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7 Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives (For a Wide Back) in 2021

⚡ TL;DR  Are you looking to build a wider back? Check out the best lats pulldown alternatives to grow that huge back of yours!
📅 Post Updated on February 22, 2021
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🕒 10 minutes read
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Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives

These 7 lat pulldown alternatives will help you build a wide back.

If you’re like me then sometimes you may get to the gym later than you expected, and all the lat pulldowns are taken. So what are you going to do? Skip back day?

No way! Instead, you need to know what exercises you can do instead of the lat pulldown.

So make sure you read this article all the way to the end because you’re about to learn 7 incredible lat pulldown alternatives you can use to build a wider back if the pulldown machine is taken.

1. Pull ups

Pull ups are great for building muscle. For this exercise all you’ll need is a bar that you can hang from.

You can use this Iron Gym Extreme Pull-Up Bar that attaches in any doorway if you don’t have access to a gym.

This exercise will work your lats, scapula, traps, and your rear delts.

If your gym has an assisted pull up machine, I’d use that because you’ll be able to make sure you’re doing the movement correctly.

  • Grab the bar shoulder width apart.
  • Pull your shoulders down and back to engage your scapula (you should feel a squeeze in you traps and lats).
  • Pull yourself up with your elbows to make sure you’re engaging your lats.
  • Squeeze your lats at the top.
  • Control your weight down.
  • Repeat.

2. Dual Pulley Pulldowns

This exercise is like your normal pulldowns, but there’s a bigger focus on isolating your lats. For this exercise you’ll need a dual pulley machine with single hand grips. This’ll be targeting your lats and scapula.

  • Set the dual pulleys high enough so that you’ll get a vertical contraction on your lats.
  • Grab both single hand grips and get in the middle of them.
  • Get on the floor and retract your scapula.
  • Pull with your elbow down into your lats.
  • Squeeze your lats.
  • Control the weight back up.
  • Repeat.

3. Incline Dumbbell Row

This exercise is like a back row with more stability because you’ll be able to brace more easily. For this work out, you’ll need is two dumbells and an adjustable bench.

This’ll be hitting your lats and traps. With this workout you can use more weight than you’d usually use on a normal row because you’re braced against a bench.

  • Set the adjustable bench to then incline bench press variation.
  • Lay your chest and abs into the bench.
  • Tighten your abs.
  • Retract your scapula.
  • Pull the weight up with your elbows.
  • Squeeze.

4. Single Arm Bench Row

The single arm bench row is the brother of the incline bench row, so like the previous exercise you’ll need a flat bench and a single dumbell. If all the benches are taken you could also work off the rack.

This exercise hits your lats and traps. Start at a lightweight to make sure you’re forming a mind muscle connection and performing the exercise correctly.

  • Put your left knee and left hand on the bench with enough room apart that you feel stable with weight.
  • Put your right foot down and back where you feel most balanced.
  • Press most of your weight into the hand on the bench and the rest on the knee.
  • Brace your core and retract your scapula.
  • Hold the weight with your right hand.
  • Pull it towards you upper abdomen/lower chest (or wherever you feel the most lat activation) with your elbow.
  • Squeeze at the top.
  • Repeat for the other side.

5. Face Pulldown

If you’ve done a face pull before then I’m sure you know the great benefits it provides. For this exercise you need a tricep pushdown rope, and a tall single pulley.

You’ll be hitting your lats, rear delts, and your middle and lower traps. Make sure with this movement that you lats are the primary muscle otherwise you’ll be doing a normal face pull.

  • Grab the rope as though you’re doing a tricep pushdown.
  • Back up about two steps from the pulley and get on your knees.
  • Retract your scapula.
  • Pull the rope out and towards your face as though you want your eyes to meet the middle.
  • Squeeze.
  • Repeat.

6. Pullovers

Of these lat pulldown alternatives, this is one of my favorite movements for a back workout because the stretch and pump you get from it feel great. It’s a really versatile exercise because you can do it with plenty of things.

The best bar to use is the lat pulldown bar because allows for more variation. This’ll be hitting your lats and scapula.

Make sure that the pulley is high to emphasize lats (it should be about as high as a tricep pushdown pulley or a lat pulldown pulley).

  • Grab the bar.
  • Brace your core and retract your scapula.
  • Take about four and a half steps back (depends on your height)
  • Press your hip back as though you’re doing a romanian deadlift.
  • Lean forward till you feel a stretch in your lats.
  • Pull down with your hands (you want to make a crescent moon towards your hips with your hands).
  • Squeeze.
  • Repeat.

7. Straight Arm Scapula Pulldown

This is like a mix of a pullover and a lat pulldown, but to need a pulley to do this. This movement will work your lats, scapula and upper traps. The pump it gives is incredible and the same can be said about its stretch.

Like the last exercise the best bar to use for this is the lat pulldown bar for more variation. If executed right this could be one of the best movements to increase the size and strength of your back, you need the other staple back exercises, but this one is sure to get you through a plateau, so long as you’re eating enough.

Start a low weight because you don’t need much for this movement.

  • Sit at the lat pulldown pulley.
  • Grab the bar with a shoulder width grip and retract your scapula.
  • Lean back back so that your chest is pointed toward the ceiling.
  • Pull the down with your elbows and squeeze at the bottom.
  • Push the bar forward parallel to your chest and hold (you’ll know you’re doing it right if you feel it in your lats and scapula).
  • Pull the weight back to your chest.
  • Control the weight back up.
  • Repeat.

Lat Pulldown Alternatives

  • Pull-Ups (biceps brachii)
  • Dual Pulley Pulldowns (triceps brachii)
  • Incline Dumbbell Rows (trapezius + biceps brachii)
  • Single Arm Bench Rows (trapezius + rhombois + teres major and minor)
  • Face Pulldowns (posterior deltoids)
  • Pullovers (pectoralis major and minor)
  • Straight Arm Scapula Pulldowns (triceps)

There you have it, my top seven best lat pulldown alternatives. Add this into your routine and you’ll be bound to make your lats wider and back overall thicker.

Now if you don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine at all, then you may need to turn to bodyweight moves to build your giant back.

In that case, I would suggest you do pull-ups because they’re an excellent back exercise (and some of the most ripped individuals on earth do them)!

In fact, if you want to learn how to create a ripped body that gets attention, check out the massive review I made of a very popular program called the Kinobody Greek God Program. Check it out here: 

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