Straight-Arm Pulldown: A Quick and Easy Guide

The straight-arm pulldown is an ideal exercise for anybody who wants to build stronger arm and lat muscles quickly and easily. If you’re new to the exercise or have difficulty incorporating it into your regular routine, following our simple guide will help you get started.

If you’re looking for an effective and fast exercise to strengthen your arm muscles, look no further than the straight-arm pulldown. This simple and easy-to-follow exercise can help target your entire arm, from the shoulder to the fingers.

What is Straight-Arm Pulldown?

The straight arm pulldown is an ideal exercise for anybody who wants to build stronger arm muscles quickly and easily. If you’re new to the exercise or have difficulty incorporating it into your regular routine, following our simple guide will help you get started.

Straight-Arm Pulldown Benefits

Aside from strengthening the lats, there are several other advantages to completing this exercise on a daily basis. For starters, this exercise is fantastic for strengthening the mind-muscle link. The mind-muscle link, as the term implies, simply relates to the level of activation felt during activity. According to research, focusing on the working muscle while exercising can actually boost the level of muscular activation. (1)

Many lifters struggle to feel the lats tightening and relaxing during traditional lat pulldown-type exercises since they are notoriously difficult to “feel.” Because of the greater range of the straight-arm pulldown and the fact that this is a solo exercise, feeling the lats becomes much simpler.

As mentioned earlier, isolation exercises can have a substantial impact on improving movement and form with compound exercises. This is certainly the case with the straight-arm pulldown and the deadlift.

The pulldown strengthens the lats and positions them similarly to the deadlift. The deadlift can be a difficult exercise to learn for many people, and rounding of the spine is a common issue.

This rounding is frequently avoided by engaging the lats. The lats help with lumbar spine flexion and extension. (2), learning to activate them properly can help in maintaining a neutral spine alignment. Therefore, performing the pulldown regularly will strengthen the lats, allow for greater engagement during the deadlift and facilitate deadlift form.

Muscles Worked by the Straight-Arm Pulldown

Muscles Worked by the Straight-Arm Pulldown

The straight arm lat pulldown focuses on the latissimus dorsi (lats) and teres minor muscles. This exercise requires both of these muscles to work together to extend the arm, which is the primary movement. Your triceps will also get some indirect training because they help with arm extension.

Latissimus Dorsi

Most people believe that the lats are just that slab of muscle beneath your armpit, but they are actually the greatest back muscle and extend all the way down to your pelvis. The lats help with arm adduction, internal rotation, and extension.

Although it has little to do with being jacked, the lats are also known as a respiratory accessory muscle, which helps with your breathing patterns.

Teres Minor

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles, one of which is the teres minor. It is a tiny muscle that arises from the scapula and is largely responsible for externally rotating the shoulder. However, it also aids with arm adduction and extension.


The pulldown (or pullover) is technically an isolation movement — the only joint that moves is the shoulder. That said, you’ll probably notice a bit of a triceps burn during your sets. This is due to the anatomical design of your triceps brachii.

The “long” head of your triceps is distinguished from the other two by crossing the shoulder joint as well as the elbow. As a result, it can assist you in drawing your upper arm down to your sides. On the pulldown, some triceps activation is normal.

How to do the Straight Arm lat Pulldown

How to do the Straight Arm lat Pulldown


  1. Assume a standing stance by attaching a wide grip handle to a cable stack.
  2. Using a pronated grip (double overhand), grasp the handle at around shoulder width and lean forward slightly by hinging at the hips.
  3. Maintain a small bend in the elbow and begin the movement by depressing the shoulder blades and extending the shoulders.
  4. Pull the bar to your thigh until your lats are fully tensed, then lower slowly and controllably.
  5. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions has been reached.


  1. Maintain some tone in your abdominals as you pull the bar into your body to avoid excessive spine arching.
  2. Consider using a false grip (don’t wrap your thumb over the dumbbell) if you feel your biceps are being overworked while your back is being underworked.
  3. Pulling should not cause the head to thrust forward.
  4. Likewise, ensure that the shoulder blade slides on the rib cage. Avoid locking the shoulder blade and simply move through the glenohumeral joint.
  5. If you’re having trouble feeling your lats engage, try “screwing your shoulders” into their sockets by pointing your elbows behind your torso. “Squeeze oranges in your armpits” is another excellent cue.

Common Straight-Arm Pulldown Mistakes

Going Too Heavy

The straight-arm lat pulldown does not require excessive intensity. The goal of accessory movements is to build a specific body part with a focused concentration. If you go too heavy, you risk compensating and engaging more muscles to finish the task. For compound workouts, save the big weights and utmost effort.

