle fibers by increasing the time under tension (TUT). If you can’t do this at the bottom of your first few reps then you’re going too heavy. With every exercise, sacrificing form for more weight is a terrible idea.
#4. Switch up grips to fully exhaust the muscle, but know what area of the muscle you’re working by understanding your grips. A narrow-grip pulldown exercise produces less lats activation than a shoulder-width grip.