T Nation


 Many of you may know this. However, in t-mag's tradition of keeping good knowledge being passed on, here's a LITTLE tidbit for you. According to the journal of strength and conditioning research, which conducted a study on the effectiveness of the lat pull-down using different grips (anterior wide grip, posterior wide grip, supinated grip, and close grip) the only 2 that target primarily the lats, are the widegrip posterior and widegrip anterior lat pull downs - with the anterior wide grip being the most effective. Supinated grip targets primarily the delts, and so does close grip pull down. 
My point? If you want to target primarily  your lats, then do wide grip anterior lat pull-downs, or wide grip chin-ups. Yeah, it's just a tidbit of information, but it might prevent overtraining your shoulders as many dont realize close grip pulldowns are targeting their shoulders more than  their back.

Diesel, you’ve been posting some really good stuff lately. This post was particularly helpful to me, as lat spread is about to become a priority with me. Thank you!

To say an exercise targets shoulders more than back is misleading --in this case, I consider rear delts (and only rear delts, the anterior/medial heads don’t even fire) for all intents a part of the upper back.

Further, every pullup exercise is a lat builder. Most people have great difficulty with wide-grip pullups; to parlay a bit of a difficulty onto the rear delts can build both while boosting the rep range.

In my case, narrow chins seem to isolate the lats a lot better than wide pullups for some reason or another. It has a lot to do with positioning. Widegrip in particular lends itself to leaning back, a trigger for delt involvement. The results of that study depend greatly on the posture of the trainees.


For reference, I’m just offering a counterpoint, not a correction. That was a solid bit of information.


Here is something that I pulled from a respectable source regarding pullups; have found it to be true since I made the switch in my own training:

"Worthless techniques 1) Wide grip pullups...for some reason, boobybuilders think that a very wide grip makes for very wide lats! Ha! This is bogus for a few reasons; the first being the greatly reduced range of motion (ROM), the second being the greatly reduced leverage, and the third being the extreme stress on your rotator cuffs. Optimal leverage is extremely important in strength training."



I was just re-reading that article the other day. Did you see the article in Renegadetraining.com this week by Allstadt? My curiosity is piqued.


Not sure I can accept this without further info. Can you oblige dude?

  1. How were the results and conclusion derived, i.e. methodology? Was it muscle, or nerve analysis equipment? (or other?).
  2. How rigorous was the protocol? E.G. Was everyone of the same weight/size? Did everybody handle the same weight, or was it %BW, or %1RM?
  3. What was the ANGLE of LPD used- straight vertical, or with a slight lean etc…? I think this would make a big difference. In my experience, most trainee’s (I myself, and others I’ve watched, as we all do to pass the time between sets at the gym)change their angle of lean when performing LPD’s- they lean back slightly more, and bring the bar closer to the chest vs neck with the supinated variety.

    If this study used a pull to the same area of the torso in all the positions, what was the area?

  4. Finally, your last comment (unless you can justify it DIESEL, in regard to this study) about the LPD results translating to the chin, is IMO flawed:

    In the LPD, an OPEN chain exercise, it is easy to incorporate momentum, shoulder, and lower back movement to lower the bar. You are moving the bar to initiate/complete the movement. In comparison, with Chins, is a closed chain exercise- you are moving your body AROUND the bar- a fixed object. The only way to cheat and use less back musculature, is to do that “crazy chicken” stuff we’ve all seen to make the last rep.

    No scientific evidence to back it up, but I find ALL types of chin AND LPD hit my lats pretty hard. Thankfully my preference of exercise seems to be in agreement with your study- primarily anterior standard grip LPD’s.

    However, the supinated varieties are GREAT for hitting the Biceps too. This goes for twice as much in the chin version of this movement.

All for a healthy discussion. :slight_smile: SRS

Just checked it out; was a pretty good read.


good points SRS

JM, i think wide grip chin have a place in a program, as for the “widening your back” thing that the old school guys go on about i think it may have a little merit. If you improe the size of your Teres major when performing a lat spread it will give the ILLUSION of having wider lats. wide grip variations of back movements TEND to stimulate the TM more than narrow movts.
As far as back movements go alot of the time at moderate weights you (well, I) can squeeze specific muscle group, ie lats or traps, biceps etc the study could not have taken this in to account(?)

 No one ever said <i>those guys<\i> knew what they were talking about... (mumbling to himself).
 You do make a good point joel- whoda thunk?. I personally prefer wide grip pull-upps/pull-downs, but obviously You should do whichever works best for you. Just as a final note - I DO think wide grips target your LATS much more effectively than do close grips, which use your DELTS and BICEPS to a greater degree. Obviously you use common sense when you do any exercise. If you go too wide, you're askin for it. If you're not strong enough to do a few repetions with wide grip pull-ups, then for the sake of God do something else - at the very least shorten your grip. HOWEVER, if you're like the many of us, and can do them widegrips reasonably efficiently, they are probably a better choice for you than are short grip. 

Maybe this is placebo effect but I have to do wide grip to get my upper lats at all. Now I’ve noticed that close grips still hit my lats. Yet I concur with your statment about the biceps doing more work on a close grip. Delts though… you might be blown away by this but my pecs feel more on a close grip than my delts. I guess this goes to show everyones body type is just a bit different.