Lat Pulldown V-Bar

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Adjust seat height and thigh pad accordingly.
  2. Grasp the V-bar with a closed grip (palms facing each other).
  3. Sit straight up with chest up and out.
  4. Face forward (facing the pulley).
  5. Position your thighs under the padding and place feet flat on the floor.
  6. Lean torso slightly backward and extend elbows fully keeping a very slight bend in them.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Pull the v-bar down and toward your upper chest.
  2. Maintain the slight lean back of your torso.
  3. Lower the V-bar until it touches your chest.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, extend arms upward, returning to starting position.
Do not jerk the torso throughout the movement. Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rhomboids, teres major
  • Synergists: Posterior deltoid, biceps brachii, brachialis
  • Stabilizers: Wrist flexors, rotator cuff muscles
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Shoulder extension, elbow flexion, and scapular retraction and downward rotation
  • Equipment: Lat pull down cable station and V-bar attachment
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Lat Pulldown V-Bar

    What Is A Cable V-Bar Lat Pulldown?

    A V-bar lat pulldown is a compound resistance exercise, which targets the upper and middle back including the latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rhomboids and teres major. It is a variation of the traditional lat pulldown with which allows for a close grip. This exercise is performed seated at a lat pulldown cable station with a V-bar (also known as a double D-handle) attachment.

    The concentric portion of the lift is shoulder extension, scapular retraction, scapular downward rotation, and elbow flexion. The eccentric portion is shoulder flexion, scapular protraction, scapular upward rotation, and elbow extension as the weight is lowered.

    The “lat” in “lat pulldown: refers to the latissimus dorsi as it is one of the primary muscles involved in the exercise. The purpose of the V-bar lat pulldown is to strengthen the latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rhomboids and teres major while also promoting the hypertrophy (increases in size) of these muscles.

    Why Do A Cable V-Bar Lat Pulldown?

    V-bar lat pulldowns strengthen and develop muscles of the upper and middle back. This exercise allows the lifter to emphasize the latissimus dorsi, a powerful shoulder extensor, as the upper arms are closer to your sides. The middle trapezius and rhomboids retract and rotate the scapula downward.

    The cable provides constant resistance throughout the entire range of motion for the V-bar lat pulldown.

    In addition to serving as an exercise that enhances the aesthetics of the upper and middle back, V-bar lat pulldowns also complement weightlifting and sport performance.

    Anatomy Of A Cable V-Bar Lat Pulldown

    The latissimus dorsi is a broad, flat, and triangular-shaped muscle of the lower back. When defined, the “lats” form a “v” shape of the torso as they angle toward the waist. The latissimus dorsi is a primary shoulder adductor and extensor. In this exercise, the latissimus dorsi is responsible for extending the shoulders as the V-bar reaches your chest. Its origin is located along the spines of the lower six thoracic vertebrae, lower 3 to 4 ribs, and iliac crest of the pelvis. Its insertion spirals around the teres major as it inserts into the intertubercular groove of the humerus.

    A flat and triangular muscle, the trapezius is the most superficial muscle of the posterior thorax. The middle fibers run horizontally to the scapula. Its origin is located at the occipital bone, ligamentum nuchae, and spines of C7 and all thoracic vertebrae. Its insertion is located along the acromion and spine of the scapula and lateral region of the clavicle. The middle trapezius retracts the scapula. As a superficial muscle, developing the middle trapezius contributes to the overall aesthetics of the upper back.

    The rhomboids are two rectangular muscles that lie underneath the trapezius just below the levator scapulae. The rhomboids consist of the rhomboid minor and rhomboid major. The rhomboid minor is located above the rhomboid major and is more superficial. The origin of the rhomboid minor is located at the spinous processes of C7 and T1. The origin of the rhomboid major is located at the spinous processes of T2-T5. The insertion of both rhomboids major and minor is located at the medial border of the scapula. The rhomboids are synergists with the middle trapezius when retracting the scapula. In this exercise, they are also responsible for downward rotation of the scapula.

    The teres major is a thick muscle located underneath the teres minor. It helps to form the posterior wall of the axilla. A synergist of the latissimus dorsi, the teres major extends the shoulder in this exercise. Its origin is located at the posterior surface of the scapula at the inferior angle. Its insertion is located at the crest of the lesser tubercle on the anterior humerus (its tendon fused with that of the latissimus dorsi).

    The deltoid is a thick, multipennate muscle that forms a curtain around the shoulder. It is the primary muscle involved with arm abduction. When developed, the deltoids give the shoulder their round shape. The extension of the shoulder joint, as the V-bar is pulled toward your torso, activates the posterior fibers of the deltoid. The origin of the deltoid is located at the insertion of the trapezius, lateral third of the clavicle and the acromion spine of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus.

    The biceps brachii consists of two heads, the long head and the short head. The long head tendon helps stabilize the shoulder joint and its origin is located at the tubercle and lip of the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The short head origin is located at the coracoid process of the scapula (shoulder blade). The long and short head unite as the muscle bellies run down the front of the arm. Both heads merge, sharing insertion into the radial tuberosity of the elbow joint. The biceps brachii flexes the elbow joint as the V-bar is pulled down.

    The brachialis lies underneath the biceps brachii, originating at the front of the lower end of the humerus bone. Its insertion is located at the coronoid process of the ulna at the elbow joint. The brachialis is a primary elbow flexor.

    The rotator cuff muscles help stabilize the shoulder joint as the scapular retract and rotate downward. The wrist flexors maintain the wrists rigid and stabilized throughout the exercise.

    Variations Of A Cable V-Bar Lat Pulldown

    Lat pulldown, reverse grip lat pulldown, one-arm lat pulldown.

    How To Improve Your Cable V-Bar Lat Pulldowns

    Focus more on the extension of the shoulder to fully engage the latissimus dorsi as the primary mover of this exercise. This will minimize the hands dominating the effort of the lift. This will not only optimize muscle activation of the latissimus dorsi, but also prevent strain on the biceps brachii that could increase the risk of injury.

    Maintaining a sight lean back of the torso throughout the entire movement allows for full range of motion of shoulder extension. It is important to maintain the rigid torso in this slightly leaned position to develop and strengthen the upper and middle back muscles successfully.

    Vary your lat pulldown exercises accordingly (e.g. lat pulldown, reverse grip lat pulldown, one-arm latpulldown). In the long run, and with strategic implementation into your back training regimen, this optimizes muscle fiber activation of the involved muscles.

    Performing lat pulldowns unilaterally with a D-handle allows the lifter to focus one side at a time and increase activation of the latissimus dorsi of each side.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” the shoulder blades (scapula) together as the arms are brought down to your sides.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between back, shoulder, and biceps training days to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Cable V-Bar Lat Pulldowns

    Using momentum to lift the weight (e.g. jerking the body back and forth) minimizes the potential of force production of the involved muscles and can increase the risk for back injury. It is important that both the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercise are controlled.

    Excessively leaning back can increase the risk of lower back injury and is unnecessary to achieve full range of motion.

    Solely using the arms to pull the weight minimizes the activation of the latissimus dorsi and scapula retractors. Focus on shoulder extension to guide the movement while the hands act as hooks.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Cable V-Bar Lat Pulldowns

    If the lifter has a compromised range of motion with the back or shoulder joint and/or performs this exercise incorrectly, this exercise can increase the risk of injury and/or exacerbate a previous injury.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, biceps injury, rotator cuff injuries, and/or lower back injuries may occur.