Close Grip Lat Pulldown vs Wide Grip

If you’re torn between performing the close grip lat pulldown vs wide grip for your next gym session, you’ve come to the right place. If you haven’t noticed it, your body is the ultimate machine. Therefore, you need to take care of it and keep fit to avoid unnecessary complications that will affect your full potential. 

Exercising has many benefits for your body. For instance, it helps digestion and blood circulation. As a result, your organs quickly get oxygen-rich blood and nutrients and function optimally.

Another perk of working out is you will feel more confident when you get the body you desire, and a suitable routine is one of the healthiest ways to achieve this. 

Different workout routines let you focus on other body parts, depending on your fitness goals. So if you’re trying to build your back muscles, one of the best ways to do this is by performing Lat Pulldowns.

Now, try to keep up with us as we examine this fitness routine and how you can practice it effectively. 

Let’s proceed!

Background Information on the Lat Pulldown

The latissimus dorsi, more commonly referred to as the lats, is the broadest muscle in the back. 

It is a flat muscle covering most of the middle and lower back, connecting the bone of the upper arm to the spine and hip. 

This muscle is essential to promote good posture and stability of the spine. Lat pulldowns are required to strengthen the back; if you do it in good form, it gives the best results. 

Since this isn’t an anatomy class, we’ll be focusing more on how you’re supposed to do this exercise and how it can be helpful for your back.

How to Do a Lat Pulldown

Lat pulldowns are necessary, especially if you find it challenging to do a proper pull-up. 

Here are three reasons to do pulldowns:

  • To strengthen your muscles
  • To broaden your shoulders and make your back muscles thicker
  • To improve your posture and overall fitness

Your form is paramount to ensure you’re building the correct muscle in working out.

To perform a lat pulldown, sit and ensure your spine is upright. You can lean back a little, keep this form through the reps, then hold the bar. 

The upper part of your body should remain fixed while you pull the bar towards your chest, but the bar doesn’t need to touch your chest. 

Next, pull using your elbows instead of your arms so that your elbows come together at the bottom. This way, you engage your lats and build your dream back muscles. 

Do not pull the bar in front of you to engage the right muscles. Pull the bar to your upper chest instead of pulling in front of you. Do not release the bar too quickly, and consider your tempo. 

Take it easy, and get back to the top without completely straightening your arms. This way, your lats will get stronger.

TLDR: Close Grip Lat Pulldown Vs Wide Grip

The vast and close grip starts with the cable directly over the chest. As you pull down, you may notice your arms change. Both exercises work the lats, but the arm positions change the supporting muscles for close pulldown. 

Suppose you’re looking to improve the strength of your back; the close grip will be better. 

This workout targets the mid and upper back, including the rhomboids (the muscles in the middle of your upper back), trapezius (the muscles close to your neck in your upper back), and less of the upper back involved.

On the other hand, a wider grip is better if you want to improve your pull-up strength. 

It’s also great if you want to improve the size and strength of your lats because more of the upper back is involved.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown: Exercise Overview and Benefits

Close Grip Lat Pulldown vs Wide Grip

Also called the narrow grip or closed hammer grip lat pulldown, this fitness routine can significantly improve your posture. 

Some of our day-to-day activities like driving, sitting in class, or at the office desk usually mean we must remain seated for long hours. 

Therefore, we need to work on these body parts to prevent back pain or spine-related complications soon. Otherwise, you would have a bad shoulder joint or use a walking stick at just 50 years old.

The main target of the close grip lat pulldown is to build your lower back muscles, but it doesn’t end there. 

The close grip lat pulldown engages your arms, shoulders, and upper back muscles as you perform the close grip lat pulldown. This exercise also strengthens your core as you pull down. As a result, you get more holistic training.

Grip and Shoulder Width for Closed Grip Lat Pulldown

Depending on your fitness goals, you may decide to try the closed grip, medium grip, or wide grip lat pulldown. 

The closed grip and medium grip lat pulldown tend to be more effective for muscle building. These exercises create more resistance and allow you to pull heavily instead of the wide grip.

The correct formula for the grip width is 1 x your biacromial width. The biacromial width means your shoulder width, and you can measure this using a measuring tape. 

Place the tape from one end of your shoulder to the end of your other shoulder, across your neck. It would be best if you got your biacromial width.

Grip Positions for the Lat Pulldown

Sitting upright is the best way to position yourself while doing the lat pulldown. Pull the suspended bar towards you, all the way to your chin. Then release it halfway, preparing to repeat the process severally. 

The grip positions for the lat pulldown include the close grip, wide grip, or medium grip. To get the proper grip position for the tight grip, measure your shoulder width to get your biacromial width, then multiply it by one inch. 

