Half-Kneeling Band or Cable Pulldown When performed with good technique and as part of a balanced program, this is an ideal exercise to develop Lat muscles (Latissimus Dorsi) in the middle back. These muscles are key to core stability, coordinating power from hips and core, and transferring that power through the upper body. Half-Kneeling Band or Cable Pulldown targets muscles the same as a Pull Up and the same rules apply. Like Pull Up, when Half-Kneeling Band or Cable Pulldown is performed improperly and or overused, the exercise may actually increase the risk of shoulder and back injuries.
Note: The best grip for shoulder elbow, and wrist health, and the only grip I use with overhead athletes, is a neutral grip—palms facing. The overhand and/or underhand grip may be appropriate for non-overhead athletes with good shoulder mobility and without existing shoulder pain or injuries.
- Position a cable to the highest setting; Or attach a band to an anchor at its highest point.
- Grab the cable grip or band with a shoulder width grip and situate yourself in a half kneeling position just a few inches in front of the cable stack or band anchor.
- Begin with arms extended and shoulder blades upwardly rotated—imagine shoulder blades reaching up and wrapping around rib cage.
- Engage muscles around mid-section (as if expecting a punch to the gut). When Cable or Band Pulldown is done improperly, the ribcage flares upward and the back hyperextends, which indicates a lack of core recruitment and increases risk of back injury. In a proper Cable or Band Pulldown, the spine remains neutral from neck to tailbone, and the scapula rotates upward and downward on the rib cage.
- With core engaged, pull the band or cable straight down until hands are just below your chin. Think about pulling through with your elbows as your shoulder blades rotate downward and together. End with elbows even with or slightly in front of your torso. Avoid rounded back, shoulders forward, or elbows finishing behind the torso, all of which hinder scapular movement and increase risks for shoulder injury and dysfunction. Also avoid reaching your chin forward; The forward head position leads to neck pain and muscle imbalance.
- Under control, return the band to starting position—arms extended—allowing shoulder blades to rotate upward and wrap around your rib cage.
Note: Emphasize Horizontal Pulling (Band or Cable Rows, Inverted Pull Ups, and DB Rows)
While Cable or Band Pulldown can be a useful part of an overall program, the exercise is frequently overused. Coaches often program Pulldown in every workout as the primary pulling exercise; but Pulldowns are middle back dominant (not shoulder stabilizers) and don’t count toward the balance of pull to push. Overhead athletes typically require a 2 or 3 to 1 ratio of horizontal pulling to pushing. Non-overhead athletes require at least a 1 to 1—and more often a 2 to 1—ratio of horizontal pulling to pushing. In addition, too much emphasis on vertical pulling can put the scapula in excessive downward rotation, eventually interfering with the ability to produce healthy upward rotation of the scapula. Scapular upward rotation is necessary for arms to move safely overhead.
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