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5 Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives Without Machines 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 April 17, 2021
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🕒 13 minutes read
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Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives

Introduction

Are you looking for alternative exercises to the lat pulldown? Especially without the use of machines?

Perhaps you are looking to workout the same muscle groups using a pair of dumbbells?

It could be due to that you have limited or restricted access to the gym, or you need a quick workout right at the comfort of your own home or somewhere nearby.

Whatever the reason may be, this article right here will definitely help you out!

What is a Lat Pulldown Exercise?

The lats pulldown is a workout movement exercise that requires the movement of pulling, hence the name lats pulldown as it targets the latissimus dorsi - shortform lats (which is commonly known as the 'wings' of your back muscles).

If you have been working out in the gym, there are very specific machines that can be used to target the lats.

You might recall going to the seated machine with hanging bar tied to the weights. This is the lats pulldown machine, which you can do to target the lats.

If you need visual help on how a lat pulldown machine exercise is, you can watch the video below!

Benefits of The Lat Pulldown Exercise

There are many benefits to the popular exercise, the Lat Pulldowns.

The machine targets the lats specifically by flexing our back muscles as we pull down the resistance and squeezing the back muscles.

This workout is a compound exercise that means it is able to target more than 1 muscle group with a single movement. This exercise will target the arms, shoulders, back and core muscles at the same time.

Talk about massive gains in just one movement. You can definitely build a bigger and wider back quickly with this popular lats pulldown exercise.

Alternatives to Lat Pulldown Machine Exercise

However, you're here because you are looking for alternatives WITHOUT the use of machines!

As we've mentioned earlier, whatever your reason may be, here are some of the best lat pulldown without machines alternatives that you can start to workout with at home or outdoors!

1. Pull-Ups (On A Bar)

This workout is called the pull-ups. This could be a good start as you do not require any weights or resistance.

Your bodyweight towards gravity is the resistance that you will be carrying the load to build your bigger back.

How To Perform A Pull Up exercise with Correct Form:

  • To perform a pull-up, you will need a bar (which you can find at a nearby fitness corner or playground).
  • Raise your arms up shoulder width apart and point your palm towards on the bar.
  • If you are tall enough, no jumps are required. Otherwise, find a bar with a good height and jump and hold onto the bar.
  • Once you're in a hanging position, position yourself comfortably if you have to before pulling yourself up.
  • Once your chin is over the bar, come back down into the hanging position and that'll be considered as 1 repetition.
  • For starters, you can begin with 6-8 reps for 1 set.
  • Repeat 3-4 sets for this workout.

PRO TIPS:

  • Do not swing your body to get the momentum upwards as the movement may injure your shoulder joints and back muscles if over-extended.
  • Have a buddy to lessen your weight resistance to get your repetitions.
  • Keep your back straight, and focus on squeezing your back shoulder muscles for the maximum gains.

If you need visual help on how to execute this pull-up exercise, you can watch the video below!

2. Single Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Bench Row (Supported)

This workout is called the single arm bent-over row supported by bench. We recommend using a bench for support because you will be able to stabilize your body and focus on your working muscle side.

This exercise is great because single means you will be doing each side with the load separately.

We're a big fan of single side exercises because they allow you to workout equal strength on both sides individually.

If the same weight happens to be more difficult on one side than the other, you know your weaker side needs more work and you will be able to focus more and maximise gains to keep up with the 'stronger' side.

This will allow you to build a more developed and balanced back muscle group which will strengthen your back equally and prevent less injury.

Not to forget you will also have a more aesthetic balanced back.

How To Perform A Single Arm Bent-Over Row (Supported) exercise with Correct Form:

  • Firstly, you will require a workout bench for support.
  • Position the resting side of the body on the bench by resting your palm and knees on the bench.
  • Keep your back straight and maintain a neutral spine and neck position.
  • On the working side of your body, ground your feet onto the ground while picking up the dumbbell with your hand.
  • Your arms should be extended with the dumbbell in hand and this will be the starting position.
  • Execute the workout by pulling up the dumbbell towards your ribcage, with the elbows pointing upwards and focusing on squeezing your back muscle.
  • Hold the position at the top for a second or two to squeeze the muscle before going back into your starting position.
  • This will be considered as 1 repetition for the Single arm bent-over row supported by bench.
  • For starters, you can begin with 6-8 reps for 1 set.
  • Repeat 3-4 sets for this workout.

PRO TIPS:

  • Do not swing your dumbbells upwards to get the momentum upwards as the movement may injure your shoulder joints and back muscles if over-extended.
  • For beginners, start off with lighter weights to make sure you get the movement correct and feel that you are working to correct back muscles.
  • Keep your back straight, and focus on squeezing your back muscles for the maximum gains.

If you need visual help on how to execute this pull-up exercise, you can watch the video below!

3. Incline Dumbbell Bent-Over Bench Row (Supported)

If you would like to target the higher part of your back muscles, you can also go for the incline dumbbell bent-over bench row.

Unlike the previous exercise where you can focus the entire lats, especially the lower lats, the incline version will allow you to maximise the higher part of the lats.

This exercise will also you to strengthen your back muscles and a little bit of your rear shoulder (difficult to target). So it's definitely a great workout!

By resting on the bench, you are also taking the load off your core muscles, hence allowing you to focus more resistance on the back muscles for the maximum gains.

You can also do it with a barbell as resistance!

