Don’t let the unavailability of the Hammer Strength machine stop you from hitting those lats. This article will discuss top Hammer Strength lat pull alternatives to develop a well-crafted strong back.

Hands down, the Hammer Strength machine is my all-time favorite when I want to train the vertical pulls. It allows you to target the back (especially the latissimus dorsi) with unmatched precision.

However, it’s very likely that you might not find the Hammer Strength lat pull machine in every gym — especially the low-budget gyms. This raises a legitimate concern about knowing the closest alternative to the exercise.

This article will briefly examine a range of exercises that can be used as viable hammer-strength lat pull alternatives.

What is Hammer Strength Lat Pull

When it comes to strength training, there are a variety of tools and machines available to target muscle fibers more efficiently. Hammer Strength lat pull is one of the machines that is designed to specifically target the back muscles.

Hammer Strength lat pull was originally designed to mimic the biomechanics of vertical pulls, and since then, developing that V-tapper look has never been easier. It primarily targets the latissimus dorsi and allows superior mind-muscle connection.

What Makes it Special?

There are a few things that I personally love about the Hammer Strength lat pull machine.

  • It’s beginner-friendly: Bodyweight pull-ups can be impossible for many novice lifters because of their limited strength. Hammer Strength machine allows them to develop that fundamental back strength and slowly progress towards a more muscular back.
  • Iso-lateral training: Handles of Hammer Strength lat pull machines are designed to move independently. Meaning you will able to equally train both sides — which is not usually possible with the standard lat pull machines.
  • The biomechanics:Hammer Strength lat pull machines are designed to move in lines with the actual motion curves of the human body. In simple words, it does not move straight up and down, instead, it follows a trajectory that is more in line with the body’s natural biomechanics. 

Hammer Strength Lat Pull Muscle Worked

Hammer Strength lat pull works the entire back muscles. Let’s have a look at muscle engagement in more detail.

Latissimus Dorsi

It is one of the largest muscles in the body and runs through the mid-spine to the upper arm bone. It is the muscle responsible for the v-taper look. The lats are involved in various upper body movements, including shoulder extension, adduction, and scapular retraction, as well as trunk rotation and pulling activities.

The degree of lat activation while lat pulldown highly depends on the grip positioning.

Trapezius and Rhomboid

These muscles are located in the upper back, primarily responsible for shoulder blades’ retraction, protraction, and stabilization.

Trapezius and rhomboids function as secondary muscle to stabilize the shoulder blades while the vertical pulls. 

Spinal Erectors

It is a group of long muscles that runs through the sacrum to the neck, responsible for torso extension, rotation, and lateral flexion.

Spinal erectors play a crucial role in maintaining proper posture and providing stability to the spinal columns.

Teres Major and Minor

The teres major and minor are the muscles that surround the rotator cuffs. Teres major stabilizes the shoulder joint and adduct, extend, and medially rotate the arm at the shoulder joint. Teres minor function is to laterally rotate the arm at the shoulder joint and provide additional stability to the shoulder.

Posterior Deltoid

It’s the back portion of the shoulder that is responsible for shoulder extension, external rotation, and horizontal abduction. All kind of pulling motions requires some degree of posterior delt activation. Furthermore, posterior delt strengthening can significantly improve shoulder stability and body posture.

Biceps Brachii

The Hammer Strength lat pull is a compound exercise with a substantial bicep, brachialis, and brachioradialis engagement.

What Makes a Great Hammer Strength Lat Pull Alternative

Perhaps it’s crucial to understand the criteria before you choose the alternative.

Hammer Strength lat pull is quite unique in its own sense, and it is pretty hard to find an exercise that offers similar benefits like the Hammer Strength lat pulls. Before you make a choice, make sure that the exercise provides at least some of the following benefits:

  • Target the same muscle groups.
  • Exercise that offers isolateral training.
  • Progressive overload.

Now you know the basics, it’s time to jump directly to the Hammer Strength lat pull alternatives.

Hammer Strength Lat Pull Alternatives

All the exercises in this section have been carefully curated to mimic the benefits of Hammer Strength lat pulls. We recommend you try all the exercises at least once to determine which works best for you.

1. Cable Lat Pulldown

Cable lat pulldown needs no introduction, and it is the closest alternative to the Hammer Strength machine as it follows the same biomechanics and targets the same group of muscles.

The only difference between the cable lat pulldown and Hammer Strength lat pulldown is the path of handles — while the Hammer Strength lat pull is designed to move with a slight archy trajectory, cable lat pulldown moves in a straight line.

Cable lat pulldown is highly effective for beginners as it is easy to use and allows you to choose the resistance that suits your physical strength. 

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Adjust the seat and load the appropriate weight on the machine.
  2. Get seated with your legs secured under the thigh pad.
  3. Grab the handles with an overhand grip.
  4. Pull your scapula back and engage your lats.
  5. Drive the elbows down and back to pull the handles down.
  6. Extend your arms to return to starting position.

