Looking to build your back at home? Or expand your home gym setup with one of the most classic machines out there?
The lat pulldown machine is a fantastic exercise machine for building the kind of back that makes it looks like you have wings. You know, that tapered look. No wonder why you are shopping around for one today – who wouldn’t want to feel the need to walk around with their arms a foot from their sides at all times?
But not all lat pulldown machines are made the same, some have other cables and options built-in for additional exercises, some load weight differently, and more. This is why we assembled the most comprehensive list and guide out there for the best lat pulldown machines on the market – because you shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to an exercise so vital to lifting.
List of the Best Lat Pulldown Machines
Below you are going to find the top rated lat pull down machines that are available in 2021. These machines have been rated based on quality, functionality, and cost.
In that order.
Best Bang for your Buck
- 2×3 frame with 11 gauge steel construction with a 400-pound max load capacity – super strong
- Comfortable and durable seat and grip coverings for grip
- An additional pulley system for more exercises
- Plate-loaded for more customizability
- Highest Reviewed Lat Pulldown Machine
XMark Heavy Duty Lat Pulldown Review
So first off let me say, this is the best lat pulldown machine on our list and is going to be the one that you are going to want to get if you are in the market for one.
Speaking of not compromising, XMark’s lat pulldown machine comes in first on the list for a number of reasons, but the general quality and assurance you can have with the premium construction are some of them.
The lat pulldown itself is simple and sturdy, it is plate-loaded, so if you have weights already (as you should if you are buying a specialized machine) then it should be no problem to customize this to go as heavy as you want – solving an issue I have run into in the past when the preset weights don’t go heavy enough.
Below the seat is another pulley station with a platform for feet to go when performing the cable row, but it can be used for so much more – really any exercise with a low-set pulley.
Best Cheap Lat Pull Down Machine
- 2×2 frame with 12 gauge steel construction with a 200-pound max load capacity – not too shabby for the price
- Low pricing
- Adjustable seat pad
- Neoprene crunch harness for hitting abs on top of everything else
- Over 100 ratings with an average of 4.4/5
Valor Fitness Lat Pulldown Machine Review
Swooping in at a lower price-point is Valor Fitness with their lat pulldown machine; plate loaded as well, this machine utilizes not just a lower pulley system but a middle pulley for crunches on top of everything.
The set up has adjustable pads, storage pegs for weights, a back pad for crunches, and more. One odd thing with the lat pulldown is the pegs for weights are much smaller than standard olympic plates, but you can purchase sleeves to adjust the thickness of the machine’s weight-holders for a low price – so it isn’t really a big deal, especially at such a low cost.
Best Affordable Home Gym with Lat Pull Down
- Competitive pricing
- Heavy-duty steel tubing with guard rods for support
- Best home gym for beginners
- Included weights for easy use and loading
- Multi-joint arms for both flys as well as chest presses
- Great for someone who is too busy to go to the gym but still wants a solid workout at home
- Over 350 ratings with an average of 4/5
Marcy Multifunctional Home Gym Review
Want something a little more intense? This total home gym station should do that for you, all at a reasonable price.
Included in this beast is 150 pounds of weights attached to a complex system of pulleys that lead to a lat pulldown bar built for different grip positions, a cable for curls, leg extension system, and pec dec. All this connected to the same weight system on the same machine.
All in all, there are up to 30 different exercises that can be performed with this machine as stated by Marcy, all capable through the slick and comfortable design of this total-body home gym station.
Cheaper Alternative Lat Pull Down
- Strong steel design that should hold up for a long time
- On the lighter side at only 52 pounds, making transportation and storage easy
- Sturdy 300 lb limit for weight loading
- Smooth cable operations
- Over 30 ratings with an average of 4/5
Total body systems are great, I get the appeal, but personally, I love to keep it simple, which is why this machine strikes a chord with me.
