How to Do Overhead Pulldown Properly

Also known as a Lat pulldown, the overhead pulldown is a compound multi-joint exercise designed to target the latissimus dorsi and recruit your biceps.

This workout is pulled using a cable machine. Accessory joint movements can occur depending on how you choose to perform.

You need to perform it using the proper procedure to achieve its utmost benefits.

Overhead pulldown requires you to engage your core and abs to maintain stability and balance as you perform it. With the cable machine, you are at liberty to load an appropriate weight depending on your fitness level.

Also Known as Lat Pulldown, Cable Pulldown

Targeted Muscles: Latissimus dorsi, Abs, Arms

Exercise type: Strength, Bodybuilding

Exercise Mechanics: Isolation

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Requirements: Cable Machine, Straight bar/ Lat bar attachment


  • Attach the lat bar to a cable machine. Adjust the knee support to lock your legs in.
  • Grip the bar firmly with your hands facing forward (overhand grip). Ensure the grip is more comprehensive than your shoulder width.
  • Lean your back slightly (Ideally at a 20-degree angle) and move your chest upward. Be sure to keep your upper body tight.
  • Pull the lat bar down close to your upper torso. Contract your shoulder blades together and ensure your elbows move downwards only.
  • Release the bar slowly to assume the starting position, stretching your lats and extending your arms fully. Ensure you control the movement. The machine should not move you.
  • Repeat the steps until you attain the desired set of reps.


  • Be sure to use a thumbless grip to avoid stressing the biceps unnecessarily.
  • Ensure your elbows point down in the direction of the floor.
  • Keep your upper body in a fixed position all through the workout.
  • Concentrate on keeping your back muscles tight for maximum contraction.
  • Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps. You can change the number of sets and reps to level up the workout a bit as you improve your technique.

Up for a challenge?

Add the load gradually as you develop your technique to ensure you are maintaining a reasonable effort.

When you use an overhand grip, you will focus more on your triceps.

You can gauge the width of your grip so you can work your muscles a bit differently. Try varying hand grip attachments.


Being a compound exercise, overhead pulldowns target many muscle groups simultaneously. It is designed to target the lats primarily, but the exercise also targets these muscles.

  • Levator Scapulae
  • Rear deltoids
  • Rhomboids
  • Forearm muscles
  • Teres Major
  • Core muscles.



Poor posture is usually traced back to weak posterior muscles. This is a risk factor since your chest and anterior deltoids will become too tight.

Your posterior muscles are overpowered, and your shoulder blades will be pulled forward. If this is the origin of your poor posture, you should consider stretching workouts and focus on scapular control.

It is ideal for pulling up your shoulders at the bottom of each rep because you’ll essentially perform a scapular pulldown. Overhead pulldowns will fix your body position and train your general body posture.


Compared to other lat pulldown variations, overhead pulldowns do a better job of training your lats. You can pull down the weight more generally with an overhand grip. This pulldown will maximize your lat contraction at the bottom of the reps and build you a more robust, studier back. If you’re looking to improve your athletic performance or daily activities that incorporate compound lifts, this is an ideal workout.


Overhead lat pulldowns are an overall compound drill that will work every posterior muscle. You can use this exercise to build and strengthen your back muscles.


As you execute this workout, you recruit your bicep muscles. Working your bicep isn’t the priority here (It shouldn’t be!). They still get proper training if they follow the correct technique.


Below is an ideal alternative for overhead pulldowns that will gain you benefits equally good for your lats, arms, and abs.


The kneeling grip lat pulldown is an excellent exercise to stretch your lat muscles fully. You can build a wider toned back through this exercise. Your body posture when executing this drill will make it a lot easier and emphasize contracting the lats.


  • Set a cable machine at an appropriate height such that when you extend your arms fully, you can reach the bar.
  • Kneel at a place that aligns with the middle part of the cable machine, then stretch up your arms and grab both cable machine handles with a neutral grip.
  • Pull your elbows to your sides and make sure your hands are close to your shoulders. Be sure to keep your core engaged.
  • When you reach the bottom of the movement, squeeze your lats and gently resume the starting position.
  • Repeat the drill until you get the desired set of reps.



When you pull the bar many inches away from the front of your torso, your hands will go before your elbows, turning the drill into more like a lat pullover. Pulling the bar towards your belly shifts the tension away from your back and lats. Correct this mistake by keeping your chest high and stopping when reaching your upper torso.


Leaning back is another common mistake witnessed in far too many gyms. This is usually an indication that you’re either seated too far forth, or the weight is too heavy for you.

Leaning far back makes the workout similar to an inverted row, which does not target the same muscles aimed for in this workout.

You will be hitting your rhomboids, but remember, the lats are the targeted muscles for overhead pulldowns. To correct this mistake, lean back slightly and correct your technique.


Overhead pulldowns are a great back and arm-building workout that strengthen your arm muscles simultaneously. This workout will get you a sturdy back and an incredible physique with the V taper look that almost everyone desires.

This exercise is versatile, and anyone can perform it.

Incorporate this exercise into your normal workout routine at least twice a week to achieve optimum results. Ensure you perform this exercise with the proper technique. Be sure to try out other alternative back workouts as well.

Blow it away!