Cable Pull Down Form

Start Potition

Start Potition


by Becca Egan, BS, NASM-CPT

Exercise: Straight arm cable pull down

Muscle Groups Targeted: Shoulders, back (lats), triceps

Importance: This movement really targets the lats without having to have the strength to do a pull up. Also a good warm up movement for pull ups or to help build the lats in order to do an unassisted pull up.

Proper Form:

  • Start by grabbing the wide bar from the top pulley of a cable machine and using a slightly wider than shoulder-width palms down grip.
  • Step backwards so your arms don't hit the machine when you complete the movement.
  • Bend your torso forward at the waist slightly with your arms fully extended in front of you and a slight bend at the elbows. If your arms are not fully extended then you need to step a bit more backwards until they are.
  • Once your arms are fully extended and your torso is slightly bent at the waist, tighten the lats and core.
  • While keeping the arms straight, pull the bar down by contracting the lats until your hands are next to the side of the thighs. Breathe out as you perform this step.
  • While keeping the arms straight, go back to the starting position while breathing in.

Make sure you are keeping your back straight, not too much arch and not hunching as you pull down. If you can't perform movement without hunching your back the weight is too heavy.
You should be able to perform this movement with your palms open (thumb not wrapped around) and light weight. If the bar slips out of your hand you're bending your arms too much on the way down.

Sample Workout:

  • 10 straight arm pulldowns
  • 20 under grip pull down (pulley in same position and weight the same)
  • 10 over head presses
  • 20 alternating bicep curls
  • 10 kneeling cable lat pull downs
  • 20 core rows

Complete 3-5 rounds

End Position

End Position

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