Banded Lat Pulldown: A Complete Guide | Form, Benefits & Alternatives!

By
Mike Kenler
October 8, 2020

Banded Lat Pulldown 

Also known as the resistance band lat pulldown, the banded lat pulldown is one of the best exercises to strengthen your back and improve your posture. Not only that, but the banded lat pulldown is versatile and effective for people of all fitness levels.

Muscles Worked by the Banded Lat Pulldown

Primary Muscle Groups:

Given the name of the exercise, it comes as no surprise that the banded lat pulldown primarily works your lats. Originating in the lower/mid back, the latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle of the back. 

Your lats play a significant role in most “pulling” exercises such as the lat pulldown, pull ups, and other rowing exercises. They also provide crucial support and stability to your spine. 

Secondary Muscle Groups:

The resistance band lat pulldown also incorporates the biceps, forearms, abs, deltoids, and upper back. While your lats should do most of the work to pull down the band, your biceps and forearms contract as well. In addition, your abs activate to stabilize your mid section.

Banded Lat Pulldown Benefits

1. Stronger and Bigger Lats 

During the banded lat pulldown, the resistance increases as you pull downwards. When compared to the traditional cable lat pulldown, the resistance band lat pulldown targets your lats the most at the bottom of each rep. Put simply, this means you have to work harder throughout the exercise motion.

As a result, you maximize the contraction of your lats to help you build a thicker, stronger back. A sturdy back is essential for improving your performance in athletics, other compound lifts, and simple day-to-day activities. 

2. Improved Posture

The banded lat pulldown is one of the best exercises to improve posture. Often, years of sitting in office chairs or driving during long commutes can wreak havoc on your posture. These activities can cause a slouched shoulder position that becomes ingrained over time, leading to pain and tension in your shoulders and back. 

The resistance band lat pulldown can serve as a posture corrector and help to activate these under utilized back muscles. With regular exercise and practice, you will be standing upright with proper posture in no time. 

3. Convenience

The banded lat pulldown may be superior to other lat pulldown variations because of its convenience factor. If you have access to a resistance band, you will likely be able to do this exercise.

On the other hand, cable machines and gym memberships can prove extremely costly. For that reason, the banded lat pulldown serves as a cheaper, more convenient option for health conscious individuals.

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How to Do the Banded Lat Pulldown

Equipment:

For this exercise, you need a resistance band (with or without handles) and an elevated hook, door frame, or another stable object to secure the band. 

Setup: 

1. Attach your resistance band to an elevated hook or door frame and sit or kneel on the ground.

2. If your band has handles, extend your arms upwards to grab the handles with your palms facing forward. If your band does not have handles, grab the band with your palms facing forward and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. 

Action:

1. Brace your core, bring your shoulder blades down and back, and pull the band down until it reaches roughly chest level.

2. Pause briefly at the bottom, squeeze your lats, and slowly return to the starting position.

3. Maintain tightness in your core and repeat!

Recommendation:

You should aim to complete 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps of the resistance band lat pulldown. Of course, as you get more comfortable with the form, feel free to change up your set and rep ranges to challenge yourself.

Banded Lat Pulldown Mistakes

1. Completing Partial Reps

Many lifters tend to complete partial reps when doing banded lat pulldowns. This happens because the increasing tension of the band makes it difficult to finish every repetition properly.

If you cannot complete a full rep, choose a band with less resistance or reduce the initial tension on the band. It is better to do less reps with perfect form than more reps with poor form!

2. Using Your Arms Too Much

Another common mistake made during resistance band pulldowns is solely using your arms to bring the band down. In effect, the pulldown becomes an arm exercise, which greatly reduces the stress on your back.

Instead, try bringing the band down by bringing your elbows down and back while squeezing the lats. This will also improve your mind muscle connection!

3. Using Momentum to Pull Down

When lifters use the momentum of their body to bring the band down, they are almost always using too much resistance. As a result, they swing their upper body back and forth to compensate.

In reality, using momentum doesn’t help you build strength in your back. If you make this mistake, try decreasing the resistance or reducing the starting tension of the band. Then, focus on keeping your back relatively stationary during the banded lat pulldown to maximize your gains.

Banded Lat Pulldown Variations

1. Banded Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

Attach your resistance band to an elevated hook or door frame and sit or kneel on the ground. Grab the band with your arms straight and your palms facing down. Contract your lats and pull down as far as you can. Squeeze your lats hard at the bottom and slowly return to the starting position. Maintain tightness in your core and back and repeat!

2. Banded Lat Pulldown Grip Variations

The traditional banded lat pulldown calls for an overhand grip. However, simply changing your grip can target different muscles more effectively. For example, a supinated lat pulldown grip activates your biceps more than the overhand grip.

On the other hand, choosing a wider grip better targets your outer lats. Try different grip variations to see what works best for you!

Banded Lat Pulldown Alternatives

If you enjoyed the resistance band lat pulldown, check out these alternative back exercises to improve your upper body training: 

1. Straight Arm Dumbbell Pullover

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the ground. Grasp a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and extend your arms straight up above your chest. Slowly bring your arms back until the dumbbells touch the ground. Then, squeeze your lats to bring them back to the starting position. Repeat!

2. Barbell Pendlay Row

Set up a barbell on the ground with light to medium weight. Assume a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. Step forward so that the barbell is over the middle portion of your feet. Hinge at the waist and bend your knees so that your back is roughly parallel to the floor. Grab the bar with an overhand grip with your hands wider than shoulder width apart. 

Keeping your elbows slightly tucked, brace your core and contract your lats to drive your elbows up and back, bringing the barbell towards the bottom of your chest. Squeeze your lats at the top, pause for a moment, and slowly bring the barbell back to the floor in the starting position. Maintain tightness in your core and back and repeat!

3. 1-Arm Kettlebell Y Back

To begin, grab a kettlebell with one hand and hinge at the waist until your back is roughly parallel to the ground. With your palm facing back, keep your arm straight as you contract your lat to bring the kettlebell back on a diagonal path slightly away from the body.

Pause for a moment at the top and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat!

Looking for a Full Back Workout?

Check out this intense 5 minute resistance band back workout!

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Mike Kenler
Director of Writing | Certified in Plant Based Nutrition at T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

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