Does Lat Pulldown Work Your Triceps? (Answers, Form Issues & More Here)
The lat pulldown is a great exercise that works the major and minor muscles in your back.
However, some people have mentioned that when they do the lat pulldown exercise, they are feeling it in their triceps.
Is this correct or if it’s not, what can you do to rectify the problem?
Does Lat Pulldown Work Your Triceps?
The lat pulldown is a great exercise for working the muscles in your back. However, some people have reported feeling it in their triceps. Lat pulldowns work the triceps by targeting the three heads of the muscle. The long head is worked when the elbows are extended and the weight is pulled down behind the head. The medial and short heads are worked when the elbows are flexed and the weight is pulled down in front of the head. This exercise can be performed with a variety of grip widths to target different areas of the triceps. However, there’s a difference between the muscles being activated and you “feeling it” more than you should. If this is the case it might be down to either too much weight or your form needs some attention. Either way, let’s look at how this can be rectified.
The Triceps Brachii is made up of three muscles; the long head (RED), medial head (GREEN) and the lateral head (YELLOW).
These all merge to form one tendon which inserts at the olecranon process of the ulna (the bony protrusion at the back of your elbow).
The latissimus dorsi (or lats) are the large, flat muscles on either side of your back which attach at the lower back and insert at the humerus (upper arm bone).
The lats are responsible for bringing the arms down from above your head, as well as inward rotation of the shoulder.
Warming Up Correctly
Before we look at how to solve the problem, it’s important to understand that you should always warm up before working out.
This is especially important if you’re going to be using heavier weights. Warming up helps increase blood flow to the muscles and can help prevent injury.
A simple way to warm up for lat pulldowns is to do some light cardio and then some dynamic stretching. This could involve things like jogging on the spot, high knees, butt kickers, arm circles, and trunk twists.
Start With A Light Weight
If you’re new to the lat pulldown exercise or you haven’t done it in a while, it’s important to start with a light weight.
This will help you get used to the movement and ensure that your form is correct. Once you’ve got the hang of the exercise, you can then start to increase the weight.
Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and go too light than too heavy.
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Is Your Form To Blame?
If you’re using a lighter weight and you’re still feeling it in your triceps, then it’s likely that your form is to blame.
The most common mistake people make when doing lat pulldowns is letting their elbows flare out to the sides. This puts unnecessary strain on the triceps and can lead to injury.
Instead, keep your elbows close to your sides and focus on using your back muscles to do the work.
The long head of the triceps performs shoulder extension, so if your elbows are flared out to the sides, you’re not working this muscle effectively.
Another common mistake is not bringing the bar down low enough. The bar should be level with your upper chest or even lower.
If it’s not, then you’re not getting the full range of motion and you’re not working the muscles effectively.
Remember to sit down on a lat pulldown machine and adjust the seat so that your thighs are snug against the pad.
This helps your torso be in the correct position to pull the bar down, while also keeping a neutral spine.
Once you’re in position, take a deep breath in and then exhale as you pull the bar down.
Finally, make sure that you’re not using momentum to swing the weight up. This puts unnecessary strain on the muscles and can lead to injury.
If you’re still struggling, then ask a qualified trainer for help.
They’ll be able to watch you perform the exercise and give you guidance on how to improve your form.
Weak Or Pulled Muscles?
In some cases, the reason you might be feeling it in your triceps is that the muscles are weak.
This could be due to a previous injury or just from undertraining them.
If this is the case, then you need to focus on doing exercises that target the triceps directly. This might include things like overhead triceps extensions, triceps kickbacks, and close-grip bench presses.
Doing these exercises will help to build up the strength in your triceps so that you can better handle the load when doing lat pulldowns.
You should also focus on increasing the weight gradually over time. This will help to further increase the strength of your triceps.
If you find that your triceps are still weak, then you might need to consult with a doctor or physical therapist to see if there’s an underlying issue.
In some cases, weakness in the triceps can be caused by nerve damage. This is something that needs to be addressed by a medical professional.
Is It Just DOMS?
DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness.
This is the feeling of muscular pain and stiffness that can occur a day or two after working out.
DOMS is caused by microscopic tears in the muscles that occur during exercise. These tears are then repaired by the body, which leads to an increase in muscle size and strength.
While DOMS is perfectly normal, it can be quite painful.
The good news is that there are things you can do to help ease the pain.
Applying a heat pack or taking a warm bath can help to increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce pain. You can also try massaging the muscles with a foam roller or tennis ball.
Stretching can also be beneficial as it helps to lengthen the muscles and reduce tightness.
If the pain is severe, then you can take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen.
It’s important to listen to your body and not push through the pain.
If the pain is too much to bear, then take a few days off from exercise to let your body recover.
Change Your Grip
The grip you use when doing lat pulldowns can also affect which muscles are being worked.
If you want to focus on your triceps, then you should use a close grip. This means placing your hands about shoulder-width apart on the bar.
You can also try using an underhand grip. This puts less stress on the elbows and allows you to focus on using your triceps more.
If you’re still struggling to feel it in your triceps, then you can try using a rope attachment. This allows you to get a better range of motion and work those muscles.
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Change The Handle?
The type of handle you use can also make a difference.
If you’re using a straight bar, then you might find that it’s difficult to keep your elbows close to your sides. This can put unnecessary strain on the triceps and lead to injury.
Instead, maybe try using a V-shaped handle. This allows you to keep your elbows close to your sides and better target the triceps.
You can also try using a neutral grip handle. This puts your hands in a more natural position and can help to reduce strain on the elbow joints.
Are You Going Too Heavy?
If you’re using too much weight, then this can also lead to triceps pain.
This is because your form will start to suffer and you won’t be able to keep your elbows close to your sides. This puts unnecessary strain on the triceps and can lead to injury.
Instead, focus on using a weight that you can control. This will help you to maintain good form and avoid injury.
Also, focus on the movement of the exercise with a lighter weight before increasing the load.
You can always increase the weight gradually over time as you get stronger.
Stop If You Feel Pain
If you start to feel pain in your triceps, then stop the exercise immediately.
It’s important to listen to your body and not push through the pain. This can lead to further injury.
instead, take a few days off from exercise to let your body recover.
Use A Spotter
If you’re still struggling to do lat pulldowns without pain, then you might want to try using a spotter.
A spotter can help you to keep good form and avoid injury. They can also help you to handle heavier weights.
If you don’t have a spotter, then you can try using an assisted pull-up machine. This will take some of the weight off your arms and allow you to focus on using your triceps.
Try Alternative Exercises
If you’re still struggling to do lat pulldowns without pain, then you might want to try alternative exercises.
There are plenty of other exercises that can work the triceps without putting unnecessary strain on the elbow joints.
Some examples include:
- Close grip bench press
- Overhead dumbbell extensions
Alternatively, you could try doing lat pulldown exercises without the use of a machine or bar below.
So, does lat pulldown work your triceps?
Yes, it can. However, there are a few things you need to consider if you want to avoid triceps pain.
Make sure you’re using the right grip and handle. You might also want to focus on using a lighter weight. And finally, stop the exercise if you start to feel pain.
If you follow these tips, then you should be able to do lat pulldowns without any pain in your triceps. Thanks for reading!