What Is The Difference Between A Close Grip Lat Pulldown And A Wide Grip?

It’s easy to see why people ask this question as there are numerous similarities between the two exercises, which makes it hard to tell them apart at first glance.

While both exercises use lat pulldowns, the close grip focuses on targeting your lats and biceps, whilst the wide grip puts more emphasis on the trapezius and rhomboid.

Most guys walk into a gym and start their workout with some form of cable pulldowns.

Most guys are disappointed when they don’t see much muscle growth over time.

There is actually a fairly big difference between close grip and wide grip lat pulldowns and each targets different areas of your back.

So before you hit it hard with wide or close grips, let’s first go over what exactly happens during a lat pulldown exercise.

Your latissimus dorsi muscle is responsible for pulling your arms down to your sides as well as helping out with adduction (bringing your arms towards the midline).

They also help extend (straighten) your arms and assist in flexion (bending) at the elbow joint and stabilize shoulder joints.

Read on to find out the differences between close grip lat pulldowns and wide grip lat pulldowns!

Does Grip Matter On Lat Pulldowns?

It does, but not for all of you.

Which one you prefer will depend on your goals and how many different types of muscle fibers you want to hit.

If your main goal is hypertrophy (muscle building), then a wide grip may help you get bigger.

If your goal is strength or performance, then a close grip may be better suited to helping you excel.

It’s a bit too simplistic to say that one is right and one is wrong—the reality lies somewhere in between.

Do both, if that’s what fits into your training plan best! 

For example, let’s say you have a pulldown machine at home and have been doing lat pulldowns without any thought of changing things up…until now.

You know they work your lats and build great size there; what you’re curious about is whether doing them differently could help with added muscle growth…or maybe they’ll aid with overall performance while adding some lean mass as well?

One set-up that’s really popular with gym rats right now is using an underhand grip on pulldowns instead of overhand.

This works especially well for those who play sports like baseball where reaching back behind their body is necessary…like when making throws from behind.

Try it out next time you’re at the gym! 

Is The Lat Pulldown Effective?

Most people consider the lat pulldown to be one of the most effective back exercises.

It’s certainly not a bodyweight exercise and it does involve using a machine, but if you are looking for maximum muscle development, then the lat pulldown could be for you.

Ensure that you perform your lat pulldowns with the correct form and train regularly to see results.

If done properly, and consistently, the lat pulldown can add definition to your back and build muscle size in your lats.

Related Post: Pull Up Vs Chin Up

How To Do Close Grip Lat PullDown

close grip lat pulldown vs wide grip - man-performing-close-grip-lat-pulldowns

Stand facing away from lat pulldown machine.

Grasp the bar using a close grip with your hands about 2 inches apart (thumbs touching).

Extend your arms straight down and slightly bend your knees to get into starting position.

Slowly pull the bar down until it touches the top of the upper chest then slowly extend your arms back up to return to starting position.

Repeat for specified reps and sets and perform the exercise in front of a mirror if you want to check your form.

What Muscles Do Close Grip Lat Pulldowns Work?

When you perform a close grip lat pulldown, you’re putting emphasis on your lats.

This is an important exercise for all of those looking to increase their muscle mass and thickness.

If you want to learn how to lose weight fast, performing lat pulldowns is one of your best bets, especially if they’re performed correctly.

To execute them correctly, make sure that you keep your arms as close together as possible throughout each repetition; also ensure that your wrists stay in line with each other and above the bar (not behind).

Start with a weight that feels comfortable, which can vary greatly depending on individual experience with similar exercises and overall fitness level.

Related Post: Best Cable Machine For Home Gym

Common Mistakes With Close Grip Lat Pulldowns

If you don’t do close grip lat pulldowns correctly, they can lead to a few different issues.

At their worst, they can cause stress and pain in your shoulders. As with any exercise, you should make sure that you set up and execute these movements properly.

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when performing close-grip lat pulldowns.

For example, if someone is struggling to squeeze their shoulder blades together while doing close grip lat pulldowns, they may be over-engaging their lats or putting too much strain on them.

Instead of over-engaging your lats, try squeezing your shoulder blades at all times during these exercises.

Similarly, if it feels like you’re pulling yourself down rather than pushing yourself away from the weight stacks (which happens more often than not), take notice—you’re probably using a grip that’s too wide for what you can handle!

This means that the weights won’t provide enough resistance for you to work out safely.

Muscles Used During Close Grip Lat Pulldowns

During a close grip lat pulldown, you primarily use your lats, which are your largest and most powerful back muscles.

They run from under your armpits to just above where your lower back meets your glutes.

By performing close-grip lat pull down, you can really target these large muscles in your back.

However, if you don’t keep strict form while doing them or cheat by using momentum, it’s very easy to also involve smaller muscle groups like your arms and shoulders in the exercise.

To avoid involving these secondary muscle groups, make sure to keep each rep of every set strictly controlled without bouncing or swinging at all.

Related Post: Calisthenics Back Exercises

How To Do Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns

close grip lat pulldown vs wide grip - man-performing-wide-grip-lat-pull-downs

To do a wide grip lat pulldown, you need to grasp both sides of a bar with your hands shoulder-width apart.

