Find out how to Do the Straight-Arm Pushdown for a Wider Again

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Workouts just like the chin-up and the deadlift are seen because the kings of back-builders by many lifters, however they’re solely the meat and potatoes. You must add some seasoning in order for you the most effective closing product, and the additional taste (and further outcomes) will come out of your train selections.

The issue is that compound (multi-joint or “polyarticular”) workouts like chins, deadlifts, and rows not solely practice the big lat muscle of your again, but additionally many different muscle tissue in your entire physique. The lats are a notoriously onerous to focus on physique half, and these large lifts have the danger of shifting the work to different supporting muscle tissue.

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The straight-arm pushdown, typically known as a stiff-arm pushdown or pulldown, is one the best actions to work simply the lats as a result of it’s an isolation (single-joint) train. This lets you actually give attention to the goal physique half with minimal help from different muscle tissue.

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Including this train would possibly simply be the important thing to unlock new progress and a greater mind-muscle connection. Right here’s why and the right way to add it to your coaching plan.

Find out how to Do the Straight-Arm Pushdown

As a single-joint train, the straight-arm pushdown is a reasonably simple to carry out. These kinds of actions sometimes require much less coordination and method than multi-joint workouts, however you continue to want to make use of correct type in order for you the most effective outcomes.

Step 1 — Arrange on the Cable Station

Person in gym doing cable machine exercise.
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Set a cable pulley on the most peak as a way to take pleasure in a full vary of movement, and fix a straight or EZ-curl bar. 

Seize the bar utilizing a palms-down, shoulder-width grip, and absolutely prolong your arms towards the pulley. Step again till the load begins floating off the stack and you are feeling rigidity pulling you towards it. Lean ahead on the waist and barely bend your knees to undertake a steady place from which to drag. Your arms needs to be barely above shoulder-height.

Kind tip: Preserve your shoulders down and your chest overrated. This can diminish the stress in your shoulders and cut back interference from non-target muscle tissue like your shoulders or traps.

Step 2 — Pull the Weight Down

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Exhale and squeeze your lats as a lot as you’ll be able to whereas driving the bar down in the direction of your thighs. Preserve your arms straight or slightly-bent in the course of the carry. Nothing ought to transfer however your arms. Preserve your wrists impartial, don’t enable them to curve down or bend again.

Kind tip: Think about you may have an orange underneath every of your armpits and also you’re squeezing them for his or her juice. This can enable you recruit your again extra and shift focus away out of your arms.

Step 3 — Management the Stretch

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When the bar is almost touching your legs, slowly reverse the movement and let your arms come up. Preserve your torso nonetheless and don’t arise straight on the weight comes up. When you’re on the high quality of movement and your again is absolutely stretched, repeat for the specified quantity of reps. 

Kind tip: In case you really feel your arms overpowering your lats, and your triceps or shoulders fatigue earlier than your again muscle tissue, use a “false grip” by putting your thumb on prime of the bar subsequent to your fingers. This can cut back arm involvement.

Straight-Arm Pushdown Errors to Keep away from

The straight-arm pushdown requires focus to reap all the advantages. You must nail the method if you wish to progress safely, and which means avoiding these frequent errors.

Swinging the Weight

Ego ought to by no means have a spot within the gymnasium, particularly not when doing an isolation motion. In case you begin utilizing physique English to maneuver extra weight, you’ll find yourself working your hips, abs, and arms greater than your again. If you wish to transfer extra weight and use as many muscle tissue as potential, then skip the straight-arm pushdowns and do some barbell rows.

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Furthermore, utilizing momentum will put extra stress in your connective tissue and joints, presumably inflicting accidents. (1)

Keep away from it: Solely your arms ought to transfer through the train, and they need to solely transfer on the shoulder, not the elbow. If it’s important to transfer the rest, it’s both since you used an excessive amount of weight or that your preliminary arrange (stance and physique place) wasn’t steady sufficient. Scale back the load, bend your knees a bit extra, and widen your stance to decrease your heart of gravity and enhance stability.

Utilizing Your Arms

You won’t anticipate it, however the lengthy head of your triceps (posterior muscle of the arm) will help your again throughout this train as a result of it’s partially liable for shifting your arm on the shoulder joint. Nonetheless, it ought to stay a lat-focused train.

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In case you bend and prolong your arms through the train, you’ll flip the train from a straight-arm pushdown right into a wrongly-performed triceps pushdown, leading to much less muscle good points for every physique half.

Keep away from it: Don’t let your arms bend. Do not forget that it’s known as a “straight-arm” motion and preserve the identical elbow angle through the period of the carry. To additional cut back arm involvement, use a false grip by shifting your thumbs on prime of the bar close to your fingers.

