The lat pulldown exercise is traditionally used to train the muscles of your back; however, it can be modified to place a greater amount of strain on your biceps. This increased biceps workload can lead to greater strength gains and improved muscular growth in your biceps. Lat pulldowns with an emphasis on the biceps are particularly useful for inclusion in exercise routines that combine your back and biceps into one workout.
Sit in the lat pulldown seat and lock the knee braces in place. Extend your arms overhead and grab the longbar of the cable tower with an overhand grip with your hands spaced just 4 inches apart. Lower the bar to your chin by bending at your arms and drawing them closer to your rib cage. After the bar is below your chin, straighten your arms back to the overhead position. Traditional lat pulldowns require your hands to be placed shoulder-width apart. The closer grip will require increased flexion, or movement at the elbows instead of movement at the shoulder blades.
Again, take a seat at the lat pulldown machine and push the knee braces against your thighs and lock in place. Lift your arms straight overhead and grab the lat bar with an underhand grip with your hands shoulder-width distance apart. Utilizing your biceps muscles, draw the bar toward your chest by bending your elbows and gliding them along your side to the bottom of your rib cage. Once the bar taps your chest, just below your collar bone, raise the bar back to the overhead position. The underhand, or pronated, grip puts your biceps in the most mechanically advantageous position for creating force. Traditional pulldowns use an overhand grip to emphasize the lats.
Other Grip Variations
The distance between your hands when using an underhand grip can be modified to further increase bicep emphasis. Shorten the distance between your hands in the underhand position to 4 inches. Like the overhand close-grip version, the closer hand distance will increase the need to flex at your elbow joint. The other grip you can utilize to focus on your biceps is a neutral hand position. This requires replacing the straight, lat bar, with a hammer bar. The hammer bar has two fixed handlebars that run perpendicular to a straight bar. This hand position has your palms facing each other.
Lat pulldowns require adequate shoulder flexibility to be performed properly. You should avoid biceps variation lat pulldowns and all other pulldown variations if your arms hurt when at full extension. Leaning backward during the lift is dangerous as well. It will increase pressure on your spine and can result in a lower back injury. It will also reduce the workload on your biceps and decrease the effectiveness of the exercise on training your biceps.