Looking to add to your home or commercial gym? Pay attention to the lat pulldown machine! This essential training equipment focuses on strengthening your back, specifically the largest muscle in your back — the latissimus dorsi. This machine can also help train your biceps, rear delts, traps, and rhomboids. Want to build that V-taper? The lat pulldown machine is your go-to option. Check out our list of our highest rated lat pulldown machines to find the perfect fit for you and start sculpting your dream physique today.
There are many types of lat pulldown machines available with different specifications. You could even find a lat pulldown attachment to a power rack. We’ve created this comprehensive guide on the nine best lat pulldown machines in 2023. It features the best overall brand this year and great options for your home gym. We discuss what to look for in a lat pulldown machine and how to find which works best for you.
The Top Lat Pulldown Machines
Overall Best Lat Pulldown Machine: Body-Solid Pro Clubline SLM300G
Best Commercial Lat Pulldown: York STS Lat Pulldown
Best Commercial Plate Load Lat Pulldown: Steelflex PLLA Lat Pulldown
Best Plate Loaded Lat Pulldown for Home Gyms: Body-Solid GLM83 Pro Lat Machine
Best Budget Lat Pulldown: Powerline PLM180X Lat Machine
Table of Contents
What Is a Lat Pulldown Machine?
A lat pulldown machine is a piece of equipment that bodybuilders, weightlifters, and fitness enthusiasts use to build their backs and strengthen their lat muscles. As its name indicates, this machine focuses on the latissimus dorsi, which covers most of the back and is the largest muscle in the upper body. You can use the lat pulldown machine to do exercises like the lat pulldown, considered one of the most effective routines for developing your lats. Because of their popularity, you'll see them in all commercial gyms and smart home gym owners prioritze space for this type of machine.
Benefits of Lat Pulldowns
Lat pulldowns have multiple variations that you can do by easily changing the handle you’re using. For example, a close grip handle will target your biceps and inner back muscles more, while the long bar attachment will engage the outer back muscles more. In addition, this study found pulldowns to activate your abs more than pull-ups (1). Lat pulldowns are also great for athletes who do sports requiring pulling motion similar to this exercise, including wrestling, swimming, and gymnastics.
BioMechanics of Lat Pulldowns
These are the two primary joint actions that happen during lat pull downs:
The Concentric Phase
The concentric phase in a lat pulldown happens when you pull the bar toward your chest and causes a concentric muscle contraction. During these contractions, your muscle exerts force when shortening. The concentric phase of the lat pulldown causes shoulder adduction, elbow flexion, shoulder horizontal abduction, downward rotation of the scapulae, and scapulae retraction.
The Eccentric Phase
A lat pulldown's eccentric phase happens when you return to the start position, causing eccentric body muscle action. During this action, your muscles exert force when lengthening and returning to a position of natural rest. It’s also called the “negative” in resistance training. During the lat pulldown's eccentric phase, you experience shoulder abduction, elbow extension, horizontal shoulder adduction, upward rotation of the scapulae, and scapulae protraction.
Muscles Worked in Lat Pulldown
One of the reasons why the lat pulldown is so important is that it works multiple important muscles in the upper body. Here’s a look at the muscle groups you can recruit with this overhead pulling motion.
About Latissimus Dorsi
When you look at people with well-defined backs, the wing-like muscles you see are known as the lats. The lats originate from the spine, pelvis, lower ribs, and scapula, then inserted on the front of your upper arm bone (the humerus). These muscles are expansive and assist with respiration. Your lats also contribute to the extension and lateral flexion of your lumbar spine.
The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle in your back and the main beneficiary of this exercise. Your lats are responsible for your arm's adduction, extension, horizontal abduction, and internal rotation. You carry out these actions during the concentric phase of a lat pulldown.
Other Muscles Worked
Since the lat is a compound exercise, many other muscles work alongside the lats during the routine. They include the brachialis, brachioradialis, biceps brachii, lower and middle traps, abs, wrist and hand flexors, and the infraspinatus. This study highlights how these muscles are involved in lat pulldowns (2).
Lat Pulldown Technique
Here are some important things to note for performing the lat pulldown effectively and safely.
What to Do
Keep your back straight while pulling down since arching or rounding could increase your risk of an injury — if you find this hard to do, you are using too much weight, so you should lower that.
Maintain control throughout your reps.
Avoid leaning back too far as you bring the bar down.
Squeeze your shoulder blades and hold for a few seconds before returning to the start position to maximize gains.
Don’t shrug at the top of your movement.
What Not to Do
Proper form is important, so don’t arch or round your back.
Don’t pull with your forearms; pull from your armpits to work the lats properly.
You’ll get the best results using a grip close to shoulder width. (We'll talk more about grip width later.)
Avoid pulling the bar too far because you could put too much stress on your shoulders.
