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Supinated Lat Pulldown: Fire Up BOTH Bicep & Lat Growth

supinated lat pulldown


When you picture a lat pulldown, you most likely picture someone grabbing the bar with an overhand (pronated) grip. This is the standard lat pulldown grip form. 

BUT if you just flip your hands the other way, you get the underhand–or supinated–lat pulldown.

Soooo…does it really make a difference how you grab the pulldown bar? 

Actually, YES. It does. 

There are plenty of reasons to use an overhand grip. AND there are also loads of benefits to taking the underhand grip, including: 

- Getting those lower lat wings

- Firing up your biceps at the same time

The supinated lat pulldown is a great 2-in-1 exercise for your back and arms, and if you’re not doing these–they might be worth adding in to your back or arm routine. 

Today, we’ll cover: 

- Supinated Lat Pulldown vs. Pronated Lat Pulldown: The Differences 

- Supinated Lat Pulldown How To & Form 

- Supinated Lat Pulldown Muscles Worked 

- Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tips for Pristine Form 

- Other Back Workout Resources

- Supinated Lat Pulldown FAQs 


Supinated Lat Pulldown vs. Pronated Lat Pulldown: The Differences 

The supinated lat pulldown is a variation of its more popular sibling exercise–the pronated lat pulldown. 

Supinated = underhand

supinated grip lat pulldown

Pronated = overhand

pronated lat pulldown


So, let’s start with the differences and similarities between these two! 


Supinated Grip Lat Pulldown 

supinated lat pulldown


supinated lat pulldown


Muscles Targeted: Lower Lats, Biceps 

Reasons to Choose This Exercise: 

  1. Better Lat Flex: While you may not be able to stretch your lats as much at the top of this exercise (more about that in the pronated lat pulldown section below), you’ll definitely get a much better flex of your lats at the bottom of this exercise. 

  1. Higher ROM: Because of the positioning of your hands in a supinated lat pulldown, you’ll be able to get a higher range of motion (ROM) during the exercise. You should be able to bring the bar all the way down to your upper ribcage rather than just your collarbone (which will most likely be as low as you can go with the pronated version). 

  1. Arms Get Added In to the Mix: The hand positioning in the supinated lat pulldown also ensures that you work those biceps in addition to your back/lats. In the pronated lat pulldown–you won’t get arm activation and the focus is more isolated on your back. 

  1. Heavier Weight: You’ll probably find you can pull more weight with the supinated lat pulldown hand positioning.

  1. Aesthetics: When you target your lower lats in a supinated lat pulldown, you can really get that lower lat wing look that people like to see when they’ve worked it hard for those lower lats. 


Pronated Grip Lat Pulldown 

pronated lat pulldown
pronated lat pulldown

Muscles Targeted: Upper Lats 

Reasons to Choose This Exercise: 

  1. Better Lat Stretch: With the overhand lat pulldown, you can actually get a better stretch in your lats–especially at the top of the motion. This is because–at the top, the bar can actually go back behind your head–giving those lats a good stretch. With a supinated lat pulldown, you wouldn't be able to bring the bar as far back behind your head and neck. 

  1. Isolated Lat Workout: Because you won’t be firing biceps during the pronated lat pulldown, you actually get a more focused, isolated lat workout. Some people think the pronated variation causes more muscle activation. [1]  

  1. Aesthetics: When you target your upper lats in a pronated lat pulldown, you can really get that thick, barndoor back look on the sides of your back. 

So overall, the choice is totally up to you and your specific workout needs.

If you want to target your UPPER lats–adding this into a back workout routine as an accessory exercise–then it might be worth considering the pronated lat pulldown. The isolated nature of this exercise makes it a great choice for back day

If you want to get a little more bang for your buck with a compound exercise–the supinated lat pulldown variation is a great choice. For example–my personal trainer had me doing these when I was doing a combined back and bicep day. The supinated lat pulldown was perfect for a day like this at the gym!


Supinated Lat Pulldown: How To & Form 

  1. Attach a straight bar to a cable machine with a bench attachment. 

  1. Adjust the pads on the bench to the appropriate height. (More on this in Pro Tips!) 

  1. Sit on the bench, and grab the bar above you with your palms facing towards you–shoulder-width apart. 

  1. Lean your torso back slightly, placing some tension on the bar. 

  1. Pull the bar to the top of your ribcage–flexing your biceps, keeping your shoulder blades down and back, and keeping your elbows from flaring during this motion. 

  1. Allow for a slight pause at the bottom, keeping those lats contracted. 

  1. Slowly return to the starting position, allowing a stretch in your lats at the top. 

Supinated Lat Pulldown: Muscles Worked 

The Show Stealer: Lats

No surprise–your lats get most of the focus with this exercise–especially those lower lats. Your lower lats work to help with: 

- Arm adduction

- Arm extension

- Arm inward rotation

- Shoulder stabilization 

Secondary Muscles Worked: 

- Biceps 

- Delts 

- Forearms 

- Core 


Supinated Lat Pulldown: 7 Pro Tips 

Now that you know how to pick between a pronated lat pulldown vs. a supinated lat pulldown, the basic steps of a supinated lat pulldown, and the muscles worked….let’s get into what’ll take you from a supinated lat pulldown newbie to a pro

With these pro tips, your form will look pristine whenever it’s back/arm day at the gym, and you make your way over to the cable machine. 

Here are 7 of my favorite pro tips: 

Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tip #1: Keep A Shoulder-Width Grip

supinated lat pulldown


So, we talked all about whether to face your palms IN our OUT–but there’s a whole other decision to make: how wide to go with those hands. 