Another 2-pulley machine, this lat pulldown machine keeps it uncluttered with the solid construction and design necessary for a good lifting experience. While there might be some complaints with the cable-to-pulldown quality, the vast majority of users never found any issue.
Overall, this is a solid runner up option that is on the cheaper side in case the others don’t jive all that well with you. I just wish there was more information out there to offer more details about this machine, so if you like to hoard details before a purchase, this might not be the one for you.
Another Excellent Cheaper Option
- Decent 250 lb limit for weight loading
- Simple design means less mechanical problems, or worst case easy issue identification
- Super low price relative to other options out there
- Over 100 ratings with an average of 3.9/5
Body-Solid Powerline LAT Machine Review
Looking to “cut off the excess” and go barebones even more? The next option is about as simple as they come, without sacrificing quality or reliability.
Likely the most standard pulley set up out of anything we have taken a look at yet, this machine will require a cable extension if you want to use the lower cable for rows or curls due to the lack of the complex pulley system for splitting cables.. Additionally, the machine lacks seat or leg-roller adjustability.
For some, this is no big deal, but for others, this might be a deal-breaker.
That being said, there aren’t really any clear, large downsides to this inexpensive lat pulldown machine, and even if there are, it is protected by an in-home warranty (10 years on the frame, and 1-year for parts). So if something breaks once Amazon’s protection plan ends, your mind can be at ease.
Best Wall Mount Lat Pulldown
- Two sleeve sizes included so you don’t have to worry about plate compatibility
- Ball-bearing design for smooth operations and reduced friction
- Decent 250 lb limit for weight loading
- 17 total cable positions for maximum customizability
- Over 30 ratings with an average of 4.5
ARCHON Wall Mount Lat Machine Review
On the less traditional side of things is ARCHON’s machine, less of a lat pulldown, and more of a home-gym type set up. Lacking the seat and knee rollers, it serves more as a versatile and adjustable cable station (as its name suggests).
It can be used for crossovers, pull-downs, pushdowns, curls, chest presses, and many more. But as a lat pulldown, you can certainly get your work in with some ingenuity. However, I should note that this is designed more for those who value versatility over the strict use as a lat pulldown machine. In addition to this, the wall mounting suggests that it should be a more permanent feature in your home gym, and less moveable.
All in all, if this checks off your boxes, do not hesitate, because this cable station is great for what it aims to do!
Best Lat Pulldown With Weights Included
- Built for lifetime use
- High-quality tubing and framing construction
- An additional stomach-high pulley is included
- Weights included for no-hassle use up to 200 pounds
- Additional models for up to 300 pounds of weight
- 4.8/5 with few reviews (understandably, because of the premium nature of the product)
Body-Solid LAT Machine Review
Just starting your home gym and don’t really want any free weights? Feel like skipping over all the hassle to go and buy a bunch of plates to load up your lat pulldown? Maybe you just prefer to have all the weights included in a simple, straightforward selection?
Regardless of whatever reason you have, here is a premium machine for just that.
Looking and feeling like something you’d find in a commercial gym, this lat pulldown is of both quality and reliability.
Recommended Reading: Best Commercial Ellipticals
However, this product is for the select consumer. It is built to last you a lifetime, and if you truly value quality, and desire a lat pulldown with the weights included, then this certainly is perfect for you.
But for many buyers out there, they might want to reconsider how important built-in weights are because it adds some serious dollar signs to the price tag.
Vanswe Wall Mount Cable Station
- Wall-mounted set up making stability guaranteed
- Wide range of possible exercises due to sliding cable positioning
- Double bar track for smooth operations
- Over 20 reviews with an average of 4.5/5
Vanswe Wall Mount Cable Station Review
Another versatile, sturdy, and reliable cable station to finish out this list of great lat pulldowns for your home gym. This one takes a slightly different approach to adjustability.
With both adjustable cable positioning, as well as various clip-in spots along the handles, you should never run into issues with getting the handle right where you want it.
