Exercise Of The Week: Pulldowns To The Front.

Adapt the lat pulldown to the front in your own back training routine and watch your back get wider and wider. Never miss a back workout or any workout for that matter, and always remember, give me one more rep!
Big backs! Yep, that's what we're after. Big thick chunky backs like the one that the current Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman possesses. Yeah, spit and scoff at Ronnie and his size all you want.

Talk about this and that on his physique. He's huge! That's all there is too it. And he knows no one can touch his back, as point during the challenge round when he told his piers to get into a back lat spread. Nothing but a peanut! I always wanted a back like Casey Viator. He had such a thick back too that his erector looked like someone surgically put two large iron pips in for his erector spinae.


The Thick Back Of Casey Viator. Read An Interview With Casey Here.


How To Get A Big Back.

How do we get this big back? Well, there are many exercises but for now we are going to concentrate on lat pull down to the front. This movement is a standard back exercise in everyone's back training program. This movement is also monumental in creating a v-taper. So, you must add the pull down to the front because it is a basic movement imperative to creating a wide lat spread.

Pulldowns to the front are very similar to chins, and the movement hits the exact same muscle groups. The back has many parts to it - the upper back or trapezious, the middle back or latissimus dorsi, and the lower back or erector spinae. So, that was your anatomy lesson for the day. Remember those terms.

Most bodybuilders like to start from the top and work their way down when training the back others just jump right into it by starting with pull-downs to the front. So, let's get started.

Grasp a bar, any bar and there are multitudes of different angled bars to use for pulldowns on a selectorized pulldown machine. Ok, now hold on to a bar with an overhand grip with hands wider than shoulder width apart. Before you begin the movement I have some catch words that will help you perform this exercise right. Those words are; Shrug, Pull, and Squeeze.

Shrug your shoulders down ever so slightly. Don't know what I'm talking about, then stand erect, place your arms to your sides and shrug like you're doing dumbbell shrugs. Then from that lift your arms over head and shrug the same way but down.

Got it? It's pretty easy. After that slight shrug immediately pull your shoulder blades together squeeze the shoulder blades down and together while pulling the bar towards your chin or top of your chest then repeat. Easy.

Some individuals like taking the pull as far as the chest, I go only to my chin. Why? Well, it keeps the tension on my back muscles. It also helps me keep my chest up and back slightly arched so I don't concave like so may people do when the weight gets to heavy.

Pulling to the chin is still a full range. Like I said as you pull you should keep your head back and arch your spine. At the top of the exercise, pause for a split second but don't relax and then lower yourself back to the starting position under control. No fast, jerky movements.


Exercise Variations

You can do this movement behind the neck. You can also use a narrow grip on a straight bar or a narrow grip with a V-bar. Like I explained earlier there are many different bars that can be used (that's if your gym has them).

Some bars have the handles so you palms are facing inward, and those to come in different lengths. All these do is hit your back muscles at different angles and points. The V-bar pulldown to the front is great for hitting the inner back and trapezoids not just the full lat. Bring your chest to the handle as you pull yourself up.

Training Tips:
Pulldowns to the front are a staple to all back routines. The important thing, and I do mean the important thing, is to use a weight that allows you to execute correct form. Again, correct form constitutes keeping your torso fairly upright, with a slight arch in your lower back (so that it looks as though your chest is up in the air), and keep this position throughout the whole movement.

No swinging! Now, start with your arms fully stretched then pull the weight toward your chin or top of your clavicle. Do not bounce up and down out of the seat. No matter what, try and emphasize pulling down with the lat muscles and do not use your biceps as the main pulling power. Squeeze your shoulder blades together on every rep.

It's also very easy to give someone forced reps on a lat pulldown. All you need to do is stand behind him or her; place your hands on the bar and help them pull the weight down just enough to allow them to finish off the exercise. Give them three to five extra reps, this will take them past the point of normal muscular failure. For the most part wide grip pull downs should always be used if you want to get a full wide back.

Try 10 sets of 10 reps using the same weight after you've done a couple warm-up sets. If done right after set four you should be getting fatigued and if you don't keep your wits about you your technique will get sloppy as each set goes by.

Lat pull downs to the front should be given a priority. Do at least three sets but any number over that is good, so are the reps. If you do back twice a week try one day going heavy for reps of six and the next back day do pull downs for reps of 10-12. Either keep the weight the same or on each set go up one plate. Always mix it up.


Workout Routines

How about some routines using lat pulldowns to the front:

Keep in mind these are just sample routines that you can use, but if you are a novice bodybuilder, you should only to two sets of each exercise for 10-12 reps each. For more advanced and intermediate trainers you can do up to 12-15 total sets for back.


A Casey Viator Workout:
Taken from his book.


Routine # 2:

Adapt the lat pulldown to the front in your own back training routine and watch your back get wider and wider. Never miss a back workout or any workout for that matter, and always remember, give me one more rep!