Don’t pull too fast, which means you use momentum instead of muscle power.
The Lat Pulldown Machine Buyers' Guide
There are many factors to consider if you want to buy a lat pulldown machine you’re happy with. Here are the main features to look out for when making your purchase.
Weight Stack or Plate Loaded
Do you need a weight stack or a plate-loaded lat pulldown machine? If you have a serious gym at home with weights ready for use, a plate-loaded machine might be what you need. That way, you don’t need to buy anything extra; they’re cheaper and lighter.
A weight stack machine might be best for those just getting started and needing these weights or space. Weights can often be changed quickly with this, as all you need to do is pull the pin out and put it back at your selected range. This saves you time, and your workouts can happen faster. While more expensive, these machines are heavier and thus more stable.
While this might mean little to beginners, your current strength level and goal affect your desired machine. If you're already quite strong, go for something with a higher weight capacity. Muscle hypertrophy requires a machine with a maximum weight capacity.
Bottom Pulley / Row Options
Some lat pulldown machines come with additional low pulley stations or mid-pulley stations that you can use for other exercises. This makes your machine more versatile and allows you to do other exercises like a cable row, curls, seated rows, resisted hip abductions, and more.
The best lat pulldown machines come with an adjustable seat and thigh pads that you can move the seat height into a secure but comfortable position; this plays a key role in your technique and form. Your machine should offer thigh support that comes right over the top of your thighs with a bit of pressure to stop your legs from lifting as you pull down.
It’s important to get a durable lat pulldown machine that will last long. The warranty coming with your machine often speaks to how durable the equipment is and the brand’s confidence. Some lat pulldown machines have only a year warranty, while others offer a lifetime frame warranty.
Common Lat Machine Exercises
Lat machines are versatile and not confined to lat pulldowns. They can activate almost all upper body muscles that a cable machine targets. Below are the different lat pulldown variations you can do with a lat machine and other exercises.
Lat Pulldowns (grip variations)
Mixing up the grip positions during your lat pulldown can change the specifics of the muscle activation.
The overhand (pronated) or underhand(supinated) grip lat pulldowns emphasize different muscles. The pronated grip focuses more on the upper lats than the supinated grip. The supinated grip allows you to pull the weight down further, maximizing the contraction at the bottom of each rep. The supinated grip is also known as the reverse grip lat pulldown.
The shoulder width or close grip lat pulldown emphasizes different muscles. The shoulder width pushes your upper lats more while the close grip better activates the lower lats.
The neutral grip lat pulldown puts your hands in a more neutral position, with your palms facing each other. This lets you pull more weight with this grip and activates your biceps more.
The V-bar lat pulldown uses a V-bar attachment and puts your wrists at a more neutral angle. This leads to significant activation of the brachialis and brachioradialis.
Straight Arm Pulldowns
Straight arm pulldowns are usually done standing with your elbows extended nearly fully the entire time. This lat pulldown variation activates your triceps and gives you a full range of motion.
Single Arm Pulldowns
If your lat machine allows you to pull an individual bar, you can try single-arm pulldowns. They’re great for building your mind-muscle connection and working on muscle imbalances.
Standing Seating or Kneeling Lat Pulldowns
Standing, seating, or kneeling lat pulldowns work similar muscles but fire slightly different muscle neurons. Standing requires more core activation, while kneeling will force your lats to pull the weight.
You can do overhead extensions or tricep pulldowns on a lat pulldown machine. The attachment to use is a double-ended rope, and both are isolation exercises that target your triceps. In the case of the tricep pulldowns, you can target different heads of the tricep by using either an overhand or underhand grip and a straight bar attachment.
Lat pulldown machines can do a high cable bicep curl for those wishing to build bigger biceps. This variation of the standard cable bicep curl is an isolation exercise that uses low resistance and high reps for effectiveness. A single-hand attachment with a variable grip is best for this routine.
Face pulls are great for your rear deltoids. You use either a double-handed or single-handed attachment on a lat pulldown machine. You can also use a tricep rope.
Attachments for Lat Machines
Here are some important attachments that you can use on your machine to add variety:
Straight Lat Bar
You can use this regular straight bar on a lat pulldown machine for your underhand and overhand lat pulldowns. It’s made of steel or aluminum and is sometimes angled off to the sides. Some straight lat bars could come with handles on each end.
Single and Double D Handle
Single or double D handlebars are either made of plastic or metal. The single is used for the single-arm lat pulldowns. Double handlebars are what you use for the neutral grip lat pulldowns and also work for rows.
The tricep rope is a two-ended rope that allows you to hit the different heads of your triceps on tricep extensions. It’s also the attachment to use for face pulls and tricep pulldowns.
A tricep bar is a small bar with a unique pronated grip. You can use this attachment for curls and tricep extensions.
