How to do lying lat pulldown

Lying lat pulldown is a great introduction to pull ups. This exercise will build the required strength and mobility for pull ups because of the same muscles worked and movement pattern.

What is lying lat pulldown?

Lying lat pulldown is an upper body bodyweight exercise that consists in lying on your stomach with your arms raised forward, and pulling your elbows down. For the entire range of motion, you want to have a retracted scapula.

The movement is very similar to the pull ups as well as the muscles worked. Therefore this exercise is a great introduction to pull ups. It will improve your shoulder mobility and control of your scapula, which is essential in pull ups.

Benefits of lying lat pulldown

Jackknife pull ups have many benefits, here are few of them

Practice for pull ups

Pull ups are one of the harder bodyweight exercises. If you can’t do them already, you can start with lying lat pulldown. It works on the same muscle groups as regular pull ups. They’re great to build muscle strength and mobility to prepare for pull ups.

Improve your posture

Lying lat pulldown engages muscles responsible for the forward head posture and rounded shoulders. By strengthening them you can avoid muscle imbalances and improve your posture.

No equipment needed

Lying lat pulldowns don’t require any weights or machines to do them. That makes them great for home workouts. You can do them anywhere, you only need some free space to lay on.

Muscles worked during lying lat pulldown

The lying lat pulldown works most of the major muscles in the upper body

The primary muscles worked in lying lat pulldown are:

  • latissimus dorsi
  • rhomboids
  • trapezius (middle and lower)

Additional secondary muscles worked include:

  • core
  • glutes
  • biceps brachii

Step-by-step guide on how to do lying lat pulldown

  1. Lie on the ground with your belly down
  2. Raise your head and arms, straighten your arms, retract your scapula
  3. Keep your core and glutes taut
  4. Pull your elbows down
  5. Straighten your arms to the starting position
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

Other variations of lying lat pulldown

If regular lying lat pulldown isn’t challenging anymore, you can try these variations

Towel lying lat pulldown

In this variation, you grab the towel with your hands and pull it outwards trying to tear it for the entire range of motion of lying lat pull up.

Banded lying lat pulldown

In this variation, you attach a resistance band to something stable (in the home it can be a bed or table) and hold a different end of that band in each hand while doing lying lat pulldown.

Lying lat pulldown tips

Here are a few tips to help with your training

Raised legs

To engage your core muscles, even more, you can raise the legs during the exercises


Proper technique is much more important than the number of reps. Training is not about the number of reps, but a slow and controlled movement to feel the muscles.

Common mistakes

  • training without the warm up
  • Not fully extending elbows
  • moving too quickly
  • not keeping elbows close to the body

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