7 Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives for a Wider Back

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It’s not an exaggeration to say that most if not all of us long for a lean muscular body with a stronger, wider, and more defined back, and we are sure that you are one of those dreamers. However, reaching this wildest dream is always an uphill struggle.

Many factors may prevent you from joining the gym and taking lat pulldown exercises. Inaccessibility to the gym due to the lockdown or inadequacy of facilities in your home gym are just a few to name. Or, you are only on the outlook for a more diverse set of exercises.

If you can relate to these issues, this article is surely designed for you! Following to the end and you will find the best lat pulldown alternative exercises. They are easy to apply, ranging from free weights, cable machines to resistance bands.

Lat Pulldown Target Muscles

Before starting a strict and frequent exercising schedule, it’s best to receive thorough knowledge about lat pulldown.

This compound exercise is among the most popular and classic ones. It is designed to help you expand your lats’ width while exploiting and improving other muscles.

Due to its efficiency, this exercise tends to cross most bodybuilders’ minds when thinking of a bigger back.

lat pulldown muscles used

Besides, there are also various variations to perfectly suit your level and targets. With different forms of exercising, you are also less likely to get bored and give up shortly after. Here are some examples:

  • Shoulder-width overhand grip
  • Wide overhand grip
  • Narrow underhand grip
  • Shoulder-width parallel grip
  • Narrow parallel grip

It is worth noting that such a vertical pulling exercise as lat pulldown mainly concentrates on working with latissimus dorsi or lats muscles.

Moreover, this compound exercise involves various other muscles working together like the lower, middle trapezius, the rhomboid muscles, and the serratus anterior ones.

As mentioned above, this lat pulldown is designed for achieving bigger, wider lats. Thus, if you don’t have a developed feel for mind-muscle connection and accurate techniques, you may risk targeting other muscle groups like biceps and back rather than lats.

Therefore, it’s crucial to carefully take up the exercise, start correctly, and not be greedy with the weights.

One piece of advice is that if you dream about bigger biceps instead of wider and stronger lats, bicep curls-related exercises would be a better choice. On the other hand, a thicker and bigger back requires concentration on rows like horizontal pulling exercises.

Overall, before starting any health schedule, you always need to clearly identify your target and thoroughly learn about the right techniques. However, don’t worry much about the lat pulldown alternatives, as they are all easy to learn and never hard on your lower back.

7 Best Lat Pulldown Alternatives

1. Pull Up

If you have done some research on the pulldown techniques, you must have once come across a pull up guide. This is one of the easiest and most convenient lat pulldown alternatives you can do right at home and requiring only pull up bars.

Pull up is an upper-body exercise involving the cooperation between your hands and your entire body. The steps are straightforward: first, hang by your hands from a pull up bar, lift the body until your chest touches the bar, then repeat.

This exercise is designed for your lats and improves holistic upper body strength by focusing on such muscle groups as abdominals, traps, and pecs.

This compound full-body exercise offers you low-impact movement to avoid sore joints or injuries. Better mental health, a lifting mood, and improved physical health are just a few other benefits.

Appearing to be rather simple, but pull ups will only work effectively if you do them in the proper posture.

Always stand directly below the bar instead of rushing to place your hands on the grip. Before lifting your body, you should always deeply inhale and exhale to let oxygen run through the muscles.

Then, you will pull your belly button forward with your shoulders back and down. Engaging all muscle groups may be intensive at first, but you will feel much better at the next pull up.

We strongly advise you to avoid swinging or shrugging your arms and legs to achieve easy lifting and optimal efficiency with this exercise. If you are a beginner, you may want to try it with resistance bands for an easy start.

2. Dumbbell Pull-Over

Dumbbell Pull-Over is considered the best lat pulldown alternative with dumbbells thanks to its effectiveness and easy applications anywhere, at home, or the gym.

The training session’s target is to strengthen your chest muscles called pectoralis major and large wing-shaped back muscles called latissimus dorsi.

Despite appearing straightforward and comfortable to start, the dumbbell pullover’s benefits should not be underestimated.

This one is ideal for weight control, muscle mass build, upper body balance, cardiopulmonary function, and core stability. Those advantages and the easy application make it widely spread among gym-goers, regardless of their gender.

To properly exercise, you should keep a strong and straight back and a tight core when lifting backward and forward. If you fail to tighten your core, your all-out efforts are unfortunately down the drain!

3. Straight Arm Pulldown (with Bar or Rope)

Straight arm pulldown is a popular classic lat pulldown substitute that is exceptionally handy for those with back trouble. If you cannot feel the results on the lats with other conventional pulldown exercises, this one is born for you, thanks to its improved mind-muscle connection.

Let’s follow our recommended steps to receive your ideal body:

  • Attach the rope handle to the high pulley and face it;
  • Pull your shoulder back and down;
  • Draw your ribs down and brace the tight core until you feel a solid column;
  • Step from the station so you can feel tension on the cable with a fully extended overhead arm;
  • Slowly drive your arms in an arcing motion;
  • Reverse to motion.

