7 Straight Arm Pulldown Alternative Exercises You Should Try

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Straight arm exercises come in different forms. The form you choose will depend on the muscles you want to work. 

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A very rarely used variant of the pullover are the straight arm pull down on the cable. This fitness exercise can be carried out in the booth in front of a cable tow tower.

In addition to the stress on the sedge muscle (musculus serratus anterior), you train the large thoracic (pectoralis major muscle) and the broad dorsi (latulus dorsi muscles).

How straight arm pulldown is done

Attach a straight bar to the high block of the cable tow tower. Grasp the pole in the upper grip about shoulder width and stand with a little distance to the caulking step.

Stretch your arms almost completely and tilt your torso so far forward that the stretched arms are beside your head and arms, head and back form an imaginary line.

Your lower back will be held lightly in the hollow spine so that your spinal discs are completely relieved during this exercise. You tense the abdominal muscles.

Now you start the exercise by pushing down the pole on your outstretched arms while you exhale, until the bar is just in front of your thighs.

Then you breathe in and at the same time lead the pole slowly on the outstretched arms again and control upwards into the starting position. Always be careful not to alter the almost stretched condition of your arms.


  • Grasp the bracket handles of the two high pulleys with a pronation grip (palms facing down) and the arms slightly higher than the shoulders.
  • Bend forward about 15 degrees, with your back in its natural arched position.
  • In the initial position, the arms lie outside and at the sides, perpendicular to the body, with the elbows slightly bent and blocked at this angle.
  • Inhale and hold your breath as you starts pulling the handles down with your arms relatively straight.
  • As you approach the sides of the trunk, bring your arms slightly forward until you can barely touch or cross.
  • After keeping the lower position for a moment, start exhaling and bring your arms back to their initial position.
  • Keep the body stable throughout the exercise.

Technical Advice

  • Keeping the elbows slightly bent helps relieve the stress that they would have to endure if they were stretched out. In addition, by performing the movement with the arms straight, the triceps are activated at the expense of the pectorals.
  • Keep your torso in the same position throughout the movement. If you lean forward to facilitate the movement of the arms, reduce the load intended for the bibs.
  • Pull your arms towards your chest, keeping them as much as possible aligned with the pectorals. If you move them towards the head, you will move part of the load on the high pectorals and the front deltoids.
  • In general, bending further forward moves the load on the central and upper part of the bibs. On the other hand, an upright position favors the work of the lower part.
  • To improve trunk stability, which is extremely important in this exercise, inhale and hold your breath during the traction and crossing phase. This increases the intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure, which contributes to improving the stability of the spine. On the contrary, when you exhale during the effort, you will experience a decrease in strength and the impossibility of keeping your back straight, with consequent risk of trauma.
  • Since the abduction of the scapula involves the big dentate, do not contract the back muscles to keep the shoulders back, but let them bend forward when the arms are in front of the torso.

Variant: cable pullover in upright position

A rare variant of cable pull pullovers are the pullout pullovers in the upright position. Because the amplitude of movement is smaller here, the main stress is on the latissimus.

The interesting thing about this variant of the coatings on the cable is that here the latissimus can be trained without substantial help of the biceps. This allows a latissimus workout even with an injury or soreness in the biceps.

Take hold of the pole attached to the high block in the upper grip and extend your arms almost completely. Stand upright and about hip-width in front of the cable tow tower.

Your lower back is in a slight hollow position, your abdominal muscles are tense and your gaze is straight forward.

Press the bar down on the almost straight arms towards the thighs and exhale while doing so.

Then you let the rod slowly and controlled back to the starting position at the level of your chest by pulling the cable.

Common mistakes

Of course, the free standing of the exercise on the cable leads inexperienced fitness athletes to fake the exercise with the help of other muscle groups.

Especially often, the stretched arms are bent and helped with the triceps, but also the swinging with the upper body or by going to the knees while pushing down the bar are not uncommon. All these falsification movements distort your training effects, since the muscle to be used can barely be active.

So pay attention to the cleanest possible technique, as described above, to achieve the maximum training progress for you.

The only thing that moves in this exercise is the arms over the rotation through the shoulder joints. The rest of the body, especially the outstretched arms, remains completely rigid and unmoved.

7 Straight Arm Pulldown Alternative Exercises

1. Lat machine far from the saddle:

Image result for Lat machine far from the saddle

This version can be done with the rope or with the bar.

The big advantage compared to the “classic” lat machine is that of maximizing the stretching of the backbone in an excellent way and letting all the work on it and not on the joint fall down, even with the arms outstretched.

In addition, the work of the biceps is very bland and the whole movement is borne by the latissimus dorsi, thus giving the much desired and pleasant V shape.

It can be done with many variations:

  • One arm at a time
  • With two arms
  • With the rope
  • With handles
  • Crouched, distant, the opposite from the high cord of the twin multiercoline

2. Commando traction:

This is the variation to the classic chin up with work on the vertical plane.

How to do it?

Grab the bar with your hands clasped parallel to each other, with the bar running crosswise over your head.

Make a traction by going with the head to the right (or left) and then in the next to the other side.

Useful for having an exceptional stretch to the backbone.
In the next series reverse the grip.

3. Handlebar rower, but done well:

What does it mean?
It means bringing the arm back by focusing the pull at the elbow.

Literally the weight must go to the feet and not have a vertical trajectory.

If we wanted to describe the movement it would be in the shape of J.

If it is performed in this way it allows a major room, both in extension and in collection and also allows a much smaller work on the scapular retractors allowing the back to work more.

4. Horizontal traction:

The barbell of a multi power about 120 cm in height, we lie down in a supine position and grab it with our hands.

We will obtain a horizontal traction, an exercise whose intensity cannot be regulated due to our weight, being always the same.

You can overload by changing the incline of the exercise and keeping the feet higher, so you will have more weight to pull up.

Basically, the approach to this exercise is to try to perform as many repetitions as possible and then increase the number over the weeks.

When you get a decent number of repetitions, you can also take the road to insert pauses “up” to make the exercise more intense (enormously more intense).

5. Straight Arm Dumbbell Pullover

Take a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang down next to your body. The palms are pointing forward. Now bend the forearm and bring the dumbbell to the shoulders. Then lower your arms slowly. Exercise your biceps with this dumbbell exercise.

Alternative: You can only perform the exercise with a dumbbell. Start with your right arm and then switch sides.

6. Chin-up

Simple yet super effective for strengthening the upper back: the chin-up. For the execution of the pull-up is needed only something to hang on it, be it a chin-up bar, a beam or a branch of a tree.

Those who cannot pull up can learn it. It may be useful to strengthen first hands and wrists, as they hold at least almost the entire body weight and here the power development of this exercise begins.

7. Bent Arm Barbell

Stand up straight and open your legs shoulder width. Extend your arms at shoulder height in front of the body, palms facing inwards.

Now go down with your buttocks, making sure your back stays straight.

The buttocks should not sink lower than at knee height.

Keep the lowest position short and then go back up. Through this dumbbell exercise you train your buttocks and thigh muscles.

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