Reverse Grip Pulldown – Concise and Comprehensive Overview

 

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Pulldown Grip Variations

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Wide + Close + Reverse Grip Lat Pulldowns

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Reverse Grip Pulldown Concise and Comprehensive Overview It’s well-known that one of the best exercises for building back width is a pull-up but what about its sister, the pulldown? A pulldown is a vertical rowing exercise that most gyms have. This is a cable. The reverse grip pulldown also called reverse grip lat pulldown is a strength-gaining exercise targeting the lats and helps in enhancing the back, forearm, and biceps.

It involves downward rotation of the back of the shoulders along with the extension of shoulder joints. Reverse Grip Pulldown Benefits. Reverse grip pulldown exercise primarily targets the lat muscles. However, you will notice considerable changes in your biceps as well as the back muscles after several workouts. In addition, it will work your forearm and strengthen your shoulders and chest.

Your back comprises of a group of muscles that need different types of exercises to grow. Exercise Guides Muscles Targeted: The reverse grip pulldown exercise targets the back muscles which include the latissimus dorsi (broadest muscle of the back) or more commonly known as the “lats”. The exercise specifically targets this muscle group as it internally rotates the arms together with the scapula.

The reverse grip lat pull down is a variation of the lat pull down and an exercise used to build the muscles of the back. While the exercise will primarily target the lats, you will also notice a fair amount of bicep and middle back activation. The back is a muscle group that requires a fair amount of variation. The reverse-grip lat pull-down is variation on the lat pull-down that targets the lower lats more than an overhand grip. Because the hands are relatively close together, it also increases the range of motion beyond wider-grip pull-down variations.

Reverse-grip lat pull-downs also offer the ability to work your shoulder muscles, the deltoids and rotator cuff. The rounded muscles that cover the area, the deltoids, attach to the scapul. The reverse-grip pull down, more often called the reverse-grip “lat” pull down, is an exercise that targets the back and biceps. It’s performed on a pull-down machine, which you’ll find in gyms or health clubs. Alternative exercises for the reverse-grip pull down work the same muscles but don’t require such expensive equipment.

Like the Sasquatch, Hardly Anyone’s Ever Seen One. Most trainers will tell you to do a lat pulldown with a wide grip. At some point in their trainer gestation, they must have gotten out some crayons and construction paper, drawn a stick man, and figured that since the lats form a V, so must the arms when doing a pulldown. There is a debate as to whether wide grip or close grip lat pulldowns are actually better for you.

Let’s go over what close grip lat pulldown vs. wide grip means, what muscles they work, and which one of these grip positions will be best suited for maximum result.

List of related literature:

VARIATION #1 VARIATION #2 Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Underhand-Grip Lat Pulldown Use an overhand grip that’s about 11/2 times shoulder width.

“The Men's Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular YOU!” by Adam Campbell
from The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular YOU!
by Adam Campbell
Rodale, 2009

Second, this hook grip dead-hang position is a great diagnostic tool for assessing overhead range of motion: If you can keep your torso integrated while hanging with the pull-up hook grip, it’s an indication that you have full range of motion overhead.

“Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance” by Kelly Starrett, Glen Cordoza
from Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance
by Kelly Starrett, Glen Cordoza
Victory Belt Publishing, 2015

A narrow hand grip promotes extension of the shoulder during the pull-down, and a wide grip promotes more shoulder adduction during the pull-down.

“Physical Therapy of the Shoulder E-Book” by Robert A. Donatelli
from Physical Therapy of the Shoulder E-Book
by Robert A. Donatelli
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2011

Briefly, the spotter should stand behind the bench press and use an alternated grip (i.e., one hand using a supinated grip and the other hand using a pronated grip) when lifting the bar out of the racked position on the bench and when helping rerack the barbell.

“Laboratory Manual for Exercise Physiology” by Greg Haff, Charles Dumke
from Laboratory Manual for Exercise Physiology
by Greg Haff, Charles Dumke
Human Kinetics, 2012

The precise way that the pulldown movement affects the lats is determined by the angle you are working at, how wide apart your arms are, and whether you are pulling down in front or to the rear.

“The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revis” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Dobbins
from The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revis
by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Dobbins
Simon & Schuster, 2012

The most frequently used handgrip positions in resistance training exercises are the pronated grip, with the palms down and the knuckles up (also called the overhand grip), and the supinated grip, with the palms up and the knuckles down (also called the underhand grip) (figure 13.1, a and b).

“NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training” by NSCA -National Strength & Conditioning Association
from NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training
by NSCA -National Strength & Conditioning Association
Human Kinetics, Incorporated, 2011

The pull-up and lat pulldown exercises using a pronated grip are excellent for targeting the lats (82, 154).

“Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” by Brad Schoenfeld
from Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy
by Brad Schoenfeld
Human Kinetics, 2020

Begin by training your weakest grip position—the one that is most difficult to use when climbing—and end with your strongest.

“Training for Climbing: The Definitive Guide to Improving Your Performance” by Eric Horst
from Training for Climbing: The Definitive Guide to Improving Your Performance
by Eric Horst
Falcon Guides, 2008

The spotter should be holding the bar while you are adjusting your grip, then help you move it over your sternum

“Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American” by Pavel Tsatsouline
from Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American
by Pavel Tsatsouline
Dragon Door Publications, 2000

Grip force regulation during pinch grip lifts under somatosensory guidance: Comparison between people with stroke and healthy controls.

“Occupational Therapy for People Experiencing Illness, Injury Or Impairment E-Book(previously Entitled Occupational Therapy and Physical Dysfunction): Promoting Occupation and Participation” by Michael Curtin, Mary Egan, Jo Adams (PhD)
from Occupational Therapy for People Experiencing Illness, Injury Or Impairment E-Book(previously Entitled Occupational Therapy and Physical Dysfunction): Promoting Occupation and Participation
by Michael Curtin, Mary Egan, Jo Adams (PhD)
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2016

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

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17 comments

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  • Chris keep up the great work. I enjoy the videos and enjoy how informative they are and entertaining. I salute you brother. I follow your videos faithfully. Your information is paying off for me in the gym.

  • yes same thing as with pulldowns for pullups. Wide grip tends to hit more upper lats and reverse-grip hits more lower. You can also use reverse-grip on barbell rows. And when doing DB one-arm rows and seated cable rows keep your elbows tucked in to hit lower lats. Also try straight-arm pulldowns

  • Do Pulls work the upper or lower lats more? I seem to have gained upper lats more than lower, but I tried doing reverse pulldowns and finally felt my lower lats and they are actually sore.

    But is there a way I can target lower lats better when doing pull ups?

  • What do y’all think about frequency vs volume? Have been training for 6 months doing an upper lower split, tempted to follow Chris’ program…. Which program will make me more gainzzzz?

  • Fouad i seen first video with you 20k calories cheat day and i said “wow this guy is really cool:D” please record something like grocery shoping and cooking, maybe next cheat day:D, god bless you mate

  • Fouad, I love your videos. Straight to the point, excellent information, no forced attempts at jokes or trying to be funny… just pure knowledge. Love it.

  • I do em like this at the gym and yell BAM with each rep and get weird looks. I guess these people don’t know the correct method…

  • full body program in the works? High volume full body? I’m thinking of experimenting with 12×5. 5×5 has gotten me decent results but I want to get bigger now. I believe full body is the best way to grow to. Stimulate protein synthesis 3x per week

  • 4:37 strech the lats, pull! strech the lats, pull! strech the lats, pull! strech the lats, pull! strech the lats, pull! strech the lats, pull! strech the lats, pull!

  • Hope you are well jim im amer from morocco, i just wonder that pull down with wide grip as you showed us targets the rear delts more than upper lats right?

  • I am currently doing the shortcut to size. On most of my back exersies, pull downs and bent over rows especially, I fell that my biceps are failing before my back does.So as I get get closer to the last few reps I am not getting the full range of motion. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to take some of the pressure of my biceps?

  • Are people really thinking about getting his Back program? Dead-lifts, pulls ups, and face pulls there you go a entire effective back workout  for free.

  • Chris i feel like your trying to earn money all the time now. You’re selling a fucking back workout seriously? Disappointed bro:/

  • Thank you so much Chris this video gave me an amazing tip that I’ll try next time I workout, and your pog product is amazing I feel a pump like 10 min after taking it, great trainer. Hopefully you make some pog tanks and I’ll be the first to buy them

  • Thanks Doc, really like the way show the differences. My question is regarding overhand grip with a shoulder width or just wider than shoulder width position, is that any different than wide overhand grip or just as same? And if I prefer doing the prior would that be fine for developing those upper lats?
    Take care.

  • Yo Chris….. a guy named Luimarco( the name of his channel) has been saying some pretty nasty shit about you,like you use steroids,well l know that you probably give a fucking shit about it but…. why not and go cary away on the comments of his videos.

  • Q&A: Can you use reverse grip pull-up as a warmup set? In order to get your blood pump in through your veins if you know what i mean.