If you are into bodybuilding, or simply staying in shape, it is likely that you have done lat pulldown before, and the close grip lat pulldown vs. wide grip exercise is quite a common discussion. Both are very common exercises that can be done at gyms, and also with home workout stations.
This is where you pull down on a straight lateral bar, positioned either slightly in front or back of you. Similar to rack pull-ups, you are going to pull the weight down toward your chin or the back of your neck.
The reason that these are more beneficial for building muscle mass is the way that the workout is designed. You can work out multiple muscles using this one simple exercise.
However, you need to do this right to prevent straining your muscles, even with smaller amounts of weight. There is a debate as to whether wide grip or close grip lat pulldowns are actually better for you.
Let’s go over what close grip lat pulldown vs. wide grip means, what muscles they work, and which one of these grip positions will be best suited for maximum results.
What are your lat muscles?
When people hear about “lat” muscles, this is actually an abbreviated term for their official name.
They are technically called your latissimus dorsi muscles, located on the dorsal or back, and also on the lateral or side of the body.
They are also connected to the pelvis, inside of the upper arm, and in the mid to lower back region of your upper torso.
What muscles do lat pulldowns work?
The muscles that are exercised when you are doing your lat pulldown include the serratus posterior inferior, rhomboids, teres major, teres mino and your trapezius muscles.
It also works the infraspinatus muscle, right below your shoulder joints. All of the muscles else can be improved upon by doing these lat pulldowns, both in width and in overall size.
What type of grip should you use?
When you are doing lat pulldowns, and you are using a close grip, this is typically designed to build your muscles to a greater size.
Essentially, this is going to increase the bulk of the muscle, but only extending outward, not in an elongated fashion.
That is why wide grip lat workouts are used. If you have ever seen bodybuilders with massive backs that are incredibly wide, these are developed with this particular exercise and some good supplements from iHerb.
You could do this by having a wide grip when you are doing pull-ups, specifically those that bring the bar to the back of your neck. One of the best examples in the 1970s was martial arts expert Bruce Lee.
His latissimus dorsi muscle fanned out, giving him an almost cobra-like effect because of their unusual size.
It is certainly one of the most prominent aspects of bodybuilders, whether they are posing toward the front, or if they are trying to display how wide their back is in order to win a competition.
Now let’s look at the difference between close grip lat pulldown vs. wide grip exercises.
What muscles do close grip lat pull-downs build?
When doing this exercise, it is very similar to how you would do a chin-up with a regular exercise bar. Your hands are going to be about the same distance as the edge of your shoulders.
This can be done with either an underhand grip or a narrow forward grip, each of which is going to build lower lat muscle fibers. This is what makes all of these muscles much larger.
This will affect your rhomboid, trapezius and teres muscles.
What muscles do wide grip lat pulldowns build?
If you want to have a wider back, which is what most men will want, you will want to do wide grip lat pulldowns as well.
Although you are going to have some crossover, it is the way that you are building these muscles through this grip position which allows you to do both wide and narrow grip lat pulldowns without straining your muscles.
In particular, you are going to expand the latissimus dorsi muscle which is going to give your back that very wide appearance. It will also help you work the serratus posterior inferior and infraspinatus muscles.
How many repetitions should you do?
Now that you know a little bit more about close grip lat pulldown vs. wide grip exercises, you need to figure out how to incorporate this into your workout routines.
Most people know that you need to find your maximum weight, and then take 70 percent off of that amount when you are determining your reps. Most people will start with something that is even smaller.
It’s best, to begin with about 50 percent of the maximum weight, going with three sets of ten, just to get the muscles used to this type of exercise.
If you have already been working out, you can simply augment what you are doing based on your goals.
For example, if building muscle mass is important to you, then you should increase the amount you are already using, and shorten your repetitions by half.
How to avoid inadvertently straining your muscles
Always monitor the way your muscles feel as you are pulling down. This is a little more difficult with lat exercises because there are so many muscles working at the same time.
It is recommended that you begin with two sets of 5 to 7 repetitions if you are doing both wide and narrow grip lat exercises at half your maximum weight.
This will ensure that you will not tear any muscles inadvertently, or strain them, plus it will give you a better idea of how to modify your workout to achieve your goals.
How to avoid inadvertently straining your muscles
Always monitor the way your muscles feel as you are pulling down. This is a little more difficult with lat exercises because there are so many muscles working at the same time. It is recommended that you begin with two sets of 5 to 7 repetitions if you are doing both wide and narrow grip lat exercises at half your maximum weight.
This will ensure that you will not tear any muscles inadvertently, or strain them, plus it will give you a better idea of how to modify your workout to achieve your goals. If you are having trouble making the mind-muscle connection we recommend getting yourself a set of resistance bands and practicing at home.
You can hook them up to your door or your bedpost… pretty much anywhere with a solid anchor and practice using your lats to pull them back. Once you get the hang of this you can hop back on the lat pulldown machine and should notice a huge difference.
Final thoughts on close grip lat pulldown vs. wide grip exercises
If you are not doing lat exercises on a regular basis, you are missing out. It’s great to do bench press and military press, but without working your lat muscles, the upper half of your torso is going to look disproportionate.
It also provides you with a lot more strength when you are trying to build in other areas. Most muscles are interconnected in some way when you are doing these routines.
By having a proper balance in your exercise regimen, you can build muscle mass much more quickly, and reduce the probability of injuries.
Hopefully, this overview of close grip lat pulldown vs. wide grip exercises will help you improve not only your physical strength but the way that your back looks, as a result of doing these exercises.