Going Too Heavy

Sure, there’s a recurring theme on this mistake session: don’t chase weight. Preserve the heavy weights and maximal efforts for the massive compound workouts. In case you use an excessive amount of weight, you’ll be able to find yourself compensating with different muscle tissue and also you’ll cease feeling the meant muscle tissue, resulting in much less muscle progress. (2)

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Keep away from it: If you carry out the train, in the event you cease feeling rigidity in your lats, it’s probably as a result of different muscle tissue have taken over. Scale back the load instantly and double-check your stance, torso place, and arm angle.

Find out how to Progress the Straight-Arm Pushdown

The cable station used for straight-arm pushdowns often means that you can use very mild or heavy weights, however that’s not at all times the case. Some pulleys have restricted weights or different points that have an effect on your efficiency. In these circumstances, you need to use progressions to both make the train simpler or more durable.

Resistance Band Straight-Arm Pushdown

Bands are versatile and simple to make use of. Strap a resistance band to a sturdy object at roughly head-height and carry out the train as you’d with a cable pulley. The band resistance begins very low and may be adjusted by standing nearer or farther from the anchor level, which is ideal in the event you don’t but really feel assured sufficient to sort out more difficult resistance. 

One advantage of bands is that the resistance curve will increase through the vary of movement — because the band is stretched, it turns into more difficult — which may be useful so that you can really feel your lats working. That is additionally an important variation in the event you don’t have entry to a cable station.

Gradual Tempo Straight-Arm Pulldown

Whether or not you’ll be able to’t put extra weight on the station otherwise you simply have bother feeling the right muscle tissue working throughout this train, you need to use a slower tempo (lifting and decrease pace) to make to motion more difficult with lighter weights.

One wonderful means to do that is by taking three to 5 seconds on the concentric section (once you carry the load) and three to 5 seconds for the eccentric (once you reverse the movement). This can make the train tremendously more durable, enhance the time underneath rigidity, and enhance your mind-muscle connection as effectively. 

Banded Dumbbell Pullover

In case you’re an skilled lifter who already mastered the dumbbell pullover, which is itself a free-weight variation of the straight-arm pushdown, then you’ll be able to take issues to the following degree. This is without doubt one of the most intense lat isolation workouts.

The issue with the fundamental dumbbell pullover is that there’s little-to-no resistance on the prime of the motion as a result of gravity’s restricted impact on the load. Strapping a band across the dumbbell, with an anchor level far behind your head, ends in a steady curve of resistance with a deep stretch and a tough peak contraction, leading to a higher stimulus for muscle progress. (3)

Advantages of the Straight-Arm Pushdown

The straight-arm pulldown may be very distinctive amongst again workouts as a result of it means that you can zero-in in your lats with out a lot fatigue or involvement from different again muscle tissue.

Muscle Development

Single-joint workouts are perfect for hypertrophy (muscle progress) as a result of their goal is to isolate a goal muscle as a lot as potential. Isolation motion aren’t as efficient for constructing energy as a result of they weight used is restricted, but when in the case of speaking strictly about muscle progress, they are often simply as environment friendly as multi-joint workouts. (4)

Isolate Your Lats

In case you’re a physique fanatic and your lats are a weak level, the straight-arm pushdown is an ideal repair to deliver them as much as par. The truth that the straight-arm pushdown isolates the lats means you’ll be able to actually give attention to them and proper any imbalances. You don’t have the danger of getting your biceps, shoulders, or different again muscle tissue taking on the motion.

The train additionally generates comparatively much less fatigue and is simpler to carry out than a multi-joint again train, which means you may practice it extra typically than different actions. The high-tension train can also be higher at growing mind-muscle connection in your lats, one thing many lifters wrestle with, but it surely can lead to extra muscle progress.

Muscular tissues Labored by the Straight-Arm Pushdown

The straight-arm pushdown is likely to be an isolation train, however the fact is which you could by no means isolate a single muscle. Let’s see what it trains.

Latissimus Dorsi

The lats are the most important again muscle, giving all of it its width. It goes out of your hip bone to your humerus (arm bone) and attaches to your backbone. This muscle has many capabilities together with extending or flexing your torso, and shifting or rotating the shoulder.

Throughout the straight-arm pushdown, the lats are recruited when bringing your arms down towards your physique’s midline. The straight-arm pushdown is without doubt one of the few again workouts that may carry out this motion with restricted involvement from the biceps.

Teres Main

This upper-back muscle goes from the humerus to the scapula, and it assists the lats in nearly each operate. The teres is closely recruited through the straight-arm pushdown to stabilize your shoulder blades as your shoulders rotate and transfer via the vary of movement..

