How you can Do the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown for Again and Biceps Beneficial properties

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

The pulldown might be taken to a different stage, nevertheless, when you acknowledge that the train doesn’t should be carried out with each palms fastened to at least one straight bar. This acquainted setup could make for a easy and steady pull, nevertheless it additionally disguises simply how a lot work one facet of your physique is doing in comparison with the opposite facet.

Credit score: martvisionlk / Shutterstock

Because of this, 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 way to get your again on monitor with the single-arm lat pulldown.

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

Supreme Single-Arm Lat Pulldown Method Demo

Coach Lee Boyce gives 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.

How you can Do the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

The only-arm lat pulldown might really feel barely awkward at first, particularly when 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

It’s possible you’ll be caught with no matter tools your gymnasium affords, however some pulldown setups are extra user-friendly than others. The gold normal is a twin pulley system. This makes it simple to connect particular person handles to every pulley, which will probably be extra naturally aligned with every of your shoulders.

The second best choice can be a singular pulley attachment that operates on a pivot. That means, despite the fact that the pulley is positioned within the heart above your head, it nonetheless turns within the route of your working arm throughout the motion.

Least optimum can be a single pulley attachment that’s fully fastened to the machine with no room to show or pivot. Many older items of kit are constructed this fashion, but when it’s the one “pulldown” station obtainable, think about 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.

Kind Tip: The important thing level is to place the pulley as shut in-line together with your working-side shoulder as attainable. This may permit probably the most snug, most effective line of pull throughout 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 must be simpler to stretch increased whereas reaching above your head.

Your physique will naturally attain increased with one arm in comparison with elevating each arms overhead. When you have doubts, you possibly can rapidly check it your self — Stand dealing with a wall and lift each palms above your head to the touch the best level you possibly can attain. Then drop one hand and repeat. You’ll undoubtedly get increased with the only arm by comparability.

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

Kind Tip: This deep stretch will can help you contract and stretch by means of an extended vary of movement, which is able to improve the coaching impact on the goal muscle mass. (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 means of 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.

Kind Tip: Make the most of the only deal with, which lets you play together with your hand and wrist place. You’ll be able to 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 robust contraction by means of your facet. 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 facet. Preserve your torso steady and vertical all through the train. When your arm is straight, shrug your shoulder blade up for max activation.

Kind Tip: Let your total mobility and suppleness information your actions. Ideally, purpose to carry your hand down close to shoulder-level. Don’t power any extreme vary of movement and don’t flip it into an ab train by crunching to the facet — 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 scale back the muscle and power good points. Listed here are the most important factors to be careful for.

Going Too Heavy 

The commonest mistake ought to virtually go with out saying, although it doesn’t solely apply to the single-arm lat pulldown — verify your ego on the door. It is a rather 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 every thing besides your lats to get the job completed.

Keep away from it: Preserve loading comparatively lighter to cut back the temptation to swing the burden. Deal with utilizing good type all through every part of the motion and attempt to really feel your again muscle mass contracting and stretching.

Slouching within the Completed Place

Like all again train, the purpose ought to at all times be to take care of a “proud chest,” particularly by means of 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 belly crunch to the sample. This isn’t excellent as a result of it reduces stress on the goal muscle and places you in an inefficient place.

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

How you can Progress the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

As a comparatively simple, cable-based train, you possibly can method this train with confidence regardless of your expertise stage.

Modify Load

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

Equally, you possibly can go as heavy as attainable whereas sustaining type. As beforehand mentioned, swapping type for extra weight is something however productive. Thankfully, when utilizing good approach and a average rep vary, even probably 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 affords 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 generally mistakenly suppose that stability is the one operate of the scapulae (shoulder blades). As such, they imagine 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 truly a sure diploma of stability and mobility wanted to take care of correct joint operate. Relying on the joint in query, there will probably be a better 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 obtainable 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 palms gained’t do a lot to interact the upper back muscles and lats.

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

Making use of this idea to the single-arm lat pulldown will assist your quest for muscle, hold the main focus in the correct locations, and hold your scapulae robust and wholesome.

Muscle Measurement

The only-arm lat pulldown is a first-rate alternative for hypertrophy because of its better isolation on every particular person facet of the muscle — making either side of your again carry out work by itself. The added stretch and lengthy vary of movement for every rep additionally helps muscle progress and power.

Diminished Joint Pressure

Utilizing a single deal with means that you can customise your hand and wrist’s begin and end place. This means to rotate might be helpful for lifters who battle with a historical past of shoulder, elbow, or wrist points. These seemingly small modifications accumulate right into a motion that takes on a wholly new id as a hidden weapon for back day

Muscular tissues Skilled by the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

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


When completed 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 either side of your again, the single-arm lat pulldown means that you can deal with one particular muscle throughout every set, which may handle any developmental imbalances which may 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) throughout the train. Your higher again gives stability and assist, whereas additionally controlling your scapulae throughout 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 perimeters of your abdominals. These muscle mass resist extreme lateral flexion (sideways bending) of the backbone when performing the carry by means of a full vary of movement. As you deal with conserving a steady torso throughout the train, your obliques are activated to take care of your posture.

How you can Program the Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

As a result of the single-arm lat pulldown is a comparatively centered 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 mass earlier than the first goal muscle mass.

Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetition

Method the single-arm lat pulldown with a basic set and rep scheme for dependable dimension and power good points. Three to 4 units of 10 to 12 reps will allow you to goal your again with a super period of time below stress while not having to load super-heavy, and doubtlessly form-destroying, weights.

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown Variations

This train is already, technically, an alternative choice to a conventional, 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 excellent different. 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 facet on the bench. This distinctive setup places you in place to drag diagonally, and means that you can hit the lats straight with super-strict type.

The place primarily immobilizes your higher physique and removes the involvement of any dishonest muscle mass just like the decrease again or abs. The purpose is to keep away from lifting heavy and deal with muscle recruitment.

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

It is a frequent and efficient pulldown variation that means that you can place your physique extra straight in-line with the cable pulley. An added advantage of the half-kneeling place is a passive stretch of the hip flexor in your kneeling facet and elevated glute activation to stabilize your hips and pelvis throughout 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 slightly than an overhead (vertical) pulldown movement. This will enhance recruitment of your higher again muscle mass and will scale back the work completed by your lats.

Continuously Requested Questions

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

You’ll be able to, so long as they’re programmed otherwise. The only-arm lat pulldown can both be used as the primary train, as a “primer” to activate your again muscle mass, or because the final train to completely work your fatigued lats and higher again by isolating either side.
If you happen to use a distinct 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 possibly can 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. Be sure to have the basic pulldown motion down pat, together with a very good deal with on primary mechanics of your shoulders and shoulder blades. Then it’s off to the races as you utilize the train for increased quantity and nice isolation. Time to get some single-sided good points 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 overview 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

Trending Merchandise

Amazon Basics Flat Weight Workout Exercise Bench, Black

Amazon Basics Flat Weight Workout Exercise Bench, Black

- 15%
Sunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride™ Trainer for Glutes Workout

Sunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride™ Trainer for Glutes Workout


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Shopping cart