What Are the Muscles in a Neutral Grip Lat Pull-Down?

Lat pulldowns work many of the muscles of the back.
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The lat pulldown is a cable-machine exercise that targets the latissimus dorsi, the broad muscle of the back located behind the ribs. When done with a parallel attachment, your hands are in neutral – or close – grip. Choosing a neutral grip provides greater range of motion and activates a wide array of upper body muscles.

Latissimus Dorsi

Any version of the lat pull down primarily activates the latissimus dorsi. Whenever you bend side to side, lift your arms overhead, raise your arms to the sides of your body or rotate your shoulders internally, your lats activate. Strong lats contribute to the desirable “v”-shaped torso sought by many bodybuilders, but can help anyone develop strong posture and power in the upper body.

Assisting Muscles

The muscles of the forearm, the barchialis and brachioradialis, as well as the small muscle of the neck called the teres major assist the lats in pulling the parallel attachment down to your chest. Other assisting muscles include the back of the shoulders, called the posterior deltoids, and the upper back muscles of the trapezius and rhomboids. The pectoralis major and minor, the primary muscles of the chest, also assist when using a neutral grip.

Stabilizing Muscles

Stabilizing muscles do not change in length during a particular exercise, but help keep the joint in place so that the target muscle is activated properly. During the neutral grip lat pulldown, both the upper arm muscles of the biceps and the triceps act as stabilizers.

Cable Bar

The lat pulldown is commonly done using a long cable bar and an overhand grip. This version does not utilize the pectoralis major – the largest of the chest muscles – at all. Using a long cable bar with an overhand grip also leaves the biceps out of the exercise.

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