Do the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown for Again and Biceps Positive aspects

The lat pulldown generally is a dependable and efficient different to back-training staples like chin-ups or pull-ups. Pulldowns may be helpful for novice lifters who could not but be sturdy sufficient to carry out high-quality repetitions, in addition to extra skilled lifters seeking to decrease the position of their core or decrease physique whereas zeroing in on again musculature.

The pulldown may be taken to a different stage, nevertheless, when you acknowledge that the train doesn’t must be carried out with each fingers mounted to at least one straight bar. This acquainted setup could make for a easy and steady pull, but it surely additionally disguises simply how a lot work one facet of your physique is doing in comparison with the opposite facet.

Credit score: martvisionlk / Shutterstock

Because of this, choosing a unilateral (single-sided) motion can present distinctive advantages and elevated again focus. When the secret is muscular development and pulling strength, these particulars are big. Right here’s tips on how to get your again on observe with the single-arm lat pulldown.

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

Very best Single-Arm Lat Pulldown Approach Demo

Coach Lee Boyce supplies a transparent demonstration of the single-arm lat pulldown in motion. See the motion carried out with every arm after which learn on to study the small print.

Do the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

The one-arm lat pulldown could really feel barely awkward at first, particularly in case you’re not used to performing back exercises with one arm at a time. However any time spent studying the motion will repay with new measurement and energy. 

Step 1 — Know Your Tools

Single handle attached to cable pulley in gym
Credit score: martvisionlk / Shutterstock

It’s possible you’ll be caught with no matter tools your gymnasium gives, however some pulldown setups are extra user-friendly than others. The gold customary is a twin pulley system. This makes it straightforward to connect particular person handles to every pulley, which will probably be extra naturally aligned with every of your shoulders.

The second best choice can be a singular pulley attachment that operates on a pivot. That approach, despite the fact that the pulley is positioned within the heart above your head, it nonetheless turns within the route of your working arm through the motion.

Least optimum can be a single pulley attachment that’s utterly mounted to the machine with no room to show or pivot. Many older items of kit are constructed this manner, but when it’s the one “pulldown” station obtainable, contemplate organising both on the ground at a manually adjustable cable setup (like one for triceps pressdowns) or on the bottom beside the seat on the pulldown station.

Kind Tip: The important thing level is to place the pulley as shut in-line along with your working-side shoulder as potential. It will enable essentially the most snug, best line of pull through the train.  

Step 2 — Sit Tight, Seize Maintain, and Stretch

Coach Lee Boyce in gym performing back exercise.
Credit score: @coachleeboyce / Instagram

Safe your thighs underneath the pad and attain as much as come up with the deal with. Since you’re solely reaching one arm, it needs to be simpler to stretch greater whereas reaching above your head.

Your physique will naturally attain greater with one arm in comparison with elevating each arms overhead. You probably have doubts, you’ll be able to rapidly take a look at it your self — Stand dealing with a wall and lift each fingers above your head to the touch the best level you’ll be able to attain. Then drop one hand and repeat. You’ll undoubtedly get greater with the only arm by comparability.

Within the overhead stretched place, your palm ought to face towards the machine.

Kind Tip: This deep stretch will permit you to contract and stretch via an extended vary of movement, which is able to improve the coaching impact on the goal muscle tissues. (1)

Step 3 — Set Your Shoulder and Pull

Coach Lee Boyce in gym doing back exercise
Credit score: @coachleeboyce / Instagram

Relaxation your non-working hand comfortably on the leg pad or in your torso. “Reverse” the stretched place by actively setting your working shoulder — decrease it by pulling your shoulder blade down and “in” to your mid-back. Push your chest up excessive and make your neck “lengthy.”

Pull via your elbow, don’t take into consideration curling along with your arm. Squeeze your higher again and lats tight. Take into consideration tucking your elbow into your again pocket. Don’t let your higher physique crunch sideways as you pull down.

Kind Tip: Reap the benefits of the only deal with, which lets you play along with your hand and wrist place. You possibly can supinate (flip your palm to face you) as you raise the load or or can rotate to a thumbs-up position. Discover a wrist angle that works effectively, comfortably, and powerfully for you.

Step 4 — Return to the Overhead Stretch

Coach Lee Boyce in gym performing back exercise.
Credit score: @coachleeboyce / Instagram

When your hand reaches shoulder-level, really feel a powerful contraction via your facet. Return to the beginning place by reversing the movement. Decrease the load slowly and management the motion as you attain overhead to full extension.

Don’t overstretch by leaning towards the non-working facet. Preserve your torso steady and vertical all through the train. When your arm is straight, shrug your shoulder blade up for optimum activation.

Kind Tip: Let your total mobility and suppleness information your actions. Ideally, purpose to carry your hand down close to shoulder-level. Don’t pressure any extreme vary of movement and don’t flip it into an ab train by crunching to the facet — that gained’t assist to recruit your again. 

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown Errors to Keep away from

The one-arm lat pulldown can invite some easy method or programming errors that may cut back the muscle and energy good points. Listed here are the most important factors to be careful for.

Going Too Heavy 

The most typical mistake ought to nearly go with out saying, although it doesn’t solely apply to the single-arm lat pulldown — test your ego on the door. This can be a far more exact, unilateral model of the pulldown, which itself is infamous for overly heavy loading that requires extra physique swing than lat activation.

Person in gym doing one-arm back exercise with cable
Credit score: Workout / YouTube

There’s no place for that with the single-arm lat pulldown, neither is there any actual use for it. You’ll be topic to extreme swinging or twisting to get the load down, and also you’ll in the end be utilizing all the pieces besides your lats to get the job completed.

Keep away from it: Preserve loading comparatively lighter to cut back the temptation to swing the load. Give attention to utilizing good type all through every part of the motion and attempt to really feel your again muscle tissues contracting and stretching.

Slouching within the Completed Place

Like all again train, the purpose ought to all the time be to take care of a “proud chest,” particularly via the contracted part of the raise, to make sure good posture and correct muscle activation.

long-haired person in gym doing single-arm back exercise with cable
Credit score: Connor Nichole / YouTube

It’s straightforward to “shut your self up” as you full the pull, by including one thing of an stomach crunch to the sample. This isn’t perfect as a result of it reduces stress on the goal muscle and places you in an inefficient place.

Keep away from it: Give attention to beginning tall and ending simply as tall, and even taller. This posture cue will make you conscious of your total physique place.

Progress the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

As a comparatively simple, cable-based train, you’ll be able to strategy this train with confidence irrespective of your expertise stage.

Modify Load

Like many actions, you’ll be able to adapt the problem by merely altering the loading. Most cable stacks go as gentle as 10 to twenty kilos. Even whereas maintaining your goal rep vary the identical, you’ll be able to accommodate practically any energy stage by lowering the load to carry out repetitions with crisp method.

Equally, you’ll be able to go as heavy as potential whereas sustaining type. As beforehand mentioned, swapping type for extra weight is something however productive. Happily, when utilizing good method and a reasonable rep vary, even essentially the most skilled lifters will discover the total weight stack to be greater than sufficient.

Advantages of the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown 

This unilateral motion gives the advantages of single-side coaching mixed with the advantages of a cable pulley.

Scapular Mobility

Scapular mobility is the ignored key to each profitable again train, together with the single-arm lat pulldown. Lifters typically mistakenly suppose that stability is the one operate of the scapulae (shoulder blades). As such, they consider the scapulae shouldn’t be allowed to maneuver throughout train.

This can be true in actions just like the barbell bench press, but it surely’s not one thing that truly promotes shoulder joint well being. For each joint in your physique, there’s truly a sure diploma of stability and mobility wanted to take care of correct joint operate. Relying on the joint in query, there will probably be a larger want for one over the opposite.

For instance, hinge joints just like the knees and elbows require extra stability than mobility because of the restricted nature of their duties and obtainable joint angles. There may be nonetheless a level of mobility they should create correct vary of movement, and to permit for slightly little bit of “give” laterally and medially.

Within the case of the scapulae, stability is paramount, but it surely’s important that they possess the capability to maneuver across the ribcage in elevation/melancholy (up and down), and in protraction/retraction (ahead and again collectively).

This brings us to the place most lifters drop the ball when performing pulling actions. Merely put, the shoulder blades should direct the motion of any pull sample – chin-ups, rows, and sure, pulldowns too. Initiating the motion by merely pulling along with your fingers gained’t do a lot to interact the upper back muscles and lats.

To follow the right mechanics, it’s helpful to interrupt the motion down into items, studying tips on how to interact your decrease traps, rhomboids, and lats. You are able to do this by maintaining your elbow straight whereas pulling via solely the primary portion of the raise.

Making use of this idea to the single-arm lat pulldown will assist your quest for muscle, hold the main focus in the precise locations, and hold your scapulae sturdy and wholesome.

Muscle Dimension

The one-arm lat pulldown is a main alternative for hypertrophy as a result of its larger isolation on every particular person facet of the muscle — making all sides of your again carry out work by itself. The added stretch and lengthy vary of movement for every rep additionally helps muscle progress and energy.

Decreased Joint Pressure

Utilizing a single deal with lets you customise your hand and wrist’s begin and end place. This potential to rotate may be helpful for lifters who wrestle with a historical past of shoulder, elbow, or wrist points. These seemingly small adjustments accumulate right into a motion that takes on a wholly new id as a hidden weapon for back day

Muscle tissues Skilled by the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

All pulldowns are thought-about “again workouts,” however the single-arm lat pulldown supplies a novel spin on the widely acquainted train. This ends in a brand new strategy to muscle reccruitment.


When completed accurately, the single-arm lat pulldown primarily focuses on the lats. One key operate of the latissimus (lats) is bringing your arm from an overhead place towards the physique’s centerline.

Muscular man flexing back, shoulders, and arms.
Credit score: RomarioIen / Shutterstock

As a result of a lat muscle rests on all sides of your again, the single-arm lat pulldown lets you deal with one particular muscle throughout every set, which may handle any developmental imbalances that could be current.

Higher Again

Your higher again, as an entire, contributes to the single-arm lat pulldown. Collectively, your decrease trapezius and rhomboids work as direct synergists to assist the prime mover (lats) through the train. Your higher again supplies stability and assist, whereas additionally controlling your scapulae through the overhead stretch and peak contraction.


Your biceps are recruited in lots of again workouts as your arm extends and contracts. Notably, your biceps are extra considerably recruited as you rotate your hand right into a supinated (palm dealing with you) place. (2)


As a result of the single-arm lat pulldown is a unilateral train, there’s an added contribution out of your obliques on the edges of your abdominals. These muscle tissues resist extreme lateral flexion (sideways bending) of the backbone when performing the raise via a full vary of movement. As you deal with maintaining a steady torso through the train, your obliques are activated to take care of your posture.

Program the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

As a result of the single-arm lat pulldown is a comparatively targeted train, being carried out with one arm at a time, it’s not well-suited to very heavy loading. Nonetheless, due to the multi-joint nature and excessive diploma of muscular involvement, extraordinarily excessive repetition coaching could fatigue assist muscle tissues earlier than the first goal muscle tissues.

Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetition

Strategy the single-arm lat pulldown with a basic set and rep scheme for dependable measurement and energy good points. Three to 4 units of 10 to 12 reps will allow you to goal your again with a super period of time underneath pressure while not having to load super-heavy, and probably form-destroying, weights.

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown Variations

This train is already, technically, a substitute for a conventional, straight bar lat pulldown, so the checklist of modifications for extra effectiveness or user-friendliness is comparatively quick. Of be aware, one train stands out as a fantastic different. For it, all you want is an adjustable bench and cable pulley.

Cobra Pulldown 

Set an adjustable bench to a roughly 45-degree incline and place is alongside a excessive cable pulley. Seize a single deal with attachment and lay your facet on the bench. This distinctive setup places you in place to tug diagonally, and lets you hit the lats straight with super-strict type.

The place basically immobilizes your higher physique and removes the involvement of any dishonest muscle tissues just like the decrease again or abs. The purpose is to keep away from lifting heavy and deal with muscle recruitment.

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

This can be a widespread and efficient pulldown variation that lets you place your physique extra straight in-line with the cable pulley. An added advantage of the half-kneeling place is a passive stretch of the hip flexor in your kneeling facet and elevated glute activation to stabilize your hips and pelvis through the train.

Nonetheless, the half-kneeling single-arm lat pulldown may change the pulling angle by including a diagonal, barely extra horizontal, line of pull moderately than an overhead (vertical) pulldown movement. This may enhance recruitment of your higher again muscle tissues and should cut back the work completed by your lats.

Often Requested Questions

Can I do single-arm lat pulldowns and one other pulldown variation in the identical exercise?

You possibly can, so long as they’re programmed in a different way. The one-arm lat pulldown can both be used as the primary train, as a “primer” to activate your again muscle tissues, or because the final train to completely work your fatigued lats and higher again by isolating all sides.
For those who use a distinct set/rep scheme for every motion — for instance, beginning with 4 units of eight straight-bar lat pulldowns and ending the session by doing the single-arm lat pulldown for 3 units of 12 reps — you’ll be able to keep away from redundancy in your exercises.

Larger Lats, One Aspect at a Time

The one-arm lat pulldown is the intermediate back-training motion you didn’t know you wanted. Ensure you have the basic pulldown motion down pat, together with a superb deal with on primary mechanics of your shoulders and shoulder blades. Then it’s off to the races as you utilize the train for greater quantity and nice isolation. Time to get some single-sided good points whereas constructing a strong and extra muscular again.


  1. Pallarés, JG, Hernández-Belmonte, A, Martínez-Cava, A, Vetrovsky, T, Steffl, M, Courel-Ibáñez, J. Results of vary of movement on resistance coaching diversifications: A scientific evaluate and meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports activities. 2021; 31: 1866– 1881.
  2. Youdas, J. W., Amundson, C. L., Cicero, Ok. S., Hahn, J. J., Harezlak, D. T., & Hollman, J. H. (2010). Floor electromyographic activation patterns and elbow joint movement throughout a pull-up, chin-up, or perfect-pullup™ rotational train. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 24(12), 3404–3414.

Featured Picture: @coachleeboyce / Instagram

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