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Forearms Failing on Lat Pulldowns


Hi there, I've got a problem increasing my weight on the lat pull downs and it's mostly related to higher rep work but it does effect things when I'm going with heavier weight.

It's most pronounced when I do suppinated pull downs but it doesn't really feel like muscular tiredness or pain, it feels like something is being pulled. I guess I'd say it's what I'd imagine tendon/ligament pain to be like rather than muscular soreness.

I'm doing pull downs for 5x5 @ 80kg and 4x10 @ 70kg and it's usually at the end of the last sets that it's problematic.

I'm guessing the answer is to strengthen the forearms as it really is limiting my back work. In no way is my back limiting these movements.

I really don't want to resort to straps.

So what would be the most effective way to improve my forearms for these exercises, or things to watch on my grip when doing the pull downs? I'm not looking ot build my forearms persee, just looking to bring them up to handle whats necessary for back work.

Thanks guys!


re: I really don't want to resort to straps.

Well do you view lat pulldowns as a forearm workout. If so don't use straps.

Go train your forearms 2 times a week but TRADITIONALLY lat pulldowns are for LATS.

Think about it. Leave your ego at the door the gym isn't for pride.

~ this is what I believe.. If you are training lats train lats. If your forearm is week go train it later or some other day. Just keep in mind your goal for that session.


Embrace Straps; Don't Avoid Them


I would go as far as saying, you are probably pulling down with your biceps/forearms, and that is the reason why your forearm are getting tired..

But if not, then get the straps..


Even if you are correctly pulling with your lats, in all likelihood your grip is going to fail before your back (especially once the weight starts to get up there).

OP, if you want to not use straps on your initial sets and don't feel like your grip is holding you back in doing so, then don't. Only use them for your final set (or very heavy work) when your grip is holding you back.


Your forearms shouldn't be hurting when you are doing Lat pulls.... Like Kineine said, check your ego at the door man. Don't be trying to impress people by doing more weight than you can handle. If you are using your arms to pull down you wont find any growth in your back, which makes the exercise crap.

You should get some straps and maybe ask a friend at your gym to show you how to properly execute the excercise.


Straps or false grip (thumb same side and wrap arm around like a hook) with chalk.

  1. Change your mental model about straps.
  2. Go buy 'em.
  3. Use them correctly.
  4. Check your results.


Do pullups, you aren't a real man unless you do them. a heavily sarcastic statment Use straps OP. Chalk the bar, and strap up and that fucker is welded to your hands.


Dead man hangs are a good way to build up a grip for that. Take a wide grip on a chin up bar, and then hang there. Over time you can build up the amount of time you hang for and some people even strap on weight when they do it.


Yeah, but watch your shoulders. Three years of climbing taught me that the hard way.


I'm gripping with my thumb on the same side as my fingers and I do know how to perform the exercise, but I will do some work on my forearms and use straps for the last few sets where my forearms usually die.

I've seen massive size and strength increases in my back over the last six months but have found this forearm pain is what is limiting me. I worked out today that I've put on 10kg of muscle (calced with BF%, not by eye..) in the last 12 months.

I think I'll try some of the hangs as suggested and add straps at the end of the sets. I'll also do some assistance work for my forearms.

Thanks for the tips.


Great reply.


Oh had other thoughts for you ozzyaaron. Thumbless pullups/chinups ~ if it is one of those multicable installations then instead of using the attached pullup bar...

Just use the framework that the pullup bar is attached to for pulls. Or if no one is in the squat-rack just jump up and grab the upper frame bar and do thumbless chins and pullups.

I like to warm up with 30-50 reps at the very beginning of my back sessions.

Also try switch grips.

Heavy static holds ~ just load up a bar in the squat rack on safety pins just below your grip and grab it and hold it for time.