The Best Lat Pulldown Machines for Your Home Gym - SI Showcase - Sports Illustrated

2023-01-13 12:44:26 By : Ms. Amanda Chen

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Lat pulldowns are great exercises for strengthening the lats. Your latissimus dorsi, also known as your lats, are the largest muscles in your back (and the widest in the human body) and are the primary movers in the pulldown motion. Lat pulldown machines and lat pulldown attachments for power racks are essential strength training equipment that can help you strengthen your back and shoulder muscles. Plate Loaded Pulley Machine

The Best Lat Pulldown Machines for Your Home Gym - SI Showcase - Sports Illustrated

Here are our picks for the best lat pulldown machines, as well as a comprehensive buying guide on how to find the right lat pulldown machine for your needs, how to use a lat pulldown machine and what to look for when buying one.

The REP Fitness 4000/5000 Series is a selectorized lat pulldown and low row pulley system. Rather than being a standalone lat pulldown machine, this particular pulldown cable system is designed to be added to your power rack to give you the added functionality of both the high and low pulley stations for lat pulldowns and low rows, among any other cable-based exercises like curls, tricep push-downs, belt squats and straight-arm pull-downs.

The REP Fitness 4000/5000 system features an impressive 200-pound weight stack, with a starting weight of 20 pounds and 10-pound weight increments. The pulley system uses a one-to-one ratio, meaning that you are lifting the exact load you select (30 pounds feels like 30 pounds). You can also upgrade the weight stack to 300 pounds. The weight stack also has pegs to add more resistance.

For bracing your body while doing low rows, there’s a tread foot plate that you can adjust using an integrated pop-pin system.

Overall, it’s a great upgrade to a power rack that will add a ton of versatility to the exercises you can do.

The NordicTrack Fusion CST is essentially a functional trainer, which is another term for a piece of equipment that gives you the ability to perform multi-joint movements and work your whole body. 

It features six independent pulleys and three pulley heights (low, mid and high) to increase the versatility in the number of exercises you can do and the potential modifications therein, and the package even includes six different handles and two ankle straps for added versatility. Rather than using weight plates or being a selectorized machine with a weight stack, this functional trainer has 20 levels of magnetic resistance. The magnetic resistance system is designed to provide a smooth, quiet operation that is ultimately relatively silent compared to lat pull down machines with a weight stack or weight plates.

The functional trainer is compatible with iFit, so you can stream live and on-demand strength training workouts as you use the machine. 

Compared to many standalone lat pulldown machines, the NordicTrack Fusion CST enables much greater versatility in the range of exercises you can perform. However, the machine also operates differently than standard strength training equipment you would find in a gym given that it uses magnetic resistance.

Although the 20 levels of magnetic resistance should provide a sufficient amount of resistance for most recreational users looking to build strength, this system may not provide enough of a load for serious weightlifters, powerlifters or bodybuilders. It’s not really possible to translate the resistance provided by the system into pounds, but most reviewers report that the highest level of resistance on the Fusion CST is roughly equivalent to 160 to 200 pounds.

Unlike most lat pulldown machines and power racks in commercial gyms, Tonal is unique. It is a wall-mounted, total-body workout strength training machine that has two adjustable arms, allowing users to angle them in different ways for various push or pull exercises.

To increase the versatility of the machine, the grips on the adjustable arms can also be swapped out for different attachments, such as a bar, rope or one of two different handles. The handles have an on/off button that enables you to get into your starting position before the weight is added onto the system. The Tonal training system starter set also includes a weight bench and floor mat.

Unlike selectorized cable machines with a weight stack or lat pulldown machines that use weight plates, the Tonal strength training machine uses magnetic resistance. The system has a maximum resistance for pulling and pushing exercises of 200 pounds when both arms are used simultaneously, or 100 pounds per arm of the dual-armed machine. 

There is a large touchscreen in the center of the machine that streams workout classes targeted towards a variety of different training goals, workout duration, primary muscles worked and training levels. You will need to have Wi-Fi to stream these workouts and use the machine.

There are a few interesting strength training features of Tonal, such as its Eccentric mode which automatically adds a few pounds of resistance to your last couple of reps during the prescribed set as well as during the “lowering” portion of your lift. This is pretty ingenious and can be a boon for people looking to build muscle (hypertrophy) because studies suggest that the eccentric portion of an exercise may elicit even greater gains in muscle mass and strength. Additionally, it’s virtually impossible to replicate this adjustment on your own with regular dumbbells or cables during every rep of an exercise, so it’s a pretty awesome perk.

There’s also Spotter mode. This mode is designed to sense when you are struggling to max out a rep. So, much like a spotter in the gym, the machine automatically decreases the weight to make sure that you can perform the movement safely.

