For a toned, sculpted back, head to the cable machine: Pull-downs light your lats on fire. But busting out this exercise with improper form could lead to some serious issues with back strain down the road. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you—and to get the most bang for your buck from this move—watch this video where Planet Fitness trainer Maria Almonte shows you exactly what your pull-downs should look like.
Begin by getting into a stable stance, with your feet hip-width apart. Lean back ever so slightly. Then grab the cable handles using an overhand grip. Starting with your elbows slightly bent (not locked or hyperextended), pull the cables toward your body.
As you pull, squeeze your shoulder blades until you reach your finished position. Then continue to engage your muscles as you return the cables back to their starting point. If you notice that your body is moving forward or backward during the exercise, lower the amount of weight you’re lifting to avoid injury and back pain. Once you can maintain perfect form throughout the movement, you may want to consider adding more weight.