Pulls up and lat pulldowns mimic each other and work very similar muscle groups. If you’ve ever wondered, should you do pull ups and lat pull downs, this article will break down and answer that question.
Should you do Pull Ups and Lat Pulldowns?
Yes, you should incorporate both in your training so that you receive the benefits of both. If you cannot perform pull ups, only do lat pulldowns until you have built enough strength.
Pull Ups Form
First you must decide which type of grip you want to use. A grip just outside shoulder width has proven to build the most muscle and activate the lats to the highest degree. A close grip will put more emphasis on the traps and mid back.
An underhand grip can be used to put more emphasis on the biceps than the back.
When performing a traditional pull up, place your hands shoulder width apart on the bars. Start by engaging your glutes and core as they will stabilize your body throughout the movement.
Engage your lats as you pull yourself up towards the bar. Your elbows should tuck into your sides as your lats contract. Once your chin has passed the bar you can slowly start to descend.
Keep your chest up and don’t let your back arch. Engaging your core will help with this. Keep your elbows tucked to engage the lats, don’t let them flare out. Keep your shoulders back to prevent shoulder pain.
If you can’t perform a pull up with proper form, consider using an assisted pull up machine. There is a platform to place your knees on and you can add weight for resistance. Perform these until you are strong enough to do a pull up.
Pull Up Benefits
Pull ups strengthen the entire back including the lats, traps, erector spinae, and infraspinatus. They additionally target the biceps, core, and shoulders. They are also effective in improving grip strength as you are holding up your body weight.
Pull ups are great as they can be done anywhere, even outside the gym.
Start by adjusting the pad so that it rests against your thighs. This allows you to drive force through your legs to help you pull the bar down. By lifting more weight, more muscle fibers are broken down.
Position your chest directly under the bar and grip it just outside shoulder width. Begin to retract the shoulder blades as you pull the bar straight down to the upper chest.
Squeezing your elbows down into your sides will help contract the lats. Mentally thinking of pulling the bar with your ring and pinky finger will also help with feeling the movement in the back muscles.
Don’t use weight that is too heavy. If you are swinging the weight down, you will be using other body parts to assist you. This takes the tension off of the lats and makes you prone to injury.
The movement should be slow and controlled.
Benefits of the Lat Pulldown
Lat pulldowns are great for strengthening the lats. They are also great for straightening your spine and improving posture. Training the back muscles will pull your shoulder blades back, promoting proper posture.
Doing lat pull downs will also strengthen the same muscles that work during pull ups. This means you are increasing your pull up strength at the same time. The biceps are also worked during lat pulldowns, meaning you are strengthening them while performing lat pull downs.
Pull Ups VS Lat Pulldown
It is a lot more difficult to have perfect form with pull ups than with lat pulldowns. If your form is great and you can properly do them, pull ups take the win. They work the entire back as well as stabilizer muscles.
Lat pulldowns don’t require a lot of form and are a lot more difficult to mess up than pull ups. It is also easy to increase weight with lat pulldowns. You just have to adjust the weight stack. Whereas pull ups require a weighted belt to increase intensity.
Pull ups are better for developing strength. Lat pulldowns are better for overloading with weight and building muscle. Since you are in a fixed position, only the lats are doing the work. In a pull up, your legs and core are also working to stabilize the body. This takes away from the back muscles doing the work.
Furthermore, pull ups are more taxing on the central nervous system. A lot more muscles groups are at play and it requires a lot more demand on your body than a seated lat pulldown.
Increase your Pull Ups and Lat Pulldown
If you’re having trouble with pull ups, the best thing to do is simply add more frequency. Add them into your routine more often. If you can’t do proper pull ups, start with assisted pull ups to strengthen your muscles.
If you don’t have an assisted pull up machine at your gym, ” target=”_blank” rel=”sponsored”>get a pair of resistance bands. They’re cheap and can be used for many exercises. Simply tie them around the pull up bars and wrap them around your knees.
This will make the movement a lot easier and allow you to build the muscles required for a regular pull up.
Training your back and biceps will also help you increase your strength. Deadlifts, barbell rows, and standing barbell bicep curls are great ways to do so. Consider doing different variations of pull ups to excel at them all.
Progressively overload every workout. This includes increasing reps, sets, or weight every session. Decreasing rest times or increasing intensity also works. This ensures that you are continuously progressive and not hitting plateaus.
Take recovery seriously. Stretch your muscles before training for adequate blood flow and preventing tight muscles.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep as protein synthesis and growth hormone release happen while the body is sleeping.
If you’re a beginner in the gym, lat pulldowns are the better choice. If you can’t properly perform a couple pull ups, then lat pulldowns are the better choice. Adding both into your routine will provide the best results.
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