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Substitutes for Lat Pulldowns

Lat pull downs are a big part of building your upper body. As a back builder, they are one of the best movements you can perform. But, not everyone has access to a lat pull down machine.

No need to despair though. You can still perform a few different exercises that can help grow your wings and get you that bulldozer width, t-shirt splitting back.

Basics of a Lat Pulldown

If you’re just wanting to get right into the meat and see what you can be doing instead of a lat pull-down then feel free scroll down the article and miss out a few pieces of crucial physiological information.

But, in order to understand what exercises you need to be doing to replace lat pulldowns in your workout, you need to understand what muscles the lat pulldown works.

This won’t just help you with today’s session, but give you the brain muscles to build your own workouts in the future.

The lat pulldown is such a good exercise because it’s a multi joint movement that hits your largest back muscle – the latissimus dorsi.


Also recruited in the movement are the biceps, rear delts, rhomboids and traps.  Because all the muscles that make you look like a monster. A sexy monster who’s massive back would be perfect as a scratching post for any pussy.

So, now you know exactly which muscles you need to be targeting with a lat pullldown alternative.

Lat Pull-Down Alternative Exercises

So you’re wanting to build that back up, but your gym is just lacking that lat pulldown machine. Or you’re stuck at home and only have a set of dumbbells. Well don’t despair. We’re not going to just be offering up some alternative exercises to a lat pulldown, but you’ll get a couple of back building mini workouts too.

We got your back, bro.

#1 Pull Ups

Pull Ups

This movement isn’t for everyone. As if you’re carrying a sick pair of super powered wheels then they can be fairly hard and just a bit gruelling.

But when you can’t reach a pull up machine and still need to hit your lats (and biceps, rear delts, rhomboids and traps) the pull up is the top contender. Best bit? As well as your back muscles you’ll build up some core stability and work other upper body muscles.

Struggle to perform pull ups? Give these variations a try:

  • Negative Pull Ups

You can still build strength from a negative movement. So, in order to make pull ups a little easier, then jump up, to the top pull up position with your chin over the bar.

Then, go down the negative of the pull up movement whilst keeping your muscles contracted. When your arms are fully extended, jump back up into the same position.

  • Resistance Band Pull Ups

Resistance band pull ups use an elastic band wrapped round the top of the pull up handles. You put your feet into the bottom of the band and use the support of the band to assist with the motion of the pull up.

#2 Bent Over Rows


This is an essential part of training your back.  Performing a bent over row activates your latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles as well as other minor muscles and your core.

You can perform bent over rows with a barbell or even dumbbells. To perform a bent over row, stand whilst holding a barbell with an overhand grip.  Lean forward at the hip until your torso is slightly above being paralell with the floor.

Then with your arms straight, pull the barbell up towards your belly button. Make sure you squeeze your shoulders together and feel the weight come through your lats.

#3 Seated Cable Row


Part of back building 101. Don’t cry if you can’t do a lat pull down. Instead get on the seated cable rows as a big back builder.

Seated cable rows allow you to fully stretch out your lats. Driving backwards with your elbows and trying to keep your back around a 90 degree angle.

The great thing about the seated cable row is you hit your back muscles hard. There’s no part that will escape. The muscles worked are trapezius muscles, latissimus dorsi, the erector spinae, rear deltoids and also the biceps, biceps brachialis, and forearm flexors.

Remember, you need to feel your back contract. And don’t let the weight drag your arms forward and perform the negative motion. Keep it controlled.

Back Workout Without Lat Pulldown

Above are 3 great exercises that’ll tear up your back muscles and get you so wide you can’t even walk through a double set of doors without bruising your elbows.

Each of the above exercises will hit all of your back muscles, even if it’s not quite in the way a lat pull down does.

But, by throwing in a set of pull ups, either assisted or otherwise, you’ll still see some good growth.

Rowing Machine (Warm up)15 minutes
Pull Ups48-15
Bent Over Rows48
Seated Row 38
Negative Pull Ups310

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