Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns are an often overlooked exercise that can be extremely effective at strengthening the Lats, Teres Major and Triceps. It was always one of the my favorite exercises when I trained swimmers.

In this guide, I will teach you how to properly do a Straight Arm Lat Pulldown. I’ll also give you some important coaching tips, the muscles worked and a few alternatives as well.

How To Do Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns

Equipment Needed

  • Lat Pulldown Machine (or similar cable pulley machine)


  • Resistance Band and a high anchor point (like a pull-up bar)

Muscles Worked

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Teres Major
  • Triceps Brachii

How To

  • Hook a long straight bar attachment to a Lat Pulldown Machine
  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip
  • Stand tall, brace the core and place a slight bend in the elbow.
  • Now, keeping the arms straight, pull the bar down to the thighs.
  • Slowly return the bar back to the starting position and repeat.

Coaching Points

Keep a slight bend in the elbow, do not completely lock out the arm as this puts unnecessary strain on the joint.

Stay vertical. It may be tempted to lean forward in order to move more weight, but then you’re compromising the movement intention. Stay vertical and pull through with the lats.

How Many Reps?

Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns are a supplemental exercise for strength and hypertrophy. Recommended rep ranges are 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Straight Arm Lat Pulldown Alternatives

Don’t have access to a Cable Machine? Want to add some variety to your workouts? Whatever the reason, if you need an alternative for Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns here are a few exercises you may be able to use as a replacement.

Dumbbell Pullovers

Dumbbell Pullovers are a very similar exercise and movement pattern and will also heavily emphasize the lats and triceps.

If you have a dumbbell and a bench, this would be my first suggestion as a substitution for Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns.


Pull-up Alternatives and Variations

Pull-ups are my favorite exercise for developing upper-body strength. So, if you ask me for an alternative for almost any rowing movement, especially one that focuses on the lats, I’m always going to say Pull-ups.

More Links and Info

If you’d like to see more upper-body exercises, head over to the Upper Body Strength section of our exercise library. There, you’ll find dozens of chest, back and shoulder exercises, all with complete step-by-step instructions.

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