This is the most common question I get asked when I talk about lat pull downs to a new client. As you will see, this question also gets to the root of one of the major problems.
Even if you do all the adjustments with the grip, 90% of the people who come to the gym will never come to that single digit body fat level where they could tell these small difference in lats. They should focus or worry about things which will make the biggest difference.
This is one reason why wise men say never copy routines of bodybuilders. Their goals are way different from the majority of the population and their training will reflect them. Their priorities are a lot different than yours. This also one reason why ‘some’ bodybuilders do not make the greatest of trainers.
1. Spending hours doing cardio but have no clue about their food and calorie intake
2.Doing high reps to burn more calories or /and trying to burn calories using weights
3.Focusing on isolation exercises like curls & shoulder raises
4.Doing half an hour of ab exercises
5.Eating a ton of protein , but not getting enough calories in the first place.
I will stop here, but I can just keep going.
If you are good with the first 3 points, then you are welcome to worry about little things like how many reps, which grip, and so forth.
| Sat July 02, 2011
Good stuff. The take-home is to not sweat the small stuff. I’d be interested in what difference pull-down grip makes in muscles like the biceps. Just looking at the exercise you would think supination would result in more bicep activation, but maybe not. I was reading somewhere on the glute guy’s web site about studies on pushups show that the narrow position results in more pec activation. That’s just the opposite of what’s been thought. It’s interesting, but in the end it’s not going to matter to the average Joe too much.
Anoop | Sat July 02, 2011
Thanks for commenting.
Exactly. It is just funny when I hear first time clients who cannot make it 3 workouts in a row worry about their grip width and such. 90% of the people would have an above average physique if they worry about their diet, workout progression and maybe sleep too.
Even bodybuilders can only tell these weak points when they are up on the stage with extreme levels of bodyfat. They are training all those details for that 10-15 min of glory on the podium. It is not worth people’s time to worry about these, and most will not hit a 5% body fat in their life, ever. And if they do, it won’t be in front of judges eyeing for the slightest flaw.
And don’t take me wrong, I love to go into the details. I used to work in a lab which researched molecular pathways involved in muscle loss. I just don’t think it is what most people need. It is just taking their eyes off from the big picture.
| Sat July 02, 2011
Great article Anoop. I like your training related articles the best.
| Sat July 02, 2011
| Sun July 03, 2011
Missing the shoulder health aspect. One of the most frequently injured joints in the weight training population.
IIRC Abduction and external rotation (as it occurs in a wide vs. close grip) places the shoulder joint in a more dangerous position. (referenced in Cressey’s material for example)
I enjoy your work & keep on writing
Anoop | Sun July 03, 2011
Thanks Omar, Sony & Dominik for commenting.
The high-five position (abducted-external rotation under load) is more of a problem in behind the neck pulldowns. Since you pulling in front of you, there is not much external rotation to worry about in a regular pulldowns.
| Tue July 05, 2011
Nice post. And let’s not forget good form and execution on the list of “what matters.” Lots of people do pulldowns and totally miss the negative.
I remember, years ago, Dorian Yates was quoted in one of the muscle mags as preferring BB rows using a shoulder-width underhand grip. I am sure that sent LOTS of young men to the gym doing the same.
For me, changing grips is more about keeping things interesting in the gym. I use them all and also change where I place my hands on the bar. It’s what keeps me going to the gym for 20 years.
Anoop | Wed July 06, 2011
Thanks Kathleen! I agree and the pulling with the biceps too. Maybe another time.
| Fri July 08, 2011
Focus on your diet, weight progression and sleep. These are the top things which will make the biggest difference in your physique.
Above comments are the best take away any person who is training.
people focus more on the grip of the bar then the food they eat.
sometime i see people going crazy with supinated close grip pull down, i feel close grip pull fatigues bicep much before the back. the whole purpose of doing exercise as gone waste.
Anoop | Mon July 11, 2011
Thanks for the comment, Harish.
| Tue August 16, 2011
Great work as usual Anoop. I am linking to this in the question of the month in my fitness email newsletter. Keep up the excellent writing!
| Tue February 21, 2012
Mike Reinold thinks that a pronated grip may be safer for the general population, as the biceps tendon at the shoulder is continuous with the labrum, and a pronated grip reduces the tension here. If the lat EMG is better, and the evidence says it could be safer, those are good reasons for me.
| Sun February 26, 2012
HI I APPRECIATE ALL OF U FOR PUTTING EFFORTS
PRONATED GRIP IS YOUR NATURAL AND FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH TO CLIMB SO AS PER MY EXPERIENCE YOU CAN PULL MORE POUNDAGE,....
| Fri March 02, 2012
on which planet is a pronated grip most natural? because on this planet a neutral grip is. neutral grip @ shoulder width ... get off the internet and get after it.
| Fri March 23, 2012
Neutral grip @ shoulder width is indeed the most natural and strongest grip. Second is supinated and third pronated. Yes, we usually use pronated grip when climbing fences etc. as there is no choice but to use that wrist position.
And I wouldn’t use wide grip of any kind on weighted pullups.
Anoop | Sun March 25, 2012
And the whole point of the article is not to mull over the minutae. And you guys are dong exactly the very same by arguing over pronated and supinated.
If supinated is more comfortable, use that.
| Sun March 25, 2012
I HAVE NOT MENTIONED IN MY BLOG THAT U SHOULD NOT USE SHOULDER WIDTH BUT I HAVE STRESSED ON PRONATED GRIP TO BE USED FOR CLIMBING WALL .FINE IF MY FRIENDS (dano N Chinups rule) CLIMB A WALL WITH SUPINE I HAVE NO ISSUE PLZ TRY..
