Its compound resistance workout targets the latissimus dorsi, mid traps, teres major, and rhomboids. V-bar pulldown is often mistaken for the close grip pulldown.
Note that the v-bar pulldown uses a smaller grip than the standard pulldown.
The mid-portion of the lift involves shoulder rotation, scapular retraction and rotation, and elbow flexion. The latissimus dorsi is the most involved muscle in this movement.
This workout aims to strengthen the lats, rhomboids, teres major, and trapezius and provide hypertrophy benefits.
Targeted Muscles: Latissimus dorsi, Traps, Teres Major, Rhomboids
Required Equipment: Cable Machine, V-bar attachment
Exercise Type: Strength, Hypertrophy, Muscle endurance
Exercise Mechanics: Compound
Force: Pull (bilateral)
Difficulty Level: Beginner
- Fix the v bar to the cable machine and get seated.
- Hold the handle with a neutral grip and start the motion by contracting the shoulder blades.
- Flex the elbow as you extend your shoulders.
- Pull the v bar towards your body so your elbows align with your torso.
- Bring back the handle gently to resume the starting position. Do this in a slow and controlled motion.
- Repeat until you achieve the recommended sets of reps.
- Keep your abs toned as you pull the bar attachment toward your body to ensure you don’t arch your spine excessively.
- Do not let the weight control you. Also, don’t let momentum dictate the motion. Control the movement throughout the reps.
- Do not wrap your thumb around the bar. Instead, use a false grip to avoid overusing your biceps and back.
- Avoid jutting your head as you pull.
- Make sure your shoulder blades move on the ribcage.
- Pull your elbows to your sides and towards your back to increase lat activation instead of cranking your arms.
- When the bar touches your chest, resume the starting position, and remember to do this in a slow and controlled manner.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE V BAR LAT PULLDOWN
LATS (LATISSIMUS DORSI)
The latissimus dorsi is the focal point of this workout. When you stretch your arms up and out in front of you, the humerus attachment moves far, stretching the lats to the maximum.
Since the elbow joint closes when you perform, the biceps will be active. However, pulling your elbow down is better than cranking your arm- to activate your lats more.
The v bar lat pulldown activates many synergist muscles that aid stability as you work out. These muscles are the mid-back, shoulders, and brachialis.
BENEFITS OF V-BAR AT PULLDOWN
IMPROVE UPPER BODY STRENGTH
Isolating and training the lats let you emphasize building them without overworking your delts and biceps. This exercise strengthens the lats, making you execute pulling activities much easier.
When you improve your compound pulling strength, you will ultimately improve your upper body strength. Likewise, you will improve your mobility and flexibility.
POSTURE AND AESTHETIC IMPROVEMENT
Apart from strength gains, you will gain postural and body-shaping benefits. This is because the lats facilitate stability of the lumbar spine, preventing inward sagging and making you stand up straight.
This exercise also compresses and adducts shoulder blades, thereby gradually improving shoulder functions and correcting body posture.
The V bar pulldown primarily trains the lats. However, it has other athletic benefits that improve performance in other exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and bench presses. Stronger lats aid better stability when executing these other exercises. If you are weak in these areas, consider doing other strengthening exercises before you do the v-bar pulldown.
ALTERNATIVES OF V-BAR PULLDOWN
RESISTANCE BAND KNEELING LAT PULLDOWN
The resistance adds with every downward pull when performing the resistance band kneeling lat pulldown. This means you’ll have to put more effort into the training.
- Fix a resistance to a raised hook and kneel on the floor.
- If your resistance band has handles, stretch your arms upwards to hold the handles and ensure your palms are facing forward. You can alternatively grasp the band with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Engage your core and move your shoulder blades down.
- Pull the band down to your chest level.
- When you reach the bottom of the rep, pause and hold the position. Contract your lats and slowly resume your initial position.
- Keep the tension in your core and repeat.
See also: cable straight arm pulldown.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING V-BAR PULLDOWN
USING MOMENTUM TO PULL THE BAR
This often happens when you use heavy and inappropriate weights or perform too many reps. Using momentum when pulling the v-bar shortens the motion range, hence targeting the lats less effectively. It can also pose the risk of injury if you arch your back while you perform this exercise.
Correct this by pulling the bar slow and controlled manner to alleviate potential injury and work your muscles effectively.
PUSHING THE BAR FORWARD WITH YOUR ARMS
This is another common mistake made with the v-bar pulldowns. Beginners often push down their hands with their elbows pointing towards the back when the bar is already at chest level. This disengages the lats and shifts the tension to the shoulders and the forearms.
Ensure your elbows face down as you execute this workout to focus on the targeted muscles safely and actively.
USING A VERY WIDE GRIP
There is no point in using a very wide grip since it will shorten the range of motion. It is also a surefire way to irritate the shoulder joints if you have experienced strains or injuries in the delts before. Using a grip slightly wider than the shoulder width is ideal for optimum gains from this workout.
If your workout goal is to develop back strength and build bigger, wider lats, the v-bar pulldown is an ideal exercise. It is a compound workout that mainly focuses on the back musculature and is very result-oriented, and will improve your overall pulling strength.
Do not pull down behind the neck for safety purposes. Rotating the shoulder joint can cause shoulder injury. Poor technique will also pose you to spinal injuries. Do the exercise slow and controlled manner to ensure you use the right movements.
If you have experienced shoulder, wrist, or elbow problems, consult a certified fitness trainer to gauge whether this workout is appropriate.
If you feel any pain when performing, stop immediately. Check on your form and consult a physical therapist first.
Take time to train your muscles and gain the fitness and health benefits of the v-bar pulldown.