Triceps Brachii

Regardless that the straight-arm pushdown primarily targets the again muscle tissue, you’ll most probably really feel your triceps burn through the train as a result of they’re being labored statically, to take care of the straight-arm place. This posterior arm muscle consists of three heads (the lengthy, lateral, and medial heads).

The lengthy head, specifically, goes from the elbow to the scapula (shoulder blade) and it assists in shifting your in towards your physique’s midline, just like the lats. 

Find out how to Program the Straight-Arm Pushdown

The straight-arm pushdown is ideally used for hypertrophy. In that regard, you need to use repetition schemes conducive to muscle progress. 

Average Weight, Average Repetition

This time-tested strategy is the go-to for many bodybuilders. Three to 4 units of eight to 12 repetitions will present ample muscle rigidity and stimulus for optimum progress. It is a staple strategy for a well-rounded again exercise.

Low Weight, Excessive Repetition

You can even use longer period units as a “finisher” for a critical burn and to follow method. Two to 3 units of 15 to twenty repetitions on the finish of a session will encourage muscle progress as effectively, however will present a special feeling from comparatively heavier and decrease rep coaching. You should definitely maintain good posture and keep away from swinging the weights because the reps get increased.

Straight-Arm Pushdown Variations

When you’ve mastered the usual motion, you’ll be able to strive these variations to supply the identical advantages to your physique whereas creating a special stimulus. Whereas these workouts are related, the method and motion variations will let you progress even additional. (5)

Kneeling Straight-Arm Pushdown

This variation may be a wonderful addition in the event you’re a taller lifter as a result of it allows you to use a full vary of movement with out worrying in regards to the weight stack hitting the highest of the pulley.

The kneeling place additionally supplies extra core and stability work as a result of it’s more durable to take care of and stabilize your steadiness. This elevated core activation may be transferable to different workouts just like the pull-up or basic sports activities actions.

Dumbbell Pullover

This old-fashioned train is a favourite amongst basic bodybuilders. You solely want a dumbbell and a bench, which is invaluable once you practice throughout peak hours in a busy gymnasium. You may both lie absolutely flat on a bench, or throughout it resting solely your higher again on the bench which can enhance the issue, thoracic (higher again) stretching, and core recruitment of the train.

The dumbbell pullover can also be fascinating as a result of it adjustments the curve of resistance of the train — it emphasizes the lengthened contraction and the stretch of the muscle, however there’s nearly no rigidity on the prime. This will present a totally novel stimulus which can set off extra progress.

Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover

This train is as old-fashioned as its dumbbell cousin and it follows the identical basic ideas however this time, you’re utilizing a barbell which adjustments your hand place and grip width.

The opposite key distinction is that you simply’re not preserving your arms straight, however bent at round 90-degrees. The angle is maintained for the whole carry. This helps to place the lats into a pleasant, deep stretch. Just a few units of follow and also you’ll have the ability to admire the distinctive feeling of this basic motion.

Regularly Requested Questions

How huge ought to my grip be to focus on the lats?

The usual grip with a straight-arm pushdown is round shoulder-width, but it surely’s extra a query of consolation. Some lifters really feel extra pure pulling with a a lot wider grip, holding a lat pulldown bar attachment well-beyond shoulder-width. Different lifters use a rope deal with and maintain their arms nearly touching one another through the train.
Use the grip width that means that you can really feel the goal muscle tissue contract and stretch with out inflicting any shoulder discomfort and with out interference from different physique components. An important a part of the motion is sustaining a straight-arm place, not bending your arms all through the carry.

When ought to I do the straight-arm pushdown in a exercise?

Isolation workouts are sometimes finest carried out later in a exercise, particularly when there’s a important stretch concerned within the train, like the highest place of the straight-arm pushdown. This helps to verify your joints and muscle tissue are absolutely warmed as much as safely make the most of the complete vary of movement.
It’s best to do your heavier compound workouts, like
rows or pull-ups, earliest within the exercise once you’re recent and might transfer essentially the most weight, then end the goal muscle with the straight-arms pushdown on the finish of the session.
Nonetheless, you may typically use the this motion earlier within the session if in case you have bother feeling your lats. Isolation workouts are nice for “pre-exhausting” particular person muscle tissue and growing the mind-muscle connection.

Push Your self to the Subsequent Degree

The straight-arm pushdown can assist you outline and reinforce your again whether or not you’re a newbie or an skilled lifter. In case you’re seeking to step up your again recreation, fill your shirts, and get stronger, it’s time to understand this uncommon isolation train.


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  4. Gentil P, Soares S, Bottaro M. Single vs. Multi-Joint Resistance Workouts: Results on Muscle Energy and Hypertrophy. Asian J Sports activities Med. 2015 Jun;6(2):e24057. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.24057. Epub 2015 Jun 22. PMID: 26446291; PMCID: PMC4592763.
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