When doing lat pull-downs, should the bar go in front of or behind my head?

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When performing lat pull-downs, you should pull the bar in front of the head and down toward the collarbone region, while trying to bring the elbows to the sides of the body.  Pulling the bar behind the head during a lat pull-down has a number of disadvantages including putting the shoulder joint in a compromised position and placing increased stress on the neck and cervical spine, due to having to flex the head forward.  Repeating this pattern over time can potentially increase injury risk to the shoulder and neck.  Additionally, research has demonstrated that performing a lat pull-down behind the head is not any more effective at recruiting or activating the lats than a lat pull-down in front of the head.  Based on the data surrounding the risks versus benefits, it is clear that it is more ideal to perform lat pull-downs so that the bar travels in front of the head.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.