Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (2023)

Open signatures without lat pulldown

Body mechanics and muscle activation versus wide grip.

Lat pulldowns are an important back strengthening exercise. more withmultiple grip widths and hand positions,It is difficult to know how to perform this exercise to get the best results.

One such variation is the tight lateral pulldown. I am going to explain the difference between a tight grip pulldown and a wide grip pulldown. and show youHow to properly perform a close grip lat pulldown.

Then you'll know how to use each of these lat pulldown variations to achieve your backbuilding goals. I also give youAlternative exercises you can do at homeo at the academy.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (1)

Firm grip trained lat pulldown muscles

As the name suggests, the lateral pulley exercisemainly affects the latissimus dorsi muscles🇧🇷 but this exercisealso requires the muscles of the upper back🇧🇷 Includes rhomboids, teres major, teres minor and infraspinatus.

Together with these back muscles, the rotation of the arms activates therear deltoids🇧🇷 And the push-up action recruits them.biceps.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (2)

Narrow Grip x Wide Grip Side Pull

Before I get into how to perform a close grip lat pulldown, let me briefly explain how it compares to the lat pulldown.Lat pulldown with long punch🇧🇷 To illustrate the difference, I'll compare body mechanics and muscles worked.

First, here is a short video illustrating the differences between the narrow grip and the wide grip.

My YouTube channel has dozens of videos showing how to perform a variety of strength training exercises. In no more than 90 seconds, you'll learn how to target and build specific muscle groups. clickHEREto register or click the button below!

body mechanics

The obvious difference between a close grip pulldown and a wide grip pulldown is the distance between your hands. but this isthe position of the arms when pulling the bar down, which changes the exercise.

Using a wide grip pulldown, pull your arms out and back. At the end of the movement, your arms will be straight out to the sides when viewed from behind. But they are almost in line with your body from the side.

Secondly,A close grip pull pulls the arms in and forward.From behind, the arms are attached to the body. But from the side you can see that they extend in front of your body.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (3)

Both variants start with the cape directly on the head.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (4)

But when you pull the grip down, the narrow grip pulls the arms in front of the body, while the wide grip pulls the arms out and back.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (5)

From the side you can see how the exercises are about to start.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (6)

But deep down, the exercises look very different.

muscle activation

The main function of the lats is to pull the arms towards the body. This can be done from the side or forward. AfterBoth versions of the lat pulldown activate the lat muscles.

But the different arm position means that the supporting muscle groups are activated differently. Eastwide grip activates significantly more lats and upper back1due to external rotation of the arms.

While internal rotation of the arms during athe firm grip transfers some of the load from the lats to the chest.This is similar to thisDumbbell Sweater ExerciseYou can train both the back and the chest.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (7)

But lower lat activation from a firm grip isn't necessarily a bad thing. Forward rotation of the arm puts it in a stronger position. Consequence,You can lift around 5% more weight with a firm grip2.

How to Perform a Side Grip Closed Pulldown

  1. Hold the bar firmly with both hands.
  2. Lock your knees under the pads to prevent your body from falling off the seat.
  3. Begin with arms extended, back straight, and chest extended.
  4. Pull the bar toward your chest, keeping your elbows directly under your hands.
  5. Lower the bar over your chin and squeeze your back into the bottom
  6. Control the bar as it rises to the starting point and allow your lats to stretch at the top

Close grip lat descent video

Closed pull-down technique

Here are some additional tips to prepare for proper form:

  • Remember to pull down with your elbows instead of your hands.
  • Try to position your body so that the pulley is directly over your chest.
  • Also remember to contract your lats to initiate the movement.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (8)

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Closed drop down alternative at home or in the gym.

If you train at home, you probably don't have access to a pull-down station on your cable machine. And some gyms do not have these machines either.

So I'm going to give you some alternatives to close grip pulldowns that you can do at home or in the gym.

Close grip pull-ups

A close-grip pull-up is a perfect substitute for a close-grip pull-down because it's essentially the same movement. The main difference is that a pull-up moves your body, while a pull-down moves the bar.

If you don't have a pull-up bar at home, you can get a cheaper one.Door pull-up bar🇧🇷 Perform this exercise with an overhand grip or parallel bars. Just make sure your hands are shoulder width apart or narrower.

Related: How many push ups should I be able to do?

Side band pull with firm grip

Resistance bands are a great addition to any home gym. They allow you to repeat a large number of exercises, including closed pull-ups.

