Close Grip Lat Pulldown – Learn Proper Form, Benefits, Variations And Common Mistakes

Man doing close grip lat pulldown exercise at gym

Do you want a bigger and more powerful back? If you answered yes, you should perform a close grip lat pulldown as part of your resistance training.
The close grip lat pulldown is undoubtedly one of the best workouts for strengthening your back – it is also known as the close hammer grip lat pulldown.

What Is A Close Grip Lat Pull Down

The close grip lat pull down is a version of the lat pull down that is used to strengthen the back muscles. While the lats will be the primary focus of the exercise, you will also notice bicep and middle back activation.

This back builder is simple to use and incredibly effective, with changing resistance based on where the pin is placed in the stack.

It’s important to remember that the back is a muscle area that requires a lot of diversity. So, to get the most out of your back muscles, try a variety of angles and hand positions.

Back workouts, upper body workouts, pull workouts, and whole-body workouts can all benefit from the close grip lat pull down.

How To Do Close Grip Lat Pulldown

girl doing close grip lat pulldown exercise

This exercise requires a cable machine and a close grip attachment. 

  • Sit on a machine that has a close grip handle/V Handle attached to the top pulley. Make sure the machine’s knee pad is adjusted to meet your height. The purpose of these pads is to prevent your body from being raised by the weight attached to the pulley
  • Extend your arms upwards, palms facing each other, to grab the close grip attachment.
  • Brace your core, draw your shoulder blades down and back, and pull the attachment down until it meets your chest while leaning slightly back.
  • At the bottom, take a little pause, squeeze your lats, and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Maintain core stiffness as you repeat the same for required number of reps.

Pro Tips For Close Grip Lat Pulldown

  • As you draw the bar into your body, keep some tone in your abdominals to avoid arching your back excessively.
  • Allowing momentum to determine the movement is counterproductive; instead, maintain control of the weight throughout each rep.
  • Consider using a false grip (i.e., don’t wrap your thumb around the weight) if your biceps are overworked and your back is underused.
    As you pull, keep your head from jutting forward.
  • At the height of the movement, allow the shoulder to internally rotate and shrug slightly. Before pulling with the arm, you will obviously reverse the movement and depress the shoulder blade.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Muscles Targeted

close grip lat pulldown muscles targeted

Primary Muscle Groups

It’s no surprise that the close grip lat pulldown predominantly targets your lats, given its name. The latissimus dorsi, which originates in the lower-mid back, is the back’s broadest muscle.

Most “pulling” exercises, like the lat pulldown, pull ups, and other rowing workouts, rely heavily on your lats.

Secondary Muscle Groups

The biceps, abdomen, shoulders, and upper back are all involved in the close grip lat pulldown. While your back should do the majority of the work in lowering the weight, your biceps should also fully contract.

Also, your core gets worked too in order to stabilize the movement.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Advantages

Helps You Get Stronger And Bigger Lats

The close grip lat pulldown has a greater range of motion than the typical lat pulldown. With a narrow hold, you can drag the weight down slightly further than you could with a wider grip.

As a result, the contraction of your lats at the bottom of each exercise is maximized, which aids in the development of a thicker, stronger back. A strong back is necessary for boosting your sports performance, everyday tasks, and compound exercises like the barbell row and the Pendlay row.

Helps You Attain Better Posture

Hours of sitting in chairs at work or while driving can cause your lats and other back muscles to become underused. As a result, slouching, soreness, and strain in your shoulders and back may occur.

Close lat pulldowns can help to develop these under-used muscles while also reducing back pain. Needless to say, you may quickly fix your posture with frequent exercise(with proper form).

Helps Your Neuromuscular System To Adapt To Lifting Heavier Weights

The close grip lat pulldown engages your biceps while your lats handle the majority of the hard lifting. You should be able to lift more weight with your biceps than you typically could. This primes your neuromuscular system for heavier loads and can give you the confidence you need to push through your workout.

Having said that, while it’s always vital to push yourself to the next level, be sure you’re doing so with the appropriate technique to avoid injury!

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Variations

Supinated Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Supined grips are sometimes known as reverse grips or just underhand grips. You can do a close grip lat pulldown with this hand position and a regular pulldown bar.

To begin, take a seat on the bench in front of the cable machine. Grab the lat pulldown bar with your palms facing you by extending your arms upwards.

The distance between your hands should be about shoulder width. Brace your core, push your shoulder blades down and back, and drag the bar down until it meets the top of your rib cage while gently leaning back.

Slowly return to the starting posture after a little pause at the bottom, squeezing your lats. Maintain core stiffness as you repeat!

When compared to a v-bar or neutral grip, a supinated lat pulldown results in similar muscle activation. Except for the fact that it also recruits more bicep muscles.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Machine

Lat pulldowns can be done on a machine in some gyms. Like the cable station, it usually has a seat and thigh padding. It also features arms with above handles that move the weight stack or weight plates.

While there are certain differences between this machine and a cable machine setup, it is a decent option. And it’s something you might want to incorporate into your back workout just to mix things up a little.

Banded Close Grip Lat Pulldown

A fantastic addition to any home gym is resistance bands. Close grip lat pulldowns are one of the many exercises you may replicate with them.

You’ll need to secure the band to a sturdy item directly overhead for this activity. After that, kneel or sit beneath the band and complete the exercise

Alternating Lat Pulldown With Handles

The alternating lat pulldown can also be used to unilaterally strengthen your lats. To begin, take a seat on the bench in front of the cable machine. Extend your arms upwards, palms facing front, to hold the handles.

Pull the right handle down by contracting your right lat. Then repeat the process on the left side. Return each handle to its initial position slowly and then repeat!

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Common Mistakes

Excessive Use Of Your Arms

During the close grip lat pulldown, the arms far too often take over the exercise motion. In fact, the lat pulldown transforms into a bicep exercise, reducing back stress significantly.

While the biceps should play a supporting role in the pulldown, focus on your back conditioning by lowering the weight with minimal assistance from your arms.

Pulling A Bit Too Low

Many lifters pull the close grip attachment down below their chest, sometimes even to their waist. The back is no longer engaged after the attachment reaches below the breast.

The shoulders are strained in this position, and little work is accomplished. Instead, when the attachment reaches your chest, stop pushing down and grip your lats tightly. When it comes to effective training, sometimes little is more!

Using Momentum To Finish The Rep

Lifters almost always lift too much weight when they use their body’s momentum to bring the weight down. As a result, they compensate by swinging their upper body back and forth.

In truth, employing momentum does not aid in the development of back strength. To increase back tension, reduce the weight, and maintain your back relatively steady throughout the close grip lat pulldown if you make this error.

Take Away

Even though a wide grip activates the lats more, a close grip lat pulldown positions your arms in a stronger position, allowing you to pull more weight. As a result, it’s an excellent supplement to your back workout.

In fact, your workout might involve both grip widths. Alternatively, switch between them week to week to strike your lats from all sides.

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