Back Attack: Reducing the Involvement of Your Biceps

By: Tim Rigby (courtesy of Inside Fitness)

Although people perform the lat pulldown to grow the muscles in their back, usually in the hope of getting a very attractive V-taper, many of these people go about this the wrong way.  When you grip the overhead bar using a pronated (overhand) grip, you’ll naturally be inclined to wrap your thumb around the opposite side of the bar to your fingers. Unfortunately, by doing so, you actually wind up using more of your arms on the first half of the pull and inadvertently take away the work from your lats.  This phenomenon, however, can be avoided simply by using an “open” grip, where your thumb remains on the same side of the bar as your fingers.  From the very beginning of the pulling down action, your lats will be more engaged this way.  

The first time you try this different thumb position, you may feel a noticeable difference during the action, and also observe a little more soreness in your lats the next day – this means it’s working and your goal of hitting your lats is more on target.  It’s really just a simple tweak when you think about the relative size of your thumbs compared to your entire back – but it makes a huge difference and can really ramp up those gains in your lats that you’re striving for.

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