Pulldown Alternative
  • Useful Information on How to Replace the Lat Pulldown

    15 Sep 2020

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    Editor-in-Chief of the Approved By Coach

    If you are after a broad back and great posture, but somehow, you cannot access a good gym, then you must have heard of lat pulldown alternatives. And if you have been wondering what exercise can replace lat pulldown, read on.

    The lat pulldown is an exercise that strengthens the latissimus dorsi muscle โ€“ the largest back muscle โ€“ and promotes good posture and a stable spine. It is performed through a pulldown machine.

    What Group of Muscles do Lat Pulldowns Target?

    The machine works on different muscles with different movements. It works well with upper body muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and the biceps.

    Why do Pulldowns?

    Lat pulldowns are repeatedly ranked among the best upper body exercises that exist. Hereโ€™s why:

    • It aims to work on groups of muscles and joints. While it is best to develop your latissimus dorsi, it also exercises the core, forearms, as well as the biceps.
    • It exercises the latissimus dorsi and, due to this, improves functions such as adduction, extension, among others.
    • Working these muscles improves your ability to catch, throw, or swing objects.
    • Lat pulldowns enhance flexibility in the shoulders and elbows, which will improve performance in any sport.

    Perfect Alternative to Lat Pulldown

    Several lat pulldown replacement routines you can do at home have been scientifically proven to be good alternatives for lats.

    Bent Over Barbell Rows


    Pull-ups are a lat pulldown at home alternative for building muscles and are easy to do. For pull-ups, all you need is a bar to pull yourself up with.

    It works on your lats, scapula, rear delts and traps.

    To master the pull up steps, we recommend using the assisted pull-up machine at your gym. If your gym doesnโ€™t have one or have a bar at home:

    • Grab the bar and set your shoulders well apart.
    • Pull your shoulders down and back to keep your scapula engaged โ€“ you should feel a squeeze in your lats and traps once this is done.
    • Pull yourself up using your elbows.
    • Squeeze your lats at the top.
    • Control your weight down then repeat.

    If you cannot access a bar, we also recommend finding the best gymnastic rings to use for pull-ups.

    Seated Cable Row

    This exercise trains the traps, lats, rhomboids, and rear delts. It uses a cable stack to achieve this and, in effect, targets the biceps. It is the perfect wide grip lat pulldown alternative. To do a perfect routine:

    • Set the desired weight on the stack then attach a grip bar to the compact rowing machine. Grasp the bar with the palms facing inward.
    • Sit straight upright with your shoulders back, your legs bent a bit, and your back straight to get the starting position.
    • While the body is in this position, pull the handles into your stomach.

    Pull back your shoulder blades, squeeze, and lower the weight back to the starting point and repeat with a slight pause.

    Single Arm Bench Row

    This routine closely resembles the incline bench row. You will need a flat bench and a single dumbbell for it. A rack is also agreeable if you do not have a bench. As it hits your lats and traps, we recommend that you start at a lightweight to form a mind and muscle connection and perform it correctly. To perform this lat pulldown substitute:

    • With your left hand and the left knee on the bench, leaving enough room between them to stabilize your body weight.
    • Put your right foot down and rest your back to where you feel your weight.
    • Lean your weight on the hand and bench while you put the rest on your knee.
    • Prop your core and pull back your scapula.
    • Hold your weight on your right hand.
    • Using your elbow, pull the weight towards your upper abdomen/lower chest depending on where you feel the lat activation the most.
    • Squeeze at the top.
    • Repeat with the other side.

    Incline Dumbbell Row

    This is a lat pulldown alternative with dumbbells and works as the back row but with more stability as you brace easier. You will need two dumbbells and a bench โ€“ preferably adjustable. As you will be braced against a bench, you will use more weight than you would with other routines, to hit your lats and traps. For a perfect incline dumbbell row:

    Face Pulldown
    • Set your bench to an incline position.
    • Lay your chest and abs onto the bench.
    • Tighten your abs and retract your scapula.
    • Then pull your weight using your elbows.
    • Squeeze.
    • Repeat.

    Face Pulldown

    A face pulldown is one of the most beneficial lat pulldown replacements. To do one, you will need a tricep pushdown rope and a single pulley โ€“ preferably tall. For a proper one, check that your lats are the primary muscles. Hereโ€™s a short guide on how to go about it:

    • Grab the rope as if doing a tricep pushdown.
    • Back up two steps from the pulley and go on your knees.
    • Retract your scapula.
    • Pull the rope out towards your face as though meeting your eyes in the middle.
    • Squeeze.
    • Do it again several times.

    Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

    This is a lat pulldown alternative with dumbbells. It requires the simultaneous use for both right and left sides. This routine gives your lats, lower traps, and rhomboids a good work over.

    To do a perfect routine:

    • While standing, keep your shoulders and feet well apart.
    • Hold a dumbbell on both hands.
    • Bend forward at the hips with your torso at a 45-degree angle.
    • Ensure your core is engaged and your neck and spine kept neutral to support your lower back.
    • Then, extend your hands with the dumbbells and row in a straight line towards your rib cage with elbows going out wide at a 45 angle.
    • With your shoulder blades squeezed inward at the top, synchronize them with the movement. Repeat for better results.
    What Muscles Do Lat Pulldowns Work


    The decline dumbbell pullover is a great upper body workout that works the lats and triceps, chest and the back. It requires a single dumbbell and a bench.

    To work this:

    • Adjust your bench to an incline.
    • Lay down with your head close to the floor, and the feet are hooked to the bar on the other end.
    • Hold your dumbbell over your head and raise it above your chest.
    • Work on this movement continually until you are satisfied.

    Wrapping up

    No more racking your brains on what is a substitute for lat pulldowns. We have guided you through the best and simplest routines that can be performed at home. We hope you will use this article to get all the best benefits from lat pulldowns. Happy workouts!

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