Supinated Lat Pulldown

The cable lat pulldown is a top exercise for building an aesthetic back. But there are dozens of lat pulldown variations using different handles and hand positions.

With all those options, it’s hard to know which one to use to sculpt the back you want. So I’m going to explain how your grip changes the exercise.

In this article, I compare the supinated lat pulldown to other variations. And show you the proper form to get the most out of this exercise.

Supinated Lat Pulldown

What Is a Supinated Grip?

Supination and pronation are terms used to describe hand orientation and forearm rotation.

A supinated grip is when your palm faces up, such as during an underhand or reverse grip exercise. Conversely, a pronated grip is when your palm faces down, like during an overhand grip exercise.

Supination vs Pronation: Hand Position During Exercise

Supination vs Pronation Hand

Supinated Lat Pulldown Muscles Worked

All forms of the lat pulldown exercise primarily target the latissimus dorsi or lats. In addition, many variations of this exercise also work the rhomboid, teres major, and teres minor in the upper back.

One thing that distinguishes the reverse grip from other lat pulldown variations is that it recruits more biceps. This is due to the fact that hand supination is one of the functions of the biceps muscle.

Supinated Lat Pulldown Muscles Worked

Pronated vs Supinated Lat Pulldown

The supinated lat pulldown puts your arms in front of your body as your elbows pull down and forward. So you engage some muscles on the front of your body, such as the biceps and pectorals.

By comparison, an overhand grip or pronated lat pulldown results in more external rotation of your arms as your elbows pull down and back. As a result, you use more upper back muscles in addition to the lats.

Supinated Lat Pulldown vs Pronated Lat Pulldown

Supinated Lat Pulldown Benefits & Limitations

The underhand grip and internal arm rotation have some clear benefits. But the reverse grip lat pulldown is not without its drawbacks.

By incorporating the biceps, your arms are in a stronger position. And that means you can generally lift a little more weight.

On the downside, you don’t get as much muscle activation in the upper part of your back or your rear delts.

Pros

  • More bicep recruitment
  • Arms are in a strong position
  • Lift slightly more weight
  • Put more load on the lats

Cons

  • Not as much upper back activation

How To Do A Supinated Lat Pulldown

First, position your hands with an underhand grip about shoulder-width apart on the lat pulldown bar. Then, use the markings or bends in the bar to ensure equal spacing on each side of the cable.

Supinated Lat Pulldown Grip
Supinated Lat Pulldown Form 2

Next, sit on the seat and lock your knees under the thigh pads. Also, position your body so the pulley is directly above your chest without leaning back.

At the start, your arms should be straight overhead. Now pull the bar down towards your chest until it reaches about chin level.

Finally, control the bar as it travels back up to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps to finish the set.

To recap, here are the step-by-step directions:

  1. Grab the bar with an underhand grip about shoulder-width apart
  2. Sit so the pulley is directly over your chest without leaning back
  3. Pull the bar straight down towards your chest to about chin level
  4. Allow your arms to extend back to the starting position
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Supinated Lat Pulldown Video

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Supinated Lat Pulldown Form

One of the key factors in using good form on the reverse grip lat pulldown is maintaining a relatively upright body position. You shouldn’t lean too far back!

Instead, initiate each rep by pulling with your lats. This form results in more lat engagement compared to leaning back or using body momentum.

Supinated Lat Pulldown Form
Supinated Lat Pulldown Form 2

You can also get more lat contraction by pulling the bar down to chin level. Try to squeeze your lats at the bottom.

In addition, you should use the full range of motion by allowing your lats to stretch on the way up. That means you fully extend your arms at the top.

Supinated Lat Pulldown Form 3
Supinated Lat Pulldown Form 4

Supinated Lat Pulldown Variations

When incorporating the supinated lat pulldown into your workout, you have a few options when it comes to grip width.

Shoulder Width Supinated Lat Pulldown

The default supinated lat pulldown grip is with your hands about shoulder-width apart. This grip width puts your wrists in a more natural position and reduces strain.

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Close Grip Supinated Lat Pulldown

Another option is to put your hands closer together to get more internal arm rotation. This narrow grip further reduces upper back involvement.

Wide Grip Supinated Lat Pulldown

A third option is a wide grip supinated lat pulldown. However, I don’t recommend this variation since it can put excess strain on your wrists.

If you choose to try it, use a bar where your thumbs stay higher than your little finger. Do not position your thumbs below your little fingers, or you could injure your wrists!

Wide Grip Supinated Lat Pulldown

Machine Supinated Lat Pulldown

Some gyms have lat pulldown machines in addition to the standard cable pulldown station. And depending on the handle configuration, you may be able to do a supinated lat pulldown, as shown below.

Machine Supinated Lat Pulldown

Supinated Lat Pulldown Alternatives

Of course, the reverse grip lat pulldown is not the only way to target your lats. So next up are some supinated lat pulldown alternatives.

Supinated Pull-Up

If you don’t have a lat pulldown machine, you can do pull-ups with a supinated grip instead. To perform this exercise, grab the bar with an underhand grip and perform the pull-up exercise as usual.

Supinated Pull-Up

Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Usually, you do the close-grip lat pulldown with a v-bar handle where your palms face inward. This neutral grip is somewhere between supination and pronation.

As a result, your arms travel in front of your body like the supinated lat pulldown. So you get a good amount of bicep recruitment, and you can lift heavy weight.

Dumbbell Pullover

You can also use the dumbbell pullover to target your lats, specifically with the bent arm technique, as demonstrated in the video below.

This exercise works your lats without involving the rhomboids or teres muscles, much like the reverse grip lat pulldown.

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

Lastly, the wide grip lat pulldown is still a viable option to alternate with the supinated grip. The external arm rotation uses more upper back muscles, but the lat activation is similar to the reverse grip.

Close Grip vs Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

So far, I touched briefly on the differences between the pronated and supinated grip. But another major factor in back muscle activation is your grip width.

That’s why I recommend you check out my article on close grip lat pulldown vs wide grip. You’ll learn the differences in body mechanics and muscle activation with each lat pulldown variation.

Close Grip vs Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
Close vs Wide Grip

With this information, you’re well on your way to sculpting a broader, more defined back. And if you found this article helpful, be sure to check out some of my other great content below!

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