Most Tonal user reviews note that the system makes strength training much more engaging and interactive. It’s also beneficial for beginners and intermediate lifters who need additional guidance on form, technique and which exercises to do during a workout. Because this is a total body strength training machine, you will also get much more functionality and versatility than with a standalone lat pulldown machine.

For more information, check out our in-depth Tonal review.

If you are on a budget and already have a home gym power rack, our pick for the best budget lat pulldown attachment is the REP Fitness 1000 Series Lat and Low Row Attachment. This is a weight plate lat pulldown attachment, so you will need to use your own Olympic weight plates or Olympic bumper plates. It does not include a weight stack.

This pulley system attaches to your existing power rack (the Rep Fitness PR-1000 or Rep Fitness PR-1100), enabling you to perform any number of cable exercises such as low rows, seated lat pulldowns, biceps curls, face pulls and triceps push-downs.

Like the premium model for the 4000/5000 Power rack series, the REP Fitness 1000 series lat and low row attachment features a pulley system with a one-to-one ratio, which means that using a 50-pound weight will feel like 50 pounds of resistance. 

One difference between this budget cable system and the higher-quality 4000/5000 lat pulldown system is that the pulleys are made from plastic instead of aluminum. The cables themselves are still made from durable, galvanized wire with a RAW steel core and rated to support up to 1,000 pounds. 

The lat pulldown attachment adds no additional dimensions to the footprint of your power rack, and it only increases the height by 17 inches, making it a compact way to significantly increase the versatility of your home gym equipment.

The Force USA G9 is designed to be an eight-in-one strength training system that offers maximum versatility in a functional, compact and usable way. There are nearly two dozen attachments and fitness accessories that come with the G9 including a multi-grip chin-up bar, suspension training ring, lat pull-down bar, a small grip frame bar, a pull-down rope, multi-grip dip handles, a functional training bar, a leg press attachment and foot plate for the leg press and low row, a pull-down knee holder and a landmine handle.

There is built-in storage for barbells, weight plates and cable attachments to help keep your workout space tidy and organized.

The Force USA G9 is a commercial grade plate loaded multi-station exercise machine that effectively combines a power rack, cable pulley system functional trainer, Smith machine, dip station, vertical leg press, chin-up station, low row and core trainer into one all-in-one workout station. There are 16 adjustable height positions along the length of the uprights and a dual cable pulley system that each connects to weight plates. Each of the two 12-inch sleeves can hold up to 12 standard Olympic weight plates or 12 two-inch bumper plates.

The G9 also has a counterbalanced Smith Machine. This means the machine automatically counteracts the weight of the bar when you load it up so that you don’t have to subtract the weight of the bar when you’re trying to calculate how much you are lifting. 

Overall, the Force USA G9 All-In-One Trainer can be a fantastic complete home gym for your home or garage gym. Customer reviews are all extremely positive, with customers appreciating the high-quality construction, training versatility, ease of use and safety features. Customer reviews also note that the pulley systems move smoothly, fluidly and can be easily adjusted vertically on the uprights using just one hand. This makes for more convenient and efficient transitions and adjustments during use.

If you are looking for a dedicated lat pulldown machine focused primarily on building back and shoulder strength, getting a high-quality standalone lay tower may be ideal. You will save space and ensure that the lat pulldown function of the strength training equipment is optimized. Functional trainers, power racks with lat pulldown attachments, cable machines and other total-body strength training home gyms that have a lat pulldown attachment can be a great way to maximize the versatility of your workouts while still being able to do lat pull downs.

Our pick for the best standalone lat pulldown machine is the Titan Fitness Lat Tower. It combines a lat pulldown with low row cable pulleys and features a 300-pound single-weight stack. The starting weight is 10 pounds, and the load can be increased in 10-pound increments.

The machine comes with a black matte powder-coated lat pulldown bar (42 inches wide) and there are band pegs so that you can add more resistance.

For safety and strength, the pulleys and weight stack pins are crafted from anodized red aluminum and there are aircraft-grade cables. For adjustability, there are six different thigh pad positions and eight different footplate positions.

Rogue Fitness is a company known for its high-quality strength training equipment for home gyms and commercial gyms alike. Living up to that quality, the Rogue Fitness Monster Lat Pulldown/Low Row is a premium two-in-one lat pulldown machine. 

It is a freestanding lat tower with a footprint that measures 40 inches wide from side to side and 60 inches deep from front to back. The machine stands nearly eight feet tall, unlike most standalone lat pulldown machines and power racks, it comes fully assembled.

The lat bar attachment is constructed from stainless steel, which will help prevent rusting or oxidation even with sweat. The adjustable footplate has a diamond tread pattern to provide traction and grip to prevent slipping.

