I have a question, and I mean this in the most genuine sense, I’m not having a dig and nor am I nit picking… it is, a genuine question. When people perform the lat pull down, why is it that many continue to pull the bar down past their chest and all the wayyyy dowwwnn to their belly button? I get that there is not necessarily one set rule for training, and I fully appreciate that exercises have many variations, but aside from improving range of motion and joint mobility, I don’t really get this variation of the lat pull down.
Use the machine the way it was intended
The wide grip lat pull down, by its nature, should target the upper, and to a lesser degree, the lower lats. This is achieved quite nicely by bringing the bar down to your middle chest region and slowly controlling it back for around 8- 10 reps, with the last rep being adequate to make you struggle a little. Those people bringing the bar down to their belly button deserve praise for their desire to perform a full rep, the trouble is, if we’re being strict, then the full rep actually ends around the middle chest region. So the practice of bringing the bar down to past the middle chest is somewhat of a waste if muscle growth and tone is the goal.
Get the weight right & you won’t reach your belly button!
In order to adequately stress the large latissimus dorsi muscles (lats), the weight used has to be relatively heavy, and by heavy I mean difficult enough to move so that the person lifting struggles on the final rep. The problem I think I have with this ‘bar down to the belly button’ business is that the weight can’t be particularly heavy in order to achieve this. I’m not saying people need to lift ‘heavy’ when weight lifting, but I do feel that muscle strength, toning and a degree of conditioning demands adequate resistance, and therefore anyone pulling a bar down to their belly button are simply NOT using adequate weight.
A degree of conditioning…
I am keen to assert that I have no personal issue with people pulling the bar down to their belly button, there are far more pressing issues in life after all. Although not being the conformational lat pull down range of motion, I do feel that this is a viable exercise variation to support joint mobility and a general degree of conditioning, but it’s not the one that the lat pull down machine was designed for! All you’re really achieving in pulling the bar down to your belly button is slight enhancements in joint mobility, and maybe firing of the triceps to a very small degree. I would argue that these people are far better bringing the bar down to their middle chest, and increasing the weight slightly as a result.