Underhand Lat Pulldown: A Research-Backed Compound Back Exercise

Are you struggling to effectively engage your lat muscles during your back workouts? Do you find that your biceps are always doing the heavy lifting instead? You’re not alone. The underhand lat pulldown is notorious for causing this problem, and it’s one that many fitness enthusiasts face. The issue lies in the fact that the biceps are a stronger muscle group, and without proper form and technique, they can easily take over during this exercise, leaving your lats underutilized. Don’t worry, though, I’m here to help! In this post, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks to perfect your underhand lat pulldown, so you can start seeing and feeling the results you desire.

Underhand Lat Pulldown Summary

Graphic image of a fit man performing alternate cable triceps extensions.

Underhand Lat Pulldown Instructions

  • Set up in a pulldown machine and grab the bar with an underhand grip.
  • Sit firmly with your thighs under supports.
  • Pull down the bar to your upper chest, pulling your elbows to the side.
  • Allow the cable to slowly raise the bar back to the starting position until you fully extend your arms and shoulders.
  • Repeat these pulldowns for a full set.

Video Tutorial

Underhand Lat Pull down

Underhand Lat Pulldown Muscles

Target (Agonist)

  • Latissimus Dorsi


Dynamic Stabilizers


Antagonist Stabilizers

  • None
Image of the skeletal muscular system with the muscles used in the underhand lat pulldown exercise highlighted in red and the rest in blue.

Benefits of Underhand Lat Pulldown

The Underhand Lat Pulldown is an excellent exercise for strengthening the Latissimus Dorsi muscle, commonly known as the ‘lats’. This exercise primarily targets the lats, but also engages many other muscles in the upper and lower body, including the biceps, trapezius, rhomboids and posterior deltoids. It is also beneficial for improving posture and stability in the shoulder area. Performing this exercise regularly can help to increase overall upper body strength and improve shoulder mobility. Additionally, it can help to improve grip strength and core stability. The Underhand Lat Pulldown is an ideal exercise for those who want to build a strong and muscular upper body.

Tips for Performing Underhand Lat Pulldown

If you’re looking to take the underhand lat pulldown to a new level, then you’re at the right place. Using these suggestions can enable you to maximize the advantages of this amazing workout. You’ll be able to develop your lats muscles, and minimize your risk of injury. Let’s get started and explore how these suggestions will help you.

  • Use Proper Form: Make sure your back is straight and your arms are straight when you start the exercise, and keep your back straight throughout the movement. This will help you get the most out of the exercise and ensure that you don’t injure yourself.
  • Engage Your Core: It’s important to engage your core during the exercise in order to support your lower back and protect it from injury.
  • Maintain Control: Make sure that you control the weight throughout the entire movement, rather than letting it pull you down. This will help you to get the most out of the exercise, as well as helping to avoid injury.

Benefits and Tips Video

Stop Doing Lat Pulldowns Like This! (8 MISTAKES)

Frequent Mistakes To Avoid

Staying away from mistakes might be the difference between a successful training session and an injury when performing underhand lat pulldown. Additionally, in order to maximize your benefits of the exercise, proper technique is required. Through preventing these common mistakes, you can raise your ability to achieve your desired results. Don’t worry, though, it’s not at all difficult as it might seem. You can execute the exercise safely and effectively by avoiding the mistakes to prevent and by executing the proper steps. Let’s begin by avoiding these typical errors and add this exercise to your training regimen.

  • Not keeping good form: Incorrect form during the underhand lat pulldown can lead to poor technique, and can cause injury to the back, shoulders and arms.
  • Not using a full range of motion: Not using a full range of motion when doing the underhand lat pulldown can limit muscle development and strength gains.
  • Not using proper weight: Using too much weight can put strain on the joints, and too little weight won’t offer enough of a challenge to see any real fitness results.

Find More Cable Exercises Here

Variations and Complementary Exercises

If you’re looking to switch up your routine or add some variety to your workout, there are several variations, complementary, and alternative exercises for the Underhand Lat Pulldown. These exercises are designed to work the same muscles as the Underhand Lat Pulldown, so you can continue to challenge yourself without having to do the same exercise every time. Here are some options:

V Bar Lateral Pulldown

Graphic image of V Bar Lateral Pulldown.

The V Bar Lateral Pulldown is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Underhand Lat Pulldown. This exercise helps to further target the muscles in the back and shoulder while also working the muscles of the arms. It can be performed with a cable machine or free weights, and involves a wide grip and pulling the bar down to the chest with elbows out to the side. The focus of this exercise is to work the back muscles and provide an effective workout for the entire upper body.

Weighted Pull Up

Graphic image of Weighted Pull Up.

Weighted Pull Ups are a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Underhand Lat Pulldown. The Weighted Pull Up is a compound exercise that works the lats, traps, and biceps, while also strengthening the core and supporting muscles. This exercise can be done with added weight or without, making it suitable for all fitness levels. It is a more challenging exercise compared to the Underhand Lat Pulldown, and it can help to improve overall body strength and muscular endurance. Additionally, Weighted Pull Ups are known to be beneficial for building upper body mass, which is an added benefit for those who are looking to build muscle.

Wide Grip Pull Up

Graphic image of Wide Grip Pull Up.

The Wide Grip Pull Up is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Underhand Lat Pulldown. This exercise works the same muscles as the Lat Pulldown, but from a different angle and with more of an emphasis on the upper lats. Wide Grip Pull Ups are performed by gripping a pull up bar with hands at shoulder-width apart and then pulling yourself up until your chin is over the bar. The Wide Grip Pull Up is an excellent exercise for developing strong, toned lats and can be used as either a primary exercise or a secondary exercise to the Underhand Lat Pulldown.

Check Out These Top Cable Exercises

Assisted Pull Up

Graphic image of Assisted Pull Up.

Assisted Pull Up is a great alternative or complementary exercise to Underhand Lat Pulldown. Assisted Pull Up involves the use of an assisted pull-up machine, which helps the user lift their body up and down. This exercise works the muscles of the back, arms, and core, helping to strengthen them and increase muscular endurance. The assisted pull-up also helps to improve posture, as it forces the user to engage their core and keep their torso in a neutral position. As an alternative to Underhand Lat Pulldown, Assisted Pull Up can provide a great upper body strength and muscle building workout.

Chin Up

Graphic image of Chin Up.

Chin Up is an excellent alternative or complementary exercise to the Underhand Lat Pulldown. This upper body exercise uses bodyweight to target the back muscles and biceps, while also engaging the core and other stabilizing muscles. The chin up focuses on a vertical pull, which is different from the horizontal pull of the lat pulldown. As such, it works different muscle groups, while also providing a great core and stabilizing challenge. Additionally, chin ups can be done with a variety of grips, making them more versatile than the underhand lat pulldown.

Narrow Parallel Grip Chin Up

Graphic image of Narrow Parallel Grip Chin Up.

The Narrow Parallel Grip Chin Up is an excellent complementary or alternative exercise for the Underhand Lat Pulldown. This exercise works the same muscles as the Underhand Lat Pulldown, but places a greater emphasis on the biceps and forearms. The grip used in this exercise is narrower than in a standard Chin Up and involves grasping the bar with the palms facing each other. This exercise also requires a great deal of upper body strength and stability, making it a great alternative to the Underhand Lat Pulldown.

Find More Back Exercises Here

Opposing Complementary Exercises

In addition to the Underhand Lat Pulldown, there are other exercises that can help strengthen the opposing muscles for a balanced workout. To ensure your muscles stay in balance, focus on the following exercises to work the opposite muscles used in the Underhand Lat Pulldown.

Standing Dumbbell Military Press

Graphic image of Standing Dumbbell Military Press.

The Standing Dumbbell Military Press is an effective exercise that works the shoulders and arms. It is a great complement to the Underhand Lat Pulldown, as it works the opposing muscle group. This exercise strengthens the front deltoids and triceps, as well as the upper back and core muscles. While the Underhand Lat Pulldown targets the lower back and lats, the Standing Dumbbell Military Press works the upper body in a different way. By performing both exercises, you will be able to create a balanced physique and build overall strength.

Alternate Shoulder Press With Bands

Graphic image of Alternate Shoulder Press With Bands.

The Alternate Shoulder Press With Bands is an excellent complementary exercise to the Underhand Lat Pulldown, as it works the opposite muscle group. The Shoulder Press works the deltoid muscles in the shoulder, while the Lat Pulldown works the latissimus dorsi muscles in the back. Performing both exercises together creates a balanced workout that strengthens both muscle groups. The Shoulder Press can be done standing or seated and requires the use of an elastic band looped around both wrists. It requires you to press the arms up and outwards in an alternating pattern, working each shoulder one at a time. This exercise is a great way to isolate the shoulder muscles and build strength.

Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press

Graphic image of Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press.

The Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press is a great complementary exercise to the Underhand Lat Pulldown because it works the opposing muscle group. By doing the Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press, you are targeting the deltoids, triceps and trapezius muscles, while the Underhand Lat Pulldown works the lats, rhomboids and biceps. This combination of exercises provides an effective workout that targets the entire upper body and is sure to help increase strength, power and muscle size.

Master the Underhand Lat Pulldown for a Stronger Back

Mastering the underhand lat pulldown is crucial for building a stronger, wider back. Many people make the mistake of relying solely on overhand grip lat pulldowns, but utilizing the underhand grip can target different muscle groups and stimulate more growth. Proper technique is key for getting the most out of this exercise. Keep your shoulders down and back, engage your lats, and pull the bar down towards your chest in a controlled motion. Don’t use momentum or jerk the weight down, as this can lead to injury and won’t effectively work the targeted muscles. With consistent practice and focus on form, the underhand lat pulldown can become a valuable addition to your back workout routine.

References: Wikipedia | ExRx.net | PubMed.gov | Comprehensive List of Back Cable Exercises

Pin image for underhand lat pulldown post. With an image of a man performing the exercise on Top and a graphic of the exercise on the Bottom.

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