If you have golfer’s elbow, here is how to perform the lat pull-down without gripping a bar or handle. 

If your golfer’s elbow makes it painful to pull against resistance, this means you can’t do lat pull-downs in the usual way.

I’m a former personal trainer who had golfer’s elbow — and I have some great information for you.

I didn’t want to give up my pulling exercises while the golfer’s elbow had a chance to heal, so I figured out a way to get around this.

Lat pull-downs can be done using a dual cable cross machine – but instead of gripping the handles with my hands, I grip them with the underside of my wrists.

This eliminates the activation of the medial epicondyle tendon because this wrist grip does not require any finger gripping. It’s the finger gripping that aggravates golfer’s elbow.

cable cross machine

The arm bars of the dual cable cross machine need to be close enough together so that it’s not too cumbersome to get your wrists properly positioned.

This means a wide width will be cumbersome, but it’s doable, especially if you have a partner to help get your second wrist set up (it’s easy to do the first one; it’s the second one that’s cumbersome).

Rules for a lat pull-down with golfer’s elbow using the dual cable cross apparatus.

Wrap both wrists (for equality even though you have golfer’s elbow on one side) with an Ace bandage to protect them from the discomfort of the machine’s handle-strap from digging in. The bandage is centered over the crease in the wrist.

ace bandage on wrist

ace bandage on wrist

ace bandage on wrist

The plastic part of the machine’s gripping handle does NOT make contact with wrists; only the strap portion does.

Insert hands through the handles and slide the plastic part away from wrist. The lat pull-down should be done with palms facing you unless palms facing away produces no golfer’s elbow pain.

Using the Right Grip

A neutral grip is fine as well. It’s just that for some with golfer’s elbow, only the supinated (palms facing you) grip will be pain free.

Keep fingers extended on the golfer’s elbow side. This includes the thumb. Do not grip with any fingers or the thumb. The wrists will be flexed to carry out the pulling.

It won’t be easy keeping the fingers flexed, but if you don’t focus on this, you’re apt to find yourself gripping – and therefore aggravating your golfer’s elbow.

To help guard against accidentally gripping, splint the index finger (I use a tongue depressor and tape).

You can do this standing or seated, with torso at the angle you would normally use in a standard lat pull-down.

Start out with light weights to get the feel of this. A lat pull-down done this way will feel awkward but you’ll get used to it.

Do not jump a lot in weight increase; make sure your golfer’s elbow can tolerate this movement by gradually increasing the weight.

Alternative Modification

Do lat pull-downs as you normally would, except grip with only your middle, fourth and pinky fingers.

The caveat here is that you won’t be able to pull as much weight as with the Ace bandage method.

There’s also the risk of straining the flexor tissue in your fingers.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



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