The answer? Keep it shoulder-width apart

This means when you actually grab the bar, make sure your wrists and forearms are stacked right above your elbows in a nice, straight line. 

For most people, this means grabbing the straight bar right at the place where it starts to turn downward–but this is all based on YOU, your shoulders, and of course–the straight bar you use as well. 

Going wider or narrower will shift the attention away from the lats. And it’ll take it easier on your wrists–especially compared to going with a more narrow grip. 

Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tip #2: Adjust the Thigh Pads 

supinated lat pulldown


Rightly so, benches at a cable machine have thigh pads that go right above your thighs. 

Without them, your whole body would most likely go up with the straight bar during supinated lat pulldowns because of the amount of weight you’re lifting. 

These thigh pads are important–but how high should you set them? 

I see some people who leave WAY too much room between the thigh pads and their knees/lower thighs. This will leave space for your body to wobble during the motion–actually shifting the attention off of your lats through the lack of stability. 

On the flip side, some people set the thigh pads so low that they can’t even lift their heels off the ground, which offers little room for you to lean back and settle into the flex at the end. 

I recommend leaving just a little bit of room between your thighs and the pad–enough to lift those heels during the exercise. 

Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tip #3: Lean Back But Not Too Far Back 

During a regular, pronated lat pulldown, you’d try to keep your torso fairly straight. 

But in a supinated grip lat pulldown, you’ll want to lean back just a bit. 

One mistake people tend to make if just starting out with the supinated lat pulldown is to lean TOO FAR back

I like to think of the angle you should make with your torso being JUST wider than a 90-degree angle. 

Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tip #4: Bring the Bar Low

Lots of people bring the bar exactly where they would for a regular lat pulldown…so, to their chest or collarbone. 

With the supinated grip lat pulldown, you want to bring that bar even lower–so think below your chest and to your upper ribcage

Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tip #5: Add in Some Partial Reps 

If you get to the end of your set, and you’re starting to get tired out or lose form–see if you can take it just a little bit further. Even if you can’t go as low as what I recommend in Tip #4 for those last few reps, that’s okay. 

These are called partial reps, and they fatigue the muscle just a bit more at the end to ensure a full lat and bicep workout. 

Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tip #6: Focus the Work on Your Back

Remember how I said to push those shoulder blades in and down during the supinated lat pulldown? That’s because, without this, there’s a real tendency to put all the focus on your arms. 

Yes, hitting your biceps is an added bonus to this exercise–but it’s not the star of the show. The lats are. 

Leaning back slightly can help with this, but I find it’s also really helpful to think about flexing those back muscles during the supinated lat pulldown–allowing the motion to really get driven by the back. 

Then, you can let your biceps come in for the assist. 

Supinated Lat Pulldown Pro Tip #7: Avoid the Wobble

As I mentioned, setting the thigh pads to a proper height can help with this. 

But a lot of first-timers tend to wobble their torso around during the supinated lat pulldown–and I was guilty of the same thing when I first tried this move. 

The thing is: when we wobble around like that, we’re actually allowing the momentum of our bodies to hoist the weight down–rather than–you guess it–those lats. I told you they were the star of the show today! 

To avoid this. I recommend starting with lighter weight, so you can really feel how it is to keep your torso stationary and still during the movement. Once you master how this feels, you can start adding in some heavier weight. 

Just make sure that if you do, that torso stays still and calm and your lats take ALL the heat!

Other Back Workout Resources

If you’re here, it’s probably because you care about working out. And chances are–you also care about your body, your back, and fitness for whole body health

It’s a match, my friend, because we care about all of that as well. 

If you wanna check out other back workout articles, take a look at these similar articles below: 


Top 5 Lower Lat Exercises for Beginners

Neutral Grip Pull Up: How To Master & Vs. Pull Ups

Conquering Vertical Pull Exercises for Next Level Gains


Or check out this video from our YouTube channel. In it, our founder, Ben, explains his favorite pull-day back exercises for upper/mid back.

 As an added bonus: ALL of the exercises in this video will help strengthen your back against lower back pain (which is kind of our specialty!). 

“​​TOTAL Back Strengthening Exercises For LOWER Back Pain | Why You Must Train The Entire Back”

Or check out Back of Steel 2.0, a fitness program we designed for lower back strengthening.  

This 15-minute-a-day, 3-week exercise program is under $30 on our website, and you can learn more HERE

Supinated Lat Pulldown FAQs


What do supinated lat pulldowns work?

Supinated lat pulldowns primarily work the lower lats and the biceps. 

What is the difference between pronated and supinated pulldowns?

Pronated lat pulldowns mean you grab the straight bar with palms facing out (overhand grip). Supinated lat pulldowns mean you grab the bar with palms facing you (underhand grip). 

Is a supinated lat pulldown the same as a normal lat pulldown?

Not quite. We consider the normal lat pulldown to be the pronated or overhand lat pulldown. Supinated means we grab the bar underhand, and this means some different benefits and form changes.

What are the benefits of underhand lat pulldowns?

Some benefits of underhand lat pulldowns include the ability to pull more weight, adding in bicep muscle work to the lat exercise, and getting a higher range of motion. 

What type of lat pulldown is most effective?

Both pronated and supinated grip lat pulldowns are effective for lat muscle building. Supinated lat pulldowns add some emphasis on the biceps. 

Does underhand grip target the lats more?

Underhand grip for a lat pulldown targets your lower lats more than your upper lats. 

What is the best grip to activate lats?

Overhand/pronated lat pulldowns target your upper lats. Underhand/supinated grip lat pulldowns target your lower lats. 







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