However, like the other cable station, this is slightly more optimal for a wide range of exercises versus specializing in lat pulldowns. Still, you shouldn’t have any big issue with doing a kneeling lat pulldown, or even using a chair.
Buying a Lat Pulldown Machine
Here's What to Look For
When buying such large items, the cash you have to fork over can tend to never leave your pocket, that mouse cursor just hovers above “buy” forever, or the item sits in your cart, then gets demoted to a wishlist.
Buying a lifting station is a big deal, and if you are looking specifically into a lat pulldown, it likely means you have other stations, so you know how important it is to get it right.
Here are a few things you should look for in a lat pulldown machine before buying:
Cost – Price of the lat pulldown machine
Duh. It’s commonly going to be a tradeoff between price and quality/features, just like with most products. If you are looking for a quality cheap lat pulldown machine then I recommend going with the Valor fitness Pulldown Machine.
Weight limit – How much weight can the machine handle?
If you are an experienced lifter, make sure to keep an eye out for the weight limit (or if you are buying a machine with weights included, the maximum weight included), because you don’t want to find yourself maxing out the machine after only a few months of lifting.
I recommend you go as high as possible, with a 200 lb minimum, bordering more on 250+ lb minimum.
Pulley options – What’s offered?
Most pulldowns here come with a lower pulley for rows and such, but some might not. This factor is only as important as you make it, so if you only care about an overhead cable, then don’t worry about it, even if it is pretty handy.
Warranty options – Does the machine offer a warranty?
Some stations will come with a separate warranty, if so, this is a huge plus for you, because if something is going to break, it will likely happen within the first few months.
Quality of construction – What’s the machine made of?
Many on this list are built with a great level of care, and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about them falling apart on you, but it is still recommended that you take a look for yourself, and if you are thinking about buying others not listed here, taking extra care to ensure that your machine will last a long time.
Something to keep an eye on is the gauge of steel and the thickness of the beams used to create the rack.
Ease of setup
This is slightly more subjective, but no less essential. Some machines will require a background in engineering to interpret the obscure blueprints given to you to put together the pieces. Where others might be simple enough and have instructions more than just a few pictures of what is supposed to look like when it’s done.
More often than not, the thing that breaks has to do with the cable, either the pulley system, the pieces that connect the cable to the handle, or even the cable itself. Regardless, looking out for the quality of some of the moving parts might be more worthwhile than looking at the metal structure itself.
How to Use a Lat Pulldown Machine Correctly
Watch the video below to learn how to use the lat pulldown machine.
Which grip is best to use on a lat pulldown machine?
Unfortunately, I have to give the unhelpful “it depends”. However, why it depends should be a little more useful.
For most people, the lat pulldown serves to hit the lats, and primarily the lats; you care less about working your biceps on this or trying out some unique variation for diversity’s sake.
Simply, for most, the wide, pronated (this means palms facing away from you) grip should work just fine. It hits the back the best, while still getting in work on the biceps.
If you want a bit more focus on the biceps, supinate your grip (palms facing towards you) and come into a chin-up style position, still engaging your lats as you perform the rep, but focusing a bit more now on your biceps.
Related Reading: Biceps vs Triceps - Differences
You can also throw on a different attachment if you are wanting more of a neutral grip to work more of your inner back
I recommend keeping your arms out wide with your hands pronated to focus more on your lats, traps, and rear delts.
How do I work in lat pulldowns into my workout routine?
Lat pulldowns are great for hitting your back hard, but they certainly shouldn’t just be the only exercise you are doing for your back.
Due to the lighter nature of the exercise, I would lean towards doing a heavier compound movement first, such as a barbell row or even the deadlift, then moving into less taxing exercises such as the lat pulldown.
In the past, I have done bent over barbell rows, then weighted pull ups, then dumbbell rows, and then lat pulldowns. Keeping them towards the end because the exercise isn’t really meant to overload to some crazy extent, but to get that stretch in the lats that no other exercise can seem to replicate.
What should my form look like?
