What Muscles Do the Reverse Lat Pull-Downs Work?

The reverse lat pull-down can help strengthen your back.
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Designing an effective fitness plan can be complex, but you can make the job easier on yourself with a little exercise investigation. Figuring out which muscles are strengthened by which exercises will allow you to design a program that helps you reach your goals without wasting time on duplicative exercises. If a strong, sexy upper body is a priority of yours, consider including reverse lat pull-downs in your workouts. Understanding which muscles the reverse lat pull-down strengthens can help you determine whether the exercise is worth your time.

Primary Target: Lats

    Although your arms may appear to be the prime movers in the reverse lat pull-down, your back is actually the central target of the exercise. Specifically, large muscles called the latissimus dorsi provide the most force for the downward-pulling movement. It's important to strengthen these muscles, known as the lats, because they help rotate and extend your arm from the shoulder joint and assist in moving your scapulae.


    Your arms aren't completely uninvolved during the reverse lat pull-down, though. In fact, your biceps also play a primary role in the movement. These muscles -- other than being those that most often get flashed when people are asked to flex -- are important because they are responsible for bending your arm at the elbow joint. Because of that, they help you create force when you're pulling something toward you.


    Looking for strong shoulders? Look no further than the reverse lat pull-down. Your deltoids, which are muscles in your shoulders, are also beneficiaries of this exercise. You'll want to work your shoulders if you're involved in any athletic activity, as these muscles help move your arms toward and away from your body. Your shoulder muscles are also integral in movements as simple as lifting a spoonful of yogurt to your mouth, so there's no shortage of reasons for keeping your shoulders strong.

Middle Back

    The reverse lat pull-down is an efficient exercise because it works your entire back, including your middle back. The muscles of your middle back, more technically known as the trapezius and rhomboids, help spur movement of your scapula, a bone that drives movement of your shoulder. If you want to make strong, powerful movements with your arms, building up shoulder and back strength is crucial, and the reverse lat pull-down can help.

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