The lat pulldown isn’t the only exercise that can build impressive back muscles. Here are six alternative exercises that are as effective.
Whether you feel like working out at home for the day or the lat pulldown machines are all taken when you get to the gym, there are times when you might have to skip the lat pulldown.
That doesn’t mean you should skip back day entirely. In fact, you don’t even have to miss targeting those back lateral muscles.
There are alternatives for a small home gym that can’t accommodate an individual lat pulldown machine. You can also do them at an actual gym when there’s a long line to use the available machines.
Let’s go over some of these exercises that can replace the lat pulldown.
Good Substitutes For The Lat Pulldown
As the name suggests, the lat pulldown focuses on widening and strengthening the back lateral muscles.
Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts take pride in having a solid set of wings, which they often flex more than any other muscle group.
That said, the lat pulldown isn’t the only exercise that can build impressive lats; the following alternatives should be as effective:
Like the lateral pulldown, the pull-up also has a lot of variations. In all of these, you’re able to target the lateral, trapezius, scapula, and rear deltoid muscles.
Not to mention, you’d look like a total fitness boss lifting your body through the air like it was nothing. Well, maybe not like nothing at first, but you would get there eventually.
Most gyms and fitness centers have a heavy-duty pull-up bar or an assisted pull-up machine for performing this exercise. If it’s your first time, consider using the one with lift assistance.
For doing back workouts at home, a doorway pull-up bar should be a good option.
2. Incline Dumbbell Row
This is a similar exercise to the back row, but it’s more stable and allows for easier bracing. All you need is an adjustable bench and a pair of dumbbells.
The exercise focuses mainly on your laterals and traps, but your arms should get a good workout too.
You should be able to add more weight with this workout than on a regular row due to its more stable positioning.
3. Dual Pulley Pulldowns
This is one of those isolation exercises for your laterals, so its focus is more on individual contractions than overall resistance.
You’re likely stronger on one lateral side than the other, and this workout allows the weaker side to catch up.
Attach single-hand grips to a dual pulley machine for this particular exercise. You can work on either one lateral at a time or on both, depending on how you feel like going about it.
Either way, it should target those lats and the scapula effectively when done correctly.
4. Single-Arm Bench Row
A cousin of the incline dumbbell row, the single-arm bench row is an exercise that also requires a bench and a dumbbell. In case all benches are occupied, the workout can be executed effectively using a rack.
Lats and traps are the main targets of this exercise. However, it should also hit the arms and create a little bit of tension on the hamstrings when you use the rack.
Lighter weights can help you get control of your form, but they won’t be as impactful on your legs. As soon as you get the hang of the execution, you can move on to heavier weights that put pressure on your lower back and legs.
5. Face Pull
The face pull is another isolation exercise that’s as great for the back as it is for the shoulders.
Most reliable muscle-building workouts tend to include this specific exercise, which focuses on the rear delts, mid and lower traps, and lateral muscles.
Here is how to properly perform this exercise:
- Head on over to the single pulley machine and attach a tricep pushdown rope to it.
- In a standing position, hold both ends of the rope and start pulling them to your face.
- Flare your elbows and spread each end of the rope in opposite directions.
- Once your face is between the spread rope ends, hold the position, feel the contraction, and go back to the starting position.
- Do this 10 or 12 more times for three more sets.
While used mainly for working out the scapula, pullovers also do an amazing job of targeting the lats. The different variations of this exercise give just the kind of stretch your back laterals need to come alive.
The back version of the pullover is preferably done using lightweight dumbbells in high-rep sets.
Which Is the Best Alternative?
There is no single best alternative to the lat pulldown because people might benefit differently from each exercise. The specific movements of one exercise might work better for some than for others.
Also, muscle growth occurs when exercises, weights, and sets are varied. Hence, it is never a good idea to settle for a single workout you think is best, even if that ends up being the lateral pulldown.