Sharing the Love: Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

Almost a month ago, I began my quest for the Holy Grail: a single pull-up. Time for a progress report!

In case you haven’t yet found a frame with which to hang that post on your wall, here’s a refresher:
– I can’t do a single unassisted pullup.
– I want to do a single unassisted pullup.
– I’m using a 4-phase approach recommended in a Sparkpeople article.
– I started in phase 2, which uses standing lat pulldowns, “working to 2-3 sets of 12-15 good form reps at 50% of body weight.”

Progress to date:
As of Sunday morning, I did 2 sets of 15 reps at 60% body weight and one set of 12 reps at 60%.

I’m pleased with my progress, especially since I missed two strength workouts due to my Blissdom excursion. So pleased that I’m going to consider myself in phase 3, which is the same as phase 2, but I have to work up to 80% of my body weight.

Whew! *sweats* Good thing I lost a hundred pounds already or that would really be a lot of weight! :)

Whether or not I ever do a pullup, I’m enjoying this aspect of my strength workout, especially since I read a tidbit in one of my new favorite books, The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises!, that claims standing cable pulldowns “work your abs harder than the classic crunch.” I have no idea if that’s true since the book refers to some anonymous Finnish study, but I like it (and can definitely feel the ab involvement) and am going to use it as a mantra while I’m working to 80%.

If you’re curious about this alleged crunch-besting exercise, here’s a good video demo of the straight arm lat pulldown that has me so besotted:

No, that’s not me, but it’s almost exactly how I would look doing it. If I was 30 pounds lighter and 30 years younger. *sigh*

But then again, I’m lifting a lot more bars than she is, so it all evens out. :)

You’re tempted now, right? Well, there’s no time like the present to give them a try. There are bunches of variations you can use, just to keep it interesting. You can vary the position of your hands on the bar–closer together, wide-grip, etc.–and change your stance or body position. (I’m also partial to sitting on a balance ball while doing them.)

No gym membership? No problem! Grab a broom stick and use that. Just make sure you’re clear of the kitchen counters. :)

I’m no trainer, but two things my former trainers nagged about advised:
– The movement should be slow and controlled. (No flappy arms!)
– Your back/core should be still, shoulders relaxed.

Okay, so now I’m really looking forward to today’s workout! Phase 3, here I come!

What’s your favorite exercise of the moment?

Side note: If you haven’t yet entered the MultiGrain Cheerios/Biggest Loser Club giveaway, there’s still time! Tomorrow could be your lucky day!

18 thoughts on “Sharing the Love: Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

  1. I remember the post about a month ago and it is a great self challenge. I even stepping up on the machine and tried to do a pull up myself, but to no avail :-( Walked away mad and vowing hatred. My challenge to my self is to be able to do an unassisted dip on the same machine. Therefore I have made this my favorite exercise at this time. Congrats on moving to phase 3. Nice work! :-)

  2. My ONLY exercise at the moment is light cardio. Sigh. But I am plugging away, up to an hour or more on the treadmill daily now. I need to record a lot of TV shows to watch! Can’t wait to try to follow in your footsteps with these;)

  3. Never tried these! I do a similar one but for triceps (standing, push down cable exercise). I can attest that they work the abs, big time! I’m usually shaking and tensed in my abs as much or more than my tris!My favorite has got to be free weight chest press. Lunges and abs are my least favorites, mostly because I suck at them, they are hard, and I’m really weak in those muscles!!!

    I don’t think I’m quite ready to do a pull up or train for one (got a lot of improvement needed!). I just want to lose weight and be strong and fit. Eventually I may want to do one. I’ll leave that for a 2012 goal maybe. :)

  4. Cool! Congrats :). In my ongoing efforts to get fit and be able to do push ups, I’ve been doing lots of incline pushups and can tell I’m getting stronger! Hopefully it won’t be long now…

  5. Cammy, I don’t think I knew that you lost 100 lbs. WTG, girl. That’s no small feat and exactly where I’m heading.

  6. Congratulations on your progress!!! I’m not so good at keeping up with strength training. I love the elliptical more than anything else… I do mean LOVE it!! But I’m making friends with the treadmill too since I have two 5k events coming up on the 19th and then on March 5th.

  7. Hi Cammy & here I have a post up about abs today! :-)

    I have incorporated this move into my back routine from day one.. I love it although I am not sure it is the best abs move. Yes, you have to hold your form & that does work the abs/core. As you wrote, I use all kinds of variations with hand placement & even cable attachment! I love the way it feels when I do it!

  8. I’ve been totally grooving to classes at the YMCA. I like the variety and the time goes fast.

    Good for you for want to to do a pull up. I was just thinking the same thing the other day, but not moved toward action yet. :-)

  9. oh, this is so exciting!! I would love to be able to do a pull-up someday. I never could even as a kid. I love your mission and can’t wait for the next update.
    I watched the video… it’s great. So simple.
    thanks for sharing.

  10. Whoa. Pullups were always my worst enemy as a kid. We’d all line up and there was no ‘skinny people laughing at the fat people’ with this exercise; hardly anyone could do it.

    That being said, my favourite exercise of the moment is my exercise accessory – Wii Fit Plus. It gives me everything I need in exercise right now – privacy, variety, motivation to put in more effort because you get out of it what you put into it.

  11. Just now playing catch-up with my reading – I was just thinking about you and your pull-ups this week. Thank you for the update, Cammy. Are you going to post a vlog showing off your pull-ups and big guns when you get there? Would look forward to that :)

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