Straight-Arm Pulldown

The straight-arm bar pull-down is a variation of the straight-arm lat pull-down performed using a cable stack machine. It can either be performed in an athletic upright stance, or slightly bent-over. It both stretches and contracts the muscles of the lats (latissimus dorsi) as well as providing additional activation to the other upper back muscles and the core. Because the triceps are also isometrically involved in the movement, it is usually performed for higher reps, like 8-15 reps or above.


  1. Strengthens the muscles of the lats, upper back, and core
  2. Easy to alter grip width to provide variety or “feel” the movement working better
  3. Effective alternative to pull-overs, especially for people with limited overhead shoulder mobility
  4. Constant tension throughout movement, and multiple choices of handles

Straight-Arm Pulldown Images


Straight-Arm Pulldown Instructions

Straight-Arm Pulldown muscle diagram
  1. You will start by grabbing the wide bar from the top pulley of a pulldown machine and using a wider than shoulder-width pronated (palms down) grip. Step backwards two feet or so.
  2. Bend your torso forward at the waist by around 30-degrees 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 then you are ready to begin.
  3. 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.
  4. While keeping the arms straight, go back to the starting position while breathing in.
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Variations: Can also be performed with a shorter shoulder-width straight bar or with a rope attachment.