Supersets are a powerful tool in strength training, allowing you to increase the intensity of your workouts by performing two exercises consecutively without rest.
Lat Pulldowns are an excellent back accessory exercise and one that I use often in my programming – and most often as part of a superset.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the top exercises to superset with Lat Pulldowns, helping you optimize your training program.
Whether you’re an experienced athlete or just starting out, these supersets can help you maximize your workouts, offering innovative ways to get more from your Lat Pulldown sets.
Keys to Choosing a Lat Pulldown Superset Exercise
When choosing an exercise to superset with Lat Pulldowns, consider the following key factors:
Antagonistic Muscle Groups:
To create a balanced superset that fosters muscular harmony, opt for exercises that target antagonistic, or opposite, muscle groups to those engaged during Lat Pulldowns.
While Lat Pulldowns mainly work the latissimus dorsi, coupling it with a movement that targets, for example, the chest or triceps can offer a well-rounded approach to your upper-body training
Ensure the necessary equipment for both exercises is readily available, to facilitate a smooth transition between exercises without rest periods.
This may seem simple and obvious, but this can be a real factor – especially for at-home workouts – where some exercises may ‘share’ the same piece of equipment.
Align the supplementary exercise with your broader training goals, whether that be muscle growth, endurance, or fat loss.
Exercises to Superset with Lat Pulldowns
Here are my favorite exercises to superset with Lat Pulldowns, in no particular order:
Why: Push-Ups target the chest and triceps, creating a balanced upper-body workout by engaging the antagonistic muscle groups to the latissimus dorsi.
- Lie face down on the floor.
- Pull your toes in so that you’re on the tip of your shoes.
- Eyes should be focused straight down or slightly up.
- Pull your hands close to about the nipple line of the chest and bring them out about 2-3 inches away.
- Take a deep breath, engage the core and brace.
- Push yourself up in one unit. There should be no sagging of the waist. The entire body from head to toe should move up and then back down in unison.
- Feel your scapula upwardly rotate and make sure the antagonist muscles (Back and biceps) are fully engaging.
- Lock out your push-up and pause.
- Slowly lower yourself down to just off the ground and repeat.
Why: Bench Press works primarily on the chest and triceps, promoting muscular balance and symmetry by focusing on the opposite muscle groups worked during Lat Pulldowns.
- Lie flat on the bench with your feet firmly on the ground. Your back should be naturally arched with the shoulder blades retracted.
- Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. The grip should be firm and your wrists straight.
- Lift the bar off the rack and hold it straight over your chest with your arms fully extended. This is your starting position.
- Lower the bar slowly and controlled to your chest. The bar should be in line with your mid-chest.
- Push the bar back up to the starting position by fully extending your arms. Engage your chest, shoulders, and triceps to power the lift.
- Once you have completed your set, carefully rack the bar back on the bench rack.
Why: Overhead Press targets the shoulders and triceps, helping to build balanced shoulder musculature and complementing the pulling motion of Lat Pulldowns with a pushing motion.
- The grip should be shoulder-width apart.
- Elbows should be under bar.
- Torso should be erect.
- Move the bar off the rack.
- Keep your chest up.
- Push the bar up to full elbow extension.
- As soon as the bar passes the head – ‘pull the head through’ – so that the bar is being locked out directly over the ears.
- Lower the bar slowly and under control to shoulder level.
Why: Dips effectively target the triceps, an antagonistic muscle group to the biceps, promoting balanced upper-body development.
- Attach your dip rack to your rack. This process will vary based on your rack and dip attachment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
- Set your dip rack just above waist height. This will allow enough room for your feet not to hit the ground while doing reps, but not so high you feel you have to jump up into your first rep.
- Starting position is hands on bars, arms extended, knees slightly bent and feet crossed (crossing feet is optional but does help with unwanted swinging in my experience.
- Descend down by bending the elbows and slightly leaning forward.
- Lower yourself under control until the triceps become parallel with the ground and then drive yourself back up to the starting position.