In order to execute a correct movement, extend your arms backward and lower your torso until it is slightly below horizontal.

Do not use momentum to perform wide grip lat pulldowns, leading to injuries.

Pause at full extension for one second before moving on to avoid fatiguing muscles prematurely. 

What Muscles Do Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns Work?

The wide grip lat pulldown is a compound exercise that involves using multiple muscle groups.

Because of this, it provides a more full-body workout than its close-grip counterpart.

This makes it an ideal choice for anyone who wants to work every muscle in their body all at once.

Another benefit to using a wide grip lat pulldown is that you’ll be able to use heavier weights with each rep and still be able to do multiple reps without hurting your form.

This exercise can tone both your lats and lower back simultaneously, while also challenging several other muscles throughout your upper body.

One major muscle group targeted by wide grip lat pulldowns is your lats.

Related Post: Biceps Vs Triceps

Common Mistakes With Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns

Many people who are new to lat pulldowns tend to try and lower themselves into an upright position instead of maintaining a more arched back.

This movement actually makes your biceps do most of the work, and can even lead to injuries if you’re not careful.

To avoid injury, you need to make sure that your chest is close to your chin at all times while performing lat pulldowns with a wide grip.

Even just going one or two inches below parallel can throw off your muscle targeting significantly—and that’s if you’re lucky enough not to injure yourself!

So make sure that when you’re doing these exercises, you focus on keeping a straight line from knees through shoulders throughout.

If anything is out of alignment, either correct it or stop what you’re doing immediately.

Muscles Used During Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns

When you perform a wide grip lat pulldown, your back muscles are heavily engaged.

These muscles include latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboid.

Your biceps also get worked as they stabilize your arms throughout the movement.

A pull up bar is great home gym alternative to a lat pull down machine.

I recommend getting the one below.

It offers multiple grip options as well as dip bars. It’s all you need for a great upper body workout.

Pro Maxima PLR495 Hip Flexion/Dip/Chin Up/Push Up

Related Post: 8 Best Vertical Pull Exercises

Are Lat Pulldowns Good For Biceps?

Since close-grip pulldowns target your latissimus dorsi, they aren’t going to do much for your biceps.

Wide-grip pulldowns, on the other hand, are great for building up both muscle groups at once.

Performing wide-grip pulldowns allow you to take advantage of what is known as a reciprocal superset.

Doing a set of wide-grip pulldowns will activate your lats and forearms more than a close grip would and then immediately following with a set of dumbbell curls will allow you to work both muscle groups simultaneously while achieving optimal time under tension (the amount of time you hold each rep).

How Far Should I Pull Lat Pulldown?

close grip lat pulldown vs wide grip - man-using-the-lat-pull-down-machine

One thing that beginners often get wrong is that they tend to pull down too far, not only during a lat pulldown exercise but also during rows.

For example, when doing a close grip lat pulldown, you want to make sure that your upper arms are in line with your torso and not going behind it.

If you don’t do so, you’ll end up putting too much stress on your back and will likely find yourself rounding it forward.

Rounding your back at any point while doing exercises can lead to injury so be sure to avoid it. 

Also, if you have shoulder issues or are just starting out, try using an underhand grip instead of an overhand one as it puts less strain on your shoulders.

Related Post: 15 Kettlebell Back Exercises – Improve Strength And Posture From Home

Should You Lean Back When Doing Lat Pulldowns?

The answer to whether you should lean back when doing lat pulldowns depends on your goal.

Those who just want to build more muscle, for example, may find that leaning back prevents them from engaging their lower-back muscles.

Instead, keeping a neutral spine and going through a full range of motion works better.

However, if your main focus is building strength and power, or if you’re training for a sport that involves rapid arm movement (such as tennis), then leaning back is likely best—it allows you to use heavier weights.

Either way, ensure you aren’t bending forward at your waist while doing pulldowns; keep your abs engaged so you don’t end up overworking your shoulders and upper-back muscles.

Pull ups work all of the same muscles as a lat pulldown. And are easy to do at home if you have a pull up bar.

Check out this review I posted on youtube of an easy to assemble pull up bar.


Both close grip and wide grip lat pulldowns work your back, but they target different areas of your lats.

If you’re new to strength training, it can be difficult to figure out which you should use.

While a personal trainer or another fitness professional can help you determine which is best for your body type and goals, generally speaking:

You should use a close grip when doing pull-ups and a wide grip when trying to build larger lats.

However, that’s just a general guideline—the choice is ultimately up to you!Whether you decide to hold the bar shoulder width or a wider grip.

Your main focus should be neutral grip, wide-grip pulldown, or close grip pulldown muscle activation and strength.

The traditional lat pulldown and the other various hand positions can all be done with a resistance band as well.

So you don’t even need to go to the gym to do them!

Training the muscles in you back at home just got easier! So before you go, get your FREE copy of my EBook.

Train Wherever The F*ck You Want!

My guide to training on your terms, with resistance bands.