For this exercise, you must anchor the band to a stable object directly above you. Then kneel or sit under the band and do the exercise as shown in the video.

More exercises with resistance bands for the back

suspended suspended

Asupine gripalso known as a reverse grip or simply undergrip. This hand position allows you to perform a close-grip lat pulldown using a standard pull-up bar.

running apulldown lat supinadoresults in similar muscle activation compared to a V-bar or neutral grip1🇧🇷 In addition, it also recruits more bicep muscles.

lat pulldown machine

Some gyms have a pulldown machine. As a rule, just like the cable TV station, it has a seat and thigh pads. But it also has raised handles attached to the arms that move the weight stack or weight plates.

Although this machine has some differences with the pole and cable, it is a good alternative. And it's something you might want to incorporate into your back workouts just to shake things up.

Narrow Lat Pulldown vs. Wide Grip: Mechanics and Muscle Activation (9)


Although a wide grip has a bit more lateral activation,The close-grip lat pulldown puts your arms in a stronger position and you can generally pull more weight.So it's a great addition to your back training.

In fact, you can include both grips in your training. Or do they alternate from week to week?hit your lats from all angles.

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Is narrow or wide grip better for lats? ›

A wide grip is better for lifters who want to increase lat strength or size or for those looking to improve their pull-ups. A close grip is better for those looking to target their mid and upper back or increase the strength of their back overall.

What grip is best for lat activation? ›

Other research supports the superiority of an overhand grip (regardless of grip-width) if your goal is to maximize lat muscle activation [2]. (As a side-note: A common piece of bro-science is the idea that choosing an underhand grip for the lat pulldown will increase the focus on your biceps.

What muscles do narrow pull downs work? ›

Specifically, it works the latissimus dorsi, the middle and lower parts of the trapezius, and the rhomboids beneath the trapezius. However, unlike the standard and wide pulldown, the narrow pulldown mainly increases the thickness of the latissimus dorsi, while the other is to expand the width of the latissimus dorsi.

What type of contraction is a lat pulldown? ›

Eccentric Muscle Action: When a muscle exerts force while lengthening, usually because it is returning from a shortened (concentric) position to its natural resting position. Also known as a lengthening contraction and as the “negative” during resistance training exercises.

Which pulldown is best for lats? ›

Close Grip Pulldown

The close grip pulldown is one that you should choose if you want to focus more on isolating the lats. The closer grip will keep the arms more vertical which puts them in the best position when it comes to pulling with the lats only.

Why do boxers have wide lats? ›

The lats are used for rotational movement, as well as contribute to lateral flexion, which is crucial in slipping punches. The pecs start to act as the driving force of power for the punch.

What is the difference between narrow and wide pulldowns? ›

The main distinction between the close grip and wide grip lat pulldown is in which particular muscle groups are being worked, with the close grip focusing more on the middle back or triceps and the wide grip targeting the latissimus dorsi more.

What does narrow grip target? ›

The close grip bench press differs from the traditional bench press in that you perform the press with a narrower grip. This position places emphasis on building strength and size in the triceps muscles, as well as the chest.

What does wide grip lat pulldown work on? ›

What Muscles Does the Wide Grip Pulldown Work? The exercise primarily targets and improves the lats. The latissimus dorsi are the largest muscle group located on the back of the human body. They are hugely important for all pulling exercises and provide stability and support for the spine.

What muscles do lat pulldowns activate? ›

Similar to pull-ups, lat pulldowns have been identified as primary exercises for activating the latissimus dorsi, teres major, pectoralis major, infraspinatus, subscapularis (in the glenohumeral shoulder joint), rhomboids, middle trapezius, lower trapezius, pectoralis minor in the scapulothoracic (the shoulder girdle ...

What type of muscle contraction is pulling? ›

Concentric contractions occur when the muscles shorten while generating force. An example of concentric contraction would be the upward pull during a pull up. Eccentric contractions occur when the muscles lengthen while generating force.

What muscle actions are in a lat pulldown? ›

The lat pulldown works the latissimus dorsi, the largest muscle in the back, as well as your biceps, rear delts, rhomboids and traps. This movement gives you the opportunity to train many muscles at the same time, and develop overall strength in your back and upper body.

Should you lean back when doing lat pulldowns? ›

You should lean back slightly when doing lat pulldowns so that you can arch your upper back, however, you should keep the rest of your spine neutral.

