There are several mistakes with the lat pull-down exercise that seem to be common only among women, and you may be one of them!
Now, as a former personal trainer, I’ve seen all of these lat pull-down mistakes over and over — almost always committed by women.
Lat pull-down mistake #1: Many women bring the bar down to practically their lap, which makes their forearms go parallel with the floor.
This may seem innocent, but in order to bend the lower arms this way, the weight must be pretty light. Light weight loads will produce minimal results, including fat-burning.
And bending the forearms to horizontal means that work is being diverted to the back of the upper arms, and I don’t think this is why women do lat pull-downs.
Mistake #2: Women don’t use heavy enough weight. I’ll see women, including those with good form, using too little resistance. The result is limitations in muscle-toning and in fat-burning.
When women perform the lat pull-down, they want to tone and strengthen the upper body, and in some cases lose body fat.
For more optimal fat-burning, muscle-firming and strength-building, a woman must use weight heavy enough to make 8-12 repetitions very difficult.
Often I see women doing lat pull-downs with only 45 or 50 pounds – a set of seemingly endless, easy repetitions, after which the trainee appears to have plenty of strength left over.
Women need not fear getting hulking back or arm muscles from heavy workouts.
A full bodyweight pull-up, is essentially a lat pull-down; the difference is that instead of bringing the resistance down towards you from above, you are lifting yourself up towards a fixed point.
However, in both routines, the same joint action occurs. I see women trying to do bodyweight pull-ups, yet I’m sure that some of these very women fear bulking up if they do heavy lat pull-downs.
Funny thing is, their bodyweight may be 120 pounds, but they’re reluctant to do a lat pull-down with more than 75 pounds out of fear of bulking up!
The third lat pull-down mistake: Every so often I’ll see a woman at the lat pull-down station, hands unequally placed on the bar.
The bar has a center point that’s attached to the cable. Hands should be equidistant from this center point.
Sometimes I see one hand much further out from this center point than is the other hand. Uneven lat pull-downs will produce uneven results.
Women who want to burn fat and/or tighten up and shape up their upper body need to do heavy lat pull-downs, with good form. This is a superb, multi-joint exercise that should be part of everybody’s workout regimen.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.