One of the advantages of a commercial gym over most home gyms is that it offers a range of cable machines that allow you to work the muscles of your upper body in ways you can’t get with barbells and dumbbells. A Favorite cable movement is the lat pulldown.
Traditionally, lat pulldown machines for home use have been substandard but recently, a new batch of machines have emerged that provide a neat commercial quality home gym lat pull-down experience. In this article, we bring you the 5 best lat pulldown machines for home gym use on the market right now.
Best Overall Lat Pulldown Machine
We love the XMark Lat Pulldown Machine because of its combination of sturdy frame construction, high, and low pulley functionality, and smooth, jerk-free cable action. It also has a relatively compact footprint, a 400 lb weight capacity and it comes with some useful accessories.
What is a Lat Pulldown Machine?
A lat pulldown machine is a high cable pulley machine that is designed to work the latissimus dorsi muscles of the back. It features a seat and thigh pad to allow the user to lock in on the seat.
Most home use lat pulldown machines require the user to add their own weight plates to the machine. Some do come with a weight stack but these are usually considerably more expensive. Some lat pulldowns will also have a low pulley machine to allow you to do such exercises as seated rowing and cable bicep curls.
In addition to the lat pulldown exercise, the lat pulldown machine also allows you to do triceps pushdowns, one arm cable presses, and lat pull-ins.
Who Should Use a Lat Pulldown Machine?
Lat pulldowns are a good exercise for bodybuilders as well as anyone who wants to develop a V taper to their upper body. The exercise is also good for all athletes who need to be throwing a ball. Boxers, martial artists, and other fighters will also benefit from this exercise. Strong, powerful lats are also needed for rucking in sports like rugby.
What are the Lats?
Lats is short for Latissimus Dorsi. This large, fan-shaped muscle is located on the lower two-thirds of the spine and on the lower third and fourth ribs, as well as on the bottom tip of the scapula and on the upper posterior part of the pelvis. All of these fibers insert onto the upper-inner part of the humerus (upper arm bone).
In addition to the lat pulldown, other exercises that are done to work the lats include seated cable rows, one-arm dumbbell rows, and chin-ups. Lat pulldowns can be done with a wide, close, or medium grip.
Are Lat Pulldowns better than chin-ups?
The lat pulldown is a more accessible exercise. Many people cannot perform even one proper pull up. This often prevents them from even approaching the pull-up bar. However, anyone can jump straight into the lat pulldown and begin a full range of motion exercises straight away. They can also, of course, progressively increase the weight to allow them to build up to performing a pull-up.
How do you do Lat Pulldowns?
Begin by setting the seat and thigh pad so that your knee bend is at 90 degrees. Reach up to grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keep your spine neutral as you arch back slightly. Lift your chest up as you pull the bar down to your clavicle area, keep the elbows out and back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you come down. Hold the contracted lat position for a second and then return to the start position.
Are Lat Pulldowns the best exercise for your lats?
No, despite being the most popular. A far more effective exercise biomechanically is the lat pull in. This involves doing a one-arm angled pull into the hip so that the cable is traveling on a 30 degree diagonal.
Lat Pulldown Machine Buying Guide
A lat pulldown is a hefty investment that should last you for a lifetime. To make sure that you get the best value for money, here are 5 points to look out for:
Unless your body is properly aligned, you will not benefit from the exercise and you may actually damage your body. To get the proper alignment you need to be able to fully adjust the seat for your height. The seat should allow you to adjust the seat position to between 5 and 7 positions. This will allow the machine to be able to be used for a range of different users.
You can buy lat pulldown machines that come with a weight plate weight stack as well as those that do not come with a weight stack. The latter will require you to purchase and add your own weight plates. These types of machines allow you to add the weight plates that you probably already have in your home gym. However, the lat pulldown machines with a built-in weight stack provide you with a more, smooth, natural exercise motion.
Be aware that some lat pulldown machines that do not come with a weight stack will only support Olympic or standard one-inch diameter weight plates. Make sure that the capability of the machine matches the type of weights you have at home. Ideally, you should get a machine that supports both standard and Olympic sized plates.
The lock-in of a lat pulldown machine refers to the ability to be held in securely when you are sitting on the machine. There should be pad support that sits above your thighs. This should be adjustable to allow you to sit with your knees at a 90-degree angle. The thigh support should also be well padded for comfort, as should the seat of the machine.
The durability of a lat pulldown machine is largely dependent on the quality of the steel frame. Look for a machine that has a high gauge 2 x 3-inch steel framing or higher. It should include cross beams for extra support. Machines that come with weight pegs to allow you to store your weight plates provide the dual purpose of plate storage and added stability.
