In this brief guide, we’ll address the question, Are close grip pulldowns effective?, Which Lat Pulldown Grip is best? How do you close Grip Pulldowns?, What can I use instead of a close Grip Pulldown? and other related questions about Close Grip Pulldowns Exercises
ARE CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWNS EFFECTIVE?
The close grip lat pulldown is an excellent back-strengthening exercise. It not only benefits your back but also improves your posture and arm muscle strength. Close grip lat pulldowns, as opposed to traditional lat pulldowns, allow you to stimulate the lats more effectively. When your hands are closer to your body, they have a wider range of motion. This allows you to use your lats more effectively. As a result, there is increased stimulation for muscle and strength growth.
The close grip lat pulldown can also be used to correct your posture. Weak muscles in your back are frequently the cause of poor posture. It helps to strengthen the back muscles, which makes you have a better posture. Improved posture, strength, and muscle mass increase your confidence both inside and outside of the gym.
Close Grip Lat Pulldown Muscles Worked
The lat muscles are, of course, the primary mover in the close grip lat pulldown. The lats, also known anatomically as the latissimus dorsi muscle, are located at your side mid to lower back. They are responsible for the width of your back. Your lats are also involved in spinal support and pulling motions. Your lats will be used in other exercises such as rows and pull-ups.
How to Perform a Close Grip Lat Pulldown Correctly
- Close grip lat pulldowns can be done on an adjustable cable machine or a pulldown machine.
2. Install a close grip attachment handle on the pulldown machine.
3. Begin by sitting with your torso facing the machine. Under the knee pads, secure your upper thighs.
4. With your palms facing each other, grasp the attachment.
5. Squeeze your buttocks, tighten your core, and pull your shoulder blades together.
6. Lean slightly back during the concentric phase while pulling the bar down to your upper chest. Pause for a few seconds while squeezing your lats. During the eccentric phase, gradually return to the top.
WHICH LAT PULLDOWN GRIP IS BEST?
The lat pulldown is a popular exercise for strengthening the muscles of the back, shoulders, and arms. The most frequently used type of lat pulldown is the wide overhand grip, which a lot of people believe activates such as the latissimus dorsi (aka “lats”) more than the standard shoulder-width or underhand grips. But what about the research?
Researchers use electromyography (or EMG) to determine which lat pulldown variation is the best. This method measures the number of muscle fibers recruited during an exercise. The more fibers recruited for the job, the more work that muscle has to do to perform the exercise, and the training effect may be improved.
Lat Pulldown Varieties
Lat pulldown comes in different variations and each one places your body in a different position, which may affect how quickly your lats grow as a result of that exercise. For instance, using a wide-grip pulldown helps to reduce the range of motion at the shoulder joint while allowing the back muscles to pull the arms down and keep the limbs out to the sides of your body.
A shoulder-width overhand grip is used in another variation, the close-grip pulldown. Because the distance between the hands has been reduced, the arms can no longer stay directly to the sides of the body when pulling the bar down; instead, the arms are slightly in front of the body. This change in shoulder angle allows for more range of motion at the shoulder and elbow, allowing for more time under tension (which is an important part of muscle growth).
The neutral-grip, which uses a V-bar, and the underhand- or reverse-grip, which is performed with hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing you, are two other common variations. The two styles place the arms directly in front of the body, during the exercise, thereby altering the muscular activity of the lats.
Increasing Lat Muscle Activity with Grip Changes
With so many different ways to perform a lat pulldown, it begs the question: Does any variation affect muscle activation? When comparing a wide overhand grip versus a shoulder-width underhand grip, research studies found that the ratio of latissimus dorsi activity to biceps activity was quite different. The wide-grip overhand lat pulldown exercise has a higher ratio than the reverse-grip lat pulldown. This simply means that when you compare the wide-grip overhand lat pulldown to a narrow underhand or reverse-grip variation, the wide-grip overhand lat pulldown directs more muscle activation to the lats and less to the biceps. Other researchers are of the opinion that an overhand grip (regardless of grip width) is superior if you want to maximize lat muscle activation.
(As a side note, it’s common bro-science to believe that using an underhand grip for the lat pulldown will increase the emphasis on your biceps. However, changing grip widths and styles have been shown to have no effect on biceps recruitment, so that’s just another gym myth.
HOW DO YOU DO CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWNS?
When compared to a wide grip, body mechanics and muscle activation are improved.
Lat pulldowns are a must-do exercise for strengthening your back. However, with a variety of grip widths and hand positions, it can be difficult to know how to perform this exercise to achieve the best results.
The close grip lat pulldown is one of these variations. So let me explain the difference between a close grip and a wide grip lat pulldown. And I’ll show you how to do a proper close grip lat pulldown.
So you’ll understand how to use each of these lat pulldown variations to achieve your back building objectives. In addition, I provide alternative exercises that you can do at home or at the gym.
