T Nation

Making the Lat Pulldown into a Row

So I was reading and came across this pic : bodyrecomposition.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/ugpulldownleanback.jpg and this statement:

“the lifter is leaning too far back and turning the movement into a mid-back exercise. This usually happens when the weight is far too heavy and the lifter ends up using mostly body English and cheating to make the rep”

What I wonder is: couldn’t we avoid the ‘body english’ aspect if we maintained that leaned-back angle for the entire set, as opposed to moving between upright/leaned back each and every rep?

It seems like pulling at this angle’s pretty much an open-chain version of the supine BW row (australian pullup, etc). It looks like something you could do which would be similar to a seated row for people who lack a low pulley on a pulldown station, or who lack a seated row station.

The only potential problem I can see here is that you couldn’t do it with very light weights, because you’d need to be pulling a heavy enough weight that it can support your torso. Otherwise you’d potentially have to use abs and hip flexors to maintain an angle and not continue to fall backward.

As weight increases, you would need to use your lower back muscles and glutes to maintain that angle and not be pulled forward/up by the weight, but that applies to standing bent-over rows and to seated rows (or doing a low row with legs/feet on grond) too if there isn’t a chest-support pad.

However much posterior chain is needed with heavier weights, I think it would be less work for it than you would need to do in an unsupported horizontal row in an upright (seated row) or prone (bent-over row) position.

That’s because in the case of a prone torso position, your glutes/back have to support your torso weight. The upright position would be neutral, you only counteract what your arms pull. In the case of a supine position (leaning back on a lat pulldown, or doing BW rows) at 0 weight you’re actually using abs to maintain form, this work reduces to 0 as the weight you pull approaches your torso weight, and then once you surpass it, the posterior chain work you have to do is lowest: pulling weight minus torso weight.

Leaning back on the lat pulldown gives options to people who can’t do a lot of BW rows, or who can only do them with bad form, or have trouble like nothing to dig their heels into or whatever. That’s because if you do it on a lat pulldown, you apply force through the posterior chain directly through digging your hamstrings into the seat, no foot contact necessary.

It also gives options to people who want to do BW rows with heavier resistance than their bodyweight. I know there are people who do stuff like put plates on their chest/hips or wear a weighted vest, but all of these things tend to be awkward, hard to load, take a long time to set up, and either impede RoM (some tight vests) or tempo (spend too much time worrying about the chest plate falling off, unable to psych up to work hardest).

Those options are also more dangerous because at the end of your set you’re more exhausted and when you lower yourself to the ground, if you do it too quickly, the added weight could crash down on you. It seems a lot easier to just allow a pulldown machine to lift you back upward once your lower back muscles give out.

It would suck (both for your machine and your head) if you let go of a lat pulldown while leaning backward though. Probably moreso than letting go of a bar during a supine row, because you couldn’t tuck and roll, the thigh pads would hold you in place and you would snap yo shit up. That’s why people who try this should also develop a strong grip through other simpler safer pulling exercises (like a lat pulldown, or pullups, or a machine designed for seated rowing, or DB rows) so that they have plenty to spare during this upper back move.

Besides being able to have more weight options, leaning back also allows people to alter their form (lean back less) as they tire, and basically switch immediately from doing a horizantal pulling exercise into a standard vertical pulling exercise (pulldown). This also allows people to hold angles in between rather than immediately rotating 90 degrees. Sort of like gradually switching from an overhead press to a decline press rather than jumping from one to the other and skipping over the incline/flat.

The danger of falling backward too far could also be easily eliminated by putting a bench or chair behind the pulldown station’s seat.

In many cases it’s easier to just use a seated machine row, this just crosses my mind for people without access to one but who do have a pulldown station. Or for people wanting options when their machine row doesn’t have a chest support and their lower backs are getting fatigued. Or who have some kinda issue using chest pads, like maybe someone whacked you in the Xiphoid process with a stilleto and it just doesn’t feel comfortable to put weight on the front of the chest right now.

I do a version of lean-back pulldowns myself. I do it standing with one foot up on the machine for support.

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:
I do a version of lean-back pulldowns myself. I do it standing with one foot up on the machine for support. [/quote]

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