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The lat pulldown is a powerful cable machine to train your latissimus dorsi muscles. What are the best bars and attachments for the lat pulldown?
The cable machine is a piece of fitness equipment where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
One of the more unique cable machine exercises is the lat pulldown where you move your hands from above to your body against resistance.
You can also do this cable back exercise with resistance bands or a functional trainer machine but the cable machine is definitely one of the top options.
To do the lat pulldown exercise you can use a wide variety of cable attachments and bars. What attachments you use and how wide you place your hands do slightly influence in what ratio you engage your muscles.
Even so, what the best lat pulldown attachment or bar is, depends a lot on personal preference and what the rest of your training plan looks like. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to have an overview of all the different options.
1. Standard lat pulldown bar
There is a specific cable machine attachment made for the lat pulldown exercise. This does not mean this is the only or even the best bar for the lat pulldown. However, a lat pulldown bar can definitely be a great choice.
The lat pulldown bar is a long bar that is straight in the middle and slightly bent at the ends. Because of these bent ends, it can be more comfortable for your wrist to do a wide-grip lat pulldown compared to a straight bar.
This bar also allows you to do lat pulldowns with a narrow grip or supinated grip if that aligns better with your training goals.
Some models also have a knob at the end to prevent your hand from slipping. Other differences between brands include rubber vs steel grips, the length of the bar, the material used, and prices.
A benefit of this lat pulldown attachment is that you can also grab the lat pulldown bar in the middle to do other exercises. Some of these include bicep curls, wrist curls, skull crushers, deadlifts, etc.
One potential downside for these other exercises is that the lat pulldown bar is relatively long. This can make it a bit awkward to use in these other exercise options.
That being said, the standard lat pulldown bar is one of the best, if not the best, attachments for lat pulldowns with a variety of different grips. Additionally, it can be a good choice for other cable exercises.
2. EZ curl bar
An EZ curl bar attachment looks and is relatively similar to the lat pulldown bar but instead of the middle of the bar being straight it is curled. EZ curl bar attachments also tend to be shorter than the lat pulldown bar.
Doing wide grip lat pulldowns with an EZ curl bar will generally feel the same as doing the same version with the lat pulldown bar. The difference lies in the angles of your wrists when doing the close-grip variation of the exercise.
Some people find the multi-grip of the EZ curl bar attachment more ergonomic, more comfortable, to their wrists. This curled grip can also feel more comfortable in other exercises.
Besides that, a shorter bar can be more small-space friendly and easier to handle, mostly in exercises different from the lat pulldown.
3. Lat pulldown bar with handles
This next attachment allows you to do lat pulldowns with a neutral grip. Instead of just being a folded straight bar, there is a handle on each end.
Whether you want to use a regular lat pulldown bar or one with handles is mostly a case of personal preference. Even so, the different wrist angle does influence what angle your arms tend to be during the exercise.
In turn, this slightly changes the ratio in which your muscles get engaged during lat pulldowns.
Besides that, these models with handles can be used in a variety of other exercises, similar to the regular lat pulldown bar.
One potential downside of these models with handles is that they tend to be more expensive. If you are on a budget the regular version may be enough to see a lot of latissimus dorsi muscle gain.
4. Straight bar
The next cable attachment is simply a straight steel bar, generally on the short side but also available in a long version.
This straight bar is generally used to do narrow-grip lat pulldowns, with both pronated (hand palms pointing forward/down) and supinated (hand palms pointing back/up) grip.
With long straight bar attachments, you could also do wide-grip lat pulldowns but this may feel uncomfortable in your wrists.
Similar to many of the other options on this list, the straight bar can be used in many other cable machine exercises. Some of these include tricep pushdowns, rows, bicep curls, straight arm pulldowns, and wrist curls.
Additionally, straight bars, especially the short ones, are one of the cheapest cable machine attachments there are.
5. Double D handle
A single D handle is a cable machine attachment that is basically a steel construction shaped like the capital letter “D”. The double version is two of these single D handles put into one cable machine attachment. Some versions have rubber padding, others stick to a steel construction.
The double D handle is typically a seated cable machine row attachment but you can definitely also use it to do narrow and neutral grip lat pulldowns.
This type of grip tends to shift the focus slightly more towards other muscles like your traps. That being said, a close grip lat pulldown will definitely still engage your latissimus dorsi a nice amount.
An upside of this option is that you are not really able to get the same wrist angle with the other cable machine attachments.
One potential downside of the double D handle is that it requires an additional investment for a cable attachment that has a relatively specific use.
6. Double rope handle
The double rope handle, also known as the tricep rope attachment, is as the name implies two sturdy ropes attached to an anchor point in the middle.
These ropes generally have thick parts at their ends. These thick parts have a flat surface to put your hands on and a round surface on the other end to make it more comfortable if you hit your body.
This cable machine attachment also comes at different lengths. Which one is the best for you depends on what type of lat pulldown you intend to do, your personal body proportions, and what other cable exercises you want to do.
A double rope handle is not the most typical and likely not the most optimal attachment choice for a lat pulldown but it can do the job.
The main benefit of this option is that the double rope handle is extremely versatile. There are plenty of other body parts you can train with this type of handle.
7. Tricep pushdown V-bars
The tricep pushdown handle is a V-shaped bar, sometimes with rubber padding. As the name implies this piece of fitness equipment is mainly meant to be a tricep pushdown exercise attachment.
Even so, you can also use V-bars to do lat pulldowns with a relatively unique wrist angle. Depending on your personal preference and training goals, tricep pushdown V-bars could be a good attachment choice for lat pulldowns.
You can get creative and use this attachment for a few other exercises but in the end, a potential downside of V-bars is that they have a relatively specific use.
Bonus: lat pulldown attachment set
You may like multiple of the lat pulldown attachments and bars on this list. Instead of buying these separately, you can usually get them at a lower price if you buy them as a lat pulldown attachment set.
Depending on what exercises you intend to do and what attachments you actually like using, some of these sets will be a better investment than others.
How do you attach the lat pulldown?
There are cable systems to do a lat pulldown that can be attached to for example a power rack. For these, different types will require a different attachment method. To attach a lat pulldown bar to a cable machine you simply take off the previous attachment and attach the lat pulldown bar to the cable with a carabiner.
What bar should you use for lat pulldown?
There is not one specific bar that everyone should use. Personal preference, budget, training goals, etc. play a role. That being said, some good bars to use for lat pulldowns include the lat pulldown bar, EZ curl bar, straight bar, and double D handle.
What is the best lat pulldown?
The best lat pulldown in terms of hand grip and what attachment depends on the situation and personal preference. For example, to target the latissimus dorsi as much as possible you can go for a wide, overhanded grip on a lat pulldown bar. To focus slightly more on back muscles like your traps you can go for a close-grip neutral hold lat pulldown with the double D handle.
How wide is a lat pulldown bar?
Different lat pulldown bars have different widths. These range from 25 inches (63.5 centimeters) or less to 47 inches (119 centimeters) and sometimes even wider.