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How to Build Incredible Back Muscles with the Reverse Grip Pulldown – Training Tips and Benefits

Forge an iron back and bigger arms with this less common but highly effective exercise.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the Reverse Grip Pulldown.

What is the Reverse Grip Pulldown?

The Reverse Grip Pulldown is a cable exercise and a variation of the Lat Pulldown that involves a supinated, rather than pronated, grip.

The exercise was popularised by former Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates back in the 1990’s.

Table of Contents

Muscles Worked


How to do the Reverse Grip Pulldown

Training Tips

Reverse Grip Pulldown Variations

Reverse Grip Pulldown Alternatives


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Muscles Worked by the Reverse Grip Pulldown

The exercise works the following muscles:

Benefits of the Reverse Grip Pulldown

The Reverse Grip Pulldown has many benefits.

Beginner Friendly

This is an easy exercise to include in your training, whatever your current ability level or training experience.

It is safe and there is little risk of injury if proper form, loading and intelligent programming are all used.

Variety for the Back and Arms

The back especially is a muscle group that benefits tremendously from a variety of different compound and isolation exercises.

This exercise provides a different stimulus that will keep your back guessing and your body challenged.

Great for the Guns

The reverse grip recruits the biceps to a much higher degree. This makes it an effective tool to use if you want bigger arms.

How to do the Reverse Grip Pulldown

First you must fix a straight bar attachment to the cable machine.

  • Sit down facing the machine
  • Grip the bar with an underhand (supinated) position. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart
  • Your hands should now be fully extended
  • Inhale and brace your core, glutes and grip
  • Pull your elbows back and down to initiate the movement. Think about trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Bring the bar down to your chest
  • Pause and squeeze the lats
  • Return to the starting position and exhale
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps

Reverse Grip Pulldown Technique Tips

Make sure that you pay close attention to activating your lats at all times.

At the bottom of the movement, when you pause, imagine you are trying to hold a golf ball between your shoulder blades.

Make sure that you move through the full range of motion. Don’t use partial reps because you will miss out on strength and muscle gains.

Keep your chest proud. Don’t let your upper back hunch over.

Maintain as neutral a spinal position as possible.

Control the weight. Don’t let the momentum of the weight control you. If this happens, the weight is probably too heavy.

At the top of the movement, in the fully extended position, allow the shoulders to internally rotate. Shrug slightly as well.

Best Rear Delt Exercises t bar rowSource: Nigel Msipa

Reverse Grip Pulldown Variations

  • Wide Grip Reverse Pulldown
  • Narrow Grip Reverse Pulldown
  • Pause Rep Reverse Pulldown
  • Lat Pulldown

Reverse Grip Pulldown Alternatives

  • Chin Ups
  • Supinated Grip Barbell Rows
  • Seated Supinated Rows


Got more questions? Scroll through to find the answers.

Is Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown Better?

Both variations work the body slightly differently. Both can be used effectively to build strength and muscle.

The standard Pulldown will not target the biceps as much. Reverse Grip Pulldowns improve and strengthen your lats and back, but not as much as the non-reverse variation.

Are Reverse Grip Pulldowns Good?

Yes, they are an effective exercise. They can significantly improve strength and stimulate hypertrophy throughout the back, biceps and shoulders.

The exercise will also enhance stability in the upper back.

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