The correct formula is 1.5 inches x your biacromial width for the medium grip. While for the wide grip pulldowns, the formula is 2 x your biacromial width.

Another grip for the lat pulldown is the neutral grip or supinated grip

In this position, your palms face each other as you pull, making it easier on your shoulders. It’s a preferred choice for many because it works on the upper part of the body, making it broader.

Lastly, the reverse grip or underhand grip lat pulldown is an available option for beginners exploring a different style outside the regular grips. This position engages your biceps naturally and improves the growth of your back muscles.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Muscles Worked

The main target of the close grip lat pulldown exercise is the latissimus dorsi. 

The lat muscles lie in your lower or mid-back by supporting your spine. These are also responsible for your posture and connect to your upper back, the muscles in your abdomen, shoulders, neck, and arms.

Based on this connection, the lat pulldown works your trapezius, the rhomboids, biceps, and lats. 

The trapezius is the muscle responsible for your upper limb, shoulders, and scapula. Located in your upper back, they work jointly with your neck, shoulders, arms, and chest mobility. It is located just below your neck, covers the shoulders, and extends to the back.

The rhomboids work together to create stability and easy movement of the limbs and shoulders. Along with the others, they form the outer layer of the back muscles.

There are five muscles in your abdomen, and as you perform the lat pulldown, these muscles constrict to give stability and balance. The muscles include the external obliques, the internal obliques, the pyramidal, rectus abdominis, and transversus abdominis. 

Although they are not the primary target of the lats pulldown, they are part of the secondary muscles you work on as you perform the close grip lat pulldown, along with the biceps, which are part of the muscles responsible for mobility in your arms.

Close Grip Lat Pulldown Alternative at Home or the Gym

If you’re hoping to work on the muscles we discussed earlier but would try another form of exercise, check out our list of alternatives:

1. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row 

2. Cable Row

3. Inverted Row

4. Straight Arm Pulldown

5. Banded Straight Arm pulldown

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: Exercise Overview and Benefits

The wide grip lat pulldown is more common among bodybuilders and professional fitness trainers. If, for some reason, you want broader shoulders and a bigger upper back, then the wide grip lat pulldown is perfect for you. 

This workout involves moving your arms more comprehensively, making it even more difficult to pull down the weight. 

To perform this exercise effectively, you do not have to place your hands at the end of the pulling bar. Measure your biacromial width, multiply by two, and place your hands at the resulting spot. 

If you fail to measure your shoulder width or use any measurement, you may not get the best results as soon as you ought to. Where you place your hands should be specific and tailored to your body type.

This exercise works the muscles in your upper back, biceps, shoulder blades, neck, abdomen, and lower back. It is a great workout to strengthen your core, build your back muscles, improve your posture and stabilize your grip.

Behind the Neck Lat Pulldown

Some people prefer to opt for behind-the-neck lat pulldowns for various reasons. 

First, this exercise puts more pressure on your shoulders, back, and underarms muscles. You also get thicker back muscles using this form of lat pulldown.

However, the behind-the-neck lat pulldown comes with higher risks. For instance, if you fail to use the proper form, you could overstrain the muscles in your shoulders, resulting in muscle tears and shoulder injury.

Moreover, there’s a risk of you overloading the pulldowns. If you do so, you exert more pressure on your spine, which can also have dangerous results. It can also ruin your posture by encouraging you to walk with your head forward, stringing your neck unnecessarily.

We recommend exercising extra caution if you must do the neck lat pulldown. Be sure to get the correct form, and try to go a bit slower than you would be doing the regular lat pulldowns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which lat pulldown grip is the best?

Your desired result determines which lat pulldown grip is best for you. The wide-grip pulldown is better if you want a broader and thicker back. It increases the strength and size of the lats, while close grip lat pulldowns work on your back overall, support your spine and improve your posture. 

Are close grip lat pulldowns good?

They most definitely are. Close grip lat pulldowns are an effective way to focus on your mid or lower back muscles. It strengthens these muscles, improves posture, and engages other muscles like the triceps, biceps, rhomboid, and traps.

What muscles do close grip lat pulldowns work on?

The close grip lat pull-down primarily targets the latissimus dorsi, the rhomboid, and the trapezius muscles. Simultaneously, it engages your biceps and chest muscles and strengthens your core.


No one wants to buy a new machine and replace it soon because it broke down from rust. Similarly, your body deserves better from you. Developing a good exercise routine to improve your posture and body image is in your best interest.

It has enormous benefits, including physical, mental, and psychological advantages. With our list of alternative exercises, you don’t need to go to the gym or spend so much money. All it takes is your discipline and consistency.

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Nathan Lloyd, MSc

I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.

If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.