When we all start lifting, we look like flopping fish, it’s true. But the idea is to slowly improve, unfortunately for most, they never improve their terrible lat pulldown technique.
It’s tempting to yank the weight of the bar with tons of body English and momentum, but trust me there are better ways to go about this.
Starting with your arms fully extended and a stretch already in your back, pull the bar down towards your chest in a smooth and controlled motion, leaving back a little as the bar comes closer to your head. Then, contract and focus on your lats as you pull the bar close to your chest. Never lose tension as you finish the rep and let the cables take your grip towards the top, this is the part where a good portion of your muscles get broken down.
Alternatively, some have used body English on this exercise and claim that to be an effective method. But in my opinion, it is such a lightweight exercise meant for the stretch and focus on certain muscles that the momentum just isn’t all that helpful.
Save swinging for heavy rows, or better yet, Pendley rows, and get it out of your system.
Which Muscles Does a Lat Pulldown Machine Work?
I’ve mentioned them before, but it’s worth going over once again.
- The primary mover in this exercise is the latissimus dorsi.
- The secondary movers are the biceps, traps, and teres majors.
- Other involved muscles are the forearms, rear delts, and other smaller muscles in the back.
This movement is great for your lats, and I can state with great personal conviction that it builds them like crazy. For everything else, it hits pretty well, but don’t think you should skip out on farmer’s walks or shrugs because you did lat pulldowns for your traps.
Simply, using this machine like a standard lat pulldown, it’s best for pure lat intensity, and decent for other muscle groups. But due to the sheer number of exercises you can explore (as I will dig into later on), you can work a lot more than just your lats.
Top Lat Pulldown Machine Brands to Be on the Lookout For
These companies are some of the top manufacturers of not just lat pulldown machines, but exercise machines as a whole. And if you are looking to invest in something that is supposed to last you more than a few years, you are going to want to buy from the best!
FAQ About Lat Pulldown Machines
How wide should I keep my hands?
Earlier we talked about taking up a wide grip for lat pulldowns, but what exactly does that mean?
While every bar you use for the exercise is likely to be a little different, it is safe to say that when the bar is at the same level as your forehead, your arms should be at 90 degrees. This is how you can determine where your hands go.
Of course, if you decide to use more of a chin-up form, then your hands will need to be at about shoulder-width apart. I have even experimented with tighter grips for different muscle group emphasis.
What sort of variations are there to the lat pulldown?
Obviously, there is the wide grip and the supinated, slightly closer grip, similar to the pull up and the chin up, respectively.
Beyond these two options there are a few choices:
The single-arm lat pulldown machine – this one is great for isolation and really feeling that stretch which the lat pulldown is so famous for. I recommend doing these at the end of a workout for a great burnout, or even for getting a pump before your main lifts.
I would recommend using a handle with a strap connecting to the carabiner rather than doing this on a bar meant for two hands (that or a metal handle, whichever works for you).
The V-bar lat pulldown
this is seriously one of my favorite exercises, the quality of the stretch you can get in your lats is untouchable by nearly any other exercise. On top of this is how little tension gets placed on your shoulder.
As someone with a history of shoulder pain and general instability, taking tension off the stabilizing functions of shoulders in a movement is a lifesaver. And being able to overload on the V-bar lets me get the intense stretch and pump I want, without having to worry about my shoulders being sore or unstable.
Behind-the-neck lat pulldown
On the other side of the spectrum, this exercise places quite a bit more stress on the shoulder as a tradeoff for more trap activation and a bigger stretch on the back. Personally, I would just skip these in favor of movements you can have more luck overloading with safely.
Neutral grip lat pulldown
requiring another specialized bar, this variation takes the form of a bar with handles on the end which go perpendicular to the bar for a neutral grip. With the width of your grip locked in, it’s pretty straightforward from there, just perform the movement.
Offering a strong stretch in the lats, without much shoulder tension, it can feel similar to the V-bar variation to an extent. I always did these before squatting on my sissy squat machine and before deadlifting to get my lats feeling loose and warmed up, because the exercise does offer a great level of focus on the lats.
