Close Grip Lat Pulldown: Muscle Worked, How To Do, Benefits

Want to build a big, muscular back? The close grip lat pulldown should be at the top of your back workout routine.

The close grip lat pulldown is a popular exercise in weightlifting. It works important muscles like your lats and biceps.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of close grip lat pulldowns, Muscle worked and how to do them properly, and some common mistakes to avoid.

What is Close Grip Lat Pulldown?

Close Grip Lat Pulldown also known as narrow grip lat pulldown is an exercise that primarily targets the muscles in your back, specifically the latissimus dorsi. It differs from a regular lat pulldown where the grip is wider.

A narrow grip is used on the bar – usually shoulder-width or slightly narrower. This grip position works the lats.

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Close Grip Lat Pulldown Muscles worked

The Close Grip Lat Pulldown works many muscles. Parts of your body, like your back, arms, and shoulders, feel the burn. During this exercise, the main muscle involved is the latissimus dorsi muscle.

This exercise also hits your biceps and rhomboids. Your grip strength gets better too. Other parts that get a workout are your middle and lower traps. Even smaller parts like brachialis and brachioradialis don’t get left out.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Muscles worked

How to Do Close Grip Lat Pulldown

  1. Positioning: Sit down on the lat pulldown machine and adjust the thigh pads so that your legs are comfortably secured under them. This will help prevent your body from lifting off the seat during the exercise.
  2. Grip: Attach the close-grip handle or V-bar to the high pulley. Grasp the handle with your palms facing each other or slightly inclined inward.
  3. Posture: Sit tall with your chest up and shoulders back. Look straight ahead. Your arms should be fully extended.
  4. Pulling Phase: Exhale and pull the handle down towards your upper chest. When you pull, focus on driving your elbows down and back, contracting the lats.
  5. Pause: At the bottom of the movement, pause briefly to maximize the muscle contraction in the lats.
  6. Releasing Phase: Slowly release the handle back to the starting position while inhaling.
  7. Repetitions: Perform the desired number of reps and sets.
How to Do Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Narrow Grip Lat Pulldown Form And Technique

Even though the close grip lat pulldown exercise is very popular, many people make common mistakes when they do it. Here are some of the things you should avoid:

1. Back Slightly Lean

Excessively leaning back can disengage the latissimus dorsi and put unnecessary strain on your lower back. Maintain an upright posture, leaning slightly back, just enough to prevent the bar from hitting your face.

2. Controlled Motion

Using body momentum to jerk the weight down makes the exercise less effective and increases the risk of getting hurt. Use a controlled, steady movement, both while pulling the bar down and releasing it back up.

3. Do Full Range Of Motion

Not pulling the bar down low enough or not doing the top portion of the exercise can limit the effectiveness of the exercise.

Make sure you fully extend your arms at the starting position and pull the bar down at the upper chest level. Additionally, focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together at the bottom of the movement.

4. Grip And Hand Position

Place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar with an overhand grip. You should make sure your wrists are in a neutral position, aligned with your forearms.

5. Keep Your Elbow Close

Flaring the elbows too far out or dragging them too far back can reduce lat engagement and put stress on the shoulders.

You should keep your elbows pointing downward and to the rear during the movement.

6. Avoid Behind The Neck Pulldown

This can put extra stress on the shoulder joints and make the exercise less effective at targeting the lats. Pull the bar down in front of you, towards your upper chest.

(Note: Some people can perform behind-the-neck pulldowns without issues, but it’s generally not recommended for most due to the risk of shoulder strain.)

Narrow Grip Lat Pulldown Variations

There are several variations of the close grip lat pulldown that can add variety and challenge to your workout routine. From single-arm lat pulldowns to reverse-grip and banded lat pulldowns, these variations target different muscles and increase the intensity of the exercise.

Read on to discover more about each variation and how it can help you achieve maximum results with your workouts.

1. Reverse Close Grip Lat Pulldown

The reverse close grip lat pulldown is a variation of the traditional close grip pulldown. However, unlike the regular Close Grip Lat Pulldown, in this variation, the palms are facing inward.

Some people find this grip to be more comfortable for their wrists and elbows.

2. Single-Arm Lat Pulldown

The single-arm lat pulldown is a variation of the traditional lat pulldown exercise. Instead of using both arms at once, you will use only one arm at a time. This exercise primarily targets the lats, but it also works your biceps and shoulders.

It is excellent for improving unilateral strength and addressing muscle imbalances between sides of your body.

3. Neutral-Grip Lat Pulldown

The neutral-grip lat pulldown is a different way to do the regular lat pulldown exercise. It targets the muscles in your back, especially the latissimus dorsi or lats. To perform this exercise, you sit down at a lat pulldown machine and grip the handles with your palms facing each other, creating a neutral grip.

Some benefits of performing the neutral-grip lat pulldown include improved back strength, increased core stability, and enhanced shoulder stability.

Alternatives to Close Grip Lat Pulldown

1. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a great alternative to the close grip lat pulldown exercise, as they work the same muscle groups and offer a similar range of motion

2. T-Bar Rows

The T-bar row is a compound back exercise that targets the latissimus dorsi, traps, rhomboids, rear delts, and biceps. T-Bar Rows allow you to use a neutral grip, which is biomechanically the strongest position to pull from.

3. Seated Cable Rows

The cable row is an effective exercise for building your back muscles and increasing overall upper body strength. It is a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups.

It focuses mainly on the lats and helps improve posture, with an easier weight adjustment than barbell exercises.

Benefits of Performing Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Get ready to take your back workout to the next level with the Close Grip Lat Pulldown. This exercise not only targets your latissimus dorsi, but also engages your arm.

Discover the incredible benefits of this exercise and how it can help you achieve maximum results!

  • Close grip lat pulldown specifically works the latissimus dorsi, which helps to build a wide, V-shaped back.
  • It targets the outer lats more directly than other grip widths for lat pulldowns.
  • Strengthens the biceps and forearms as secondary movers.
  • Improves pulling strength for activities like swimming, climbing, and lifting.
  • It helps retract the shoulder blades and straighten the upper back, which can improve posture.
  • Engages the core and stabilizer muscles for balance and support.
  • Easily integrated into various workout routines for strength, hypertrophy, or endurance goals.


What muscles does the close grip lat pulldown target?

The close grip lat pulldown primarily targets the latissimus dorsi muscles in your back, as well as the biceps and forearms.

Can I modify this exercise for beginners?

Yes, beginners can start by using less weight or resistance on the machine and focusing on proper technique before gradually increasing intensity.


The close grip lat pulldown is a great exercise for strengthening your back and improving core and shoulder stability. If you follow the guide step-by-step, you can make sure your form is correct and get the best results.

Don’t forget to avoid common mistakes and try out different variations to keep challenging yourself. It is recommended to incorporate this exercise into your upper body workout regimen to enhance the strength of your back.


  • Andersen, V., Fimland, M. S., Wiik, E., Skoglund, A., & Saeterbakken, A. H. (2014). Effects of grip width on muscle strength and activation in the lat pull-down. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(4), 1135-1142. doi:10.1097/JSC.0000000000000232
  • Lusk, S. J., Hale, B. D., & Russell, D. M. (2010). Grip width and forearm orientation effects on muscle activity during the lat pull-down. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(7), 1895-1900.

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