Form Tips:

  • Control the negative phase, don’t let the weight drop off quickly.
  • Grip the handle hard for improved back activation.

2. Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Hammer Strength lat pulls offer different gripping variations, including a wide and a close grip. This is the reason we included close grip variation in the list.

As a fitness enthusiast, one should always try various gripping options to target muscle fibers from different angles.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Attach a close-grip attachment to the cable lat pulldown machine
  2. Adjust the seat and load the appropriate weight.
  3. Get seated with your legs secured under the thigh pad.
  4. Grab the handles with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
  5. Pull your scapula back and engage your lats.
  6. Drive the elbows down and back to pull the handles down.
  7. Extend your arms to return to starting position.

Form tips:

  • Elbows should be pointing forward. Keep it close to the torso as you pull down.
  • Allow full lat stretch.

3. Assisted Pull-Up

Don’t worry if your gym doesn’t have a Hammer Strength lat pull machine, pull-up bar is still a staple gym equipment.

Pull-ups and chin-ups are the most basic functional bodyweight movement that targets the entire back. However, pull-ups are quite challenging and still represent a bucket list goal of most novice lifters.

Pull-ups and chin-ups are not suitable for all lifters — especially beginners. This is the reason we suggest you incorporate assisted pull-ups into your routine.

A pull-up band is a humble piece of equipment that can help you provide the required assistance. These bands come with a wide range of resistance. You can choose a band that suits your requirement and gradually progress toward the lighter bands.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Loop the resistance bands around the bar.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip with hands at shoulder-width apart.
  3. Place your feet in the band; you should be able to feel the band pulling you up.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up until your chin reaches above the bar.
  5. Slowly lower down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Form tips:

  • Control the eccentric portion.
  • Use a full range of motion. Hang all the way down and then pull yourself up.

4. Inverted Rows

Inverted rows are quite underappreciated and often misunderstood, but that doesnt mitigate its benefits. Inverted row requires you to set the barbell (preferably smith machine bar) at waist hight, get under the bar, and start rowing yourself towards the bar.

The inverted row is a beginner-friendly exercise as it allows you to alter the resistance by changing foot positioning. Inverted row works the lats but also the rhomboids, traps, spinal erectors, and rear delts. We incorporate inverted rows as an efficient regression of pull-ups because of their ability to target and strengthen similar muscle groups.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Adjust the barbell height to around the waist height.
  2. Get under the bar so that the bar is just above the chest.
  3. Grab the bar with an overhand grip at shoulder-width apart.
  4. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, and extend your hips to get the body in a straight line.
  5. Bend your elbows and pull yourself up until the bar touches your chest.
  6. Lower yourself into the starting position and repeat.

Form tips:

  • Squeeze your glutes and keep the core engaged.
  • Focus on slow and controlled tempo.
  • Wear a weighted vest to add resistance.

5. Resistance Band Lat Pulldown

A resistance band lat pulldown is a perfect solution for those who like to workout at home. All you need is a good resistance band and a high anchor point. Resistance band lat pulldown is a beginner-friendly exercise as it does not produce heavy resistance.

How does an advanced lifter incorporate it into the training?As an advanced lifter, a resistance band lat pulldown can be employed to add volume to the back training. Suppose you did a few sets of bodyweight pull-ups, and now you are not in a position to execute another set. This is the time you should do a few sets of high rep resistance band lat pulldown to completely annihilate the muscle fibers and induce muscle hypertrophy. 

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Secure the anchor strap at the door.
  2. Grab the handles with an overhand grip and kneel down in front of the door.
  3. Retract your shoulder blades and pull the handles towards your chest.
  4. Hold the contraction for a movement before you extend your hands to get back in the start position.
  5. Repeat for the desired reps.

Form tips:

  • Hold every contraction for two seconds.
  • Strive for a full range of motion.

6. Incline Dumbbell Row

Bent-over dumbbell row is a time-proven back builder but also puts a significant amount of stress on the lumbar spine. Incline dumbbell row allows you to obtain all the benefits while keeping the lower back out of the equation.

Although incline dumbbell row is a horizontal pulling exercise but works on very similar muscle groups including: lats, traps, rhomboids, teres major/minor, posterior delts, and arms.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Set up the bench at a 30-40 degree incline.
  2. Position yourself on the bench with your chest against the bench.
  3. Grab the barbell with a pronated grip, with hands shoulder-width apart.
  4. Start with hands fully extended and hanging freely towards the ground.
  5. Keep the core braced, scapula retracted, and your feet flat on the ground.
  6. Pull the barbell towards your chest while keeping the elbows close to your torso.
  7. Squeeze the contraction for a movement before returning to starting position.
  8. Repeat for the desired reps.

Form tips:

  • Pause at the bottom to increase lat engagement.
  • Bring the elbows close to the torso.

7. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

The single-arm dumbbell row is an exercise that never goes out of style. It is a unilateral movement that targets the lats, traps, rhomboids, posterior delts, and arms.

