Lat Pulldown Alternatives
Lat pulldowns mainly work the latissimus dorsi muscles in your upper-back, but also hit your biceps, traps, forearms and the rhomboid muscles around your shoulder blades. To perform lat pulldowns you'll need a specialty machine, but if your gym doesn't have one, if you train at home or if you're looking for a lat pulldown substitute when on the road, there are plenty of other alternative exercises that do the same thing.
Chin-ups are among the gold standard of body weight exercises. The movement involved in a chin-up is exactly the same as a lat pulldown, but instead of pulling the bar down, you pull yourself up. You can perform chin-ups at home or on a pull-up bar at the gym. Use a narrow grip with your palms facing you for chin-ups, or widen your grip and turn your palms so they're facing away for pull-ups. The latter version is a little tougher.
Chin-ups are seriously tough and most women can't perform one straight off the bat, so don't fret if you can't perform one yet. Rather than skip them, trainer Neghar Fonooni of Girls Gone Strong recommends band-assisted chin-ups. Secure the band around your chin-up bar with a loose not, place your foot in the loop and perform chin-ups. The band will give you an extra boost. Over time aim to use lighter bands before switching to only your body weight.
Another option while you have your band handy is band rows. While rows are a horizontal movement, unlike a lat pulldown’s vertical movement, rows still work your lats, rhomboids, traps and arms. When at the gym, loop a band around a vertical pole such as the corner of a squat rack, take a step back so there's tension on the band and pull the band in toward you until your hands are touching your sides between the top of your hips and bottom of your ribs. At home, sit on the floor with your legs out straight, wrap the band around your feet and row from this position.
When you fancy a break from machine, body weight or band training, dumbbells are there to help you out. Dumbbell rows can be performed using a bench for support, or free-standing, which works your core more. Perform them with one arm at a time or with both for a greater challenge. Keep your lower-back slightly arched, your head looking forward and always use a full range of motion, starting with your arm straight and lifting until it's next to your body. You can also substitute dumbbells for a barbell or a seated row machine.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.