T Nation

Lat Pulldowns Without the Anchoring?


Sorry if this has been discussed, I searched for it and couldn't find it. Could be because it's stupid, which if so, just let me know...

Anyways, the other day I did my back workout at my home gym. There is a lat pulldown station, but no seat or anything to anchor your thighs underneath, like a typical pulldowm machine. So I did them just sitting on my bench, basically without being anchored down. I had to keep my entire body super tight in order to stay grounded, and though the weight was cut in half, I got a much harder contraction in my lats by doing them this way.

Has anyone else tried then like this?? I've seen bigger guys turn backwards on lat pulldowns before and do them that way, but I figured that was just for warm-up/ pumping blood into the lats/ wanted to look in the mirror and focus on form. Just curious of this is a worthwhile technique, or not worth tinkering with (figured I start doing them after pullups, for higher rep sets like 6-10).


i prefer to use the thigh pads.

i think you should samesies


Idk how I would do lat pulldowns without the thigh pad. You won't be able to use enough weight/also will be focusing so much on trying to keep your body tight that you won't be able to focus on MMC in your back.


Also wont be able to go into a full stretch on the top of the movement..


That's enough for me. 3 of the most developed guys on the site tell me it's crap, must be crap. Thanks guys.


No thigh pad you say?

You should not ignore the fact that you got a better activation when you cut the weight in half though. I would use this was a sign that you should drop the weight for awhile until you master the MMC.


+1 on that exercise. on eof my favourites.


This is a great exercise, but it's not a lat pulldown. Unless I'm mistaken, this isn't what the OP was referring to.

What he was referring to, if I'm right, would be akin to not placing your foot on the seat and trying to do the stretcher while balancing your body with no support, which would greatly hinder your ability to do the exercise.


Ohh I LOVE stretchers. I do these often. But yes, maybe it is a sign I'm using too much weight. With vertical pulls, I'll start doing one 'heavier' move with a bit of body English, then the next exercise will be controlled, lighter weight.


OP- seeing "bigger" folks seated backwards on the lat pulldown and leaning into the stack, "think incline position" - this is less for the lats, as mentioned, and more for upper middle back development, at least that is what Charles Glass told me but who the fuck is that guy anyways? less weight and more squeeze w/ that movement.

As for the non-anchor thing, kneeling in front of a cable stack w/ varied attachments (preference for V handle) and leaning forward w/ the torso (sort of like the body position in the above video) you can create a nice modified back movement.

Things can become hybrid - not quite a vertical movement, and not fully a row. Things like pull ups are staples, as are pulldowns, tinkering w/ movements is how we learn our own body mechanics.

That said, replacing the principle movements w/ all sorts of adaptations isn't always the right idea. A sandwich w/ mustard, mayo, veggies, pickles, and all sorts of cool add ons is nice....

...but don't forget the m e a t.

Alright, that was a pointless analogy, fuck it. From the looks of your physique OP you're doing something right in the gym so keep discovering and try variances of shit, keep what works for you.

Countless folks preform a movement and are unaware of what muscles are being activated through any particular range of motion. The better and more you know your body the more most things make complete sense.

Notable extra - I work for a large corp. gym train right now, some of the fucking trainers are LAUGHABLE both physique and knowledge wise.


I know, I was just trying to offer an alternative lat exercise for his situation since he said midway down the thread he'll be ditching regular lat pulldowns without the thigh pad.


Thanks for lengthy post Cyrus. I think the analogy was good. And I feel dumb now, not seeing that the 'inclined' position, having your back against the knee pad, was probably for something more like a face-pull, less like a pulldown.

My back has improved a lot in the last few months, so I should probably just keep doing what I'm doing, instead of trying to find potentially 'better' alternatives. Thanks


Well, on a kinda similar note:
I've started doing seated cable rows with my feet planted on the ground (tibia perpendicular-ish to the ground) as opposed to pressing them against the pad. Forced me to keep my core tight and my lumbar spine kinda neutral. Never felt them lats as good as with this variation.

I treat it as a different exercise, though, and use it as a lead-in to conventional seated cable rows, thereby benefitting from priming my lats and hitting my core some. With the feet-on-the-ground version, I increase the load until I can't do it with proper form (i.e. until I start to slide forward) and take it from there with the conventional variant.


I've done them without the pads after using a heavier weight - one of the best pumps.

Its not in the regular rotation of excercises.


Better wear an armored codpiece then :wink:


To the OP:
Now that you can really feel that contraction, apply it to the heavier weight when you do have something to hold you down. Apply it to pullups too. 2012 should be a good year for that V taper. :slightly_smiling:


If you was doing lat pulldowns without being anchored, and you was using more than your bodyweight... wouldn't it just result in a pull UP?


Know this thread is old, but I just wanted to bump it to maybe get people's new found opinion on this movement since John Meadows has popularized it. He explained it better then I did, however.


Holding a dumbell between your legs and using that works well. Years ago i worked out at John Decola-1969 Mr America's gym and he had a lat machine that was attached to the wall. We all did lats with the dumbell as an anchor. Certainly didn't hurt his development.


cant stay on bench = pullups (also work back, lol)