In this article we are going to discuss about the close grip lat pulldown alternative with Dumbbells and variations. This is otherwise known as the close grip front lat pulldown and it is an effective compound exercise that not just exercises your lats but also increases strength throughout your entire back. It helps in working your middle back while the close-grip position is useful for increasing your elbow’s range of motion. Most gym goers believe is that the narrow grip lat pulldown is more beneficial for your arms as compared to the wide grip, which is more of a lat workout.

The close grip lat pulldown alternative with Dumbbells and variations, it is an exercise that is used to build the muscles of the back. The exercise will primarily target the lats, but you will also notice a fair amount of bicep and middle back activation.

The back is a muscle group that requires a certain amount of variation. So, experiment with different angles and hand positions to maximize your back muscle growth.

The close grip lat pull down can be done during your back workouts, upper body workouts, pull workouts, and full body workouts.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Instructions

Attach a wide grip handle to the lat pulldown machine and have a seated position.

Hold the handle with a pronated grip at shoulder width.

Begin the movement by depressing the shoulder blades and flexing the elbow while extending the shoulder.

Draw the handle towards your body and ensure that your elbows are in line with your torso and gradually lower the handle back to the initial with a regulated control.

Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Close Grip Lat PullDown Tips

Keep some tone through your abdominals when you pull the bar into your body to ensure you don’t arch excessively through the spine.

Don’t allow momentum to determine the movement, control the weight throughout each rep.

If you notice that your biceps are being overused and notice that your back remaining under active, consider applying a false grip.

Make sure the head doesn’t jut forward as you pull.

Similarly, make sure the shoulder blade moves on the rib cage. Don’t lock the shoulder blade down and  move through the glenohumeral joint.

Allow the shoulder to  rotate internally and shrug slightly at the top of the movement. You will reverse the movement and depress the shoulder blade before you pull with the arm.

 Close Grip Lat Pulldown Exercise Guide

Other Names are, theClose Grip Pulldown, Close Grip Cable Pulldown

Exercise Type is Strength

Skill Level is Beginner

Equipment Needed is only a Lat pulldown machine with cable

The muscles that are worked Primary: The Lats; Secondary: Arms, shoulders, abs, middle back

Mechanics Compound

Force Pull (Bilateral)

Alternative Forms/Substitute Chin Ups, Pull Ups

How to do Close Grip Lat Pulldown:

Step 1: You should Sit at a pull-down machine that is well equipped with a wide bar attached to the top pulley and adjust the knee pad to fit your height for the short and tall people

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Step 2: Hold the bar with your palms facing forward. For a wide grip, put your hands wider than your shoulder width. If you want a medium grip, put your hands shoulder width apart. A close grip means that your hands will be closer than your shoulder width apart.

Step 3: Extend both arms in front of you while holding the bar. Move your torso back approximately 30 degrees. Your lower back should be curved, and your chest should stick out. This is the initial position.

Step 4: while you exhale, lower the bar until it gets to your upper chest. Draw your shoulders and upper chest down and back to get to this. Concentrate on squeezing your back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should also remain stationary. The forearms should not do any other work except for holding the bar; so don’t try to pull the bar down using the forearms.

Step 5: After holding the contracted position for a bit, lift the bar up into the initial position. Your arms should be fully extended and your lats should be fully stretched.

Step 6: Repeat all these steps for the desired amount of reps.

Due to the positioning of the hands being put close together, the lower lats should be targeted more prominently. Keeping your elbows from being parallel to your body also helps in targeting the inner aspect of the lats. If the person is looking for an exercise to get more of the V-taper appearance, wide-grip pull-downs are preferable.

The angle of your arms and hand positioning while pulling down is what makes the biceps  targeted than other types of pull-downs. This is specifically true if the attachment that is used offers a neutral grip as opposed to the overhand  grip.

Things that you should Look Out For

As with many of the pull-down exercises, people can be prone to performing the exercise using a jerking movement in order to carry more weight. This is not recommended and it can lead to injury as well as neutralize the idea of the exercise.

With the lats being the strong muscles that they are, serious strain can be put on the tendons in the hands when you’re  gripping the attachment. It is advised to stretch these tendons out before your exercise as well as ensuring a firm grip on the bar when you’re performing pull-downs.

The lat pulldown is designed to replace the pull-up. The issue is that it has significant pros and cons that make it distinct to the pull-up which makes it more or less specific to your goals.

These are going to be the main things you focus on when determining which exercise to perform…

The Pros and Cons of the Lat Pulldown?

The lat pulldown is a weight-adjusted cable exercise that replaces the vertical pulling-down movement that we see with the pull-up. It’s a different version of the exercise that takes out the difficulty of in using your own bodyweight.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Benefits

Weight-Adjusted: the lat pulldown could be as heavy or light as you want it to be and it could be easily adjusted. This is a great method of building your strength as a beginner, when you want to train these muscles but you can’t lift your whole bodyweight yet.

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Causes reduced muscle use: this is both a pro and a con. That’s the reduction of the your core and scap-control demands inherent in a lat pulldown and make it an easier and a more manageable exercise for beginners. It takes out a serious amount of the difficulty and eliminates the common limiting factor.

Cable-loaded:  cable machines provide consistent tension, and makes for great isometric movements. The bottom of a lat pulldown is a great time to really squeeze into position and power the position that you’ll need to increase your upper back size, strength, and control for pull-ups.

Drop sets: this is a result of the weight-adjustments that you can use in a lat pulldown. If you’re struggling to get out more reps, you could simply lower the weight and continue. This is a better way to keep training and building volume while tired. Pull-ups don’t lend themselves to this kind of training.

Drawbacks of Using the Lat Pulldown

Less muscles: the reduced requirement and recruitment of your core and your stabiliser muscles can make a sygnificant difference if you’re training for gymnastic strength or calisthenics. You would need to develop complete control. A lat pulldown is not building the foundation for a muscle up by alone

Lighter loading? the loading in a lat pulldown doesn’t have to have the upward range that a pull-up or chin up would. You’re would load around 200lbs, which is not as much as a weighted chin or pull-up, for most individuals.

The lat pulldown is a more accessible exercise, but it has lesser applications to gymnastics and advanced calisthenics.

This makes the lat pulldown a perfect exercise to build muscular strength and size, although it plays a secondary role to the pull-up for specifics and the muscle-patterns you need to strengthen.


This exercise focuses on the latissimus dorsi, which is the muscle that is under the armpits and spreading across and down the back. If you isolate the back muscles with this exercise, you can focus specifically on them without stressing the biceps or triceps. It’s important to focus on your back muscles to help you with proper posture and to ease pulling movements, like opening a door, starting a lawnmower, or even performing a pull-up.

Step-by-Step Instructions

You should Sit comfortably on the pulldown seat, feet flat on the floor and Check the height of the bar. You would to adjust the bar height by shortening or lengthening the chain or cable that supports the bar, or your seat height. Get a gym trainer to assist you with this if necessary. The bar should be at a level that your outstretched arms can comfortably grasp the bar without needing to fully stand up, but you should be able to extend your arms to achieve a full range of motion. You should adjust the knee pad so that the upper thighs would be tucked firmly under the pad. This will help you when you use effort to the bar.

You should hold the bar with a wide grip and with an overhand, knuckles up grip. Other positions and grips can be achieved but start with this standard position.

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Pull the bar down until it is level with the chin. Exhale on down motion. When shifting just slightly backward is OK, aim to keep your upper torso in one place. Keep your feet flat on the floor and engage your ab region as you pull. The bottom of the movement should be where your elbows can’t move downward any more without moving backward. Halt at that point and make sure you don’t go lower.

Squeeze the shoulder blades together while you maintain square shoulders.

From the downward position with the bar close to your chin, slowly return the bar to the initial position while controlling its gradual ascent. Don’t let it crash into the weight plates.

Continue until you complete about eight to 12 repetitions in a set. Take a break,then proceed to finish your program of sets.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these mistakes so you can get the most from this exercise and prevent strain or injury.

Using Your Forearms

Make sure your forearms are not doing the work of pulling the bar down it should come from your back.

Pulling Down Too Far

Halt at a point where your elbows would require to go back to continue pulling the cable down. If the elbows go back it will put excessive stress on the shoulder joint.

Using Momentum

You should perform the pulldown slowly and with control. Doing it fast entails the use of momentum and reduces the use of the targeted muscles.

Modifications and Variations

You can perform this exercise in several ways to meet your skill level and aim.

Need a Modification?

If you’re a beginner you should start with light weights and make sure that they are using correct form. A standing variation with a position with one leg forward as in walking may also be done.

You can use alternative grips wide, narrow, under- or over-hand in order to target specific muscle groups. Using a middle-distance grip, with your forearms upright and your hands about shoulder-width apart, works your biceps and middle back. A wide grip uses more back muscles and a close grip pulldown uses the forearm muscles.

The straight-arm pulldown has to do with keeping your elbows almost completely extended the entire time, hits the muscles on the back of the upper arm, that is known as the triceps.

If you’re reversing the grip to underhand with your knuckles facing downward and your palms up that puts more work on the muscles on the front of your upper arm, known as the biceps. This is positive of any position on the bar—wide, middle, or close.

Safety and Precautions

The pulldown that happens behind the neck is not advised for safety reasons, as the rotation of the shoulder joint and maybe spine contact with the bar could cause injuries. If you have any wrist, elbow, or shoulder problems, speak with your doctor to see if this exercise is appropriate for you. Put a stop to this exercise if you feel any pain or too much stress on your shoulder joints.


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