Find out how to Do the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown for Again and Biceps Beneficial properties

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

The pulldown may be taken to a different degree, nevertheless, when you acknowledge that the train doesn’t should be carried out with each arms mounted to 1 straight bar. This acquainted setup could make for a clean and steady pull, nevertheless it additionally disguises simply how a lot work one aspect of your physique is doing in comparison with the opposite aspect.

Credit score: martvisionlk / Shutterstock

For that reason, 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 large. Right here’s the right way to get your again on monitor with the single-arm lat pulldown.

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

Superb 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 main points.

Find out how to Do the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

The only-arm lat pulldown might really feel barely awkward at first, particularly should 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 dimension and power. 

Step 1 — Know Your Tools

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

Chances are you’ll be caught with no matter tools your health club presents, however some pulldown setups are extra user-friendly than others. The gold commonplace is a twin pulley system. This makes it simple to connect particular person handles to every pulley, which can be extra naturally aligned with every of your shoulders.

The second most suitable choice could be a singular pulley attachment that operates on a pivot. That means, although the pulley is positioned within the middle above your head, it nonetheless turns within the path of your working arm through the motion.

Least optimum could be a single pulley attachment that’s fully mounted to the machine with no room to show or pivot. Many older items of apparatus are constructed this manner, but when it’s the one “pulldown” station accessible, take into account 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.

Type Tip: The important thing level is to place the pulley as shut in-line together with your working-side shoulder as potential. This may permit essentially the most comfy, 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 below 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 larger whereas reaching above your head.

Your physique will naturally attain larger with one arm in comparison with elevating each arms overhead. When you have doubts, you’ll be able to shortly check it your self — Stand dealing with a wall and lift each arms 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 larger with the one arm by comparability.

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

Type Tip: This deep stretch will permit you to contract and stretch by 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 by your elbow, don’t take into consideration curling together 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.

Type Tip: Reap the benefits of the one deal with, which lets you play together with your hand and wrist place. You may supinate (flip your palm to face you) as you carry the burden 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 by your aspect. Return to the beginning place by reversing the movement. Decrease the burden slowly and management the motion as you attain overhead to full extension.

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

Type Tip: Let your general mobility and adaptability information your actions. Ideally, goal to convey your hand down close to shoulder-level. Don’t drive any extreme vary of movement and don’t flip it into an ab train by crunching to the aspect — that gained’t assist to recruit your again. 

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown Errors to Keep away from

The only-arm lat pulldown can invite some easy approach or programming errors that may cut back the muscle and power positive factors. Listed below are the largest factors to be careful for.

Going Too Heavy 

The most typical mistake ought to virtually go with out saying, although it doesn’t solely apply to the single-arm lat pulldown — examine 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 burden down, and also you’ll finally be utilizing all the things besides your lats to get the job accomplished.

Keep away from it: Maintain loading comparatively lighter to cut back the temptation to swing the burden. Concentrate on utilizing excellent 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 several again train, the objective ought to all the time be to keep up a “proud chest,” particularly by the contracted part of the carry, 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 simple to “shut your self up” as you full the pull, by including one thing of an stomach crunch to the sample. This isn’t splendid as a result of it reduces stress on the goal muscle and places you in an inefficient place.

Keep away from it: Concentrate on beginning tall and ending simply as tall, and even taller. This posture cue will make you conscious of your general physique place.

Find out how to Progress the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

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

Alter Load

Like many actions, you’ll be able to adapt the problem by merely altering the loading. Most cable stacks go as mild as 10 to twenty kilos. Even whereas retaining your goal rep vary the identical, you’ll be able to accommodate practically any power degree by decreasing the burden to carry out repetitions with crisp approach.

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 approach 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 presents the advantages of single-side coaching mixed with the advantages of a cable pulley.

Scapular Mobility

Scapular mobility is the neglected 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, nevertheless it’s not one thing that truly promotes shoulder joint well being. For each joint in your physique, there’s really a sure diploma of stability and mobility wanted to keep up correct joint operate. Relying on the joint in query, there can be a larger want for one over the opposite.

For instance, hinge joints just like the knees and elbows require extra stability than mobility as a result of restricted nature of their obligations and accessible joint angles. There’s nonetheless a level of mobility they should create correct vary of movement, and to permit for a bit of little bit of “give” laterally and medially.

Within the case of the scapulae, stability is paramount, nevertheless it’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 together with your arms gained’t do a lot to interact the upper back muscles and lats.

To apply the correct mechanics, it’s helpful to interrupt the motion down into items, studying the right way to have interaction your decrease traps, rhomboids, and lats. You are able to do this by retaining your elbow straight whereas pulling by solely the primary portion of the carry.

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

Muscle Dimension

The only-arm lat pulldown is a primary selection for hypertrophy because of its larger isolation on every particular person aspect of the muscle — making both sides of your again carry out work by itself. The added stretch and lengthy vary of movement for every rep additionally helps muscle development and power.

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 battle 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 identification as a hidden weapon for back day

Muscular tissues Educated by the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

All pulldowns are thought-about “again workouts,” however the single-arm lat pulldown supplies a singular spin on the commonly acquainted train. This leads to a brand new method to muscle reccruitment.


When accomplished 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 both sides of your again, the single-arm lat pulldown lets you give attention to one particular muscle throughout every set, which might tackle 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. Significantly, 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 carry by a full vary of movement. As you give attention to retaining a steady torso through the train, your obliques are activated to keep up your posture.

Find out how to 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. Nevertheless, due to the multi-joint nature and excessive diploma of muscular involvement, extraordinarily excessive repetition coaching might fatigue assist muscle tissues earlier than the first goal muscle tissues.

Average Weight, Average Repetition

Method the single-arm lat pulldown with a traditional set and rep scheme for dependable dimension and power positive factors. Three to 4 units of 10 to 12 reps will allow you to goal your again with a great period of time below stress 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 standard, straight bar lat pulldown, so the record of modifications for extra effectiveness or user-friendliness is comparatively brief. Of observe, one train stands out as an important various. 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 aspect on the bench. This distinctive setup places you in place to drag 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 objective is to keep away from lifting heavy and give attention to 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 good thing about the half-kneeling place is a passive stretch of the hip flexor in your kneeling aspect and elevated glute activation to stabilize your hips and pelvis through the train.

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

Regularly Requested Questions

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

You may, so long as they’re programmed in another way. The only-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 both sides.
When you use a special 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 only-arm lat pulldown is the intermediate back-training motion you didn’t know you wanted. Ensure you have the traditional pulldown motion down pat, together with a very good deal with on fundamental mechanics of your shoulders and shoulder blades. Then it’s off to the races as you employ the train for larger quantity and nice isolation. Time to get some single-sided positive factors 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 assessment 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 power and conditioning analysis, 24(12), 3404–3414.

Featured Picture: @coachleeboyce / Instagram

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