How to Do a Pulldown

Looking to help strengthen your back? Discover how to do the pulldown exercise with these fitness Pro Tips.

When in the gym, your back does plenty of work. Your back muscles can help control a workout, as they’re the gateway from your arms to your neck. An exercise that can help strengthen your back is the pulldown.

The pulldown helps to improve upper-body back strength while also incorporating grip strength and core stability.

“In all sports, back strength will help provide balance between the front and posterior chain,” professional baseball strength and conditioning coach Jorge Canepa says.

The pulldown can be executed on a lat pulldown machine.


To begin this back exercise, start by taking your place on the seat. Then, remove the pin to adjust the thigh pad to the appropriate setting. Remember to place the pad comfortably on your thighs to make sure your legs are secure. Always put the pin securely back in the correct hole.

Adjust the weight stack to your desired number, making sure to place the pin in the correct slot.

Now you’re ready to begin the exercise.


Woman Doing A Pulldown

To do a pulldown:

  • Step out from the seat and grab the bar with an overhand grip. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Take your place back in the seat with your hands still gripping the bar. The pad should be touching your thighs again.
  • When seated, your arms should be fully extended straight above your head. Remember to keep your shoulders down and back. Keep your chest out.
  • Pull the bar down to your upper chest, bringing your elbows to your side and pointing down.

When you pull the bar down to your chest, you should lean back slightly to avoid stiffness and making any contact with the bar with your head.

As you bring the bar back up, do so in a slow and controlled manner. Once you’re finished with the exercise, you should return your body to the starting position. Your arms should be fully extended above your head with your shoulders down and back.

Step out of the seat, lowering the weight in a slow, controlled motion. Make sure not to slam the weight against the stack.

Canepa says that many athletes are interior or front-side dominant, which is why vertical pulling patterns are helpful to their training program.

“This can help prevent injuries and enhance performance,” Canepa says.

Now that you know how to do the pulldown, test your upper-body strength even further by learning how to do a dumbbell floor press.