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Fitness & Health

26th Jul 2019

We need to talk about Gonzalo Higuain’s lat pulldown technique

We can now add ‘activating his lats’ to the list of things Gonzalo Higuain can’t do - alongside ‘scoring in big games’ and ‘doing it in the Premier League’

Alex Roberts

No one can argue with his ability, but can he really deliver on the big occasions – namely, back day in the gym?

Juventus have had an extremely productive few months. They’ve added Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Matthijs De Ligt to an already-stellar squad. But striker Gonzalo Higuain has still got a lot of work to do.

And no, we’re not talking about his ability to produce in big games – or to find the net while on loan at Chelsea. We’re referring to his lat pulldown technique. Obviously.

When Juve recently hit the gym on their pre-season tour of China, Higuain was pictured performing the lat pulldown.

Gonzalo Higuain Lat Pulldown

Only, this time, he was pulling behind his neck. For most people, you’re better off sticking to the standard kind (pulling to the upper chest).

Higuain may have seen the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger perform this variation, but for many people, the risks don’t justify the rewards.

Like most exercises, the lat pulldown is best performed with a neutral spine. That is, back straight with head and neck similarly-aligned.

This variation places a greater stress on the neck, and can also lead to shoulder impingement. Granted, most exercises can cause injury when performed incorrectly, but with this particular lift the margin for error is slim.

Consider the lat pulldown as a beginner’s pull-up. You’d never perform a pull-up like this, so why risk it when the rewards from a standard pulldown are greater?

When Arnold was performing behind-the-neck pulldowns, he typically used a very light weight with a high rep range.

Arnie is also an expert at contracting his muscle fibres, with six Mr. Olympia titles under his belt. He probably knows how to avoid injury when lifting.

There’s also the issue of elbow placement. Higuain’s elbows are flared out far too wide. Only his forearms are likely to be feeling any stimulation when performing the exercise this way.

In order to get the most out of the pulldown, you need your elbows to move inwards on the lowering phase of the lift. This maintains maximum contraction on your lats.

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