Why: Barbell Curls are a compound set, a type of superset where both exercises target similar muscle groups rather than opposite.
Curls pair well with Lat Pulldowns by offering a different type of tension and stimulus to the biceps, which are secondary muscles worked during Lat Pulldowns.
- Stand tall, back straight, head up, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the barbell with both hands, palms up (supinated grip).
- Start with the bar at arm’s length against the upper thighs.
- Curl the bar up towards the shoulders until the forearms touch the biceps.
- Keep upper elbows close to the side.
- Lower the bar back to starting position using the same path.
Why: Dumbbell Flys target the chest, working the opposite muscle group to the back muscles engaged during Lat Pulldowns, allowing each muscle group to rest while the other is working.
- Grab your dumbbells, sit on the edge of the bench, and sit the dumbbells on your thighs vertically.
- Take a deep breath, lie flat on your back on the bench, and get your dumbbells in position ready to press.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and your butt on the bench.
- Pull your shoulder blades together and keep the back of your head on the bench. You will slightly arch your back. Keep your core tight and keep the shoulder blades pulled back tight.
- Press the dumbbells up.
- Now, keep a slight bend in the elbow and lower the dumbbells down until they’re at shoulder height.
- Finally, flex the chest and pull the dumbbells together, back to arm’s length over the chest.
Why: Focusing on tricep engagement, Skull Crushers counter the bicep engagement in Lat Pulldowns, fostering comprehensive arm development.
- Grab a bar with an overhand grip, lie flat on a bench with head down, chin up. If you don’t have a bench, you can simply lay on the floor.
- Press the bar to arm’s length above the shoulder.
- Lower the bar until it almost touches the top of the forehead, bending arms at the elbows, keeping upper arm vertical and elbows in.
- Drive the bar back up to the starting position and repeat.
Cable Face Pulls
Why: Cable Face Pulls help to strengthen the rear deltoids and upper back muscles, which are important for shoulder health and can complement the strength built through Lat Pulldowns.
- To begin, adjust the cable machine to a high setting and attach a rope attachment to the pulley.
- Stand facing the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the rope with both hands, using a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
- Extend your arms in front of you so that the rope is taut, and step back slightly to create tension in the cable.
- Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine as you pull the rope towards your face, keeping your elbows wide and your hands level with your ears.
- As you pull the rope towards your face, squeeze your shoulder blades together and imagine that you are trying to pinch a quarter between your shoulder blades.
- Hold the contraction for a moment, then slowly release the tension in the cable and return to the starting position.
Why: This core exercise encourages rotational strength and stability.
Incorporating Russian Twists in your superset can work to strengthen the obliques and abdominal muscles, creating a strong foundation for other lifts while enhancing overall functionality and core control.
- Start by grabbing a medicine ball and taking a seat on the floor.
- Slightly bend the knees and raise your feet roughly six inches off the floor.
- Start by rotating your torso to the left and lightly tapping the med ball against the ground.
- Now turn your shoulders and rotate your torso to the right and, again, lightly tap the ball against the ground.
- Keep legs mostly still and maintain the feet off the floor throughout the movement.
- Continue rotating back and forth until all reps are completed.
Why: Mountain Climbers add a cardiovascular element to your workout while engaging different muscle groups, including the core, for a more diverse training plan.
- Begin in a push-up position – hands under shoulders, core engaged, body in a straight line
- Now raise one knee toward the chest and place the ball of the foot on the ground – from this position you’re ready to begin performing reps.
- Drive one leg up and place the foot right next to where the opposite foot just left.
- Simultaneously extend the ‘up foot’ back to the original starting position.
- Continue alternating back and forth until all reps are completed.
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Integrating supersets with Lat Pulldowns in your strength program can significantly improve muscle balance and growth (and maximize your time in the weight room).
The exercises listed above will help ensure you target a range of muscle groups, promoting well-rounded development.
Don’t forget to always focus on maintaining correct form to maximize gains and prevent injuries!