The lat pulldown is a great exercise for overall back development. However, if you aren’t feeling like your back is worked, you may be doing something wrong.
Why Do I Feel Lat Pulldowns In My Triceps?
You probably haven’t learned how to use mind muscle connection properly. That is, contracting the muscle that is being worked in the exercise. Your grip may be slightly off or you’re using a weight that is too heavy. You may also be training your triceps more than your back, meaning that they are taking over the movement.
Your Aren’t Using Mind Muscle Connection
If you are just pulling the bar down using your entire body, it is hard to feel it in your lats. Slow down the movement, and really focus on squeezing your lats and back.
Retract your shoulder blades slightly before beginning the movement and pull your elbows back and into your sides as you bring the bar down.
Driving your elbows into your sides should help you feel it in your lats.
Position yourself with the bar directly above your upper chest. Try to fight the urge to lean back. This will take your lats out of the movement and cause you to use other body parts to pull the weight down.
Keep your chest up throughout the movement which will help you recruit your lats more.
The bar should finish at about your mid chest. You can then slowly return the bar to the top, while feeling your lats stretch out.
It’s normal to slightly feel lat pulldowns in your triceps as they’re a stabilizer in the movement. However, you should mainly feel it in your back.
Pausing the movement at the bottom also helps with learning mind muscle connection. When the bar almost touches your chest, hold it there for a second. You should feel it in your back.
Try Adjusting Your Grip
Your grip should be slightly outside shoulder width. This will make sure that you are targeting your back. This will be right outside the bend of the bar.
If your grip comes inside shoulder width the arms are targeting a lot more. When your grip becomes too wide, it makes it more difficult to pull heavier weight. This means less muscle activation and gains.
With a grip just outside shoulder width it will be easiest to pull your elbows into your sides, allowing you to feel the movement in your lats.
Will an underhand grip help? Using an underhand grip will target your biceps a bit more but will still effectively target your back if you contract it. This should make it very difficult to incorporate your triceps.
This may be a good idea to try if you can’t seem to take your triceps out of the overhand pulldown.
You can also consider trying a close grip attachment pulldown. This is a great exercise to build strength in your back and help you feel the movement. It’s very difficult to feel your triceps in this variation as your hands are pinned together and pulling straight down.
The close grip variation provides a great lat workout as you can pull it down further than you can with the wide bar attachment. After learning to contract your back properly with this variation, you should be able to convert it over to the wide grip bar pulldown.
Lower The Weight!
A very common reason why people don’t feel an exercise in the target muscle group is because they’re slapping on too much weight.
If you can’t slowly control and squeeze your muscles properly due to the weight swining your body around, you may want to consider lowering it.
Lowering the weight will allow you to focus on correct form and mind muscle connection. You should be able to bring the bar down to your chest without any momentum. Your back should be doing the work to pull the bar down.
With heavy weight, you won’t be able to think about pulling your elbows down. You will also be forced to swing and use other body parts to assist getting the weight down.
The lat pulldown does not need to be done with crazy heavy weight to properly train the lats.
Improve Your Grip Strength and Forearms
If your grip strength is weak, your arms may be giving out, not allowing you to complete the lat pulldown completely. If you’re stopping short, your arms may be worked more than your back.
In order to do full range of motion, it helps to have a strong grip and forearms.
Deadlifts and pull ups are great exercises to increase your grip strength. Make sure you aren’t wearing straps as they take away from your grip strength.
You can also purchase cheap grip strengtheners and use them a couple times per week. The cheapest place to buy is on amazon.
Your forearms are a major stabilizer muscle in the lat pulldown. Strengthening them can allow you to perform the lat pulldown with better form and contractions, meaning you will not be feeling the movement in your triceps.
Try out wrist curls, reverse curls, and hammer curls to add some strength to your forearms. Deadlifts are another great movement, which will also improve grip strength.
You’re Not Training Your Body Parts Equally
If you are still feeling lat pull downs in your triceps, you may want to consider your workout split. You should be training each muscle group twice a week for maximum gains.
You should also be training muscle groups equally.
If you train your arms with more intensity than your back, this can be your wake up call to train them evenly.
Having all body parts equally strong will help make sure that you don’t feel one that you’re not supposed to when exercising.
Deadlifts, bent over barbell rows, and seated rows are all great back strength builders. They will also help you with feeling movements in your back. You can then carry this over to your lat pulldowns.
Any type of one arm rows are great for building a better mind muscle connection in the lats.