What Is The Best Alternative To Lat Pulldown?

Want a perfectly sculpted back?  Start doing some lat pulldowns and you will get there fast.

The lat pulldown is the most effective way to strengthen and sculpt the back. This machine works the latissimus dorsi (or wings), the largest group of muscles in the back. The best lat pulldown can be done at the gym with a lat pulldown machine.

Hence the name: lat pulldowns. Whether you want to build strength, sculpt or bulk up, this machine will get you there.  If you are at a gym, hopefully you are getting in as many lat pulldowns as possible.  

But what if you can’t make it to the gym? Are there any lat pulldown alternatives?  Are lat pulldowns the only way to a beautiful back?

Maybe you don’t like working out at the gym, don’t have time or simply can’t afford it. Is a lat pulldown machine your only option?  Should you give up the dream of having a perfectly toned back?

Man Posing With Muscled Back

No way! 

There are various lat pulldown alternative exercises that you can perform in the comfort of your home.  In fact, some of the best exercises, can be done right at home and work like pulldowns do.

These lat pulldown alternatives will work those lats and other muscles in your upper back and arms to give you great results.

Benefits Of The Lat Pulldown Exercises

The Lat pulldown machine can be used with different movements to target different muscles in the upper body including the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, deltoids, serratus anterior, rhomboids and even the biceps. 

Strengthening these muscles will enhance your ability to pull, lift, throw, catch or swing objects. 

A lat pulldown can also enhance flexibility in the shoulders and the elbows. This makes it beneficial for improving performance in just about any sport.

Performing a Lat Pulldown Correctly

The movements on the lat pulldown need to be performed with proper form and at a steady pace to strengthen and condition the muscles of the upper and lower back. 

Rushing through the movement will only result in injury. These muscles will be better able to provide your upper body with the support it needs ensuring better posture.

Find a lat pulldown machine and grab the bar with a wide grip.  Make sure your torso is tall and your abs are tight.  When you pull the bar down, retract the muscles between your shoulder blades.  The key to a correct lat pulldown is making sure that you are utilizing the muscles in your back and not letting your arms take over the exercise.

Alternative Exercises To The Lat Pulldown You Can In Your Home Gym

Not everyone has access to a lat pulldown machine. 

There are various lat pulldown alternatives that you can do without using special gym equipment. 

These lat pulldown alternatives can be performed at home and will give you similar benefits.

Chin Ups

Also known as pull ups, this movement mimics the motion of the lat pulldown but involves pulling your body up. 

Pull ups are the gold standard in lat pulldown alternative exercises as it targets the same muscle groups.  While pull ups are difficult, the key to pull ups is once you get 1 pull up and then it’s easy to do a few more. 

Keep in mind that the average person can only do about three pull ups.  Make sure you are doing them correctly by retracting the back muscles instead of pulling too hard on your arms.  The focus is on the muscle group in your back.  That movement is actually allowing you to pull the bar towards your chest.  

How to perform a chin up - one of the best lat pulldown alternatives

To perform chin-ups, you’ll require something to grapple and elevate your body such as a pull-up bar. Ensure that it is sturdy enough to support your weight.  

Grab onto the bar and lift your body upward by retracting your back muscles and bending your elbows. Lower your body down to the original position to complete one rep.

You can increase the challenge by changing your grip or widening it. Start off with 10 to 15 reps. 

This exercise is notoriously difficult but highly effective for working those back muscles.

Band Assisted Chin Ups

Chin-ups can be a difficult movement for people who lack upper body strength or are just starting out. While it is one of the best lat pulldown alternatives, it might take some time to get it.

A band assisted chin up is a great way to work up to a full chin up.  This variation involves the use of a large band to support your weight and therefore  assist your back muscles to make the movement more manageable. 

It allows you to build your upper body strength. You can then move on to the classic chin-up when your muscles are strong enough.

How to perform this lat pulldown alternative

Secure a large elastic resistance band on the pull-up bar. Place your foot in the loop of the band and pull your body up like with the classic chin-up. 

