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Lats Lats Lats


I can't do more then 6 pull-ups for sets so i am forced to used the lat pulldown machine. Anways... here's my question, when performing lat pull downs is your body supposed to be exaclty verticle or can you lean back maybe 15 degrees. Also you're supposed to keep a big chest and your back arched right? For some reason i feel like i am doing something wrong.


I always lean back a little. Keep you back arched and tight, your chest out and your shoulder blades pulled back too. Give it a solid squeeze at the bottom

Oh, and do some negatives if you can only do 6 pullups. You could always just do 50 pullups or so, no matter the # of sets you do. If you can do 6 sets of 6 reps, you got 36 right there, now just pump out 14 more.


Paul Chek has an excellent video on pulling exercises. In it he suggests staying vertical, yet maintaining the arched back. The cable itself should remain completely vertical on your pull. It should not be deviate at all from vertical. To do this would require a completely upright posture.

If you're sitting up, your chest is up, and you maintain a slight arch in your back, you're positioned properly.


Well you can do sternum chinups. I've always found them easier. Don't know why. Guess that's not really right. :wink:

Anyways get a partner to spot you. Or you can use a band tied to the bar and then put your foot in it. Siff had a great picture on how to do this. I don't think I explained it right. Another trick is.....don't go to failure. Try multiple sets of low reps say 3 or even 2. Train them with more frequency too. Look up grease the groove on Pavel's site. :slight_smile:


Do pull-ups.

Even if you can only do 6.. do them anyway. They'll do so much more for you in terms of hypertrophy than pull-downs.


what is wrong with doing sets of 6 for pullups, or 5 for that matter?


I was once given some advice for back exercises by a competing bodybuilder that helped me get it right. He said arch your back in as if you are one of those girls they have in the middle of MuscleMag and trying to stick your ass out. For pull downs to the front (I usually do them behind the neck), you want your chest stuck out during the movement and you bring the bar down to meet your chest. Do not swing the weight down. As far as pull ups, the ONLY way to get better at those is to keep doing them. That means, if you can only do 6 reps, keep doing those 6, possibly getting a spotter to help with number 7 if possible, until you can get it on your own. Many bodybulders quit doing those when gaining because of the extra body weight. I don't always do pull ups even though they are a great exercise.


Here's an idea...

why don't you just do 5-6 sets of 6 reps? It will do you more good than the pulldown machine.



Leaning back lessens the strain on the abs and invokes more rear delt. Personally, I consider lat pulldowns an excellent stability exercise; my abs are inevitably just as sore as my lats a day or two later. Thus, I don't lean back at all, and never have to do separate abdominal work.

There are two methods I'd use to improve your pullup max.

A) The Arnold method. Multiply your current max by 4. Do pullups, number of sets irrelevant, until you reach that number.

B) Repeated negatives. Attempt to do a 5x5. If you can't pull off the concentric movement for a given rep, hop up on the bar and do a slow eccentric instead.

Alternate between the two twice a week for a month.

Best of luck,



im not really too into the pulldown machine, but from what i've read i understand that you should be straight but somewhat leaning back very slightly and expand your chest as it comes down. i would personally advise that you continue with the pullups and do negatives. try for 3 sets of 10 doing negatives when you can't do anymore....or you could follow the 5x5 method and add weight when you can complete the entire 5 with a specified weight.



do pull ups!
even if you can only do 6 you can still employ other training method (self spotting, weighted negative cheat reps)
lat pull downs are by and large far less effective.
do pull up every workout (say 4 sets of 3) just to train yourself. i honestly think most people under train their back when was the last time you felt so sore in your back that you couldn't possibly do another workout a couple of days later...
when i was training for h20 polo we did pull ups 4-6 days a week. you get good at doing them real fast!


I try to keep the same form as if I were doing a pull-up which means leaning back slightly.


Because on the second set i can do about 2. That's the problem. After those 2 then im a goner. And the program im on right now calls for sets of 8-12. Thanks for all the help guys ill try to pinch my shoulder blades next time.


Poliquin always talked about critical drop off points. Going from 6 to 2 reps is a critical dropoff. That's why you can try and do 10 sets of 2. See how that works. Also do the movement more times per week. Neural learning. :wink:


Just talked about this on Coach Staley's call today.

try doing ladders

1 set of 1
1 set of 2
1 set of 3
1 set of 4
upto whatever you can do without failing, all perfect reps, then start over at 1 set of 1

and so on for 15 to 20 minutes.

Key here, as with all things EDT, is not going to failure.


I like the 10 (or more) sets of 2 idea.



I'm betting Charles would say that 40 sets of 1 is better yet.



What about lifting tempo? Should the reps be done quickly (of course using good form) or with slow eccentrics?


I'm saying explosive concentric for sure. As for eccentric I would say start fast and then once you get the targeted reps then next workout go a bit slower say 1 second. Then when you get those reps try 2 seconds. Go up to 3 seconds. Then you can try other manipulations like a pause at the bottom. I think some of this is a personal thing. But I know myself I love lots of sets of low reps. I also like upping my training frequency when training for strength. 3 times with the same movement per week is good for me. When you stay away from failure you can do this. Provided your whole volume per workout isn't too great. Neural!!! :wink: