2 Reasons Why Pullups Are Superior to Rows For Lat Development

Pullups and rows are both great exercises for back development. However when it comes to Lat development we believe pull-ups(and lat pull downs) are king. In this email, we will explain why...

 

Firstly, let’s discuss the function of the lats...

 

The main function the lats serve (among others) is shoulder adduction (bringing the arm down and closer to the body in the vertical plane when out to your side) and extension (bringing the arm down closer to the body vertically when out in front of you.) 

 

  • When the lat is in its stretched position the arm is overhead by your ears
  • When the lat is contracted the elbow is by your torso.

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    Reason #1: Range of motion, range of motion, range of motion...

     Pull ups/pull downs, when performed correctly, put the shoulder through the full range of motion, forcing the lats to work from full extension with the arms all the way overhead, to full flexion with your arms at your side.

    Rows only have half the range of motion, since the movement starts with your arms in front of you instead of overhead.

    More range of motion = more work = more gains!

     

    Reason #2: Long Muscle Length Training

    Recent research shows training a muscle at longer lengths produces greater growth. Only the pull-up includes a range of motion where the lats are at the longer lengths optimal for hypertrophy.



    Conclusion

    We believe the row is great exercise and should be incorporated for a balanced and injury free program. The row targets the traps mid-back and lower back and even the lats in ways that can’t be hit by just pull-ups alone.

     

    However if strictly speaking about the lats, we believe pull-ups are superior due to the larger range of motion specifically in where the lat is in a more stretched position. If bodyweight pull-ups become too easy you can always make them more challenging by doing weighted pull-ups.

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