Not Focusing On the Muscle

One of the primary distinctions between strength and hypertrophy training is the aim. When strength training, you are attempting to shift a maximal load from point “A” to point “B.” When training for speed or power, you want to accelerate the weight as quickly as possible.

When it comes to muscle building, you want to generate a lot of metabolic stress and stimulate as many muscle fibers as possible. With the straight arm lat pulldown, it’s simple to let the triceps take over and relieve some of the stress on the lats, significantly diminishing the movement’s efficiency.

Going Too Light 

The entire purpose of training is to cause adaptability. If you do the same exercise with the same weight for an extended period of time, your body will eventually become too accustomed to it. Even though the straight arm lat pulldown does not need excessive weight, the principles of progressive overload still apply.

To keep growing with this movement, increase the weight, and volume, or change the way you do the repetition. Don’t neglect your accessory exercises simply because they don’t have the sparkle and glam of a hefty barbell lift.

Straight-Arm Pulldown Variations

While the essentials are always a safe bet, a dash of innovation never hurts. There are numerous methods to challenge the typical straight-arm pull-down by varying your grip placement, swapping the attachment, or simply altering the bar route.

Kayak Pulldown

This workout is a cross between a regular straight-arm lat pulldown and a kayak row, as the name implies. The kayak element of the exercise lets you extend your range of motion and feel your lats working hard.

It’s the ideal combination to create a forceful back pump and fry your lats by alternating with the straight arm pulldown.

Unilateral Straight-Arm Pulldown

Bilateral training has several advantages, but every program should include some unilateral exercise as well. The unilateral, or single-arm, straight-arm lat pulldown is highly useful because it allows for a larger range of motion than the bilateral variant, which may benefit muscular growth.

While your non-dominant arm may be able to conceal its inadequacies during bilateral lifts, the unilateral straight-arm pulldown will make any imbalances clear — and cure them.

Straight-Arm Pulldown Alternatives

Dumbbell / Kettlebell Pullover

Dumbbell / Kettlebell Pullover

To begin, grab a single dumbbell or kettlebell and lean back on a flat bench. Dig your heels into the floor and place both hands directly over your chest. Maintaining straight arms, descend the arms over the head until the upper arms are adjacent to the head. At this time, the lats will be stretched to their maximum length. Drive the weight back up to the starting place above the chest from there.

Gironda Pulldown

The Gironda pulldown is a cross between a pulldown and a row. The technique puts a lot of strain on a lot of back muscles, but it doesn’t provide as much isolation as a straight-arm pulldown.

Straight-Arm Pulldown Progressions and Regressions


To increase the difficulty of the straight-arm pulldown, use a longer rope or two rope handles at the same time.


Reduce the load you’re using or attempt them with a band instead of a cable if you feel like back muscles other than your lats are taking over the straight-arm pulldown. You can also perform the action while standing more vertically, which will stretch your lats less and make the movement simpler to manage.


The straight-arm pulldown is without a doubt one of the most effective lat-isolating workouts. It can help with everything from strengthening lat strength to improving the deadlift technique. This exercise should be considered while planning an exercise or training program, regardless of your health and fitness goals.

The straight-arm lat pulldown alternatives discussed above can assist you in developing a broad, defined back. Make sure to include rows and deadlifts to help with back thickness and density.


How do straight-arm rope pulldowns work?

The straight-arm pulldown focuses on the latissimus dorsi (lats) and teres minor muscles. This exercise requires both of these muscles to work together to extend the arm, which is the primary movement. Your triceps will also get some indirect training because they help with arm extension.

what is the difference between a straight-arm pulldown and a lat pulldown

Straight-arm cable pushdowns concentrate on the lats, which will help you get that coveted V-shaped back. Although frequent lat pulldowns are beneficial for increasing upper-body mass, they primarily target the mid-back muscles, biceps, triceps, and other muscles with little attention on the lats.

do straight arm pulldowns work biceps?

The straight-arm lat pull-down is a version of the lat pull-down that is used to build back muscles. While the exercise predominantly targets the lats, you will notice some bicep and middle back activation as well.

What is a band pulldown?

Grip a band with both arms straight out in front of you. Begin by pulling your lats down, keeping your arms extended until your wrists reach your hips. Then slowly return your arms to their initial position.


1. Calatayud, J., Vinstrup, J., Jakobsen, M. D., Sundstrup, E., Brandt, M., Jay, K., … & Andersen, L. L. (2016). Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training. European journal of applied physiology116(3), 527-533.

2. Bhatt, C. R., Prajapati, B., Patil, D. S., Patel, V. D., Singh, B. G., & Mehta, C. D. (2013). Variation in the insertion of the latissimus dorsi & its clinical importance. Journal of Orthopaedics10(1), 25-28.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *