Every rounded back workout routine should consist out of horizontal and vertical pulling movements. Our backs consist out of quite a lot of different muscles and this approach will ensure that all of them are trained sufficiently. The lat pulldown is the go-to exercise for your vertical pulling. And you can do them perfectly by using resistance bands.
You will need two things to get started with your next back workout. First a resistance band and second a door anchor. You have to attach the resistance band to a point above your head for it to be effective. When it comes to resistance bands we highly recommend you get a set of band instead of a single one. A set will contain resistance bands with different resistance levels. Therefore, you will be able to adjust the resistance and do all the exercises for other body parts.
This article will teach you how to do a perfect lat pulldown with resistance bands. You will find a step-by-step description as well as a how-to video. Furthermore, we will cover variations for the lat pulldown as well as different methods to adjust the resistance. In the last section you will find background information about effectivity of resistance band training, what muscles you will use in this exercise and how to effectively incorporate lat pulldowns into your workout.
How To Do Lat Pulldowns The Right Way With Resistance Bands?
STOP! I know you wanted to go straight into doing the exercise…don’t deny it! Please promise us to warm up every time you do any heavy resistance work. This way you will benefit by having a better workout, steady progress and minimal chance of having an injury.
You will be needing a resistance band and something to attach it to. The easiest way is using a door anchor, but you can also attach it to pull up bar or anything else which is stable and has a sufficient height. We also recommend getting gloves when you use resistance bands. This will ensure your skin doesn’t have to experience the friction of the band.
These 7 steps will give you the perfect Lat Pulldown:
- Attach the band to the top of the door with a door anchor or anything else – the higher the better
- Get on your knees holding the resistance band in front of you
- Grab the band at a level that makes sure you’re having already some stretch in the starting position
- Brace your core
- Now bring your hands down towards your chest
- Hold for a second and return to the starting position
- Repeat for reps
Common Form Mistakes
⓵ No Slack! – No tension in the band means no resistance and this means that your muscles are not working. We don’t want that. To avoid this mistake grab the band and choose a position which will make sure there is no slack in the band in the starting position.
⓶ Straight Back and externally rotated shoulders! – A lot of beginners have some level of this form-mistake. Rounding your back is always never a good idea while doing resistance training. It increases the chance of injury in your lower back, and you are much weaker in this position. Keep your back and neck straight and neutral.
What often comes along with a rounded back is internally rotated shoulders. This completely changes the path of movement and your back muscles are not trained effectively. Rotate your shoulders back and lift your chest up.
⓷ Control Each Repetition! – in any resistance exercise the negative movement (the eccentric part of the movement) is where you really will make progress. So don’t let the band simply snap back – really resist the pulling of the band and slow down your negatives.
Avoiding these mistakes will give a perfect lat pulldown and keep you injury free.
To really get the effectivity of resistance band training you should know and avoid the most common mistakes a lot of people do. We collected all of them: The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands
How To Adjust The Resistance
Compared to weight a resistance band does not have a fixed resistance. Each band has a range depending on how far you will stretch the band. Due to the linear variable resistance of resistance bands the further you stretch a band the more it will want to go back to it’s relaxed state, and therefore you will have to work against more resistance.
Lots of folks don’t use the full potential of a given resistance band and jump straight to the next heavier one once the exercise gets a little easier. You wouldn’t jump from 10 kg straight to 20 kg when training with weights once 10 kg becomes easier. Therefore, we need to know how we can adjust the resistance of a given band to get more resistance out of it.
The best methods to adjust the resistance for lat pulldowns are:
Adjust the length of the band – This is the simplest and fastest way to adjust the resistance of a band. Wrapping it around your hand will shorten the band and therefore increase the resistance you will have to work against.
Combine bands – You did get yourself a set of resistance bands right? Having a set enables you to combine bands to get the right resistance. What I like to do is adding the lightest band to the exercise once I feel it gets easier to get my reps in.
Change the Distance to Anchor point – With lat pulldowns this one is a little tricky. To increase the resistance you need to get distance between you and the anchor point. When using a door you need to get on your knees anyway, so this one we already did. You can move backwards, but you need to make sure that you don’t turn the exercise into a row. To prevent that align your upper body with the band.
Double the Band – This one is my go-to way to get more resistance when doing lat pulldowns. But be careful. Doubling up the band gives you more than double resistance. That’s why start with a lighter band.
Slow it down – There are always 2 methods to increase intensity for a given exercise. Adding resistance or adding total time under tension. By slowing down your reps you will force your muscles to work harder without changing the resistance.
Combine Methods – This one often gets forgotten. You can combine methods to get the right resistance for your goals. Add a light band and make them shorter or slow down your reps with a doubled up band. Unlimited possibilities.
Alternative Ways To Do Lat Pulldowns With Resistance Bands
Depending on your set-up you might like the following variations better than the version we showed above. They are also great if you just want to change it up and do an unfamiliar exercise variation.
Floor Lat Pulls – this variation is great if you just can’t find an anchor point which is high enough. A great thing about this alternative version is that it will ensure a good exercise form. You won’t be able to round you back or internally rotate your shoulder while lying on the floor. You might need to use a yoga mat to prevent slipping on the floor.
How to do it:
- Attach the band to a door anchor at floor level
- Grab the band with both hands, lie down in the floor and move back until there is no slack in the band, and you feel it pulling at your arms
- Now pull back – think about bringing your elbows to the side of your body
- Hold for 1 second and return slowly to the starting position
- Repeat for reps
Unilateral Lat Pulldown – doing your lat pulldowns unilaterally is a great idea if you really want to focus on one side at a time and build that mind muscle connection. Also, if you want to eliminate any disbalances between the left and the right side.
Another reason for switching to the unilateral variation is your absolute strength. Your back is very strong, and you will be able to handle quite some resistance. Since we can’t lock our body in space there might come a level where you will pull yourself towards the door instead of the band towards you. This is a good time to switch to unilateral work.
Bar Lat Pulldown – If you are used to using a bar when doing pulldowns from working out at the gym, we have good news for you. You can do that with resistance bands as well. Simply find a stable bar and loop the band around it. It will give you a better grip and more stability.
Can You Train Your Back Effectively With Resistance Bands?
To make it short: YES!
Resistance bands are a great tool to generate resistance and stimulate your back muscles. Everybody who tells you otherwise never gave resistance bands a chance or used them incorrectly. Resistance bands are far from being only useful for warming up and mobility work. They can generate as much resistance as weights can and have even advantages over working out with weights (keep reading to find out more).
Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
The answer is pretty simple. When we do resistance training our body doesn’t know the difference between weights and bands. The only thing your muscle thinks is “There is resistance and I have to work against that!”. This “working against a resistance” is what gives your muscles a stimulus to grow and builds strength. So there is no difference for our bodies if the resistance comes from weight in combination with gravity or the tension of a resistance band.
If you want to learn more about this topic – read our full article: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands
We promised you benefits resistance bands have over weights and machines:
- No Cheating! You won’t be able to cheat your reps with resistance bands by using momentum. With weights and machines this is a big problem a lot of people have, and it leads to form breakdown and injury.
- Joint Health! Using resistance bands benefits your joints and tendons as well. Working out with weights only can lead to injuries by over stressing joints and tendons.
- Mobile! You can’t bring your home gym on a holiday or business trip. Resistance bands are lightweight and small. You can fit them in any suitcase or backpack and workout anywhere at anytime.
- Affordable! Band are very cheap compared to a gym membership or equipment you need to get for a home gym.
Check out all the benefits of resistance band in this article: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Lat Pulldown
The two main pulling muscles in your upper body are the Traps and the Lats. In the Lat pulldown we target primarily the lats. They will do most of the work in this movement. The traps will also be activated – but to a lower degree. The biceps will also be heavily involved and has to work quite hard throughout the movement.
Main Working Muscles:
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Biceps brachii
Secondary Muscles Working:
- Posterior Deltoids
- Core muscles (not in the muscle map)
Lat pulldowns alone are not enough to build a great back and far from a balanced workout for you full body. But drafting your own workout routine is a hustle and needs a basic understanding of workout principles. Especially as a beginner you simply don’t have all that knowledge.
In addition, there is so much information (and misinformation) out there that it is really hard to know where to start. That’s why we designed an easy-to-use app which helps you with all that. You can simply select your training goal (for example: Build muscle or burn fat), select what kind of bands you have, and we give a follow along workout routine, including which exercises in which order to do as well as what reps and sets to complete.
You will also have a complete library of all exercises including a how-to video and a step-by-step guide of how to do it. And a lot of additional features.
Find out more here: BIQ Training App