Straight Arm Pulldown

Isolation exercise, Cable pull




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Back: Large round muscle
    (Musculus teres major)
  • Back: Large back muscle
    (Musculus latissimus dorsi)
  • Back: Larger rhomboid muscle
    (Musculus rhomboideus major)
  • Back: Small round muscle
    (Musculus teres minor)

Workout plan

Here you can find example plans for straight arm pulldown training:

Straight Arm Pulldown: Basics and alternatives

Upper back: Involved main muscle groups Straight Arm Pulldown

Involved main muscle groups:
Straight Arm Pulldown

The straight arm pulldown is a cable pulley exercise that might remind you of cable tricep pushdowns. You stand upright in front of the cable pulley and move the grip with straight arms. The key difference is that you keep your arms straight throughout, which targets your lats instead of your triceps.

This exercise mainly isolates your lats, unlike other lat exercises that involve multiple muscle groups. For lat training alternatives, consider cable lat pulldowns, neck lat pulldowns, and pull-ups. These compound exercises also work your neck, shoulders, and biceps.

Correct execution

Just like with regular lat pulldowns, you can adjust your grip width for straight arm pulldowns. The most common version uses an overhand grip with a shoulder-width grip, which we’ll describe below. However, you can also experiment with narrower or wider grips.

Since this is an isolation exercise focused on your lats, different grip variations won’t make a huge difference in muscle engagement. Many people find that an underhand grip puts more strain on their forearms, so most prefer an overhand grip.

Video tutorial

Straight Arm Pulldown - Back Exercise -

Step-by-step instructions

Attach the handle to the top of the cable machine.

Stand in front of the tower and grab the handle about shoulder-width apart with both hands in an overhand grip.

Take a small step back and, if needed, pull the handle down slightly so your arms are straight in front of your body. Keep your elbows slightly angled but not bent.

Lean your upper body forward a bit and gently arch your back. This is the starting position.

With your arms extended, pull the handle down towards your hips, moving it vertically and horizontally. Keep your arms straight throughout the movement.

Hold this position briefly before returning to the starting position in a controlled motion.

Common mistakes

A common mistake at the gym is bending the elbows during this exercise, which usually happens when the weight is too heavy. To fix this, simply reduce the weight.

Avoid using momentum to perform the exercise. Swinging your upper body and arms will move the weight, but it reduces the training effect on your lats and stabilizing muscles. Instead, it puts more strain on your tendons and joints, which can lead to injuries.

Make sure your back is straight, slightly leaning forward, and maintaining a very slight arch. Don’t round your back.