How To Perform A Incline Dumbbell Bent-Over Bench Row (Supported) exercise with Correct Form:

  • Stand shoulder with apart with a pair of dumbbells in each of your hand.
  • Slowly lean your upper body forward until your torso is resting on the bench, ensuring that the dumbbells is in line with your shoulder joints with arms pointing downwards to the ground.
  • Keep your core engaged and maintain a neutral spine and neck position.
  • Pull the dumbbells on both hands towards your ribcage, elbows pointing 90 degrees to your body and squeeze your back muscles.
  • Hold the position at the top for a second or two to squeeze the muscle before going back into your starting position.
  • This will be considered as 1 repetition for the bent-over row.
  • For starters, you can begin with 6-8 reps for 1 set.
  • Repeat 3-4 sets for this workout.

PRO TIPS:

  • Do not swing your dumbbells upwards to get the momentum upwards as the movement may injure your shoulder joints and back muscles if over-extended.
  • For beginners, start off with lighter weights to make sure you get the movement correct and feel that you are working to correct back muscles.
  • Keep your back straight, and focus on squeezing your back muscles for the maximum gains.
  • Focus the movement as though you are squeezing your shoulder blades as close as you can.

If you need visual help on how to execute this exercise, you can watch the video below!

4. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row (Unsupported)

If you do not have a bench to execute the supported incline bent-over rows, you can still perform the dumbbell bent-over row exercise with the dumbbells.

This exercise will only require a pair of dumbbells so you can workout your back muscles at the same time for maximum gains at the very comfort of your own home!

This exercise will also you to strengthen your core muscles and a little bit of your rear shoulder (difficult to target). So it's definitely a great workout!

You can also do it with a barbell as resistance!

How To Perform A Dumbbell Bent-Over Row (Unsupported) exercise with Correct Form:

  • Stand shoulder with apart with a pair of dumbbells in each of your hand.
  • Slowly lean your upper body forward until your torso is about 45-60 degrees, ensuring that the dumbbells is in line with your shoulder joints with arms pointing downwards to the ground.
  • Keep your core engaged and maintain a neutral spine and neck position.
  • Pull the dumbbells on both hands towards your ribcage, elbows pointing 90 degrees to your body and squeeze your back muscles.
  • Hold the position at the top for a second or two to squeeze the muscle before going back into your starting position.
  • This will be considered as 1 repetition for the bent-over row.
  • For starters, you can begin with 6-8 reps for 1 set.
  • Repeat 3-4 sets for this workout.

PRO TIPS:

  • Do not swing your dumbbells upwards to get the momentum upwards as the movement may injure your shoulder joints and back muscles if over-extended.
  • For beginners, start off with lighter weights to make sure you get the movement correct and feel that you are working to correct back muscles.
  • Keep your back straight, and focus on squeezing your back muscles for the maximum gains.
  • Focus the movement as though you are squeezing your shoulder blades as close as you can.

If you need visual help on how to execute this exercise, you can watch the video below!

5. Horizontal Lat Pull with Dumbbells (Prone on the Floor)

Another great lat pulldown alternative exercise to workout your lats will be the horizontal lat pull.

It does sound similar but do not worry, you do not need a huge machine for this workout.

The movement simulates the same as the lats pulldown machine but you do require a resistance such as dumbbells or resistance bands.

Due to the movement of this workout, you do not need heavy weights to get a good workout, just a light resistance will pack quite a punch for anyone!

How To Perform A Horizontal Lat Pull with Dumbbells exercise with Correct Form:

  • Get into a prone position with your lightweight dumbbells / resistance band near your shoulders for easy reach.
  • Plant your feet nicely into the ground and reach out for the weights.
  • Imagine yourself pulling down a lats machine, now you are pulling it horizontally, bending your elbows towards your lower back.
  • Hold the position at the end for a second or two to squeeze the muscle before going back into your starting position.
  • This will be considered as 1 repetition.
  • For starters, you can begin with 6-8 reps for 1 set.
  • Repeat 3-4 sets for this workout.

PRO TIPS:

  • Focus on the movement slowly and do not rush this workout.
  • For beginners, start off without any weights to make sure you get the movement correct and feel that you are working to correct back muscles.
  • Keep your back straight, and focus on squeezing your back muscles for the maximum gains.
  • Focus the movement as though you are squeezing your shoulder blades as close as you can.

If you need visual help on how to execute this exercise, you can watch the video below! They are using resistance bands, but you can do the same with lightweight dumbbells!

Conclusion - Alternatives to Lats Pulldowns Without Machines

We have provided you different alternatives exercises to the lats pulldowns, which you can do without machines. You can do them with dumbbells, or resistance bands.

We hope the alternative exercises in this list has helped you on your fitness journey to build up strength or condition your back + lats muscles.

Generally, we tend to build up more muscles in the chest and we neglect the back muscles. Weak back muscles can lead to problems in terms of your mobility and lower back injuries.

When the back and the chest muscles are not generally balanced, this will cause your muscles to use more chest and shoulder muscles to compensate the lack of back muscles. This is a recipe for injuries to come!

It's always best to workout a balance between the rear and frontal muscle group of the whole body.

When you work your back muscles and balance it with the front chest muscles, this will help to stabilize the joints and muscles of your upper body.

This will mean more control which also means less prone to injuries.

If you have any other alternative exercises that you find valuable to be added to the list, comment below and we'll add them in to help everyone in their fitness journey!

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