Why Do I Feel Lat Pulldowns In My Forearms? All The Answers Here
You may have been exercising at the gym recently, and come across a common issue people have when using the lat pulldown machine.
You might be wondering – why do I feel lat pulldowns in my forearms?
It’s understandable that this may be frustrating since it might be preventing any progress or success, but the issue must be addressed and can generally be correctable with a little form adjustment and reduction in weight.
Why Do I Feel Lat Pulldowns In My Forearms?
The Lat Pulldown exercise is a great way to work the muscles in your back. However, some people may feel the exercise in their forearm muscles as well. Normally this can be rectified by altering your form and reducing the weight you are lifting, this will make sure you have the correct form when doing the exercise. You shouldn’t be leaning back much either, as this is a tell-tale sign of bad form. The bar should be lowered to your chest and then raised back up, some people lower the bar further than it needs to go. If you lean back too much, your forearms will have to work harder as the angle at which the bar is pulled will be incorrect. Your grip might be too tight also, causing your forearms to fatigue, loosen your grip a bit to see if it helps. Your hips should be tucked right into the cushioned pad to make sure you are sitting directly under the bar, this will enable you to pull straight down as opposed to pulling the bar at an angle. Some people have problems activating their latissimus dorsi muscles during this exercise, don’t try and pull down with your hands as such, pull from your elbows straight down and you should find the lats will be activated correctly for the movement.
If you are feeling lat pulldowns in forearms, there are a few body mechanics to remember with regard to the movement as it’s not as simple as just pulling the bar down with the heaviest load you can manage.
Let’s look at the reasons why you are feeling the lat pulldown in your forearms…
Is form the issue?
Feeling lat pulldowns in forearms? This comes up time and time again, it’s the most common reason people have issues with any kind of exercise, not just the lat pulldown.
Incorrect form can result in a whole host of problems, most notably joint pain and imbalances. When doing the lat pulldown, you should have a tall posture, engage your core and try not to lean back too much.
This will result in the bar being pulled at an angle, which puts more stress on the elbow and forearm muscles than necessary. You should be sat directly under the bar, with your hips tucked into the cushioned pad.
Let’s look at specific reasons you might be feeling the movement in your forearms by checking off some of the things people overlook when doing the exercise.
Angle of pull
As we just touched on, if you are leaning back when doing the lat pulldown, the bar will be pulled at an incorrect angle and places more stress on the elbow and forearm muscles.
This happens regularly as people haven’t pushed their hips right up against the foam padding, this will not only feel more comfortable sitting correctly but you will also be in the right position to pull the bar down at the right angle.
If you are pulling the bar down at an angle, you are fighting against gravity and the bar, which means you are more likely to experience lat pull down forearm pain or discomfort as they are being worked much more to bring the bar down.
Not only that, but it may feel uncomfortable and cause a forearm strain if this isn’t rectified quickly.
To fix this issue, sit up tall and engage your core. This will stop you from leaning back and ensure the bar is pulled down in a straight line.
Are you leaning back?
Feeling forearms in lat pulldown still? Leaning back works in conjunction with the angle of pull mentioned above.
How many times do you see people in the gym doing lat pulldown as if they are rowing to a drum beat on a Vikings ship?
Leaning back is probably the biggest mistake most people make doing this exercise because all they are doing is trying to shift a heavier weight than they can correctly manage.
This leads to all sorts of problems, as you are using other muscles you shouldn’t to control the load and this can cause serious injury.
You shouldn’t be leaning back at all, you should angle your chest up towards the bar and that’s it.
Doing this makes engaging your lats easier and a more natural movement, remember you aren’t pulling the bar down with your hands…
You are pulling your elbows towards the floor while holding on to the bar if that makes sense?
Related: Does Lat Pulldown Work Your Triceps? (Answers, Form Issues & More Here)
Lead with elbows
When doing the lat pulldown movement, make sure you activate your lattisimus dorsi (back muscles) by pulling the bar down and directing your elbows towards the floor (the underside of your forearms remain vertical at all times) until the bar touches your upper chest, hold for a second and then return the bar to its starting position.