Lat Pulldowns with a Close Grip vs. a Wide Grip
Before we get into how to do a close grip lat pulldown, let me explain how it differs from a wide grip lat pulldown. I’ll compare the body mechanics and muscles used to demonstrate the difference.
Mechanics of the Body
The distance between your hands is the obvious difference between a close grip and a wide grip lat pulldown. The position of your arms as you pull the bar down, however, changes the exercise.
Your upper arms pull out and back with a wide grip lat pulldown. When viewed from behind, your arms stick out to the sides at the bottom of the movement. However, from the side, they are almost in line with your body.
A close grip lat pulldown, on the other hand, pulls your arms in and forward. Your arms are tucked in close to your body from the back. However, when viewed from the side, you can see that they extend out in front of your body.
The lats’ primary function is to pull the arms down towards the body. This can happen from the side or from the front. As a result, both versions of the lat pulldown activate the lat muscles.
However, because of the difference in arm position, the supporting muscle groups activate differently. Because of the external rotation of the arms, the wide grip activates significantly more lats and upper back.
While internal arm rotation during a close grip shifts some of the load away from the lats and onto the chest. This is similar to how the dumbbell pullover works both the lats and the chest.
However, less lat activation during the close grip isn’t always a bad thing. The forward arm rotation positions you in a more powerful position. As a result, using a close grip allows you to lift about 5% more weight.
How to Perform a Lat Pulldown with a Close Grip
- Grasp the bar with both hands.
2. Lock your knees under the seat pads to keep your body from falling off.
3. Begin with your arms straight above your head, your back straight, and your chest out.
4. Pull the bar down towards your chest, keeping your elbows directly beneath your hands.
5. Squeeze your lats at the bottom of the movement by bringing the bar down past your chin.
6. Control the bar as it returns to the starting point, allowing your lats to stretch at the top.
Lat Pulldown Technique with a Close Grip
Here are some additional pointers to help you achieve proper form:
1. Consider pulling straight down through your elbows rather than your hands.
2. As much as possible, try to position your body so that the pulley is directly above your chest.
3. Consider squeezing your lats to start the movement.
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WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD OF A CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN?
Alternative to Close Grip Lat Pulldowns at Home or in the Gym
If you exercise at home, you probably don’t have access to a cable lat pulldown station. In addition, some gyms do not have this equipment.
So here are a few close grip lat pulldown alternatives you can do at home or in the gym.
Pullup with a Close Grip
Because they are essentially the same movement, a close grip pullup is an excellent substitute for a close grip lat pulldown. The primary distinction is that a pull-up moves your body while a pulldown moves the bar.
If you don’t already have a pullup bar, you can buy a doorway pullup bar for a reasonable price. Use an underhand grip or parallel bars for this exercise. Simply ensure that your hands are shoulder-width or narrower.
Banded Lat Pulldown with a Close Grip
Any home gym would benefit from the addition of resistance bands. They enable you to perform a wide range of exercises, including close grip lat pulldowns.
You’ll need to anchor the band to a sturdy object directly overhead for this exercise. Then kneel or sit beneath the band to perform the exercise.
Lat Pulldown Supinated Close Grip
Supinated grips are also known as reverse grips or simply underhand grips. You can do a close grip lat pulldown with this hand position and a standard pulldown bar.
When compared to a v-bar or neutral grip, performing a lat pulldown with this underhand close grip results in similar muscle activation1. Except for the fact that it also recruits more biceps.
Lat Pulldown Machine with a Tight Grip
Lat pulldown machines are available in some gyms. It usually has a seat and thigh pads, similar to a cable station. It does, however, have overhead handles attached to arms that move the weight stack or weight plates.
While this machine differs from a bar and cable in some ways, it is still a viable option. And it’s something you might want to incorporate into your back workout to mix things up.
Let’s take a look at some bodyweight exercises now. Pull-ups are an excellent upper-body exercise. These are a great alternative to lat pulldowns because all you need is a bar or something to hang from to do them.
The pull-up is the best alternative for the lat pulldown. This is so because the biomechanics are identical, making it one of the best. The pull-up differs in that your lower body hangs freely as you pull yourself up. What most people don’t realize is that hanging your body creates significant activation in your core. The free-hanging also causes more activation of your stability muscles in general, as they are to keep your body supported.
Equipment: chin-up bar
How to do it:
- Hands pronated, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, grab a pull-up bar.
2. Retract your scapula and embrace your core.
3. Pull your elbows down to your sides and pull your body up to the bar.
4. Return to the ground in slow motion.
Even though a wide grip activates more lats, a close grip lat pulldown puts your arms in a stronger position and allows you to pull more weight. As a result, it’s an excellent addition to your back workout.
You could, in fact, incorporate both grip widths into your workout. Alternate between them from week to week to target your lats from all angles.