How To Do Pronated Pulldown

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Simply defined, this is a standard pulldown (drawing a handle downwards while seated and using a cable), but we're doing it with a pronated grip (or overhand grip). Because we have our hands above our heads on the pulldown bar, a pronated grip would have our palms pointing forwards, whereas a supinated hold would have our palms pointing backwards.

A pronated hold would be where our palms face behind us instead of above our heads if our hands were by our sides instead of above our heads.

How To Do Pronated Pulldown

What is a pronated lat pulldown, and how do you perform it?

Grip the bar using a pronated (overhand) grip and a grip breadth that is appropriate for your objectives (see our point on grip width below).

Make sure your shoulder blades are back and down, which will keep your shoulder joint safe.

Make sure you're leaning back slightly during the rep. This will protect your shoulder while also allowing your lats to work as efficiently as possible.

When you begin to lower the weight, make sure your elbows are leaning forward slightly (around 20 degrees) rather than straight out to the side. This will help you get your shoulders back into a good position and activate your lats.

Pull the bar to your chest and experience a significant back contraction. Then, with control, release the tension and return the bar to its initial position.

Workout with a prone pulldown

Aim for 10 – 12 reps for 3 – 4 sets with a 1 – 2 minute rest time, as we're looking for a hypertrophy effect with this exercise. In most circumstances, the pronated pulldown should be used as a supplement to a larger back lift such as the pull-up or weighted pull-up.

We recommend sticking to compound motions like the pull-up for your strength workouts (high weight, low rep). This is because a complex lift, as opposed to a seated exercise like the pulldown, allows you to activate more core and supporting muscles.

Pull-ups with a pronated grip

Aim for 10–12 reps for 3–4 sets with a 1–2 minute rest time, as we're normally looking for a hypertrophy benefit with this exercise. In most circumstances, the pronated pulldown should be used as a supplement to a larger back lift, such as a pull-up or a weighted pull-up.

We recommend sticking to complex motions like the pull-up for your strength workouts (high reps, low weight). This is due to the fact that a compound lift, as opposed to a seated exercise like the pulldown, allows you to activate more core and supporting muscles.

It strengthens a variety of back muscles.

The lat muscles aren't the only ones involved in this movement. Your traps, rhoms, teres major, rear delts, and biceps will all benefit.

Depending on your grip width and technique, these muscles will get a good workout.

Muscles of the pronated pulldown were used.

The lats (latissimus dorsi) will, as you might expect, play a significant role in this action. The top of the lats adhering to the humerus can be seen in the diagram. When the lats are out in front of us, they can drag this bone rearward, towards our back.

Consider the motion of this bone during a pronated pulldown. Because the arms are so far away from the side of the torso, the lats will be performing a lot of the work. Grip breadth, on the other hand, has an effect on how much work the lats do. Later, I'll expand on this...

snares Trapezius

In short, the traps, along with a few other muscles, keep our shoulder blades secure and in position. In this exercise, if we completely relax our traps, our shoulder blades will go up our back and externally rotate (clockwise).

This is a terrible posture for our backs and shoulders to be in when performing a large lift, which is why the traps are so crucial.

Rhomboids are a type of rhombus Rhomboideus major and minor

The rhomboids assist in pulling the scapula (shoulder blades) towards the spine. This is crucial, similar to the action of the traps during this movement, because the weight we're trying to draw would drag our shoulder blades out of their optimal posture if we didn't have this muscle to support us.

Deltoid posterior rear

The posterior deltoid, like the lats, pulls the humerus backwards from our front. However, there is a significant difference between the two muscles. The rear delts work harder and the lats work less the further we pull our elbows out to the side (rather than in front of us).

This is why studies show that broad grip pull-ups or pulldowns are less helpful for creating big lats than closer grips, according to six-time Mr Olympia Dorian Yates. For strength and performance, we propose medium-length grips, which are in accordance with recent studies on grip breadth.

By pulling on our forearm, the biceps (Biceps brachii) act to close the angle of the elbow.

Instead of cranking our arms to complete the lift, we should focus about pulling our elbows back to our sides. This stimulus encourages the lats to contract rather than the supporting muscles.

Teres Major Teres Major

The main job of this muscle, which we're interested in, is to bring the humerus back when it's out in front of us.

Despite the fact that it is linked to the scapula, this muscle is not a member of the rotator cuff like the muscles further up the bone. This is because, as shown in the diagram, the teres major attaches to the humerus rather than the shoulder socket. This muscle has a comparable role to the lats, which is why the fibers of the two muscles can fuse together in some situations.

Which is better: a supinated vs. a neutral vs. a pronated lat pulldown?

Which grip is optimal depends on the results you want to achieve, as each grip targets the muscles involved in a different way.

Lat pulldown with a prone position

This variant of the pulldown is excellent for targeting upper back muscles rather than arm muscles like the biceps. This is because the arm is in an inefficient biomechanical position to assist. Is it possible to bicep curl the same amount of weight using a pronated or supinated grip? You now understand why.

Lat pulldown with a supine position

This version, which is the polar opposite of the pronated grip, is the most effective in using the biceps and hence building the arms. It's the poorest variation for engaging the upper back muscles, on the other hand.

Lat pulldown with neutral grip

This grip is the optimum for muscle recruitment biomechanically. The neutral grip is the best of all worlds, as pronated and supinated grips limit certain muscles.

Why is grip width important?

While the wrist position you choose is vital, picking the proper grasp width for your aims is much more important.

For a pulldown, different grip widths will elicit varying muscle activation and, as a result, different muscular growth. Here's how each grip width compares:

Wide grip lat pulldown: This variation will activate the upper back muscles such as the traps, rhomboids, and rear delts more effectively. This is due to our elbows jutting out to the side, resulting in decreased lat recruitment.

The lats will be doing the majority of the effort in this version because our elbows are in front of us and tucked in as far as they can go. We do, however, have a minor range of motion problem. We can't lift the weight any further than when our hands contact our chest with the handle if our hands are right next to each other in this maneuver.

To put it another way, the tight grasp limits our whole range of motion because our elbows could travel further back if the handle didn't touch our chest.

Scientific investigations have shown that the medium grip length lat pulldown is the most effective of all the grip lengths (see study here). This grip length allows us to work our muscles most efficiently, shifting more load and generating the most muscular growth biomechanically.

Alternatives to a prone pulldown


Pull-ups are a highly functional activity that uses a pronated grip and incorporates all of the same muscles as a pulldown. Furthermore, due to the instability of the exercise, the pull-up engages a larger variety of muscles in order to execute the action, aiding in the development of more functional muscle.

High-pull cable

Jeff Cavalier is a man I can't get enough of (but not in a weird way). This is another another fantastic one-arm pulldown variation that provides a great stretch for your lats while being extremely functional and athletic.

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