Brian DeCosta has become a popular fitness figure on social media, and it is easy to see why. His no-nonsense tips and instructional videos attempt to provide training insight for lifters of all levels.
In a recent video posted to his Instagram page, the 31-year-old online coach and natural bodybuilding competitor instructed an informative lat pulldown walkthrough. In it, DeCosta broke down the correct positioning and range of motion required to undertake this staple exercise. Check it out here.
Why Implement Lat Pulldowns?
Lat pulldowns are one of the go-to exercises for those that wish to increase the width of the latissimus dorsi muscles to achieve the much-coveted V-taper. Lat pulldowns are an alternative to pull-ups (and help improve them).
Lat pulldowns have a practical role to play, too. They can benefit wrestlers, gymnasts, swimmers, and any other athlete that would like to increase the load that they can pull. The exercise should be utilized with care and are often performed incorrectly. So, if you want great “wings,” DeCosta’s walkthrough has got your back.
Lat Pulldown Positioning
As DeCosta explains on his Instagram post, it all begins with making sure that you have the correct positioning before starting to pull.
“Something that helps me here, before I initiate the lift, is pulling the shoulder blades back, pushing them down, retract, depress. Holding them there,” shares DeCosta. “So, instead of trying to muscle forward, [instead you should] muscle the weight down. Keeping the shoulders back then from there, I just think ‘Put my elbows in my back pocket,’ so to speak. Drive the elbows down and in. Focussing on those 2 cues will help you get the most bang for your buck in terms of a fully lengthened lat and fully shortened.”
During the process, the latissimus dorsi is the main muscle contracting, while the deltoids lengthen and relax. Mastering good form, as illustrated by DeCosta, will not only increase the effectiveness of the lat pulldown but also protect against injury, so take note of those cues.
Cue One — Before pulling down, make sure your shoulder blades are back. Don’t lean forward.
Cue Two — When pulling, drive the elbows down in the direction of your back pocket.
Lat Pulldown Range of Motion
Most professionals advise against the behind-the-neck variation of the lat pulldown because they put greater stress on your neck and shoulders, and don’t offer any real benefit over front pulldowns in terms of activating the correct muscles. Another mistake that many people make is to pull the bar all the way down towards their hips rather than stopping at the chest. Pulling the bar down further lacks efficiency since the lats will not be engaged at, and going below the clavicle will place unnecessary stress on the shoulders and rotator cuffs.
“So, we’re moving through a full range of motion,” says DeCosta. “Contracting that muscle fully. Remember that takes precedence over the weight. Remember, your muscles don’t know what weight you’re lifting, they just understand tension. Most often, it’s better to move through a full range of motion with consistent tension, slow and controlled concentric and eccentric. Not crazy slow. Some people exaggerate that a little too much, I think, but have control of the weight. Use a weight that’s responsible for you within your means and you’ll be good to go.”
By utilizing these essential tips for undertaking quality lat pulldowns, you’ll be flying.
Featured image: @briandecosta on Instagram