Build Without Bulking | Lat Pull Downs| Erin Stern
Lat pull downs with a pause-rep
We’re coming up on the holiday season, or what many people like to call “bulking season.” Fortunately it’s not necessary to gain a lot of fat while trying to gain muscle! In this new series, Build Without Bulking, we’ll go over how to train to gain muscle, and my favorite muscle-building exercises.
Before we delve into the training portion, I want to talk a little about nutrition. When trying to gain muscle, the pre and post-workout meals are the most important. A 5’7”, 140 lb. woman should consume between 30-40g of protein and carbs before and after training. On big leg, back, or HIIT days, you can take in a little more carbs post-workout (up to 60g). The cool thing about experimenting with carb intake is that your body will let you know how much is enough! As you adjust your calorie/carb intake, pay close attention to how your physique looks when you wake up. Are you full and lean-looking, do you look puffy and “smooth,” or do you look “flat”? If you look full and lean, you nailed your calorie/carb intake! If you look puffy, you may have consumed too many carbs and “spilled over.” If you look “flat,” you may not have gotten enough calories/carbs the day before. Bodybuilding is a science…but it’s also an art. Learn what works for your body!
Let’s talk about our first exercise, lat pull downs with a pause-rep. We will use an overhand grip and wrap the thumbs to keep the biceps from working. The grip is about 6 inches wider than shoulder-width, as we’re working on adding width to the lats. Well-developed lats give the illusion of a smaller waist, and can help balance the physique from top to bottom.
Some key points for this exercise:
- Plant your feet firmly and evenly on the ground. Make sure the knee pad is adjusted to keep your lower body still. The upper body should be very close to perpendicular, with a slight lean backwards.
- Start with a weight that is a little lighter than you’d normally use. The pause-rep makes this exercise more challenging. Once you choose a weight, try to stay with it throughout all your sets. Only decrease the weight if form starts to degrade to the point that you’re not able to complete reps. The last 2-3 reps will hurt (in a good way) – this is where most of the great physique changes are made!
- Think of your hands and forearms as an anchor for the weight. Pull smoothly through the elbow. Once you lower the bar to just above your collarbone, pause for 1 second, and feel the squeeze in your lats. Bring the bar to just about the starting point and focus on pulling with just your lats. The entire set should take about 45 seconds to complete. A timer watch is helpful!
- We’ll do 5 sets of 8 here. Take 1 minute to 1:30 rest between each set. Pull smoothly with each rep, and keep your upper body still. As you start to fatigue, it’s normal to either lean forward or lean back. Leaning forward will cause the shoulders to take over, while leaning back on the concentric portion will cause the lower back to do most of the work. Stay present and stay focused!
Check out the video for a demonstration! I mentioned that physique changes happen during those last few tough reps, and PEAK ATP helps me get more of those tough reps. I rely on it for building muscle!
Thank you for reading… until next time, train hard, y’all!
- Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia