When it comes to building up your upper body strength one of the best gym equipment you can use is the Lat Pulldown. This exercise machine focuses on developing upper body muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and biceps. I have also used this machine to help rehab a shoulder injury that I sustained a couple of years prior. I prefer to read articles on Fitboot which guided me on the appropriate exercises I have done.
However, I do understand that not everyone can afford to have access to the gym either by financial or time constraints. This is why I will be giving you some great alternatives to the Lat pulldown that you can do within the confines of your own home.
Benefits of Lat Pulldowns
Before we head on to some great alternatives to using the Lat pulldown machine, I would like to first go into further detail about the benefits of doing this exercise. As I have already pointed out earlier, it can help strengthen core upper body muscles. Strengthening the latissimus and bicep helps improve the body’s ability to lift. It can also enhance the flexibility of the elbows and shoulders.
Speaking of shoulders, I used the Lat pulldown and the alternative exercise that to help rehabilitate my injured shoulders. It helped in returning my shoulders back to peak health and to this day I have never encountered any issues with my shoulders.
Lat pulldown exercises not only strengthen your upper body muscles, but it can also help improve your posture. This type of exercise requires proper form and a steady pace. You can’t really rush through this as that is a good way to injure yourself.
Other than strengthening my shoulders, this type of exercise also developed my upper and lower back muscles. Improving the strength conditioning of your upper and lower back muscles is important for athletes who participate in sports. Sports like rowing wherein the arms and back are the two main muscle groups that function will greatly benefit from Lat pulldowns and its alternatives.
Alternatives to the Lat Pulldown
As you already know, Lat pulldown is a machine that is quite common in the gym. It is rather large and is not exactly practical for home use. However, for those who have no access to this machine or mainly workout at home, there is still a way for you to gain the benefits of this machine.
As promised, I will be listing the best Lat pulldown alternatives that you can do without the need for any kind of gym equipment. These exercises can also be done in your own home which should help people who have a rather busy schedule.
- Chin-Up Exercises
Let’s start this list with a classic exercise routine. The chin-up is a body weight exercise that follows the same applications as the Lat Pulldown. The main difference is that rather than pulling the weight bar down, you will use your own body weight to pull yourself up.
Performing this exercise only requires that you have a stable point to grapple on that you can use to elevate yourself upwards. You most definitely will find a spot in your home or garage that can act as a chin-up spot.
To do this exercise you need to grab onto the bar with your palms facing you. If you want a challenge, try widening your grip and turn your palms away. You can do 10 to 15 reps for starters and make your way up to higher numbers. This is an incredibly simple yet highly effective exercise that will help promote stronger back muscles.
- Band-Assisted Chin-Ups
Chin-ups can be a difficult exercise to pull off for beginners and for people who lack the proper upper body strength. A good alternative to lessen the body weight is by utilizing a large rubber band. This band can help support your weight slightly which can make chin-ups more manageable. First timers will likely require this extra advantage, as well as women who are just starting to build their upper body strength.
Just make sure that you have secured the band properly onto the chin-up bar. Then, place your foot into the loop and do the chin-ups as usual. This extra upward boost from the band will help you perform chin-ups easier.
- Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows
You will need to have a handlebar or barbell for this exercise. This type of exercise is one of the best for strengthening your upper back muscles. You can perform this exercise in a variety of ways, each with differing degrees of difficulty. This is another exercise that you can easily do within the comfort of your own home.
You perform this exercise by bending down from the hips and grabbing the barbell. Make sure you start with a weight that you are comfortable with. Once you have a proper grip on the bars, you simply pull it towards your chest using only your arm strength. You need to stay in this bent over position throughout the duration of this exercise. You can also use dumbbells if you don’t have access to a barbell or if you find barbells to be too heavy.
- Decline Dumbbell Pull Over
This exercise focuses on developing your triceps as well as your chest. It also delivers some benefits to your back muscles. You will need to lie down on a reclined bench, however, flat benches will also do fine.
With your upper body at a lower angle, you will take the dumbbell above your head with arms stretched out and steadily raise it upwards at chest height. The steeper the recline the more challenging this exercise gets. For beginners, you can try it out on a flat bench and make sure you maintain your grip on your dumbbell.
- Single Arm Landmine Rows
Another simple yet highly effective alternative to the Lat pulldown is the Single Arm Landmine Rows. You will need to have access to a barbell to perform this exercise properly. To set up the weight bar properly, you need to place the desired weighted plates on only one side of the bar. You will then grab a hold of this side and in a squatting position with one leg forward for stability, raise it upwards as near to your chest area as possible.
Remember to maintain your squatting position throughout the exercise and only use your arms to raise the weights. This exercise is designed to strengthen your back muscles primarily.
- Band Pull Apart
This exercise is an excellent and simple way to improve upper back muscles. You will need to get an exercise band first but the good thing about this exercise is that it can be done anytime and anywhere. There is a common misconception that band pulls apart exercise does not offer the same level of resistance as barbell lifts. However, if you do this properly you will immediately learn that it offers a whole layer of benefits for upper back muscle development.
Another benefit to this exercise, other than being simple to do, is that you can perform in it in three different ways. You can perform the Therapeutic Pull Apart, Muscle Control Pull Apart, or the Slow Temp Pull Apart. Each of these variations are slightly tweak and is done at a varying pace.
Once you have perfected the technique, doing band pull apart is a quick and easy exercise to do that will greatly improve your upper back muscles. If you wish to challenge yourself a bit more, you can get thicker and heavier bands as these offer more resistance.
- Seated Cable Row
You can either perform this exercise using the seated cable row machine or by using exercise bands, both will deliver desired results. This exercise focuses on stretching your lats. You start by sitting in a 90-degree angle and grabbing the cables or the band. You will then be pulling it towards your chest area as close as possible.
This exercise will really work your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, biceps, forearm flexors, and rear deltoids. You need to make sure that you can feel you back muscles contract with every pull to ensure you are doing it correctly. You should prevent your arms from being pulled. Keep control of the resistance and perform this exercise in a consistent and steady manner.
As you can see, there are other alternative exercises you can do to strengthen your arms and back muscles. While Lat pulldowns are great exercise machines that can deliver results, not everyone has access to this machine. These alternatives offer similar results to the Lat pulldown machines with some you can do anywhere and at any time. Just remember to always follow proper form to make sure that you will get optimum results and prevent injuries.