You should be bringing the bar straight down to your chest while engaging your core.
If you find it a problem to keep the correct form, you probably need to lower the amount of weight you are trying to lift.
How far is the bar pulled down?
If you are feeling lat pulldown in forearms more than your lats, you might be pulling the bar down too low. This is a common mistake people make as they think they need to lower the bar all the way down to their stomach or thighs in order for it to be effective.
This isn’t the case at all, in fact, you should only be lowering the bar until it touches your upper chest and then returning it to its original position.
Pulling the bar any lower than it needs to go will ulimately make your forearms, shoulders and triceps work harder than they should, which may lead to injury especially if you are dealing with a heavier weight.
Lat pulldown forearm pain can occur if your grip is too tight when doing the exercise, causing your forearm muscles to fatigue.
This is often the case when people start using other equipment such as kettlebells, clubs and maces etc.
To fix this, loosen your grip slightly and focus on pulling from your elbows rather than your hands, as this will help to activate the correct muscles and encourage the right form.
Going too heavy
If the lat pulldown hurts forearms or causes discomfort you might find you are trying to lift a weight that is too heavy for you, which will place unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints.
You might be able to pull down the weight in question but at the cost of compromising the use of activating the correct muscles and probable muscle strain.
Ease off the weight slightly and focus on using the correct form. As your strength and fitness improve, you can gradually increase the amount of weight you are lifting.
If you feel forearm pain during lat pulldown, try changing your grip.
There are variations in grip positions a person can use when performing the lat pulldown exercise.
The four types of grips are a pronated narrow-grip (hands closer than shoulder-width), nipped wide-grip (hands greater than shoulder-width), neutral, and supinated (palms facing you).
To more effectively engage your back muscles during this exercise, remove the thumbs from the equation.
This puts more of the burden on your lats and surrounding back muscles rather than your arms.
I find this grip to be the most comfortable when doing the exercise, you could say it’s like holding on to the bar with an old skool “monkey grip”.
You may find your forearms hurt on lat pulldown if your forearm muscles are weaker than the other muscles in your arms, meaning they will have to work harder to complete the lift.
This is due to the fact that the primary mover during this exercise is your lats (latissimus dorsi).
The biceps, triceps and other muscles in your arms are there to help stabilize the weight and maintain the correct form.
If your forearm muscles are weak, then you will need to focus on building up their strength by doing other exercises such as forearm curls.
Related: Why Is My Bench Press So Weak? (12 Crucial Things To Consider)
Lack of flexibility, forearm stretches and warm-up
If your forearm hurts from lat pulldown it might be because you lack flexibility in your forearm muscles, meaning you might feel the exercise more in that area.
This is because the primary mover during this exercise is your lats (latissimus dorsi).
The biceps, triceps, core and other muscles in your arms are there to help stabilize the weight and maintain the correct form.
If you lack flexibility in your forearm muscles, then you will need to focus on stretching them out and doing a warm-up before working out, which is a good working practice anyway.
Give it a go.
If the lat pulldown burns forearms more than your lats it might be because they are fatiguing during the exercise, so maybe you should consider using straps.
This will help to take some of the strain off your arms and allow you to focus on working your back muscles.
To use straps, simply put them around your wrists and hold on to the bar as normal.
Some people suggest these are a great way to do the exercise, while others say you shouldn’t use them at all.
Give them a try and see how they compare to how you normally perform.
Feeling lat pulldowns in your forearms is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are just starting out.
However, if you find that your forearm muscles are fatiguing before your lats, then there are a few things you can do to fix this.
Make sure you are using the correct form, focus on pulling from your elbows rather than your hands, use straps if necessary and try different grip positions.
As your strength and fitness improve, you will find that you can perform the lat pulldown exercise with the correct form and without feeling it in your forearms.
Have you experienced this problem and what did you do to fix it?
Let us know in the comments below.