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The more regularly you perform an exercise, the less likely you will experience soreness afterward.
The lateral pulldown exercise is a common resistance training technique to strengthen the latissimus dorsi, a muscle group covering the area below your armpits and stretching from your chest to your back. Though this exercise doesn't directly engage the larger parts of your chest, it can lead to a sore chest in some situations, such as in overtraining or performing the lateral pulldown without proper technique. Finding the problem and correcting it can help you strengthen your latissimus dorsi without the pain.
Don't Overdo It
One possible reason for chest pain after a lateral pulldown is overdoing it. The lateral pulldown does engage the pectoralis minor, one of the important muscles in your chest. If this muscle is undertrained and you are performing the lateral pulldown with too much weight, too often or at too many reps, you might be overtraining your pectoralis minor, thereby leading to pain in your chest region. Typically, if you are overdoing it with the lateral pulldown, you will also experience some pain in the other muscles it trains, such as in your arms and shoulders.
Don't Underdo It
If you are only experiencing soreness in your chest after a lateral pulldown, you might be вЂњunderdoing it,вЂќ or doing it without proper preparation: namely form. The proper form for a lateral pulldown ensures that you mainly work the latissimus dorsi, without putting too much stress on other muscles. Pain in the chest typically means that you are over-depressing your scapula, or moving your shoulders too far downward as you perform the movement, an action not part of the movement of the lateral pulldown.
Do It Right
Learning and practicing the proper form for a lateral pulldown can prevent future chest soreness. Start by gripping the cable and arranging your posture so that your torso is vertical. Pull down the cable bar while minimizing shoulder movement. Ensure that the cable bar follows a vertical path. Avoid вЂњpushingвЂќ the bar down as it nears your head, as this motion engages the chest. Instead, tilt your head back, letting the bar pass until it reaches shoulder-length. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Don't Do It at All
If you find you have problems completing the lateral pulldown with proper form or still experience soreness in your chest even after using proper form, consider switching to an alternative latissimus dorsi exercise. Machines such as the level pullover or the lever iron cross virtually ensure proper form, as machines are designed to keep your body in a near-fixed position. The pull-up is another suitable option. A pull-up requires you to use your latissimus dorsi to pull your body up; movements that engage the chest do not move the body upward from an arms-up position.