V-Bar Lat Pulldown Exercise Guide

Table Of Content

What Is A V-Bar Lat Pulldown?

The V-bar lat pulldown exercise is a type of pulldown performed with a lat pulldown machine (a cable machine) using a V-bar handle. It is also called a close grip lat pulldown.

This exercise can be performed with any neutral or close-grip attachments while achieving the same benefits. For example, it could be performed using a straight bar or V-grip attachment (explained below).

How To Do A V-Bar Lat Pulldown

Attach a V-grip to the lat pulldown machine and adjust the leg rest and knee pads before you start the V-bar pulldown. You need just enough room to sit under while your feet are planted on the ground.

For close-grip pulldowns, you can also use a straight bar attachment.

Instructions

  • Grip the V-bar (or the straight bar in a neutral grip or underhand grip) and sit down.
  • Next, you need to lean back slightly (around 10-15 degrees). This ensures that you have enough room to pull the V-bar down into your lower chest.
  • Then, pull your shoulder blades back and down and remain in this position.
  • Pull the V-bar down to your lower chest while your elbows are pointed forward. Here, you need to focus on pulling your elbows to your sides and behind your back. This will increase your lat activation.
  • After the bar has touched your lower chest, reverse the movement to the starting position until your elbows are fully extended. Do this with control.

Tips For Performing The Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Here are two tips for better performance during the close grip lat pulldown:

  • Pause for a short moment at the bottom of the movement. This will force you to focus and feel what muscles you are utilizing to move the weight. Controlling the load will, therefore, promote good form and technique.
  • Don’t swing your torso during the exercise. Perform the close grip lat pulldown without using momentum. This will force you to work with the targeted muscles and help you to progress forward long-term in your training.

Sets & Reps

For Hypertrophy:

  • 10 – 12 reps
  • 3 – 4 sets
  • 30 seconds – 2 minute rest time (depending on your fitness level)

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V-Bar Lat Pulldown Muscles Worked

The muscles used during the V-bar pulldown are:

Lats – Latissimus Dorsi

The lats (latissimus dorsi) are the large muscles on the sides of your mid and lower back. They are the focal point of this movement, making them the primarily targeted muscles of this exercise.

The lat pulldowns allow maximum stretch in your muscles during correct execution.

Rhomboids

The rhomboids are the muscles in the middle of your upper back.

Trapezius

The trapezius, also called traps, are the muscle group close to your neck in your upper back.

Biceps (Biceps Brachii)

Because of the arm flexing action (closing of the elbow joint), the biceps will be recruited as a secondary muscle. However, it is essential to focus on lat activation when performing the pulldowns. Do this by pulling the elbows down.

Along with these back muscles, the rear delts will be activated as well (to a lesser extent).

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V-Bar Lat Pulldown Benefits

The benefits of the V-bar pulldown are:

  • Targeted activation of the lat. The position of the elbows during the V-bar lat pulldown (in front of us) promotes lat activation, compared to a wide grip pulldown. Where your elbows are out to the side, this variation of the pulldown is, therefore, more adept at targeting the lats – it is difficult for your elbows to flair out.
  • Maximum lat stretch achievement through the position of the upper arm bone (humerus) in this exercise. This incredible stretch is beneficial for your muscle activation.
  • You can use more weight than a wide-grip pulldown to increase the overall strength of your back. This will also help you increase your chin-up strength.

V-Bar Lat Pulldown Drawbacks

Here are two drawbacks to V-bar lat pulldowns:

V-Bar Attachment Restricts Some Range Of Motion

The V-bar attachment is great for keeping your elbows narrow, but it also restricts how far your elbows can move behind you.

To enable your elbows to go further behind and work the lats to a greater extent, try out one of these ways:

  • Use two handles with fabric straps (long straps are better)
  • Use a medium-width attachment

Utilizing one of the ways above will help you get more out of the movement.

The Seated Version Is Less Functional

Compared to the standing and kneeling variations of the V-bar lat pulldown, the seated version is less functional, meaning it is harder to transfer into everyday life and sport.

When you sit and perform the exercise, the core has to do less stabilization work as well.

To improve real-world functionality, utilize compound movements like the pull-up and supported movements to a lesser extent.

Calculators

V-Bar Lat Pulldown vs Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

The main difference between these lat pulldown variations is the muscles you are targeting.

With the V-bar lat pulldown, you pull the elbows back from in front of you, working the lats more.

With the wide grip pulldown, you are pulling the elbows to the side (laterally), working more of the upper back muscles—traps, rear delts, and rhomboids.

A narrow grip targets the lats, and a wide grip targets more of the upper back muscles.

Medium Grip Width Muscle Activation For Strength

Studies show that a medium grip width delivers the best muscle activation and strength gains. Because of this, you might want to test a wider handle than the V-bar for optimum results in your back training (see more below).

V-Bar Lat Pulldown Variations

The three main variations of the V-bar lat pulldown are:

Seated V-Bar Lat Pulldown

The seated V-bar lat pulldown is the most common of these variations. It is a good exercise for increasing overload.

The downside of the seated variation is the lack of stability components that make it more functional. You can balance your back workout if you incorporate standing exercises as well.

Kneeling V-Bar Lat Pulldown

When performing the kneeling V-bar lat pulldown, you are working on some level of stability. Nevertheless, the more weight you use in this position, the harder it is to maintain stability effectively.

Standing V-Bar Lat Pulldown

First, you need to find the correct position for the standing V-bar lat pulldown. Step a few feet away from the cable machine and find the right position for your torso.

V-Bar Lat Pulldown Alternatives

Here are three V-bar lat pulldown alternative exercises for your back:

Medium-Width Pulldown / Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown

The medium-width pulldown is performed with a neutral grip attachment. From a scientific standpoint, this exercise is the best pulldown variation for muscle activation and strength.

You can do the medium-width pulldown with the V-bar in the same form as described before.

Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a must in every back workout routine. This exercise has many benefits, like being very functional and able to overload with weighted variations. It also stimulates the majority of your back muscles at the same time.

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