Straight arm lat pulldown
Much less traditional than some of these other variations, this movement doesn’t even require a place to sit, so it is very compatible with some of the stations on this list that are wall-mounted.
Arms nearly locked out, start slightly bent over, hips back, bring the bar to your hips in a wide arm, tightening your lats as you go, then finish the rep with your hips coming in slightly to connect with the bar (a slightly awkward movement, I know).
This is fantastic for pure lat isolation! I have used these a ton to get ready for deadlifts and bench to get my back nice and tight. Use these like you would a single-arm lat pulldown, for a finisher or before your main movement.
Others – straying even further away from the lat pulldown, there are certain exercises you can do with the lat pulldown machine, further increasing its versatility.
Some movements that I have done on one include: tricep pushdowns, face pulls, cable curls.
Others you might be able to pull off include: wood chops, overhead tricep extensions, high cable crunches, and more.
The machine truly is versatile, not even counting the lower-positioned cable.
What attachments should I get?
The standard lat pulldown machine bar is great, don’t get me wrong, but things get fun when you begin to spice it up with attachments that go on the end of the cable.
The first one I have to recommend is going to be the singular handle, whether metal or made of plastic and fabric. Personally, I dig the metal ones, but both serve the same purpose. This one is pretty much essential because it offers you the ability to do single-arm lat pulldowns, among a wide range of other variations and other exercises which would be difficult or impossible to do with the two-handed bar.
What I really wanted to do was put this one at number one – the V-bar. As I discussed earlier, the V-bar lat pulldown is a great exercise, but the V-bar is a must-buy for more than just that. Most of these machines come with a lower cable option, this means cable rows, and if you’ve ever done a cable row with a V-bar, you’ll never go back to a regular bar, trust me.
Some other buys include the tricep rope for interesting twists on exercises and even more satisfying face pulls and the two-handle bar which offers that neutral grip variation we went over earlier, alongside solid lat-engaging rows.
How much weight do I need?
Other than the marcy home gym, and the Body Solid all-in-one lat pulldown machine, you’ll need to procure your own weight plates.
For most of you, you should have plates already if you are purchasing a rather specialized machine, but in the off chance that you don’t, and you don’t want a lat pulldown with weights included, here’s what I recommend:
Taking a look at the average strength of the average lifters (men) at an average weight, you should expect to not need more than 160 pounds if you plan on sticking above eight reps. But here’s the thing even my girlfriend can do close to 160 lbs on the lat pulldown. So I would recommend getting weights that will allow you to go up to 200 lbs. Even if you are a woman I would recommend getting a weight set that will give you up to 150 lbs of resistance.
From personal experience, I can tell you that without much specific training in the lat pulldown, I could hop on and start at 180-200 for larger sets. So, it really does just depend on the user, but I would suggest erring on the side of getting more weights than you need, that way you have some wiggle room to expand into as you get stronger.
Related Reading: Best Place to Buy Weights
The Bottom Line – My Recommendations
The bottom line is, that if you want the best one, then get the XMark Heavy Duty Lat Pulldown. Not only is it strong and durable, but it has a swath of reviews from other users who are more than satisfied with their purchase, which should give you the peace of mind that you are buying something that you can rely on.
If you are on budget still want to get a product that is quality? I recommend the Valor Fitness CB-12 Plate Loading LAT Pull Down Machine. With a low cable for rows and curls, a chest-high cable for crunches, and an overhead one for the lat pulldown, this machine doesn’t cut corners despite the low price. Even better, the abundance of ratings and positive reviews just reinforces this.
Better yet? Both of these machines are built by companies trusted in making stations that won’t break down and will constantly.
All in all, we’ve gone through more than enough information today to set you on the right path to building a killer back, from the top lat pulldown machines on the market, to some common questions on their use, I hope you’ve been able to get at least a little bit closer to this big decision.