Which Is Better Lat Pulldown or Pull-Up?

There are multiple exercises you can do to strengthen your upper body. Most of them require different pieces of equipment that target specific muscles of your shoulder and arms. One of these is the lat pulldown machine.

The good news is that this piece of equipment fits in a small space at your own gym so you can exercise even when at home. However, many people are still doubtful whether lat pulldown exercises are indeed better than lat pull-ups. Let’s answer this once and for all.

What Is Lat Pulldown?

Lat pulldown is a form of exercise that involves using a cabled machine. You will load the weight behind the machine and pull the handlebar down, lifting the weight through the cable. It’s the reversed version of pull-ups, as the only difference is that you’re seated in this exercise.

Benefits of Lat Pulldown

Here are some of the reasons people prefer lat pulldowns over pull-ups:

  • Weight Adjustment

The first significant benefit of engaging in lat pulldown exercises is that you can adjust the weight of the load you’re lifting. Some of us can’t lift our entire body weight yet, which is what happens in lat pull-ups.

Thus, the lat pulldown is a great option for beginners. You can start with ten or 20 pounds and increase the weight if you wish to upgrade the workout’s intensity.

  • Muscle Use Reduction

Since the lat pulldown is a seated exercise, your core, and lower back muscles will not be involved. It significantly reduces the difficulty of the exercise, which often limits other people from trying upper strength training.

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Another great advantage of the lat pulldown exercise comes from its weight-adjustment capabilities. Since you can increase or decrease the weight of the load, you can drop your next sets to a lighter weight when you’re starting to feel fatigued.

This allows you to keep going and get more reps in, further developing your upper body.

Drawbacks of Lat Pulldown

While the lat pulldown is indeed a beneficial exercise, it also has a few drawbacks.

  • Less Muscle Development

We mentioned earlier that the lat pulldown exercise is easier than the lat pull-up because it doesn’t target your core and lower back muscles. However, this also means that they wouldn’t develop through this exercise.

If you’re only looking to improve your shoulder and chest muscles, the lat pulldown exercise is beneficial. If you wish to also develop your core and mid to lower back muscles, you may need to engage in other exercises.

What Is Lat Pull-Up?

The lat pull-up exercise does not use a machine. Instead, the load you need to lift is your entire body weight. It’s often done on a horizontal bar. Different muscles of your body are improved by lifting yourself to the bar with your arms.

Benefits of Lat Pull-Up

Here are some of the reasons people still prefer lat pull-ups over pulldowns:

One of the most notable advantages of the lat pull-up is that it’s significantly more intense than pulldowns. You can’t adjust the weight of the load because the load is your body weight. It is a guaranteed technique to improve your upper body quickly.

  • Control and More Muscle Involvement

When you lift yourself on a bar, you inadvertently straighten your back as you do so, so you get to target more muscles, specifically your core. Hence, you get to develop your upper and core muscles, which the lat pulldown exercise doesn’t usually offer.

  • Foundation for Most Exercises

Another notable reason people engage in lat pull-up is that it’s one of the foundation exercises for other types of training. Once you’ve mastered the lat pull-up, it will be easier for you to engage in more advanced bodyweight training exercises.

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Drawbacks of Lat Pull-Up

There are quite a few drawbacks in lat pull-up exercises that you may need to know of, including:

The lat pull-up is extremely harder than the lat pull-down. Ergo, if you can’t handle this type of exercise, it wouldn’t develop your muscles or do so very slowly. Additionally, you might not get your desired result if you couldn’t perform this exercise properly.

Since you can’t adjust the weight in lat pull-ups, you are more prone to suffer from fatigue. It will be harder for you to keep on going and get more reps once your muscles start to feel tired and painful.

Which Is Better?

So, is lat pulldown better than lat pull-up, or is it the other way around? Well, it actually depends on your current overall body strength.

If you can conduct lat pull-ups properly, then you can develop your muscles quicker. If it’s rather difficult for you to pull your entire weight up, we suggest that you stick with lat pulldowns since you can adjust the intensity of the exercise while still targeting your upper body muscles.

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