Have you ever stopped in the gym and asked, “why are lat pulldowns so hard?” If you’re having trouble doing this exercise, you are missing out on some great back gains.

This article will break down the reasons that people struggle with lat pulldowns. I will also discuss how you can improve your lat pulldowns so that you can get the big back you’ve always wanted.

Why are Lat Pulldowns So Hard?

You most likely are using improper form, using too heavyweight, or lacking in back strength. Continue reading to find out how to perfect your lat pulldown.

why are lat pulldowns so hard

What Makes Lat Pulldowns Hard?

  1. You’re doing them incorrectly
  2. You’re going too heavy
  3. Your back strength is lacking
  4. Difficult plane of motion

If you aren’t incorporating the right muscles, lat pulldowns will be a lot more difficult. The exact form will be broken down later in the article.

Using too much weight is the most common reason that people find lat pulldowns difficult. Stacking on heavyweight and swinging the bar down will not benefit you. Using a lighter weight and really feeling the contraction in the lats builds the most muscle.

If your back isn’t very strong, your lat pulldown will suffer as multiple back muscles are worked during the movement. Continue reading to discover the best ways to blow up your back.

Since there is nothing keeping the body in place while performing a lat pulldown, it is difficult to stabilize the body and control the weight. Controlling the weight in a fixed plane of motion is difficult and requires a lot of strength.

Here are some more reasons why you may not be feeling the lat pulldown in your back.

Correct Lat Pulldown Form

The lat pulldown is a lot easier if you are using the proper form. Let’s break down proper form so that you can get the most out of the exercise.

Adjust the pad so that it’s against your thighs. This helps drive your legs into the pad to help you pull the bar down. This results in more weight being lifted for more reps, leading to more muscle breakdown and growth.

Grasp the bar at about shoulder-width or whatever feels best. Position your chest directly under the lat pulldown bar. A grip too wide won’t allow you to pull as much weight, and a grip too close together will force the arms and traps to take over the movement.

Retract your shoulder blades and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Pull the bar towards your body. Keep your chest up and back straight throughout the movement.

Pull your elbows down to your sides, rather than pulling them backward. Thinking of pulling from your ring and pinky finger will help activate the mind-muscle connection and feeling a contraction in the lats.

Avoid leaning back as it will cause you to use momentum to pull the weight down, rather than the back muscles doing all the work.

If you can’t feel the movement in your lats, lower the weight. It is more efficient to use lightweight and perform the movement correctly to gain muscle. Once you have built a mind-muscle connection with a lightweight, slowly increase the weight.

Using heavyweight with improper form increases the risk of injury. It also does not build at much muscle as properly contracting lightweight does.

Improve Your Lat Pulldown

One easy way to increase your lat pulldown strength is to train your back more. Implement compound movements such as deadlifts, barbell rows, and pull ups into your training. Always progressively overload when training.

Increasing your weight, reps, or sets every workout allows you to continuously progress without plateauing. Rest times can also be shortened. Anything that increases the intensity of your workout weekly.

Increasing your grip strength will improve your lat pulldowns. If you have a weak grip, your forearms or hands will give out before your back does. This means that you are missing out on back gains.

Training your forearms will help with this. Purchase a cheap grip strengthener from Amazon to increase your grip strength at home on the couch.

More volume increases strength. Simply do more reps and sets of lat pulldowns on a regular basis. Take your nutrition into account. Eating a caloric surplus is the best way to increase strength and muscle size.


Recovery is important for getting stronger at any exercise. Your muscles need proper sleep to regrow and grow stronger. Your muscles grow while at rest so don’t skip out on sleep.

Stay hydrated. Water transports oxygen and nutrients to your muscles while training and resting. Your body will not work the same way when dehydrated.

Stretching and properly warming up also play a role in recovery. Stretching gets blood into the muscles and prevents strain or injury. This allows you to go heavier during your working sets.

Benefits Of The Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown is great for building a wide and aesthetic back. The lats are a very aesthetically appealing muscle group. Wide lats make your chest look bigger as they have more area to spread across.

Strong lats carry over to a lot of other lifts such as the deadlift, squat, and even the bench press. This should be pretty obvious for deadlifts, the lats help keep the spine extended and also depress the scapula.

They help pull your shoulders back preventing them from injury during the movement. They are also important in making sure the bar does not drift too far in front of the body.

The lats also play a major role in stabilizing your body during the squat. They keep the bar securely on your back and help you keep an upright torso. This prevents the back from rounding and causing injury.

The lats even help stabilize your body as your drive the bar up during the bench press. Bigger lats will give you more spring when your press the bar off of your chest.

Strong lats will improve your posture. They pull the shoulders back, preventing you from having a hunch back and leaning forward. This also helps fight back pain.

Lat pulldowns target all the muscles in the upper back including the rhomboids, teres major, teres minor, rear delts, and the biceps.

Having more muscle in your body helps burn more fat. The more body fat you have on your body, the less testosterone you will have. That means that losing fat and gaining muscle will help you increase your lifts.

Leave any questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *