If you have a hard time feeling your back working or if you’re interesting really getting wider lats, you’re going to LOVE this exercise. It’ll trash your lats like crazy!

It’s a very simple concept – basically, you’re going to be doing a pulldown movement…but instead of sitting in a pulldown machine and doing them with a vertical body position, you’re going to be lying on a decline bench and pulling the low cable forward and up.

Hard to explain with just words but the pictures will show it well.

This one combines the benefits of the pulldown movement with the stretch of the pullover movement for the lats. It’s a great overall lat developer.

First, set the decline bench in front of the low pulley. I like the V bar for this one but you could also use a straight bar handle, too.

Make sure the bench is a few feet from the cable so you have to reach fully overhead to grab the handle (this allows you to get the stretch on every rep).

Lie back on the bench, reach overhead and grab the handle.

Decline Lying Pulldowns

Decline Lying Pulldowns

Now, using a standard pulldown type of movement, pull the handle towards your abdomen.

 Decline Lying Pulldowns 2

Pull the handle forward as far as you can (generally until it reaches about mid-chest level). Squeeze hard then lower it slowly back to the start position.

 Decline Lying Pulldowns 3

Let the weight pull a good stretch onto your lats at the bottom. You’ll find as you’re doing the movement, this cable position and your body angle keep the tension on the lats from start to finish. You don’t need a heavy weight to rip up the lats good on this exercise.

Go for at least 8 to 12 reps per set on this exercise – it’s a “feel” based exercise rather than a power-based exercise.

  1. fairlane 13 years ago

    Great exercise. Too bad I can never find my gym’s decline so i can roll it over to the other side of the place to do this. … LOL 😀
    Stupid gym

  2. FitJerks Fitness Blog 13 years ago

    Hmm interesting… will have to try it out. Though till this day, weighted pullups have been the KING of all lat exercises for me and a few others I train. Not to mention the kick your bicep’s ass in the process.

  3. Author
    Nick Nilsson 13 years ago

    Yep, this one will never replace weighted pull-ups or deadlifts, etc. for back training – it’s more of a supplemental exercise you can use for variety and for specific purposes in your training.

  4. Dave 13 years ago

    Nick – any implications for those with shoulder issues?
    I avoid overhead movements like pullovers due to shoulder injuries, although front V-handle pulldowns and neutral-grip pullups are not a problem. I’m just wondering if the use of a V-handle reduces the tension on the shoulders enough to mitigate the stress on the shoulders.

  5. Author
    Nick Nilsson 13 years ago

    This one might be ok for you, actually. I don’t have great shoulders but didn’t have any pain at all doing these. Because it’s only somewhat of a pullover movement (more pulldown), I think it might work. Definitely try it with light weight and let pain be your guide.

  6. Dave 13 years ago

    Thanks Nick

  7. Evan 13 years ago

    Interesting pulldown variation – I’ve never thought of doing these.
    The fact that the back is on a flat surface and stabilized (as opposed to a seated pulldown) changes the exercise.

  8. Richard Lange 2 years ago

    works well holding a dumbell or plate as well.

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