hammer strength lat pull alternative
Fitness

8 Best Hammer Strength Lat Pull Alternatives

Your back muscles play a number of very important roles in your day-to-day life, including providing support and maintaining a healthy posture. They also generate a lot of power when it comes to performing exercises, which is why many people want to train their posterior chain.

The Hammer Strength lat pulldown machine targets your lattisimus dorsi, which are two of the most powerful and largest muscles in your back, and is great for muscle growth.

While it’s an extremely effective exercise, you might be looking for something different that will still enhance the strength of your lats. So, here are 8 alternative exercises to the Hammer Strength lat pulldown.

1. Inverted Row

via Gfycat

How to:

  • Set a barbell in a squat rack at roughly waist height. Lie under the bar facing up, with the bar in line with your upper stomach.
  • Grab hold of the bar with an overhand grip and your arms straight. 
  • Engage your abs and core, then pull your chest toward the bar by bending your arms. Your body should be in a straight line throughout the movement.
  • Lower yourself back down until your arms are straight again and repeat.
  • 12-15 reps.

Equipment Used:

  • Barbell
  • Squat rack

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

This exercise targets the majority of the muscles in your upper body, most specifically your lats, forearms, abs, and traps. A particularly amazing lat exercise.

Pro Tip:

The lower you set the bar, the harder this exercise is, so bear that in mind. 

2. Barbell Bent Over Row

How To:

  • Your starting position should see your feet in line with your hips before you hinge at the waist to take hold of the bar, with a slight bend in your knees. Pull your belly button toward your rib cage.
  • With an overhand grip, drive your feet into the floor to pick up the bar and bring it to just below your knees. Your arms should be extended.
  • Pull the bar into your midsection by sending your elbows backward. Lower the bar back down to just below your knees and repeat.
  • Reps: 10-12.

Equipment Used:

  • Barbell

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

First off, you only need one piece of kit for this unilateral exercise. The main benefit here is that you’re targeting the main muscle groups in the upper section of your posterior chain, and moving through a similar range of motion as you would with lat pulldowns, thus helping in muscle growth.

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Pro Tip: 

When rowing the bar, keep your elbows tight toward your body to ensure proper form – don’t let them flare out to the side. 

3. Pull-Ups

How To:

  • Grab the bar with both hands roughly in line with your shoulders, or slightly wider, your palms facing away from you.
  • Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended. If your feet are touching the floor, bend your knees and pull your feet toward your bottom.
  • Pull yourself up until your chin is just above the bar.
  • Lower back down under control and repeat.
  • Reps: 8-10.

Equipment Used:

  • Pull up bar

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

Undoubtedly the hardest bodyweight exercise out there, this move will get your entire upper body working and help build some serious muscle growth when performed through the full range of motion.

Pro Tip: 

If you’re struggling to perform pull-ups, consider using an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands to build up your strength. Or, begin by hanging from a bar without pulling yourself up.

4. TRX Row

How To:

  • Take a hold of the TRX handles in each hand and begin to step away from the anchor point. 
  • Once there is tension in the TRX straps and your arms are extended, shuffle your feet forward and angle your body backward until it is 30-60 degrees. Your arms should be extended while holding the handles and your body in a straight line.
  • Bend at the elbows and pull your torso up, with your palms facing inward and your feet remaining on the ground. 
  • Lower back down and repeat the movement.
  • Reps: 12-15.

Equipment Used:

  • TRX

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

Not only is this a great back-strengthening exercise but it also has the added challenge of needing to focus on stability and coordination, plus the change in angles make it quite a fun exercise to perform.

Pro Tip:

Keep your back straight throughout the entire movement and your head in a neutral position. Don’t let your back arch.

5. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

via Gfycat

How to:

  • Lay a single dumbbell on the floor next to a flat bench. Put your left leg onto the bench with your knee and shin laying along with it. Your right leg should be extended next to the bench and bend over so your torso is parallel to the ground. Support yourself with your left hand at the upper end of the bench.
  • With your right hand, extend your arm down and grab hold of the dumbbell with your palm facing inward. Lift the weight off of the ground so your back is straight and your right arm is extended while holding the dumbbell.
  • Bend at the arm and pull the weight into your midsection. Hold here for 1-2 seconds.
  • Lower the weight back down under control until your arm is extended again, then repeat for the desired amount of reps and then switch arms.
  • 10-12 reps on each arm.
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Equipment Used:

  • Bench
  • Dumbbell

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

One of the best-known latissimus exercises, by isolating one side of your back at a time, you’re working these muscles even harder, but this move’s positioning also means you’re using your core and pec muscles as stabilizer muscles.

Pro Tip: 

Like the barbell bent-over row, keep your elbow close to your body when lifting the weight up. Ensure your back is straight throughout the movement.

6. Seated Cable Row

How To:

  • Sit on the adjustable bench/seat with a slight bend in your knees, roughly 45-degrees. Hold the handle with both hands and your arms out straight in front of you and your back straight.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the handle toward your sternum.
  • Hold this position for a moment, then extend your arms under control to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps.

Equipment Used:

  • Cable row machine

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

Cable machine rows target your back muscles and build some serious strength in your lats by adding a lot more resistance than you get from bodyweight training. When performed to exhaustion, this can be a pretty brutal exercise.

Pro Tip: 

Avoid leaning back too much and make sure your legs don’t become fully extended during the range of motion. Remember, your back and arms are doing the work here.

7. Reverse Fly

How To:

  • Stand holding a pair of dumbbells and hinge forward, bending your knees slightly. The dumbbells should hang in front of you with your palms facing each other, your arms extended but not locked out.
  • Raise the dumbbells out to the side, keeping a slight bend in your arm and pinning your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for a moment, then bring the dumbbells back in front of you under control and repeat.
  • Reps: 10-12.
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Equipment Used:

  • Dumbbells

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

One of the more popular exercises for targeting your upper back muscles, this is easy to get the hang of but with the potential for significant strength gains in your posterior chain. Contrary to what some think, this also isn’t an isolation exercise.

Pro Tip: 

The key is to get the right starting position. Your body should be at roughly a 45-degree angle with your spine neutral and chest open and keeping this for the full range of motion.

8. Push Press

How to:

  • Clean a barbell onto the front of your shoulders so that your hands are underneath the bar, palms facing up.
  • With a slight bend in your knees, push the bar upward until your arms are extended, though avoid locking your elbows.
  • Briefly hold at the top, then lower the bar back to your shoulders and repeat.
  • 10-12 reps.

Equipment Used:

  • Barbell

Why It’s A Great Alternative:

This move torches your shoulders and back muscles and forces you to engage your core to keep things controlled. It can also be an excellent cardio workout and help burn body fat.

Pro Tip: 

Poke your head forward through the ‘window’ your arms create at the top of the movement, then move it back slightly as you bring the bar back down. The range of motion should be fluid.

Conclusion

Even just adding in 2-3 exercises from this list to your workout regime will see your lats get an excellent workout, equivalent to that of the Hammer Strength lat pulldown. These excellent exercises work multiple muscle groups at a time as well (also known as a compound exercise) and so can go beyond what the lat pulldown can do.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best lat exercise?

This is completely subjective and the simple answer is; the exercise that works best for you. Luckily, as this list shows, there are a lot of different exercises that work your lats, so it’s just a case of finding those that you can perform effectively and consistently.

How can I hit my lats at home?

Plenty of the exercises here, like the bent over row or reverse flys, can be performed at home with any equipment you might have or even everyday objects like bottles and tins. You don’t always need exercise machines!

Should you lean back during a lat pulldown?

No, you should keep your torso in the same position with a neutral spine throughout the movement.

George Gigney

George is a Level 3 Personal Trainer and qualified Behavior Change Specialist. He has been training clients for several years and writing for over a decade, focusing on sport, wellbeing, and fitness.

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