AD| There have been arguments about the best back exercise for decades. Ever since bodybuilding took off, the discussion around pulldowns and pull-ups has been causing quite a stir. If you are new to fitness and lifting, you will have been sucked into the debate no doubt. The argument is centred around which is better, a concentric contraction or an eccentric contraction? For those of you that don’t know, that is a pulling vs pushing motion. But wait, aren’t both of these exercises going to be more or less concentric? Yes and no. the pull-down can give you a much better eccentric contraction while a pull-down cannot give you the same. So which is better?
The pull-down is favoured by heavy lifters
Without a doubt, the heavy lifters in the gym will always want to do upright rows and lat pulldowns. This is because they can strap a big heavyweight to their machine and go ahead with major lifts. This will give those with an already developed physique much more of a challenge. But where is the benefit even for new lifters?
The best part of a pulling exercise like this is the squeeze at the bottom. This means you have to move an extra inch to activate the muscle the most. This is of course when you are at the end of the rep. Pull your shoulders blades together and squeeze for a better contraction. You can use
https://steelsupplements.com/blogs/steel-blog/best-pull-exercises-for-each-part-of-your-body for your list of pulling exercises that especially work the back.
The pull up is really a hang down
When you do a pull-up on a pull-up bar, you are using the widest grip available. This helps to really activate your lats and middle back muscles. The trick is to learn how to control your negative or eccentric rep. Your entire body has to be able to hang in perfect form, slowly going down from the peak of the rep. Why? This is when the majority of your muscle fibers will tear. Your muscle knows to explode in a concentric fashion, pulling yourself up. But the eccentric motion puts the muscle under more tension for more time.
But is a concentric contraction better than an eccentric contraction?
Some say that for beginners the concentric contraction is just too hard to do consistently. And they are right. You will get more fatigued sooner in the set and the last 3-4 reps where it actually counts, you might not have the strength to squeeze an extra inch. But anyone can do a slow eccentric rep, even when they are tired. Your muscles are in fact stronger in this motion because of their isometric strength.
It’s clear that for most people, the pull-up will be better for building a great back. You have both the positive and negative rep at your disposal. For the heavier lifter, a concentric contraction is better so a pull-down will be superior.