Designed to reduce friction and prolong the life of the cable, the cable pulleys are military grade and travel through tubes made from UHMW plastic to reduce friction and protect the cable pulley system. The pulldown also features thigh pads, which are essentially rollers that secure over the top of your legs, and their height can be adjusted for a comfier fit. At the lowest setting, the thigh pad sits four inches above the seat pad and nine inches above the seat pad at the highest setting. User reviews note that the thigh pad foam rollers are comfortable and keep your legs secured when pulling down maximal loads.

Constructed from 11-gauge steel and thicker than the steel frame typically used for home lat pulldown equipment, the Rogue Monster Lat Pulldown/Low Row is one of the best heavy-duty lat towers.

Buying a power cage with a lat pulldown attachment is a great way to save space and money while outfitting your home gym. The RitFit Home Gym Package includes a power cage along with a dozen attachments, a weight bench and weight plates or bumper plates of your choosing. There are numerous packages available and you can even select the total amount of weight included in the package as well, giving you the ability to customize your home gym based on your fitness level and strength training needs.

The weightlifting package includes the RitFit Power Cage with the lat pull down system, an adjustable weight bench, a standard Olympic barbell, two weight collars and up to 430 pounds of included iron weight plates for bumper plates. 

The RitFit Power Cage features a heavy duty steel construction frame that is rated up to 1,000 pounds and is ASTM-Certified. What's even better, the package includes an adjustable and foldable weight bench, and Olympic barbell with a weight capacity of 500 pounds.

A major perk of this home lat pulldown strength training package is that it includes the accessories and attachments you will need for your workouts. It comes equipped with the lat pulldown cable pulley system, which includes both a high and low pulley stations for lat pull downs and low rows, as well as 13 extra accessories and attachments. 

Overall, this power cage lat pulldown system is an excellent value for the money and customer reviews are nearly all positive. You can also purchase the RitFit Home Gym Package directly through Amazon, which includes free shipping with Amazon Prime.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the best lat pulldown machine to buy for your home gym.

One of the main considerations when buying a lat pulldown machine is the type of unit that best meets your needs. Do you want a standalone lat pulldown unit or multi-functional piece of equipment like a power rack or functional trainer cable crossover machine with a lat pulldown attachment? Do you want a row machine that enables seated rows in addition to low rows?

Durability is key when buying strength training equipment for your home gym. A lat pulldown machine should be constructed from high-quality steel. The lower the gauge, the better, as a lower number indicates a thicker steel (e.g. 11-gauge steel is stronger than 12-gauge steel)..

A heavier, more solidly-built lat pulldown machine will be more stable and will not wobble as you max out the load when you are using it.

The cables used should be extremely high quality, and able to withstand high tensile loads. Aircraft-grade or military-grade cables are ideal. The lat bar should also have a strong attachment to the cable, through some kind of welded hook or carabiner locking mechanism.

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a lat pulldown machine is the maximum weight the machine can support, also called the maximum load.

The total weight support provided by a lat pulldown machine may not be a concern for beginners or those who aren’t looking to max out with their strength training routine, but if you are doing any sort of bodybuilding or hypertrophy training, you will to buy a lat pulldown machine that has a high maximum load capacity.

Cheap lat pulldown machines may only support a couple hundred pounds because they are built with a less-sturdy frame, either with cheaper and lighter materials like aluminum instead of steel, or using a higher gauge of steel (which is thinner and thus less study).

Most lat pulldown machines for home gyms have a maximal load in the range of 250 to 400 pounds.

In order to maximize the load you can lift with proper form and technique, the lat pulldown machine has to fit you properly and be adjusted to your body size. The best lat pulldown machines have an adjustable seat and enable you to adjust the height of the thigh support.

You want to adjust the seat so that you can sit squarely facing the machine with your feet planted flat on the ground and your knees bent to 90 degrees so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor. The thigh support should come right over the top of your thighs with just the slightest bit of pressure to keep your legs from lifting up as you pull the bar down.

Another factor to consider in terms of adjustability is how easily and quickly you can change the load on the machine. If you are buying a lat pulldown machine with stacked weights, look for one with a quick adjust pin that is facing your body as you use the machine so that you do not have to get up in between sets if you need to change the load you are lifting.

Some lat pulldown machines have an additional pulley on the bottom of the machine for other exercises. This is a really nice perk because it increases the versatility of the machine and allows you to do other cable exercises such as curls, face pulls, rows and resisted hip abduction.

One of the biggest differentiating factors between budget lat pulldown machines and premium lat pulldown machines is the quality of the pads. Cheap machines may have thin pads, porous foam or glued seams that separate over time.

The handlebars should be either well-padded or have aggressive knurling for comfort and to prevent slipping when your hands get sweaty. The seat and size support should be made from comfortable, yet durable cushioning. Most lat pulldown machines use some type of high-density foam covered in vinyl so that you can wipe them clean and sweat will not absorb into the pad itself.

Budget lat pulldown machines are typically stripped down to the most basic features. As the price increases, you can expect to see additional functional, safety and use ability features come into play. Examples include additional included attachments and handles, nylon-coated pulleys, reinforced carabiners, adjustable foot supports, better brushings, various adapters, adjustable seat, aircraft-quality cables, plate stabilizers and sometimes weights. The fancier smart gyms include integrated tablets with Bluetooth connectivity, speakers and media holders.

Your price point or budget will affect the type of lat pulldown machine that you can buy. Machines with a lower price point typically have less functionality and a lower maximum load, and may be less sturdy.

One of the important factors to consider when you are buying any type of exercise equipment is the warranty. Some lat pull down machines are backed by a lifetime frame warranty, whereas budget equipment may only include a one year warranty.

The warranty often speaks to the durability of the fitness equipment and the manufacturer’s confidence in the product. If you are going to be making a big investment in strength training equipment, look for a warranty that is at least three to five years.

There are essentially two categories of lat pulldown machines: standalone or freestanding lat pull down units, which may or may not also have a low row cable pulley at the bottom of the equipment; and lat pulldown attachments that are integrated into a larger piece of strength training equipment such as a power rack or functional trainer. You will get much more versatility in the range of exercises you can perform if you purchase a power rack or cable crossover machine with a lat pulldown attachment rather than a freestanding flat tower, but these units take up more floor space and often cost more money.

The other major difference in types of lat pulldown machines is the way in which the resistance is provided. Some lat pulldown machines use weight stacks. Also called selectorized machines, this type of equipment comes with a stack of weight bricks and you insert a pin within the stack to select the weight that you want to lift. The other type of lat pulldown machine is a weight plate machine. These have a horn upon which you can stack iron plates or bumper plates. You will need to supply your own free weights for this type of machine unless the package comes with weight plates.

Finally, some of the newer total-body workout strengthening systems use magnetic resistance rather than weights. The benefits of these systems are that they run extremely quietly and smoothly, but most magnetic resistance systems max out at a lower load and are not suitable for stronger athletes. Depending on the system, it can also be hard to know exactly how much equivalent weight you are lifting because there isn’t necessarily a correlation between the magnetic resistance level and a specific poundage.

We considered many features and criteria when choosing the best lat pulldown machines including the price and value of the unit, the type of machine (standalone, power rack, functional trainer or total-body strength training unit), the maximum load, the dimensions of the machine and the quality of the build based on the materials and weight rating.

We also extensively looked at the customer reviews. When reading customer reviews, we looked at the gamut of reviews, from the most negative to the most positive and those in between. We paid particular attention to complaints about the function or performance of the unit, the difficulty of assembly, concerns or problems that users had with the durability of the machine and unique features that improved safety or performance. We surveyed customer reviews from the manufacturer’s site as well as third-party retailers such as Amazon, YouTube and Best Buy to get a well-rounded and less biased picture of the product.

The lats, short for latissimus dorsi muscles, are a pair of large, V-shaped back muscles on either side of your spine that span from the inside of your upper arm by your shoulder down tapering down to the back of the pelvis at your waist. In this way, the lats cover the entire upper back and are the widest muscle in the body. If you perform lat pulldowns with a heavy resistance and adequate volume, you can build muscle (hypertrophy), which may give you a wider back and stronger upper body.

Depending on your strength training goals and budget for home exercise equipment, a lat pulldown machine or functional trainer with a lat pulldown attachment can be a fantastic investment. These units typically afford numerous exercises in addition to a basic lat pulldown, which in and of itself is a great exercise to target the latissimus dorsi back muscles. Although pull-ups also work this muscle, the lat pulldown exercise is typically easier for beginners yet also can be scaled to be more challenging for advanced athletes because you can load up the resistance.

There are benefits to using a wide grip, narrow grip and medium grip for lat pulldowns, as each variation will target slightly different muscle fibers. One study aimed at investigating the effects of different grip positioning found that wide grip lat pulldowns better activated the latissimus dorsi, while another study found that medium-grip is best. Varying your grip width will provide you with well-rounded strength in the shoulders and latissimus dorsi.

Overall, buying a lat pulldown machine for your garage gym or home gym can be a great investment for improving back and upper body strength. Make sure to consider whether a standalone lat tower will suffice with your current set up and fitness goals or if a multi-use strength training system that includes a lat pull-down attachment is a better value.

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.

The Best Lat Pulldown Machines for Your Home Gym - SI Showcase - Sports Illustrated

Pull Up Bar Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer and USATF level 1 running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, Amber likes running, cycling, cooking, spending time outside and tackling any type of puzzle.This author is writing sponsored content paid for by Pillar4 and not affiliated with Sports Illustrated.