The Pulldown-Row

Two kinds of movements build big backs: vertical pulls (think chinups and pulldowns) and horizontal pulls (bentover and cable rows). And while working each into your routine will get the job done, there’s no law that says you can’t do both at once for twice the effect in half the time. Meet the pulldownrow, a combination of two great back exercises in one.

Choose a weight that you’re sure you could get 12 reps with on a normal close-grip pulldown. Attach a V-grip handle to the cable, grab it overhead, and sit at the pulley station with your torso upright and eyes focused in front of you [1]. Arch your back and pull the handle down to your collarbone [2]. Now, keeping your hands where they are, slowly lean back so that your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Pull the bar to your chest (as in a row) [3]. Return to the starting position by slowly raising your arms and torso up simultaneously. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps first thing in your upper-body workout. Between sets, rest 60-90 seconds.

While it may at first look like bad pulldown form and a sure backbreaker, this combo safely works every muscle in the back, accomplishing both of the back’s main functions and broadening it in every direction.

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