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Pullups vs Lat Pulldowns


For a while, my back routine included both pullups and lat pulldowns. Now that I'm going to add deadlifts to the start of my back routine, do you think it's fine to eliminate pullups? Now that I think about it, aren't pullups and lat pulldowns almost the same thing (ofcourse there are minor differences) so shouldn't it always be one or the other anyway?


There is no comparison between pullups and lat-pulldowns.

Drop the machine, do pullups, and add deadlifts.

Read Poliquin's article on this site about pull-ups, and the 7 best back exercises for a better explanation of the differences.


Wht don't you eliminate the pulldowns?

Pullups are far superior to pulldowns!


I flameth thee.


Pullups are far superior. Pulldown machines for the more difficult varieties, subscapularis chin for 1, can be done with the end goal of doing them the right way. I also use the lat pulldown for my horizontal rows, propping up my feet on the uprights and leaning back. Its far superior for me than the low pulley kind. So the pulldown is OK, much less useless than the smith machine.


Well that statement is just not true. There IS a comparison.

They both target the same muscle groups and involve the same motion. The biggest problem with pulldown is the poor strength curve it presents. Whereas with the pull-up, the more you pull towards the bar the easier it is because of acceleration, with the pulldown the more you pull towards your chest the harder it is because of the cable resistance curve. Ideally, you want to align the strength curve with the resistance curve, meaning you are strongest where the resistance is strongest. You can't do that with the pull-down.

The one time I saw Poliquin at the gym working out he was doing Pulldowns not Pull-ups. I thought that was pretty funny after reading every article where he calls pulldowns for pencil-necked dorks.


There is a comparison, as there is with anything.

But I think most round' here would agree that pull-ups can be considered the meat and potatos of back exercises, along with deadlifts.



So what would you suggest for someone who isn't strong enough to do pullups yet, if not pull-downs?


Good to see that Charles has a sense of humor. Or a very bad memory. Assclown.


Ok. So for a complete back workout, would the following suffice?

Horizontal rows

When I say complete, I mean so in a sense that each portion of the back is sufficiently hit (upper, lower, lats). Am I even correct in dividing the back into upper, lower, and lats?


I thought I aslo remembered reading several times that the stregth gains that pullups yeild are greater than those of pulldowns. Regardless, I think everyone agrees drop the pulldowns.


Khellendros - try reading this article:




"Whereas with the pull-up, the more you pull toward the bar the easier it is because of acceleration, with the pulldown the more you pull toward your chest the harder it is because of the cable resistance curve."

Not on any machine I've seen. If my goal was to use momentum, I'd find it easier on a pulldown station.


Why eliminate anything? Do a few pullup sets, and finish off with unilateral hammer-grip pulldowns. Deadlifting is not a substitute for either.



Khellendros, you can use a spotter, but I'd suggest something else. Check out Christians take on chin-ups. This should help you with your pull-ups as well.



Machine, so did you call Chucky P a pencil-necked dork?

If you're not strong enough to do pullups, you could do pulldowns. Another option is to find someone that can hold your legs and assist you in the positive portion of the pullup, and then let go to let you do the negative.


Yes, but you would be using poor form. Try doing a strict rep. The resistance becomes greater as you approach your chest with the bar. Now if you do a strict pull-up, there is less change in the resistance curve than with most pull-down stations.


I've discovered it far easier to create momentum with a weight stack than with my own body, primarily because there's a degree of horizontal movement in every pullup that tends to defeat that tendency.

As in, it's more difficult to accelerate in a pullup. That was my point. All that jazz about pulldown machines was really more commentary than correction. The three I've used differ somewhat, that's all.