How Wide Should Your Grip Be On Lat Pulldown?

2 Min Read

Just like with cable systems, the lat pulldown machine can come with an assortment of different attachments. Straight bars, V-Bars, single handles, ropes or dual grips. Today we’re looking at the classic long straight bar and in particular…does grip width matter for better back development?

Back Width

It’s said that vertical pulling motions such as lat pulldown are better for back ‘width’, where horizontal pulling exercises such as rows are better for back ‘thickness’. With vertical pulling exercises such as the topic of this blog, these exercises will target more of your latissimus muscles which give the appearance of a wider back. Horizontal pulling can also target lats but will also hit your rhomboids, trapezius and a thicker appearance from side on. You can actually alter a seated horizontal pull by leaning forward slightly…this will give more emphasis on your lats.

Close Grip vs Wide Grip

People often think of just two grips when this is brought up, but there is actually 4 possibilities. Wide grip with overhand and underhand…and close grip with overhand and underhand. A 2010 study from Pennsylvania State University showed that both overhand (palms facing away from you) gave better results on lat activation than underhand grips. Furthermore, in 2014 another study from Fjordane University in Norway studied 3 different overhand grips to find which gave the lats the best workout..

Overhand Wide, Medium, Narrow

To cut to the chase, medium grip came out on top, showing a higher 6 rep max result compared to the other two. The EMG used in the study (measures the amount of muscle activation during any given movement), showed that with the medium grip more bicep AND lat activation was apparent, meaning you’re able to stimulate more of the muscle in this position with a medium grip (about 1.5 shoulder width).

With all this being said, make sure to mix up your back days between horizontal and vertical pulling. If your goal is a wider back, use this information going forward.

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