What is the benefit of including unilateral movement in training? No matter how good your form is, one side is usually stronger than the other, which is why I always suggest my trainees to bet more on unilateral moves.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Grab a dumbbell with your right hand and hold it in a neutral position.
  2. Hinge forward and keep your left hand on a bench or rack. So that your torso gets almost parallel to the ground.
  3. Start with keeping the right hand fully extended towards the ground.
  4. Keep your core tight and back straight.
  5. Pull your right shoulder blade back and pull the dumbbell up until it reaches your torso.
  6. Lower the dumbbell while maintaining complete control.
  7. Repeat for the recommended number of reps before you switch sides.

Form tips:

  • Do not lose tension in the lat muscles when lowering the weight.
  • Keep the core tight and engaged.

8. Suspension Row

Suspension row is just like the inverted row but performed with the suspension trainer (TRX, gymnast rings, etc.). Suspension rows add instability to the movement, resulting in higher motor unit recruitment.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Fasten the suspension trainer to the high position and set the height to just above your waist level.
  2. Grab the handles with a neutral grip and lean back with the body fully extended.
  3. You can position your feet as per your comfort level.
  4. Pinch the shoulder blades together and keep the chest up.
  5. Bend the elbows and pull yourself towards the handles.
  6. Hold the contraction for a second before you get back into starting position with arms fully extended.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Form tips:

  • Keep the tempo slow and controlled.

9. T-bar Row

T-bar row is a popular bodybuilding movement that helps you hone in on the lats and upper back. The T-bar row is an auxiliary movement that trains the lats and upper back without putting the lower back under pressure.

The T-bar row is an excellent alternative to the Hammer Strength lat pulls as it targets the same muscle groups with multiple gripping options.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  1. Load the appropriate weight on the bar.
  2. Lean towards the chest pad, so that the entire sternum is pressed against the pad.
  3. Plant your feet on the footplate and reach the handles with an overhand grip.
  4. Hoist the T-bar off the pin and bring it toward your midline.
  5. Retract your shoulder blades and drive the elbows back to pull the handles towards your chest.
  6. Slowly allow the bar to get back into starting position by fully extending your hands.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Form tips:

  • Keep the glutes tight and core engaged throughout the movement.
  • Bring the elbows close to the torso for enhanced lat engagement.

Common Back Training Mistakes

When it comes to strength training, there is a good way and a better way. Avoiding common mistakes can supercharge your training for the best results and injury prevention. Here is a list of a few avoidable mistakes that you should know.

Mistake #1: Poor Form

Let’s start with the most obvious but still the most common mistake — poor form.

The back is a non-mirror muscle, making it really hard to establish a mind-muscle connection. This is why a good back is hard to develop compared to the chest.

Ensure you learn about the proper techniques before executing the exercise. If you can’t feel the right muscle, then it makes sense to seek expert advice, not advice from a gym bro.

Whenever you try a new exercise for the first time, start with lightweight, to help your body adapt to the new movement pattern and assign appropriate motor units.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Your Lower Back

Too many guys are ignoring the importance of lower back strengthing. The strength of your lower back will dictate the PR of your compound lifts (deadlifts, squats, barbell rows). Neglecting your lower back can lead to muscle imbalances, poor posture, and back pain.

Make sure you emphasize the lower back strengthening exercises like hyperextension, bridges, supermans, etc. 

Mistake #3: Overtraining

Do not overtrain while chasing a cobra back. Make sure you allow the muscle proper rest and recovery between the training session. There should be at least a 2-3 days gap between back training.

Mistake #4: Not Varying Your Workouts

Doing the same workout for a long time will make the body adapt to the activity, and you will get better at it, but it will no longer be the best training program for YOU. Bringing variety to the training routine allows you to stimulate the muscle in a totally new way, and you will be able to add more value to each training session.You have to remember the novelty factor when trying to build muscle mass.

Mistake #6: Training at the Same Intensity

I see lifters training heavy and trying to push through the limits on a daily basis. It’s a path that leads to injuries.

To emphasize the proper development of muscle fibers, you must undulate the training intensity. Undulating the training intensity means changing the rep ranges from low to high or high to low. Here is an example:

  • Day 1: High reps with lightweight.
  • Day 2: Moderate reps with moderate weight.
  • Day 3: Low rep with heavy weights.

Mistake #7: Using Too Much Momentum

Using momentum can lead to poor form and decreased effectiveness of the exercise. Momentum can also lead to injury and strain on your back muscles.

Slow down your movements and focus on the contraction of your back muscles. Use a weight that challenges you, but allows you to complete the exercise with proper form.

Wrapping Up

Hammer Strength lat pull machine is excellent back training equipment. However, it would be needless to lose sweat if you don’t have access to the machine. We talked about plenty of alternatives that can deliver more or less the same results.

Irrespective of what alternative you choose, focus on maintaining proper form, incorporating a variety of exercises, allowing for rest and recovery, and warming up before your workouts. By following these tips, you can sculpt a stronger aesthetic back.