Back Exercises

Ultimate Lat-Blasting Workout

By combining three different types of pulldowns you'll maximize lat growth.

lat pulldowns

The lats are generally a tougher muscle group to feel during a workout. One reason is that almost every exercise you do for bigger lats is a multijoint move involving numerous other muscle groups. Another is that it’s not one of the “mirror muscles” you can easily see like the pecs, biceps or abs, which creates something of a disconnect with this large back muscle.

One Simple Movement

That said, I have just the exercise – actually, exercises, plural – you need to feel the lats, even if it’s the next day when delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is making them scream. I’m talking about one simple movement, the lat pulldown, performed with multiple variations: behind-the-neck pulldowns, wide-grip pulldowns to the front and reverse-grip pulldowns. You’ve probably done all these variations without ever feeling them in the lats. The difference this time is that you’ll be doing them back-to-back-to back (in the order I just listed) as an “extended set.” 

Extended set training is a technique that involves variations of a single exercise to make the movement less difficult, which allows you to continue the set with the same weight and take your muscles far beyond their normal point of fatigue. Each successive variation of the exercise places your body in a biomechanically stronger position than the previous one, making the weight feel easier so that you don’t have to lighten the load.

To do extended sets on pulldowns, start off with lat pulldowns behind the neck. Then, when you reach muscle fatigue, immediately switch to wide-grip pulldowns to the front, an easier version than behind the head. Once you reach failure again, finish the set off with reverse-grip pulldowns, the easiest variation of the three. By the time you finish your first extended set, you should already feel your lats begging for mercy. Wait until you complete all three sets in this manner – talk about pain. 

behind neck lat pulldown

Extended Back Workout

Try doing extended sets on pulldowns as part of a back workout like this

Exercise

Sets

Reps        

Rest

Behind-the-Neck Lat Pulldown 

3

12-15

30-sec.

–Extended set with–

 

 

 

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown (front of head)

3

to failure

 

 –Extended set with–      

         

 

 

Reverse-Grip Lat Pulldown

3

to failure

3 min.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

3

8-10

2-min.

Seated Cable Row

3

10-12

2-min.

Straight-Arm Pulldown 

3

10-12

2 min.

NOTE: Be sure to use wrist straps when attempting the extended set. It will prevent your grip from being the weak link, which will allow you to more effectively take your lats to failure and feel a stronger contraction. 

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