Body-Solid Pro Clubline SLM300G
Best Overall Lat Pulldown
The Body-Solid Pro Clubline SLM300G is our overall best lat pulldown machine. We also consider this machine the best-selectorized lat pulldown machine for home gyms.
The Body-Solid Pro Clubline SLM300G offers a combination design that lets you quickly switch between lat pulldowns and seated rows without changing the cables. It comes with adjustable hold-down pads that stabilize you for lifting heavier weights.
Moreover, it offers a lifetime in-home warranty, commercial warranty, nylon self-lubricating cables, and a double-coat powder finish that protects against scratching.
Weight Stack: 210lb Stack or 310lb Stack
Footprint: 64" L x 46" W x 83" H
- Strong construction made of durable materials with durable finishing
- Lifetime in-home warranty
- Adjustable hold-down pads to lift more weight
- Easy switch from the pulldown to seated rows
- Buyers report that it’s time-consuming to assemble
- The seat is small for seated rows
2. Best Commercial Lat Pulldown Machine: York STS Lat Pulldown
The York STS Lat Pulldown is our best commercial standalone lat pulldown. There is no row or low pulley on this machine. However, this machine is great for sculpting your V-taper as it has an adjustable leg locking hold down to keep your body in a secure position during your reps. The York STS Lat Pulldown has a selectorized weight stack and a straight bar with angled ends to keep your wrist and arm position correct.
The York STS Lat Pulldown comes in two weight options, the 250 and 300 lbs stacks. It’s available in white and silver, fitting into most gym color schemes. The cables are high quality with 4200 lbs tensile strength.
Weight Stack: 250lb Stack or 300lb Stack
Footprint: 53" L x 47.5" W x 90" H
York STS Lat Pull Pros
- Adjustable locking leg hold
- Selectorized to allow for quick weight changes
- Aircraft quality cable for durability
York STS Lat Pull Cons
- No low-row combo
- High product weight
3. Best Commercial Plate Loaded Pulldown: Steelflex PLLA Lat Pulldown
The Steelflex PLLA Lat Pulldown is our best commercial plate load lat pulldown machine. It’s plate loaded and comes with seat and weight arm adjustments. This machine is great for both commercial and residential gyms.
The Steelflex PLLA Lat Pulldown machine can carry up to 500 lbs and weighs 185 lbs, making it sturdy. This machine has a 15-year frame warranty and an electrostatically applied powder coat.
Footprint: 68" L x 63" W x 77" H
Steelflex PLLA Pros
- Adjustable seat
- 15-year frame warranty
- Economical price for home or commercial spaces
Steelflex PLLA Cons
- Tall frame for home gyms
- Single movement machine
- Upholstery warranty of only 6 months
4. Best Lat Pulldown for Home Gyms: Body-Solid GLM83 Pro Lat Machine
For many reasons, the Body-Solid Pro Lat Machine is our best plate-loaded lat pulldown for home gyms. One is that you won’t break the bank to get this machine. For the quality and performance that this machine offers, it comes at a reasonably fair price.
While this machine has a generic look, it’s made of heavy gauge steel that ensures durability. It has a weight capacity of 250 pounds which works for most fitness enthusiasts, and doubles as a low-row station. This ensures versatility; you can do triceps pushdowns and upright rows on this machine.
Weight Loading: Plate loaded with 1" pegs, olympic adapters additional
Footprint: 60" L x 32" W x 82" H
Body-Solid GLM83 Pros
- Small footprint for a dual function machine
- No cable change required to switch from high pulley to low pulley
- Powder coat finishings and heavy gauge steel keep it durable
- Lifetime in-home warranty
Body-Solid GLM83 Cons
- Seat is not adjustable, but leg hold down is
- Adapter for olympic plates not included
- Poor assembly instructions
5. Best Budget Lat Pulldown: Powerline PLM180X Lat Machine
Another Body-Solid lat machine makes the list - the Powerline PLM180X Lat Pull Low Row - is a great plate-stacked home pulldown machine. Heavy gauge steel with 8” foam rollers hold you in position during your reps on this machine. Plus, this machine includes the low row bar and lat bar.
The Powerline PLM180X is cost-effective, good option for home gyms because of it's small footprint and overall weight.. It comes with one-inch weight posts and can carry up to 250 lbs. It has a low pulley system for a variety of other exercises.
Weight Loading: Plate loaded with 1" pegs, olympic adapters additional
Footprint: 48" L x 43" W x 81" H
Body-Solid Powerline PLM180X Pros
- Combo machine at budget friendly price
- Lat pull and low row bar included
- Smaller footprint for home gyms
Body-Solid Powerline PLM180X Cons
- Lightweight frame will not be as stable as others
- Lower weight capacity
- Not great assembly instructions
- Cable change required to go from using the high pulley to the low pulley
- Olympic plate adapters not included
6. BodyKore GR638 Lat Pulldown Low Row
The BodyKore GR638 Lat Pulldown Low Row is a wonderful selectorized home gym equipment. This machine allows for switching between a lat pulldown and seated rows with no cable change. It comes with a 220lbs weight stack.
