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The Pulldown - by Matthew Romans

The Pulldown is the most comprehensive of the upper body exercises that we perform at Total Results. It involves all of the musculature of the torso and the arms, and while Arthur Jones (inventor of Nautilus and MedX exercise equipment) colloquially referred to the Nautilus Pullover as the "upper body squat", I think the Pulldown is a better representation of that sentiment. The prime mover of the exercise is the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is the largest muscle in the upper body and is responsible for scapular depression and internal rotation of the humerus, among other functions. Other muscles that are very heavily involved in this exercise include the biceps (elbow flexion), pectoralis (flexion/adduction of the humerus), and abdominals (trunk flexion).

This machine operates on a pulley system with a kevlar belt going over the perimeter of an eccentrically-shaped lobe called a cam;this cam is what varies the resistance based on leverage factors that determine one's strength curve. This enables us to be able to match strength with an appropriate amount of resistance in all positions of the range of motion. The Pulldown has three cam starting positions to accommodate varying heights and limb lengths. The instructor will determine your cam position by looking at where the belt goes over the perimeter of the cam when you are in the most contracted position (it should be over the flattest part of the cam). The resistance should feel heaviest when the arms are nearly straight, and lightest when the arms are most flexed.

One particular thing sets this machine apart from its predecessors and contemporaries: the movement arm handle. Most pulley attachments on traditional Pulldown or multi-exercise machines are straight bars; this can compromise proper head and neck position and abdominal involvement, since the pulley belt comes directly toward your face. Our machine has a box-shaped movement arm handle that allows you to maintain proper neutral head and neck position, and also allows for increased trunk flexion as you approach the most contracted position. The movement arm handles are slightly angled to minimize wrist and elbow irritation. Rotating roller pads restrain the thighs and arrest reactionary force to help you stay down in the angled seat during the exercise. There is an optional seat belt to provide assistance with reactionary force.

The Pulldown is performed in a vertical plane of motion with a supinated (palms-up) grip. Grip reinforcements can be used if necessary. The instructor will usually start the exercise in the most contracted position, so the bar will be handed off to the client and the exercise will start with the bar against their upper chest. A squeeze technique will be performed beginning with the third repetition. Once momentary muscular failure has been reached and a thorough inroad has been performed, the instructor will assist the client in returning the movement arm back to its resting position, and will help facilitate safe exit of the machine.

Ken Hutchins (founder of our exercise protocol) once said that if you were in a time crunch and could only perform two exercises, the Pulldown and Leg Press would be the best ones to select. While most gym rats and bodybuilding enthusiasts place a high importance on the bench press and other movements specifically for the chest muscles, I believe the Pulldown trumps them all. It is an essential staple of the Total Results exercise philosophy.

Posted May 01, 2019 by Tim Rankin