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Single Arm Lat PullDown Exercise 2023

Single Arm Lat Pulldown
Single Arm Lat Pulldown

The single arm lat pulldown is a strength training exercise that isolates and targets the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is the large muscle in your back.

The lat pulldown is a staple latissimus dorsi exercise that targets your “lats.” The single arm lat pull-down lets you focus on activating one lat at a time, improving the mind-muscle connection and helping correct muscle imbalances. 

How to do the Single Arm Lat Pulldown

  1. Start by adjusting the cable machine to an appropriate weight and attaching a single-handle grip.

  2. Stand or sit (depending on the machine) facing the machine, grasp the handle with one hand, and step back to position yourself.

  3. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your knees should be slightly bent for stability.

  4. Extend your arm fully, keeping a slight bend in your elbow to protect the joint.

  5. Contract your lat muscle (the large muscle in your back) to pull the handle down towards your side. You should aim to get your hand on your upper thigh or waist.

  6. Make sure your movement is controlled, focusing on the muscle contraction and not on the weights.

  7. After performing your set, switch to the other arm and repeat.

  8. Perform the recommended number of sets and repetitions.

Tips for Doing This Exercise

Mastering the single arm lat pulldown may feel strange initially, especially if you are used to training your back with one arm at a time. But spending time perfecting the technique will reward you with gains in both size and strength.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the equipment.

  • You may be limited to the machines available at your gym, but some pulldown systems are easier to use than others. 
  • An ideal setup is a dual-cable system. This allows you to attach separate handles to each cable, aligned with each shoulder.
  • The next best option is a single pulley that pivots, allowing it to rotate in the direction of your working arm during the move.
  • The least ideal is a fixed single pulley with no room to pivot. Many older machines are like this. If this is all available, consider setting up on the floor using a cable setup meant for tricep press-downs or beside the pull-down seat.

Step 2: Get into position and stretch.

  • Secure your thighs under the pad and reach up to grab the handle. Since you’re only using one arm, it should be easier to stretch higher while reaching overhead.
  • Your body will naturally reach higher when lifting one arm than both. Test it yourself – stand facing a wall and raise both hands overhead to touch the highest point possible. 
  • Then drop one hand and repeat. You’ll definitely get higher with a single arm.
  • In the fully stretched overhead position, your palm should face the machine.

Step 3: Brace Your Shoulder and Pull

  • Rest your non-working hand on your thigh or torso for support. Actively depress and retract your working shoulder blade to brace your shoulder joint.
  • Pull the handle using your elbow as the pivot point, not your wrist. Focus on contracting your upper back muscles and lats as you pull the handle downward. Imagine tucking your elbow into your side.
  • Avoid letting your torso bend or twist as you pull. Keep your spine neutral and your core engaged throughout the movement.

Step 4: Return to the Overhead Stretch

  • When the handle reaches shoulder height, you’ll feel a contraction in your side lat muscle. Return the handle to the starting position in a slow and controlled motion.
  • Avoid leaning or twisting your torso as you extend your arm overhead. Maintain an upright posture throughout the movement, with your core engaged and torso stabilized.
  • When your arm is fully extended overhead again, retract your shoulder blade to maximize lat activation.

Army PRT Single Arm Lat PullDown


  • The single arm lat pulldown is an exercise performed much like the lat pull-down, using only one arm at a time. 
  • The range of motion and resistance are decreased on the injured side. As the soldier’s condition improves, the range of motion may gradually increase until the exercise is performed to standard. 
  • The resistance should not be increased until the soldier can move through the full range of motion. 
  • The single-arm lat pull-down maintains heavy resistance on the good side and/or reduces the resistance on the injured side.
Single Arm Lat PullDown Exercise
Single Arm Lat PullDown Exercise

Single Arm Lat Pulldown Mistakes to Avoid

The single arm lat pulldown can invite some simple technique or programming errors to reduce muscle and strength gains. Here are the biggest points to watch out for:

Going too heavy

  • This unilateral exercise requires more precision and control compared to traditional lat pulldowns. 
  • Heavyweights that require swinging or twisting to complete a rep reduce lat activation and increase the risk of injury.
  • Stick to a manageable load that focuses on perfect form throughout the movement, especially bracing your core and retracting your scapula. Feel the contraction in your lat muscles.  

Slouching in the finished position

  • To ensure a full range of motion and optimal lat activation, maintain an upright posture with your “chest proud” as you pull the handle in and towards the top.
  • Resist the urge to “crunch” into the movement at the top. Instead, focus on finishing tall, or even taller than when you started. This conscious posture cue will improve your overall form.


  • Single arm lat pull-down is one of the best variant exercises to boost the muscles of your lats, chest, and shoulder blades. 
  • You need to follow the guide accurately to limit unexpected injuries during exercise and maximize effectiveness. 
  • Hope you will have an effective training time. 
George N.