Pulleys and Cables
The quality of your workout is almost entirely dependent on the quality of the cables and pulleys in your lat pulldown machine. Go for steel rather than plastic pulleys, along with aircraft industrial quality cabling.
You should expect a lat pulldown machine to be a one time purchase. As such, it should come with an extensive warranty. 10 years of protection should be what you expect, with anything longer being a bonus. If the manufacturer offers less than that, you need to start asking yourself why.
The 5 Best Lat Pulldown Machines:
1. XMark Heavy Duty LAT Pulldown And Low Row Cable Machine
- High and Low Pulley
- 400 lb max load
- Easy Assembly
- Solid Frame
- Not suitable for people over 6’4”
The XMark Heavy Duty Lat Pulldown machine is more than just a lat pulldown. It also features a low cable so that it becomes a complete pulley unit. The machine is very durable, being made from 11 gauge, 2 x 3-inch square steel. The silver corrosion resistant powder finish adds an extra level of durability. The compact footprint of 57″L x 31″W means that this machine will work with your limited gym space.
The Xmark seat is adjustable to work with users up to 6’4” in height. The seat features a 3-inch Duracraft cushion along with generous padding on the thigh support. You also get a flip-up footplate with a low cable to allow you to do the seated rowing machine. The weight plate holder is designed for standard weight plates but your purchase includes a sleeve adapter to allow for Olympic weight plates.
2. Valor Fitness CB-12 Lat Pulldown Machine
- High and low pulley
- Back pad
- Fully adjustable
- Max weight just 200 lbs
The Valor Fitness CB-12 is not quite as solid as the XMark, being made from 2 x 2 inch 12 gauge steel framing. In addition to the well-padded seat and thigh pads, it also provides you with a back pad for when you are doing triceps push downs. This is a nice touch which you don’t see on many lat pulldown machines. This machine also includes a low pulley for seated rowing and other exercises, as well as a sturdy footplate.
The seat pad is completely adjustable, with 4 positions that provide for a 5-inch adjustment length. The weight plate holder is designed to take a standard one-inch weight plate. It can be adapted for Olympic plates but the adapter will have to be bought separately. The max load on the Valor Fitness CB-12 is 200 lbs which may be too light for some experienced lifters.
3. Rogue Monster Lat Pulldown Machine
- Comes with 300 lb weight stack
- 6-inch pulleys
- US military-spec aircraft cabling
- Foam seat padding
- 10 position footplate
The Rogue Monster Lat Pulldown is the ultimate home gym lat pulldown, being of commercial-grade quality. The reason that it sits at No. 3 on our list is that it is a LOT more expensive than the others on this list. But if you are after the best then look no further. The Rogue Monster comes with a 300 lb weight stack that goes up in increments of 10 lbs. It features 6-inch pulleys and a set of custom-built black carabiners. This is twice as much as most lat pulldowns and makes for a smooth smoother cable motion.
The Rogue Monster has a cable that is built to US military specs for aircraft cabling. The foam seat and leg roller assembly are extremely comfortable, and the low pulley provides you with a diamond tread footplate with 10 adjustment positions.
4. Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Lat Pulldown Machine
- Solid frame
- Four bolt holes
- High and low pulleys
- Four-position seat adjustment
- 13-inch long weight sleeve
- Warranty just 12 months
The Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Lat Pulldown machine has a durable steel frame that ensures that it is very solid. Four centrally located bolt holes give you the option of bolting it down for added rigidity.
This machine has a high and a low pulley and your purchase come with both a lat pulldown and a low row handle. The thigh pads and seat have four adjustable positions. The weight sleeves are 13 inches long. The holders are made for a one-inch diameter standard plate but your purchase comes with sleeve holders to allow for Olympic plates.
5. Vanswe Lat Pulldown Machine
- 2-inch sleeve adapter
- Adjustable seat and thigh pads
- Seated row footplate
- Easy assembly
- Only suits people up to 6 foot tall
The Vanswe Lat Pulldown is a durable and affordable machine that provides you with both a high and low pulley station. Your purchase comes with a 2-inch sleeve adapter so that you can use both standard and Olympic weight plates on it.
The seat and thigh pads are adjustable to people who are 6 feet tall. The low station features a flip-up diamond tread footplate to allow you to get optimized positioning. Your purchase comes with a lat pulldown bar as well as a low pulley bar. This machine is also relatively easy to put together.
Having a lat pulldown machine in your home gym will take your set up to the next level, allowing for a range of cable exercises to challenge your body in a whole different way. The best Lat Pulldown machine on the market for those with a limited budget is the XMark Heavy Duty Lat Pulldown machine. If, however, money is no object to you, go directly to Rogue and order their Heavy Duty Monster Lat Pulldown.
This article was last updated on December 13, 2022 .