The majority of athletes trying to gain more upper body strength could achieve a lot more with a lat pulldown machine in their home gym.
The simplest posture and hand adjustments could trigger slightly different effects in a wide range of muscles in your shoulders and upper back.
But as with every other piece of equipment, there are a ton of crappy machines out there.
That’s why we teamed up with friends and colleagues to test as many machines as possible and come up with this list of best lat pulldown machines
Our Best Lat Pulldown Machines (September 2023)
1 - XMark Lat Pulldown Machine (Editor's Choice)
This versatile lat pulldown machine from XMark Fitness stood out for us the most.
It has a very solid steel frame that reduces wobbles to a minimum, and you also get five different handles, including a triceps rope. The cables used are also nylon-coated for added security and durability, with a 3" dura craft cushion padded seat for a comfortable training.
It’s also easy enough to adjust to high and low pulley stations to get the flexibility of a seated row. Thanks to the included plate adapters, you can use standard and Olympic plates on this lat machine.
Many users were happy to see that it didn't take up too much space on their home gym. They also love the smooth, sturdy, and quality feel that they're looking for in the best lat pulldown machines.
- Weight capacity : 400 lbs
- Machine comes with five different handle attachments
- 11 gauge steel frame ensures it doesn’t wobble
- Allows for adjustment to low row functionality
- Use with standard and Olympic plates
- May not be the most suitable for very tall athletes
The only downside was that taller people might not get a full range of motion.
2 - SYL Fitness LAT Cable Pulley System
This lat pulldown machine is a lot simpler and more cost-effective as it doesn’t provide a frame with it.
You get a pulley system that you can attach to a ceiling hook, pull-up bars, any sturdy beams in your home, or an existing power rack that you have in your home gym.
We also liked that you get a pulldown bar and triceps attachment, as well as a high-quality 20" extension chain so you can quickly modify the length of the cable depending on your exercise.
It's quite easy to install according to most users, but others have noticed that the nylon coating on the cables has started to split over after just a few training sessions.
- Weight capacity : 150 lbs
- Simple and cost-effective solution
- Lat machine comes with a triceps and barbell attachment
- Might be suitable for limited home gym space
- You’ll need a strong support frame or ceiling anchor
Just be aware that the maximum capacity is limited by what you attach it to, which may take some careful planning.
3 - LFJ LAT Pull Down Machine
This is another simple cable machine that you can easily add to your home gym.
One thing we noticed straight away with this home lat pulldown machine is that the pulley assembly seems to rotate smoothly.
That should allow you to get into different body positions without making adjustments to the setup.
We also found the triceps rope to be solid and comfortable, which should give you more confidence at higher weights.
Although the manufacturer claims that it's suitable for both standard and Olympic weight plates, many users prefer using the former as it gives them a more solid lift that using ones with larger holes.
So if you want to use your Olympic plates, you should consider buying a separate 2" loading pin for a more stable pull.
- Weight capacity : 200 lbs
- Pulley attachment rotates 360 degrees for more flexibility
- Good quality triceps rope allows for many different workouts
- Suitable for Olympic and standard weight plates
- The weight capacity is a bit limited
The only downside is that you might find it a bit limited from a capacity point of view if you tend to pile up the weight plates.
4 - YaNovate Fitness LAT and Lift Pulley System
This is another lat pulldown machine that is just the pulley and cables.
But we liked the smooth motion that you may get, even when you pile on some weight, thanks to the heavy-duty 360° rotatable silent pulley.
Plate loading may also be pretty easy with both standard and Olympic style plates. For added security, the manufacturers added in an extra U screw for the cables to have a tighter seal to prevent slipping.
Aside from the sturdy and durable materials used, most users love how easy it was to install and use as the package includes everything you need. And since it's just pulley and cables, it works perfectly on limited space like a garage or basement.
- Weight capacity : 400 lbs
- Allows for pull-down and lift motion
- Loading pin is long enough to attach several weight plates
- Smooth pulley allows for a wide range of motion
- Ultimate weight limit will depend on the frame you attach it to
Again, these types of lat pulldowns require some more careful planning to make sure it has the right support.
5 - Body-Solid Powerline PLM180X Lat Pulldown Machine
This is a more basic design, but it seems to work very well. It’s high enough to suit taller people, but the overall dimensions (around 80") shouldn’t require a huge amount of space in a home gym.
The pulley stations seem to run smoothly, which may reduce a stuttering effect that could impact your training.
Many users say that the weight feels heavier with this lat machine than those found at commercial gyms, which may probably be due to its smoother flow and more stable built.
For added comfort, it includes an well-padded seat and an 8” foam rollers to support your body as you pull the weight.
These features as well as a good price point makes this particular model from Body-Solid Powerline one of the best lat pulldown machines for those just starting out.
- Weight capacity : 250 lbs
- Compact design makes this suitable for home use
- Smooth motion may provide a better resistance
- It’s very easy to assemble without the need for a second person
- Cannot be converted to high and low pulleys
The only downside is that there’s no way to convert it for attaching a low row bar.
6 - DELUXUP Lat Pulldown Machine
Here’s another lat pulldown machine that you would simply attach to a ceiling hook or a squat rack if you have one.
It’ll fit Olympic and standard weight plates, which may give you more flexibility for what types of plates you buy.
It also includes a heavy-duty tricep rope made from braided nylon with a toughened steel head attachment, which is usually excluded in the package.
Users have also commented on the pulley system, which seems to be solid with a smooth rotation. Others had an issue with the cable coating getting caught up on the pulley system, but it was an easy fix for most.
- Weight capacity : 250 lbs
- Suitable for standard and Olympic plates
- Heavy-duty triceps rope feels comfortable
- Solid pulley with a rotating design
- The weight limit might be a bit low even on a solid frame
Compared to other similar lat pulldown machines, this doesn’t seem to support as much weight.
7 - Fitness Reality X-Class Light Commercial Olympic LAT Pull Down
We like these glide post designs, as they may provide a smoother motion, especially if you occasionally add some lubricant.
Users also highlight that there’s no shaking or wobbling effect due to the solid steel tubing in the frame.
And you may quickly adjust it for use as a high and low pulley to give yourself more options for upper body workouts.
You may also use standard and Olympic weight plates for flexibility. Just make sure to keep the weight same on both sides of the weight sleeves since a weight imbalance can cause too much friction.
- Weight capacity : 360 lbs
- Smooth-glide post may improve effective arm motion
- Solid design reduces shaking and vibrations
- Includes a low pulley setup for rowing
- Needs to be installed into a compatible cage
Just keep in mind that this isn’t a free-standing lat machine but needs to be attached to a compatible rack. And to put an emphasis on what most users say, this particular pulldown machine isn't compatible with the 810XLT Power Cage.
8 - KINGC Home Lat Pulldown Machine
This is one of the lat pulldown machines with a higher weight capacity that we’ve seen a few bodybuilder clients work on.
There’s also the flexibility to switch to a low rowing setup, making this a very flexible piece of fitness equipment. It's also capable for both standard and Olympic weight plates with an included sleeve to adjust the diameter.
Most users mention that it's not as sturdy as they need it to be, especially when adding heavier weights. They recommend using anchors to bolt it down on the ground for added stability with anything above 50 lbs.
- Weight capacity : 395 lbs
- Has one of the higher weight limits to push yourself further
- Low rower included for more flexible workout routines
- Good value for money given the multiple exercise options
- Taller people may struggle to fully extend their arms
If you’re a bit taller than average, then the height might not be enough to get a full range of motion from the lowest seat pad position.
9 - Vanswe LAT Pulldown
This lat pulldown machine stood out for us because of the high-quality thicker frame, which makes it a bit sturdier than other lat pulldown machine.
It’s also easy to switch to the low pulley, which could give you some additional exercise options like biceps curls, as well as seated and standing rows.
With high quality ball-bearing pulleys and nylon bushings, this lat machine offers a very smooth movement to have a more solid lift.
Like other lat machines on this list, it can carry standard and Olympic plates, though it can only support a max of 250 lbs. So it might not be suitable for serious lifters.
- Weight capacity : 250 lbs
- Solid 12 gauge steel frame to minimize wobble
- Adjustable for a low pulley to do seated rows
- Fits both Olympic and standard plates
- Some additional bars and ropes would be great
You might need to invest in a few extra attachments to get more flexibility with your hand positions.
10 - Akonza Home Workout Lat Pulldown Machine
The final one of our recommended lat pulldown machines is another one that brings the weight limit to a more professional range.
We noticed that even with a heavy load, the movement is smooth with no stuttering or wobbling. Although it can tip a bit when used at different angles, a quick fix is to add weights to the lat machine itself to make it more stable.
Many users say that assembling this machine isn't the easiest, mainly because it doesn't include clear installation instructions. Some also noticed that the high pulley might be too far behind the seat, making certain exercises extra challenging.
- Weight capacity : 395 lbs
- Feels smooth even when loaded up with heavy weights
- Comes pre-configured with a low row cable
- Comfortable adjustable seat to get set up for your height
- It could be a bit higher to get a better reach for taller athletes
Some taller athletes have commented that the seat pad isn’t low enough to allow them to fully extend their arms.
Benefits of a Lat Pulldown Machine
The best lat pulldown machines can work a wide range of muscles by lifting weights and performing various lat pulldown exercises. It's also a good alternative to pull-ups if you are still building up your strength. Aside from the lats, it can activate and work your trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, levator scapulae, posterior deltoids, pectoralis minor, and biceps.
Other exercises you can do with a lat machine are bicep curls, seated rows, bent-over rows, triceps press-downs, and cable T-bar rows. Added accessories like tricep rope and straight lat bar can open up even more exercises, which isn't quite possible with other home gym equipment.
Here are the four areas that you have to make sure you consider before buying a lat machine.
1. Weight Limits
All lat machines specify a weight limit, but it’s important to pay close attention to the wording.
We saw a few machines that looked a bit flimsy, but they specified a limit of over 450 lbs.
When we looked at the specifications a bit closer, that limit was the combined user and load limit, which might be a bit misleading.
Unless you’re the size of Ronnie Coleman or The Mountain, focus on how much you can load on the weight stack.
2. Adjustment Settings
There are two things to look at here which can make or break every training session.
First of all, the seat should ideally be adjustable so that you can comfortably reach the lat bar with stretched out arms.
This may be particularly important for taller people as a lat machine that doesn’t give you a full range of motion might limit the effectiveness.
Secondly, the thigh pad that should help to keep you on the seat during the lat pull down movement should be adjustable as well.
3. Exercise Options
People often look at a lat pull down machine and only see one type of exercise to work on their back and shoulders.
But you can get so much more out of them.
One thing to check is whether the lat pulldown machine offers a low row function.
“The lat pulldown is a fantastic exercise to strengthen the latissimus dorsi muscle, the broadest muscle in your back, which promotes good postures and spinal stability. Form is crucial when performing a lat pulldown to prevent injury and reap the best results.”
Sometimes, there are separate pulleys for this, which is the ideal solution to save time. But even one where you need to switch the lat bar from high to low could be a good solution for more exercise flexibility.
4. Different Attachments
Most lat pulldown machines give you quite a bit of flexibility by including different bars, handles, and ropes in the package.
One of my favorites is the triceps rope.
In a standing position, this might be more effective than any other lat bar.
You’ll also want different length bars to give yourself the option for a wide and closed grip movement.
Do Lat Pulldown Machines Work Your Chest?
Yes, lat pulldown machines may work your chest depending on the bar type and exercise. It may target the pectoralis minor, but you shouldn’t be doing this type of exercise to target your entire chest . A slightly better option might be switching to a low-rower setting.
Where Should You Feel Lat Pulldown Machines?
You should feel lat pulldown machines in your latissimus dorsi or lats . This is the broadest muscle in your upper back, which connects the arms to your back. These large muscles play a key role in upper body strength and posture.
Do Lat Pulldowns Build Mass?
Yes, lat pulldowns build mass. While they mainly target the lats, the compound exercise also engages other muscles in your back, neck, upper arms, and chest. The result is increased strain and growth hormone release, which may help with more effective bulking.
Can Lat Pulldowns Replace Pull-Ups?
Yes, lat pulldowns can replace pull-ups, especially if you’re currently struggling with doing a full pull-up. Some bodybuilders also prefer lat machines because it allows them to better track progress on the weight stack, which body weight fluctuations wouldn’t impact.
What are the Common Mistakes When Using a Lat Pulldown Machine?
The common mistakes when using a lat pulldown machine include arching your back, holding the bar too wide, pulling down too far, and using your forearms instead of lats.
The number of reps you can do will depend on the number of weights and your experience level and strength. It's crucial to use the lat machine properly to prevent injuries and get the most out of your exercises.
Which One Is The Best Lat Pulldown Machine?
It took a bit of debating and negotiating on our team, but we eventually agreed that the XMark Lat Pulldown Machine was the most suitable for a home gym.
It’s not too bulky but doesn’t sacrifice sturdiness, and the weight limit should suit most people as well.
But it’s also not just a lat machine. We found it easy to change into a rower, which you can comfortably use by sitting on the ground.
Order yours today and share some photos of how it fits into your home gym with us.
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