Do lats pull downs get you big lats? ›

The lat pulldown is a great exercise to target your lats, but it also works a variety of other muscles that work together to extend and adduct your arms. It provides an alternative to the pullup when you're not yet strong enough to perform one without assistance. It's also a good adjunct to the pullup.

Do lats make you punch harder? ›

The lats are some of the muscles responsible for connecting a punch from the rotation of the core, through turning the punch over and generating additional power. Most fighters who lack the necessary power to move their opponents backwards are typically called arm-punchers.

Do forearms make you punch harder? ›

In martial arts, it is the unspoken word that strong forearms aid tremendously in punching power. Even though most of your punching power is generated from the legs and the hips, by utilising rotational and linear forces, it is the forearms that act as a strong and stable link during punch impact.

Are wide lats genetics? ›

Do Genetics Play A Role In Lat Development? Genetics play a huge role in the development of every muscle. For lats, this role is no less. For example, some bodybuilders just won't develop sweeping lats like others and might have an extremely hard time building the back.

Why can't I activate my lats? ›

Just try shifting your thinking a little. Most people are trying to pull the bar to their chest by just bending their elbow and rotating the shoulder, resulting in the arms and shoulders being activated. Lats are activated when your shoulder blades are moved down and together.

Are lat pulldowns good for hypertrophy? ›

Lat pulldowns also isolate your back to increase hypertrophy because your knees are held down by the pad you put your thighs under. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the lat pulldown.

What are symptoms of weak lats? ›

A weak lats muscle may interfere with bringing your arm toward your body or your body toward your arm. Weakness may also interrupt your ability to laterally flex your trunk. If your lats are tight or short, it will be hard to take your arm up in front of you, or out to the side.

What are the trigger points for the latissimus dorsi? ›

The Latissimus Dorsi muscle has two main zones for trigger points the upper – axillary and lower lateral.

What muscles do wide grip vs close grip pull ups work? ›

In close grip, you move your hands closer together, which impacts how your shoulder joints move as you perform the exercise. The closer grip also allows you to recruit your biceps and chest muscles more than the wide grip, which means you may be able to complete more repetitions.

Do lat pulldowns work the same muscles as rows? ›

Vertical and horizontal pulling exercises like lat pulldowns and rows both work many of the same muscles: your lats, traps, rhomboids, rear delts, rotator cuffs, and biceps.

Are wide grip pull ups better for lats? ›

Wide grip pull-ups are an effective bodyweight exercise for building upper-body strength. Wide grip pull-ups are essentially a regular pull-up with a wider hand position. The main benefit of a wider grip is increased activation of the latissimus dorsi or lats for short.

What is the difference between wide and narrow grip? ›

In summary, the wide grip position will emphasise the chest and shoulder muscles whilst placing a significantly greater stress through the shoulder joint, whilst the narrow grip position will place emphasis on the triceps muscles but also place greater stresses through the wrist joint.

Does narrow grip work long head? ›

While the narrow grip is great for focusing on the long head for better peak development, the standard shoulder-width grip hits both heads and the wide grip not only hits the short head best, but also allows you to go a bit heavier for placing greater overload on the biceps.

What is the strongest grip position? ›

A person's grip strength usually results in having the strongest grip strength when their arm is extended at 90° before their body, as opposed to the other extreme arm positions, rested at one's side or held straight up above one's head.

Does wide grip work lats? ›

As you may have guessed, the wide grip lat pulldown primarily works your lats. Originating in the lower/mid back, the latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle of the back. Your lats play a significant role in most “pulling” exercises such as the lat pulldown, pull ups, and other rowing exercises.

Is wider better for lats? ›

The lats (and infraspinatus) were activated more in the wide grip than the narrow, but otherwise were more or less similar. As a result, the researchers concluded that the medium width grip is thus the best grip for overall muscle activation.

Are wide grip pull-ups better for lats? ›

Wide grip pull-ups are an effective bodyweight exercise for building upper-body strength. Wide grip pull-ups are essentially a regular pull-up with a wider hand position. The main benefit of a wider grip is increased activation of the latissimus dorsi or lats for short.

Do Narrow grip pull-ups work lats? ›

A Close-grip pull-up is a great upper body exercise that develops the inner lats and strengthens the back, arms, and core muscles. Close-grip pull-ups put a greater emphasis on your biceps and chest muscles making for better upper-body development exercise.


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