Lat pulldowns are an integral part of most fitness programs at Compass Fitness. In addition to strengthening several muscles of the upper body, they also play a key role in improving posture and spinal stabilization. This week’s Weekly Coordinate will discuss the value of lat pulldowns and teach you how to perform them correctly.
Lat pulldowns are extremely effective at correcting the rounded-back, forward-head posture we often see today. They train our body to depress (bring down) and adduct (bring together) our shoulder blades. Over time, this will improve shoulder function and discourage the poor posture that comes from too much sitting.
Poor positioning and instability of the lumbar spine (low back) relative to the pelvis is a common cause of chronic back pain, but can be addressed with the lat pulldown. Our latissimus dorsi (large muscle of the back) serves as a powerful stabilizer of the lumbar spine as it influences multi-directional stability of the low back. When performed correctly (in a neutral-spine position), the lat pulldown is essential to any spinal stabilization program. In turn, it will help you perform many other exercises, including squats, deadlifts, and bench presses better through increased spinal stabilization.
Once your technique is established, lat pulldowns can be performed with the kind of intensity that stimulates your muscles to physiologically change (i.e. improve muscle tone) and creates a metabolic disturbance.
A few tips on performing lat pulldowns:
- Maintain a slight backward lean and tall neutral spine.
- Keep your head drawn back and neck long.
- Begin the exercise by bringing your shoulder blades down and together first, and then begin pulling down with your arms.
- Pull the bar (or handles) down between your chin and chest.
- Do not allow your shoulders to roll forward.
- Do not allow your low back to arch excessively.
- Use different grips to change the muscular stimulus and avoid repetitive overuse injuries.
The lat pulldown offers tremendous bang for your buck value by strengthening the muscles of the upper body, improving posture, and keeping the low back healthy. For this week and moving forward, let’s give this exercise the attention it deserves!