The band gives you an extra boost to make the chin-up easier while allowing you to strengthen the muscles in your upper back and arms.  Similar to lat pulldowns, this lat pulldown alternatives is one of our favorites. 

Elastic Band Resistance Pulldowns

These are a popular lat pulldown alternative. The elastic bands can help you mimic different variations of lat pulldowns.

Secure the bands to the top of the door. Some bands come with an anchor for this. 

Alternatively, tie the midpoint of the band into a knot and shut it into the top of the door. Stand facing the door with a handle of the band in each hand. 

Both hands should be extended up toward where the band is anchored. Step back until there is tension in the band. 

Pulldown on the band your hands, pulling to your hips. Let your elbows lead placing the emphasis on your back muscles.

You can increase the challenge by increasing the tension on the bands or using a heavier band. You can also perform the exercise while seated or kneeling.  You will feel the lats engage.  Make sure you have even distribution on both hands so one side is not working harder than the other.  

Alternate with single arm pulldowns if that feels better for you.  Ensure that you are getting both sides in when you do.

Bent-Over Rows

If you have a pair of dumbells or a barbell, you can work your lats and some of the other pulling muscle groups in your back and arms with bent over rows. 

You’ll also be working your core as a bonus with this movement.

Performing a Proper Bent Over Dumbbell Row

Hold a barbell or dumbells in front of you and stand with your feet under your shoulders. Hinge forward from your hips and bend your knees slightly for stability.

Keep your back flat, chest forward and shoulders back. Extend both arms out and let the weight hang down.  

Pull both weights up towards your chest leading with your elbows. Stop the motion when the elbows are above the plane of your torso. 

Lower the weights back to starting position to complete a repetition. This should be a smooth motion. 

The arms should stay close to the body throughout the exercise. An alternative to this is to do single arm bent over rows. Do one side and then other to make sure you are working the muscle group evenly.

Band Pull-Down - A Favorite in Lat Pulldown Alternative Exercises

This exercise is in the best lat pulldown alternatives category for strengthening the muscles in the upper back. You only need an exercise band–meaning you can do this movement anytime and anywhere.  See?  You aren’t even missing that lat pulldown machine.

Start with your feet shoulder width apart for support. Hold the exercise band with both arms up and extended in front of you at shoulder height. 

Grip the band with your palms facing down. 

Keep your core tight, shoulders up and chest out. Pull the band out by extending the arms to either side. 

Your arms should be fully extended out on either side of your body at the end of the movement. Return your arms to the starting position to complete a rep. Keep in mind that you can do a single arm extension as well to get the lat working individually on each side.

Need a Challenge?

You can increase the challenge by using heavier and thicker resistance bands. 

You can also put more emphasis on muscle contraction by holding for a few seconds when the band is fully extended.

There’s no excuse for not getting a good upper body workout. 

With these lat pulldown alternative exercises, you can strengthen and sculpt your back in the comfort of your home gym.

Decline Dumbbell Pullover

To perform the decline dumbbell pullover, hold a single dumbbell in both hands perpendicular to the floor while lying on a bench.  Bring the single dumbbell down slowly like you are going to set it on the floor.  You will stop your arms once they are right above your head, parallel to the floor.  

Return your arms back up to the starting position slowly and you have successfully performed a decline dumbbell pullover.

Make sure that you keep your lower back on the bench so that you avoid arching and risk injury.

Incline Dumbbell Rows

For this exercise, you need to have an adjustable bench.  Put it at a 45 degree angle and grab two dumbbells, one in each hand.  Lie on your back on a flat bench with palms facing forwards.  Pull your arms down until your elbows are next to your rib cage.  Press back up and you have successfully done an incline dumbbell.  High fives all around!  Now do some more incline dumbbell rows to get that back working.

This lat alternative can be done with a single arm as well.  Just make sure you always do the same amount on each side.

A couple more things

We hope you enjoyed learning some of the best lat alternative exercises that you can do from the comfort of your home gym.  If one of the exercises seems too daunting, check out our table of contents to jump to the next exercise that will work for you.  Hopefully you can utilize all of the muscle groups in your back for some epic back exercises.  Comment name email website to tell us more about how you rocked these exercises.

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