Scapular Muscle Keys to Remember When Doing the Lats Pulldown Exercise

The lats pulldown exercise is an excellent exercise for the scapular muscles. 

It is also essential in shoulder adduction and abduction and working the latissimus dorsi and rhomboid muscles.

Remember a few key things when performing the lats pulldown machine to work your scapular muscle better.

Don’t Move Your Shoulder Blades Down and Together at the Start.

This is a common cueing that is given in fitness. It is taught in the most personal training course and is in most online descriptions.

This is wrong!

When you start the exercise by moving your shoulder blades down together, you affect the proper movement pattern of the scapula and scapular muscles. When you move your arm from overhead down to your side as you do in a lats pulldown, you want your scapula to rotate and posterior tilt downwardly.

If at the Start of the exercise you move your shoulder blades down and together, you affect the proper movement of the scapula. You want tension around the scapula, but you want the scapula to downwardly rotate and anterior tilt as you start and end the exercise. Then you want it to pivot upwardly and posterior tilt as you move from the end to the Start of the training.

I hope this makes sense. I know it can be confusing, but it is essential to improve your scapular muscles if you are doing the lats pulldown exercise.

Don’t Let Your Shoulders Rise at the Top.

At the Top of the movement, don’t let your shoulders relax and elevate. This promotes over-activation of the upper trapezius, which is overactive in most people. Plus, you could get the head of the humerus bumping up against the clavicle, which can lead to pinching the structures between the head of the humerus and clavicle. If done once or twice, this may not be an issue, but it can lead to a shoulder injury over time.

Elbows a Touch in Front of Your Shoulder

Moving your elbow behind your shoulder leads to two things: the head of the humerus moving forward in the shoulder joint, and the scapula tilts anteriorly.

With the head of the humerus moving forward, it leads to more significant stress on the anterior structures of the shoulder, which can become an issue with time and lead to anterior shoulder instability.

The scapula tilting anterior decreases the subacromial space, leading to pinching structures in the subacromial area.

Keep doing the lats pulldown exercise. It is essential for the scapular muscle but remembers the three key things I went through to work the scapular muscle better and keep the shoulder injury free.

If you forgot, don’t move your shoulder blades down and together at the Start. Don’t let your shoulders rise at the Top. And keep your elbows in touch in front of your shoulder.

Take care.

If you are looking for specific scapular exercises that target the scapular muscles, CLICK HERE.

If you are looking for exercises to help strengthen your scapular muscles, this program will help:

Scapular Stabilization Exercises

Posture and Scapular Muscles

Rick Kaselj, MS