Lat Pulldown vs Tricep Pushdown (What’s the Difference?)


Lat Pulldown vs Tricep Pushdown

When you’re first beginning your lifting journey, the weight room can be an overwhelming place. There are literally hundreds of exercises, dozens of machines and many have very similar-sounding names.

Lat Pulldowns and Tricep Pushdowns are two of the most popular exercises done on a cable machine.

But, if you’re wondering what exactly the difference is between the two (but maybe you’ve been too embarrassed to ask) don’t worry, you’re in the right place. I’m going to explain how to do each exercise, what muscles they work and the benefits of each.


Lat Pulldown


Lat Pulldown

Equipment Needed

  • Lat Pulldown Machine or Lat Pulldown Rack Attachment

Muscles Worked

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Rhomboids
  • Lower Trapezius
  • Forearm Flexors
  • Biceps (Biceps Brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Depending on the machine or attachment that you’re using the setup may be a bit different.
  • Regardless of the setup, try to position your torso predominantly upright with a very slight lean back.
  • Grab the bar* just outside shoulder width grip with an overhand grip.
  • Now, pull the bar down to your chest, squeezing the lats hard at the bottom.
  • After a quick pause at the bottom of the rep, slowly bring the bar back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the designated number of reps.

Coaching Points

*This is assuming you’re using a standard long Lat Pulldown Bar. If you’re using a different attachment, this is going to vary.

Stay in control of the weight. By far the most common mistake I see lifters make is using way too much weight and rocking and swinging all over the place to try to get the weight to move.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pushing yourself with heavier weight, but make sure you’re able to maintain proper technique.

Don’t have a lat pulldown machine and looking for alternatives? Here are 10 of my favorite Lat Pulldown alternatives.

Benefits

Some benefits of incorporating Lat Pulldowns into your exercise routine include:

  1. Improved posture: Strong lats can help support good posture, which can reduce the risk of back pain and improve overall health.
  2. Increased upper body strength: Lat pulldowns can help improve strength in the upper body, including the back, shoulders, and arms.
  3. Enhanced athletic performance: Strong lats can improve your performance in activities that require pulling movements, such as rowing, swimming, and climbing.

It’s important to note that lat pulldowns are just one part of a well-rounded exercise routine. In order to see the full benefits, it’s important to also incorporate other exercises that target different muscle groups and engage in regular cardiovascular activity.


Triceps Pushdown


Triceps Pushdown

Equipment Needed

  • Cable Machine
  • Cable Attachment of your choice (V-Bar, Straight Bar, Rope, etc)

Muscles Worked

Triceps Pushdowns work all three heads of the Triceps muscle as well as the Anconeus (the muscle that wraps down across the elbow)

  • Triceps Brachii lateral head
  • Triceps brachii long head
  • Triceps brachii medial head
  • Anconeus

Pro Tip: Using a Rope will emphasize the lateral head of the triceps and using an underhand grip on a straight bar will emphasize the medial head of the triceps.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Step up a cable machine by sliding the pin all the way to the top of the beam.
  • Attach the rack attachment of your choice.
  • Grab the attachment and pull the attachment down until your elbows are next to your sides (arms should still be bent).
  • Now, extend the arms down by flexing the triceps and driving the attachment toward the floor.
  • Squeeze the triceps at full extension for one second and then slowly allow the attachment to raise back to the starting position.
  • Keep elbows tucked into the sides throughout the movement.

Coaching Points

Do not swing and use momentum at the top of the movement in an attempt to use more weight. Stay in control of the weight at all times and use proper form.

If using a heavy weight, you can lean slightly forward at the waist to give yourself more stability and to help keep yourself anchored to the floor.

Benefits of Triceps Pushdowns

Tricep Pushdowns allow for a greater range of motion compared to some other tricep exercises, such as Dips or Close Grip Bench Press. This can lead to a more thorough muscle contraction and ultimately better muscle growth.

Cable Tricep Pushdowns can provide a ton of variety with all the different cable attachments that can be used (V Bar, Straight Bar, Rope, etc)

Final Thoughts

Both Lat Pulldowns and Tricep Pushdowns are excellent exercises for you to incorporate into your workouts.

Lat Pulldowns are a great exercise to help improve back strength and hypertrophy and Tricep Pushdowns can be the perfect finisher for a chest and tricep workout.

Now that you know what each exercise is and how to use them, there is only one thing left to do – hit the gym!

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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