Your lats, or latissimus dorsi, are a major muscle group across your middle and lower back. They help support your overall posture, movement, and strength, and your lats are regarded as one of the most important muscles in your body.
Lat pulldowns target this area and help to strengthen your whole back. There are several variations, but the best way to exercise them is by using a lat pulldown machine. It’s important that you understand how much weight to use during a lat pulldown because if you take on too much, you could risk injury, but too little, and you won't get the strength gains.
In this guide, we'll help explain how much lat pulldown weight men and women should aim for and how this might change as you get more experience.
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How Much Lat Pulldown Weight? (Guide For Men & Women)
It’s important that you select a weight that’s right for you when doing a lat pulldown. Many people make the mistake of going too heavy, too fast, and this not only risks injury but can impact your form too. If your form is bad, then you won't see the benefit of the exercise, and it's literally a waste of time and effort.
To determine the best weight for a lat pulldown, you need to consider your body weight and experience and avoid any mistakes. For male beginners, it will be roughly 50% of your body weight, with a reduction if you're below 18 or over 35.
As you become more experienced, you should be able to lift more, and this is reflected below. For women, it's the same equation, but beginners will only be able to lift roughly 30% of their body weight. Again, this will increase through experience as you become more advanced.
Below is a rough guide of how much men and women should be lifting. It’s important to use this as a guide to get the best from your workout.
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Men’s Lat Pulldown Weight Chart
Women’s Lat Pulldown Weight Chart
Average Weights Lifted During Lat Pulldowns?
When you’re using a lat pulldown machine, then you should have the plates labeled and increasing by 5lb or 5kg at a time, allowing you to choose the best weight for you. The average amount that people lift will vary depending on gender, weight, and overall strength, and you should expect it to increase as you train.
A good lat pulldown weight for men is about 84lbs (38kg) for beginners and anywhere up to 250 lbs for advanced lifters. A good lat pulldown for women is about 43lbs (20kg) for beginners and anywhere up to 150lbs for advanced lifters.
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Should You Lift Heavy Or Light On Lat Pulldowns?
The answer to this question will depend on your fitness and workout goals and your experience level. I recommend throwing in a little of both, and here's why.
If your primary fitness goal is to burn calories and tone your muscles, then you should lift lighter weight for more reps and focus on your form. This will allow you to increase the time under tension and get your heart rate up.
On the other hand, if your fitness goal is to build massive lats, then you should lift heavy weights for fewer reps. This will focus on strength-building and hypertrophy.
Additionally, you will need to workout based on your experience level. If you're a beginner, focus on form and light weight. As you progress into the the intermediate and advanced stages, increase your lat pulldown weight.
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Lat Pulldown Lifter Categories
When we discuss the ideal weight for a lat pulldown, we need to take into account the experience and existing strength you have, as this will help determine how much you can carry safely.
Here's a quick breakdown of the categories so you can decide which one is appropriate for you.
When we say a beginner lifter, we don’t mean a complete beginner who is using the machine for the first time but rather somebody who has been using the machine for at least a month.
A beginner should have correct form and technique, and we would expect them to be able to lift more than about 5% of other lifters.
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A novice lifter is somebody who has been lifting for over 6 months, and we would expect them to have a good, safe technique.
They are training regularly, and we would expect them to be able to be stronger than 20% of other lifters.
An intermediate lifter has been training for over 2 years and has a very good technique.
The workout routine and experience allow them to safely lift more, and we would expect them to lift more than 50% of people.
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An advanced lifter will have over 5 years of experience and should have a refined technique.
We would expect an advanced lifter to be able to handle more weight than 80% of other lifters.
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The top tier lifter is an elite. They have been training for over 5 years but also compete in strength competitions.
Their technique is flawless, and they will lift more than 95% of other lifters.
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Common Lat Pulldown Questions Answered
Do lat pulldowns build mass?
Lat pulldowns are a great way to build your upper body strength and give you a strong looking back, but they won't really help you build any mass.
What increments do weights go up by?
Lat pulldown machine weights typically go up in 5lb increments.
What exercise can replace lat pulldown?
There are a few good back exercises that can help you strengthen your lats, but pull ups are one of the most effective. These are also compound movements and will help strengthen several muscle groups at once.
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Can you do lat pulldowns standing up?
Yes, this variation focuses the exercise on your back and core and puts less strain on your biceps. Standing lat pulldowns will help strengthen the mind-muscle connection so you can really feel the workout.
How much weight for lat pulldown warm ups?
When warming up for lat pulldowns, I recommend decreasing the weight by 60% of your normal lat pulldown weight for 10 reps. This will allow you to warm up your lats and remain injury-free.
How much weight for lat pulldown one rep max (1RM)?
Have you ever wondered exactly how much weight you can lift on lat pulldowns for one rep? Well, here's how to calculate an estimate of your lat pulldown 1RM. You take your current highest lat pulldown weight and the number of reps you can complete, and divide the reps by 30, add 1 and multiply it by your current highest lat pulldown weight. Here's an example, 1RM = 100 x (1 + 8/30) = 126.6 lbs.
When lifting, it's important to get the right amount of weight so you can maximize the strength gains without any injuries.
Lat pulldowns are a great compound exercise to help build your upper body, and hopefully, this article has given you everything you need to determine what weight you need to start with and what you should aim for in the future.
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Last Updated on January 18, 2023