N PLZ GIVE ME EXAMPLES…THANKS
HI..ANOOP I NT THR TO ARGUE
WHY PRONATED GRIP IS NATURAL GRIP
1)AS I MENTIONED IF U WANT TO CLIMB U CAN CLIMB A WALL ONLY WITH PRONETED GRIP ON THIS PLANET…
2)IF U WANNA WRITE SOMETHING ONLY PRONATION WILL DO..ON THIS PLANET
3)EVEN U WANT TO EAT OR HAVE SOUP U R WRIST HAS TO MOVE FROM PRONATION TO SUPINATON ON THIS PLANET…
| Mon April 02, 2012
useless article. kind of upset i read through it.
| Thu May 24, 2012
As the saying goes, “A little knowledge is dangerious.” While muscle activty is something people should speak of, a more important issue is “proper biomechanical form.” It is only after one understands both anatomy AND biomechanics, will the answer be clear (by the way, the term “understands” means “is an expert” in this context). Until such time, most people will argue over what is “proper.” Just because the body can perform an activity or exercise in a particular manner does not mean that it is proper.
Additionally, please remember that for every “evidence-based white-paper” that is written PRO topic, there is one written CON subject. Thus, until you are an expert in the two aformentioned fields, it may be more wise to listen instead of speaking.
Anoop | Sat May 26, 2012
Thanks for the comment.
I really don’t understand what you are saying in the first paragraph.
I agree. And that is why we start with meta analysis and systematic reviews. Below that comes single RCT’s. Looking at one or two studies in isolation is not how it is looked at anyway.
| Thu May 31, 2012
HI GOOD DAY TO ALL…MY DEARS AND NEARS ONE …..
I APPRECIATE …………..PHILOSOPHICAL ADVICE GIVEN BY …Michael PhD, MD, CSCS
I EXPECT AT LEAST TECHNICAL ADVICED FOR LAT PULLDOWN FROM EXPERTS AS PHILOSOPHICAL AS YOU R…
I DON’T WANT TO DISAAPOINT ANY ONE WHO LOVES SUPINE GRIP
I RESPECT SUPINE GRIP…. AS PER JOINT OF ACTION BOTH ARE SUPERIOR GRIP
AS I ALWAYS SUGGEST PRONETED GRIP….
WHEN YOU’RE USING A PRONETED WIDE GRIP THE JOINT OF ACTION IS PURE ADDUCTION.
AND WHEN YOU’RE USING A SUPINE GRIP THE JOINT OF ACTION IS EXTENSION AND THERE ARE MANY WORKOUTS INVOLVE EXTENSION AT JOINT HERE YOU MIGHT END UP OVERUSING EXTENSION MOVEMENT ALL THE TIME OR OVER DEVLOPE IN UPPER CROSS…
IF SOME ONE HAS TO USE SUPINE GRIP FOR REASON THAN ONE THING TO UNDERSTAND THAT ALL EXTENSION HAPPENS AT 90 DEGRRES ONLY SUPINE GRIP AT LAT PULL HAS 80 DEGRRES ANGLE TO START MOVEMENT WHICH GIVES U 10DEGRRE CARRYOVER TO THE OTHER EXTENSION MOVEMENT WHICH OCCURES AT 90 DEGRRES.
SUPINE GRIP WITH MAXIMUM WEIGHT / HEAVY WEIGHT BICEPS MAY FATIGUE EARLY/TEAR CAN HAPPEN/CANT TAKE MAXIMUM LOAD, IF TENSION BECOMES TOO GREAT ON BICEPS GTO (GOLGI TENDON ORGANS) WILL INHABIT THE MUSCLE THAT THEY COME FROM.WITH INHABITION OF BICEPS IF U STILL WANTS TO CONTINUE TRAINING LATS THAN ITS U R CHOICE.
BUT ONLY PRONETED GRIP HAS ADDUCTION AT JOINT OF ACTION
IF YOU THINK ABOUT THIS ANATOMICAL POSITIONING, YOU CAN SEE THAT THE LATISSIMUS DORSI WOULD BE HIGHLY ACTIVATED ANY MOVEMENT WHICH INVOLVED PULLING THE ARMS BACK FROM AN ABDUCTED POSITION TOWARD THE BODY’S MIDLINE. THE CLOSE-GRIP AND SUPINATED-GRIP VERSIONS OF LAT PULL-DOWN DON’T ACCOMPLISH THAT.
REGARDS AND THANKS
| Fri June 01, 2012
One more thing, I’ve done some research and I do agree on the grips, but closer grips give you lat thickness while wide grip give you width in the lats. I was told this by my coach who has a Masters I believe in Kinesiology.
Anoop | Fri June 01, 2012
I got your email. If you are pursuing this field, I would be more skeptical of what people say, even if they have Master’s. I have 2 Master’s.
Closer grips stretch your last more since is has a better line of pull, especially for lower lats. If the muscle gets bigger, it will get thicker and you will look wider.
The point of the article we fret about the minutae and forget the big picture.
Thanks for the comment, Paul.
| Fri June 01, 2012
APOLOGIES FOR THE ERROR IN MY BLOG ABOUT
(AT LAT PULL HAS 80 DEGRRES ANGLE TO START MOVEMENT WHICH GIVES U 10DEGRRE CARRYOVER TO THE OTHER EXTENSION MOVEMENT WHICH OCCURES AT 90 DEGRRES.)
LAT PULL HAS 180 DEGRRES ANGLE TO START MOVEMENT IN SUPINATED CLOSE GRIP WHICH GIVES U 90 DEGREES CARRYOVER TO THE OTHER EXTENSION MOVEMENT WHICH OCCURES AT 90 DEGREES.
THIS IS ONE REASON I WILL USE SUPINE CLOSE GRIP AS WELL AS BOTH JOINT OF ACTIONS ARE SUPERIOR TO EACH OTHER.