Close Grip Lat Pulldown Technique-Tricks to getting Lean Upper Body

Close grip lat pulldown

A close grip lat pulldown is a variation of a regular lat pulldown exercise. Since the hands are closer together on the barbell, this exercise emphasizes the inner back muscles.

I recommend you include close grip lat pulldown in your upper body training routine twice per week and always use a weight that allows you to complete 8 – 12 repetitions.

Table of Contents

Close grip lat pulldown, Muscles worked.

The close grip lat pulldown emphasizes the inner back muscles. The following muscles are worked with this exercise:

Latissimus dorsi

With the close grip lat pulldown, you work your latissimus dorsi (lat muscles). This is the thick muscle running from under your arm to just above your hip.

Inner back muscles

The latissimus dorsi isn't the only muscle that works during this exercise. As you pull down on the bar with a grip narrower than shoulder width, your inner back muscles will also contract, giving it a complete workout.

The inner back muscles are made up of the teres minor, rhomboids, and deep fibers of the trapezius. These smaller muscles help support your shoulders and help rotate your shoulder blades so that they face backward as if you were shrugging your shoulders.

Erector spinae

The erector spinae, a group of muscles that run up and down the back, helps to keep your spine erect and in proper alignment. These muscles include the iliocostalis lumborum, longissimus thoracis, iliocostalis cervicis, and spinalis thoracis.

Teres major

The teres major, a muscle that helps rotate your shoulder blades and help you lift your arm toward the front of the body, also works during this exercise.

Secondary muscles worked

With this exercise, besides the muscles mentioned above, you also work your lower arm's deltoids, forearms, bicep muscles, and brachialis.

Overall Benefits of this exercise

This is an easy way to get a full-body workout at home. This workout has many different benefits, including:

  • Get bigger lats.
  • Muscle growth.
  • Working the muscles of your back for better posture.
  • Improving rotational ability of your shoulder and shoulder blade movement.
  • Improving the strength of your lower body for better balance.
  • Removing potential forearm problems that can affect grip strength.

Doing this exercise focuses more on the back muscles- especially on the inner portion. If you have any pain in your lower back, then this exercise is not suggested for you.

This is because the erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, and teres major are contracted during this movement.

How to perform the close grip lat pulldown

close grip lat pulldown technique

To do close grip lat pulldowns with the proper technique, follow these steps:

  1. First, grip the barbell (or your preferred grip) with your hands closer together than shoulder-width apart and palms facing forward (starting position.)
  2. Lift the weight above you while keeping your elbows close to your body (don't let them flare out).
  3. Bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest as you breathe out by drawing the shoulders and upper arms down and back.
  4. Perform a total of 8-12 repetitions.
  5. It is suggested to do this exercise in a circuit, going from one move to the next with minimal rest until you've done 2-3 sets on each machine or move.
  6. When you feel your muscles burn, then it's time to stop and take a 2-minute break before doing it again.

You can start this exercise from any one of these three positions:

  • First, in a seated position with your knees bent so that you can grasp the barbell with your hands inside shoulder width.
  • In a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, grasp the barbell with your hands inside shoulder width.
  • Finally, in a standing position with your feet together and grasping the barbell with your hands inside shoulder width.

If you are unable to get the desired resistance with one grip, then try using another grip.

To avoid injury to your back, make sure that you keep your back flat and core engaged during this exercise. If you experience any pain in your lower back during this movement, stop immediately and take a rest for a day or two. This indicates that you should not do this exercise for a while and see a doctor.

Precautions when performing the close grip lat pulldown

  • Make sure that you keep your core engaged and back flat during this exercise to avoid injury.
  • Do not use any weight if it's too heavy since it can cause lower back pain.
  • If you do not feel this exercise is working, then try doing more reps or sets of the exercise until you feel fatigued in your muscles.
  • Avoid doing this exercise if you have had any recent surgery or injury on your shoulders.
  • It is also suggested to work on balance with this exercise since it's easy to lose balance during the movement, leading to falling off the machine. A good way to do this is by standing with one foot in front of the other with the back heel up.
  • If you have pain in your lower back during this exercise, immediately stop and take a rest for at least a few days before trying again.

Common mistakes in performing this workout movement

Keeping your legs straight

It is important to keep your knees slightly bent when doing any pulling movements because it will target the posterior muscles of your back, and less strain will be put on the lower back.

In addition, you can hold onto the seat for stability and to keep your balance if you need to.

Pulling too low

You can pull the weight down until it touches your chest but going any lower than that will cause you to put unnecessary strain on your back.

Not using a full range of motion.

It is important to go all the way down when doing an exercise so that the muscles are fully contracted and lengthened. Otherwise, you will not get as much out of the workout.

Lifting the bar with just your arms

When doing this exercise, make sure to engage your core and keep it tight. This will help activate your back muscles properly to get the most out of the workout.

Shoulder-width grip

You place your hands shoulder-width in the regular lat pulldown, but you need to bring them closer together for close grip lat pulldown.

This raises the stress on your lats, and it also uses the biceps more intensely than a regular lat pulldown does.

Leaning backward when pulling up

It is important to maintain a flat back during any upright row, or pull-up movement since leaning too far back can cause an injury to your back.

Leaning or going backward when releasing the weight

Leaning backward during a chin-up movement can cause you to lose balance and put a strain on your lower back, so make sure you are using the proper form for this exercise.

Using momentum to pull up the bar

It is important to control both ends of this workout movement. Using momentum can cause an injury to your lower back.

Equipment used

You may use a lat pull-down machine or an EZ Cable bar. You should select which one is more comfortable for you to use because both effectively do the close-grip lat pulldown.

If this exercise is performed correctly, then no equipment is needed.

Types of grips

You can do this exercise with an overhand grip or an underhand grip. The underhand grip puts more emphasis on the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. It also decreases stress on the elbow joint in comparison to the overhand grip.


We were so excited when we wrote about the close grip lat pulldown. It is a great exercise for building back strength and muscle definition in your lats, which are some of our favorite muscles to work on!

After doing this workout ourselves, we can say that it's definitely worth trying if you want more definition in your upper body.

Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M D.