The Pulldown is an excellent exercise for working the Latissimus Dorsi muscles of the back (also known as the lats). It is a little known fact but there is a way you can dramatically improve the effectiveness of this exercise by performing one simple movement before each rep.
Many people have a hard time feeling their lats working when they do pulldowns. The biceps may have a tendency to take over the movement. Some people just don't feel anything in their back at all. This little movement trick can change all of that.
The movement is simply a shoulder drop and even though it may seem like a SMALL thing, it can have a HUGE impact on your back workout.
To demonstrate this movement, start by sitting in a pulldown machine with a moderate weight on the stack. Take a close grip on the bar with your palms facing you (known as a reverse grip). Do a few reps using your normal technique so you have a gauge to measure against.
Now we will add the shoulder drop. Let your arms go straight and let your shoulder girdle rise up as though shrugging. Your shoulders should be up by your ears. Now drop your shoulder girdle down in the opposite movement to the shrug, pulling the weight down as you do so. The range of motion is small, being only a matter of a few inches. Repeat this drop and raise several times to get the feel for the movement. You should feel your entire shoulder girdle moving up and down.
We will now do a rep with the shoulder drop movement. Start in the stretched position with your shoulders up by your ears. Drop your shoulders down, lean slightly back then do a pulldown. Be sure to keep your lower back arched and your chest puffed out to meet the bar on the way down. You should feel your lats working harder than usual.
Squeeze hard as though trying to touch your shoulder blades together as you come to the bottom then let the weight back up slowly. You can repeat the shoulder drop movement at the start of every rep or you can simply keep your shoulders down and locked in that position throughout the set.
Dropping your shoulders down like this serves to lock the lats into the movement and helps to minimize the biceps involvement in the pulldown. You should find that you get a much more effective lat workout using this technique.