It has an intuitive foot placement and an interchangeable seat from lat pulldowns to a low row. This machine includes a low-pull handle and a thermostatic electrostatic powder coating. There is also a phone/key/cup holder.
Weight Stack: 220lbs
Footprint: 77" L x 47" W x 89" H
BodyKore GR638 Pros
- Interchangeable seat to low row
- Intuitive footrests for better stability
- Selectorized with 220 lbs outfitted weight stack
BodyKore GR638 Cons
- High product weight
- Large footprint for home gyms
7. TKO Strength Achieve Lat Pulldown Mid Row
The TKO Strength Achieve Lat Pulldown Mid Row is a dual machine that offers both lat pulldowns and mid rows in a compact space. This machine has an adjustable thigh pad and an elongated seat. In addition, it offers a five-position post-adjustment.
The TKO Strength Achieve is selectorized and has a 170 lbs weight stack. It can accommodate a wide range of users. However, it’s expensive compared to others on our list.
Weight Stack: 170lbs
Footprint: 70" L x 40" W x 86" H
TKO Achieve Lat Pull Pros
- Small footprint, compact design
- Adjustable leg hold downs
- Lat pulldown and mid row combo
TKO Achieve Lat Pull Cons
- Weight stack on the lighter side
8. Muscle D MDD-1004 Lat Pulldown Low Row
The Muscle D MDD-1004 Lat Pulldown Low Row was made for taller individuals. This machine has 11 selectorized stations and a low-row pull system. It’s a great combo machine; you don’t need to switch cables from lat pulldown to low rows.
This machine weighs about 500 lbs and has a 200 lbs weight stack. It has paint protection and handles protection with thigh hold-down rollers that are fully adjustable. Tall users will benefit from the extra long bench of this machine.
Weight Stack: 200lbs
Footprint: 64" L x 28" W x 87" H
Muscle D MDD-1004 Pros
- Long bench for tall uses
- Dual functionality, great for commercial facilities
Muscle D MDD-1004 Cons
- Lack of useful assembly instructions
- Large footprint for a home gym
9. York FTS Lat Pulldown Low Row
York makes our list again with the York FTS Lat Pulldown Low Row machine, a plate-stacked alternative. This machine is great for your home gym and has a bottom pulley system for various exercises. It’s affordable and has a standard lat pull-down bar and straight bar attachments.
The York FTS lat Pulldown bar also offers an adjustable foam padded leg hold to keep you stable during each rep. The 1” loading bar accepts standard plates and has a fully assembled weight of about 189 lbs.
One great thing about the York FTS Lat Pulldown is that you can upgrade it to a 200lb selectorized machine at any time by purchasing the option weight stack.
Weight Loading: Plate loaded with 1" pegs, olympic adapters additional. Upgrade to 200lb weight stack available.
Footprint: 63” L x 48” W x 83” H
York FTS Lat Pull Pros
- Bottom pulley system for versatility
- Easily affordable
- No cable change design
- Low home gym footprint
- Optional upgrade to 200lb stack
York FTS Lat Pull Cons
- Olympic plate adapter sleeves not included
- Lighter weight frame means less stability
Best Lat Pulldown Machines Conclusion
A lat pulldown machine is a great investment for building a wide, strong back. You'll surely find an option that fits your goals from our top nine best lat pulldown machines. Factors to consider include durability, weight capacity, warranty, and construction material.
Which One Is the Best Lat Pulldown Machine?
Our best lat pulldown machine pick is Body-Solid Pro Clubline SLM300G. This machine offers design, price, durability, and quality. It’s a customer favorite!
Which is the Best Lat Pulldown Machine for Home Gyms?
When choosing a lat pulldown machine for your home, it’s important to consider factors like cost, footprint, and even the kind of weight used. You want a lat pulldown machine with a low home gym footprint that doesn't cost too much. Also, if you already have plates, a plate-loaded machine may be better as they'll cost less, and you can use your available plates on them.
Doma, K., Deakin, G. B., & Ness, K. F. (2013). Kinematic and electromyographic comparisons between chin-ups and lat-pull down exercises. Sports biomechanics, 12(3), 302–313. https://doi.org/10.1080/14763141.2012.760204
Ronai, Peter M.S., FACSM, ACSM-CEP, ACSM-EP, EIM Level III, CSCS. The Lat Pulldown. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal 23(2):p 24-30, 3/4 2019. | DOI: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000469