This exercise focuses on lats, upper back, read deltoid, chest, core, and triceps. Therefore, taking only this single practice can improve your back pain and result in bigger lats and a thicker back.

4. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Suppose you are an intermediate gym-goer and desiring to upgrade your performance. In that case, Single-arm dumbbell row is a great idea, adding up to your dumbbell workout and circuit training routine as well.

Unlike other conventional pulldown methods, which require the working joint of various muscle groups, this one mainly targets the latissimus dorsi by isolating it and lifting a heavier weight.

When tackling a single-arm dumbbell row exercise, you also need to maintain the same posture as other lat pulldown alternatives with your tight muscles and core and a soft bend in your knees.

However, as this exercise only works intensively on one arm side, you need to switch sides and repeat the same number of pulldowns and intensity with the opposite arm. This way will ensure a symmetric and attractive body.

5. One Arm Pull-Down

One arm pulldown or unilateral training is a great exercise form to enhance the optimal symmetry of your body. This practice requires the investment in a specialized machine with a D-handle attachment.

Doing one arm pulldown should never be easier, as all you need to do is basically reach and grasp the handle and pull your elbow back and down. However, the right posture is of utmost importance and worth your attention if you don’t want to have your muscles torn!

Maintaining a straight back and arm and avoiding pinching or shrugging your neck are two pieces of advice that you should not ignore. Besides, start with a slow and forceful pulldown to customize the high-pressure muscles and feel your body heating up.

On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget and cannot afford this classic machine with the needed handle, resistance bands with a suitable anchor point are your salvage.

All you need is to fix and loop the hand overhead in a firm position like your ceiling in your home and repeat the same techniques.

6. Barbell Low Row

Barbell low rows are one of the free weights and compound exercises, mainly working with your middle and lower backs, hips, and arms.

The pressure they offer is sufficient to build a strong and wide back with bigger biceps. Those exercises also allow you to increase strength when performing squats, bench press, and deadlift.

To start barbell low rows in the right form, you need to keep a medium stance with your midfoot under the bar. Then palm down, bend over, and catch the bar with a medium grip.

It will help if you keep your hips high when unlocking your knees to optimize the muscles. Now it’s time to lift your chest and straighten the back to pull the bar against your chest. Hold some seconds before returning the bar to the floor and take some deep breaths.

To ensure high safety and avoid back pain, try your best to neutralize your lower back instead of rounding or squeezing it and your spinal discs.

Besides, we bet that you never want to have your back tired and round after such intensive training; thus, avoid holding the bar in the air among some reps.

There are also some tricks when doing barbell rows. The most common recommendation is to use your hips while lowering your torso to lift heavyweights. This method will reduce unwanted concentration on your hips and focus on the lower lats as intended.

7. T-bar Row

Among all the rowing alternatives to lat pulldown, T-bar rows are the most popular form. This cornerstone exercise is ideal for bodybuilders to build their middle back width and thickness.

While it is a challenging and intensive training form, you are sure to get your dream body as long as you show adequate resilience and determination.

T-bar rows focus on using different hand positions to perform heavy lifting and create a high-pressure level. This pressure puts on your back and hits your lats from various angles so that you can feel the result during training.

But don’t worry if you have no intention to thicken your back, as T-bar rows allow you to sit back and lift the rows to reduce less stress on your big back without falling over.

When pulling the bar into your body, you need to maintain some tone through your abdominals to avoid excessive arching in the spine. Moreover, for easy application, don’t forget to utilize a V-grip handle and put the bar in the notch of the V.


In general, for optimal effectiveness and experiences, you can perform lat pulldown at home by mimicking those exercises with a high-quality set of resistance bands or the TRX Bodyweight Resistance System.

However, if you are an advanced bodybuilder and have impressive strength, resistance bands may not offer enough hypertrophy stimulation for muscle growth in the long run.

Nevertheless, what a pity you have to train at home for a long period, and your house doesn’t have enough space left. In such cases, it’s best to invest in some dumbbells, barbells with weight plates, which are reasonably priced and space-saving.

For an extravagant budget, you may want to consider a power rack with lat pulldown to better optimize your performance and training sessions compared to resistance bands.

Final Thought

Without a shade of doubt, lat pulldown is one of the best exercises, enabling you to keep your body in shape, become stronger, and build muscles to meet your body goal.

This exercise is so scalable that you all can easily take up and quickly get used to it. Regardless of your level, beginner, intermediate, or advanced, you are all likely to benefit from doing such lat exercises.

However, this type of workout requires a specialized lat pulldown machine, which is always a barrier for household exercising. That’s why our lat pulldown without machine alternatives come in handy!

From now on, feel free to exercise anywhere you want without any complicated tools or devices with the above lat pulldown alternative exercises like with dumbbells, barbells, pull up bars, or even go on holiday with resistance bands to keep fit all the time.

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