Lat Pulldown At Home Alternative – The Only Exercise You Need For Lats!

The lat-down machine is a pretty popular machine at most gyms, right?

But what’s a decent lat pulldown home alternative?

Because after the chaos of a global pandemic, more and more of us have become used to training at home.

For those of you that are unsure, the lat pulls down is usually a combination machine with a seated row option as well.

A big cable machine with a bench seat out in front.

These two exercises being as common in most people’s routine as they are mean there is usually a bit of competition for the machine.

So how can we do lat pulldowns at home?

The only lat down at home alternative you need is the banded lat pulldown.

That’s right, a resistance band is all you need to do lat pulldowns at home.

Whenever you want! 

Not only is it easy to set up.

It’s easy to do, with two hands, or for a more isolated workout, you can do them single-handed as well!

But before we get to the how-to’s let’s answer a few common questions with lat pulldowns. 

What Muscles Do Lat Pulldowns Work?

Lat Pulldown At Home Alternative - man-using-the-lat-pull-down-machine

As the name suggests, the main muscles working in lat pulldowns are the lats or latissimus dorsi.

The big wing-like muscles that run down the sides of your rib cage.

But did you know they actually start from down either side of your mid to lower spine (or the lower six vertebrae) and wrap around and up to connect your humerus (or upper arm)?

But it takes more than just your lats to pull the bar down.

You are also going to be using your traps, rhomboids, biceps, and abdominal muscles.

Lat pulldowns are an excellent compound exercise.

These vertical pull exercises should be part of any gym routine.

While it still is a compound exercise it almost works as a more isolated version or a pull-up.

To see the difference between lat pulldowns and pull-ups read more here.

Do Lat Pulldowns Build Muscle?

As I just touched on lat pulldowns are a great muscle builder.

A big reason for this is the fact you can slowly build up in weight.

While pull-ups are the best for strength.

Lat pulldowns are probably more effective for building size instead of strength.

The reason being is, typically to build more mass in a muscle you need more reps at less weight.

And with a lat pull down you can do just that.

You can start with whatever you need to hit sets of 10-15 reps.

While you can do this with pull-ups as well, it is a bit more complicated.

You see pulls are down with your body weight.

So you need to take away bodyweight to do this.

This is where resistance bands are a get tool for using progressive overload if you aren’t strong enough yet to perform a full pull-up or chin.

Are Lat Pulldowns Enough For Back?

Lat Pulldown At Home Alternative - man-using-resistance-bands-to-do-a-bent-row

To train you back effectively you need to make sure you are hitting all the muscle groups.

And while lat pulldowns hit a few, they don’t get them all.

I teach my clients that you train your full body you need to do both pushing and pulling exercises, both vertically and horizontally.

Pulling exercises target the muscles in your back.

So, with lat pulldowns being a vertical pull we just need to add a horizontal pull.

Some like a bent-over row or a seated row.

Both exercises can be done with resistance bands also!

If you hit both vertical and horizontal pulls with functional compound movements you will be improving strength and size with exercises that are applicable to your daily life.

Interested in learning more about functional movements and why they might be the missing piece of your training routine?

Click here to read more.

Related Post: Pendlay Row Vs Bent Over Row – Which Is Better For You?

Can You Do Lat Pulldowns With Resistance Bands?

Lat pulldowns are very easy to do with resistance bands.

All you need is a band and somewhere high to tie it off.

A bar is a bonus but not important.

Not only are they easy but easy to scale as well.

You do this by using both hands, or make it more difficult but doing them with one hand.

Doing them with one hand is also more effective for your core.

Check out the video below to show you how simple it is to do them.

Below is a full step-by-step guide.

Are Band Pulldowns Effective?

The beauty of resistance bands is they have all the same benefits as using a cable machine plus more!

Cable machines are great because they keep tension on the muscle for the full range of motion. (The whole movement).

But resistance bands take this a step further because the tension builds are the band is stretched out which makes them safer for your joints as well.

You see typically when you start the exercise your joints are at the weakest, most compromised position.

They because stronger and you move through into a move stable safer position.

Because the load starts light and builds up with bands you are actually getting a better workout.

And you can fatigue the muscle through the full range of motion but shorten the range you move through as your muscles fatigue.

If you perform reps to the full range until your muscles get tired and then carry on to ¾ of a rep until fatigue.

And finally, finish with a half rep until complete fatigue you are training the muscles more effectively while now compromising your joints at all.

Related Post: Resistance Bands Vs Weights

How Do You Do Lat Pulldowns With Resistance Bands At Home?

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to doing lat pulldowns at home with resistance bands.

  1. Tie resistance band to post at head height. If you’re using a door attachment you’ll also need to be at head height.
  2. Take the band in both hands and bend at the hips and lift the band up above your head. 
  3. Step back until there is no slack left in the bands. You want to make sure that your back, arms, and band are all in a nice straight line.
  4. With your hand still above your head roll your shoulders back and start pulling down with your lats, driving do with your elbows.
  5. Keep your elbows flared to the side until your hands come down past your chin.
  6. Slowly relax back up to the start position.

Pro Tip: Do this on your knees if you are struggling to get the right height or angle. This will also bring your core into it more.

What Exercise Can Replace Lat Pulldowns?

Lat Pulldown At Home Alternative - behind-shot-of-a-man-doing-a-pull-up

Another amazing exercise that can replace lat pulldowns is something I touched on earlier.

Pull-ups, even chin-ups for that matter.

The only stumbling block for pull-ups at home is you’ll need a pull-up bar.

But you’ve probably found that there are more and more great little outdoor gyms popping up at parks and walkways all around your neighborhood.

This can be a great way to mix you up training but going to a park once a week.

And with a set of resistance bands, it’s easy to scale this movement until you are strong enough for them.

Another great piece of advice I give my clients who struggle with pull-ups or chin-ups is to focus on the negative.

By this I mean to just focus on the lowering yourself down part of the exercise.

Do this by using a step or just jumping up to the bar and lowering yourself back down again as slowly as possible.

This works wonders for building up the necessary strength to eventually do a full pull-up unassisted.

Check out the video below showing you the best pull-up bar exercises for abs!

Are Pull Ups Better Than Lat Pulldowns?

In terms of building strength, yes pull-ups are better.

They also have the added benefit of requiring more core strength to perform.

If I have to choose between the two I would always pick pull-ups.

That being said, I can’t do them at home.

So I do end up doing both each week.

And at the end of the day, both are fine. Both work the same muscles in your back.

So it’s going to come down to personal preference.

Have a go and both and see how you feel.

Related Post: Pull Up Vs Chin Up


Lat pulldowns are a very effective exercise for your back and are easy to do at home with a set of resistance bands.

If you want a set of bands and aren’t sure where to go.

See my friends at DMoose and pick up a set of 6 bands for only $49.99!

Click here to shop now. 

For more information on training with resistance bands in general get yourself your FREE copy of my EBook. ‘Train Wherever The F*ck You Want’

If you have any questions feel free to leave me a comment below.