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Lat Pulldowns and Seated Rows on the BARBARIAN Smith Cable Rack

What does Smith Cable Rack and MMA have in common? You can’t be lacking strength, agility or versatility if you want to be the best.

The Barbarian Line Smith Cable Rack is like a super heavyweight in the current multi gym market. It has a commercial quality smith machine, half rack, functional trainer and multi-grip chin up bar. All of these functions are not compromised like many other machines that look similar. They often try to fit too many functions into one footprint, and sacrifice the quality of particular movements for the sake of adding in another platform.

With the Barbarian Smith Cable Rack there is no compromise. You are getting the crème de la crème of each machine. With each platform carefully forged into one, in a space of just a few square meters.

German designed and engineered to a perfection, this is by far the strongest and most durable machine which came from Germany since the days of the Panzer. Plate loaded versions without the Lat Tower and Dip Attachment weigh approximately 260 kgs. That’s 260kgs of over engineered, carefully crafted, laser cut and welded industrial grade steel. If you have seen one of the cheaper versions in the flesh, we can guarantee that the Barbarian will far surpass those in terms of quality of finish and durability. Buying the standalone Smith Cable Rack does it come with it’s downside. It doesn’t have a dedicated lat machine and seated row option. This can be easily fixed by purchasing the Barbarian Lat Tower Option (BBP-SDPR-LMO-PL) or the Weight Stack Option (BBP-SDPR-GR-LMO-SW); which is sold separately. This has the added bonus of coming with a folding dip station, as well as 10 weight horns to store your weight plates.

Lat Pulldowns and Rows the Home Gym Way

If you are at the limit of your budget with the Smith Cable Rack purchase, we have found a cool little work around that will add these valuable exercises to your workouts. This is half the fun of training at home. Working out ways to do new exercises on your existing gym equipment.

Although not as good as a dedicated lat machine, these movements are both very good and way ahead of the lat options available on cheaper power cages and smith machines.

What Equipment You Will Need

You need to purchase a couple of extras to get yourself going. To do Lat Pulldowns and Cable Rows all you need is:

  1. 1 x Barbarian Resistance Band Peg (BB-90-CLIP)
  2. 2 x Upholstery Foam Rollers (Z-PR-120) or (Z-PR-110)
  3. Barbarian Seated Row Seat (BB-9081-S) this is optional. It just makes doing seated rows a whole lot more comfortable than sitting on a cold concrete floor in winter! Alternatively you can sit on a bench in the decline position to do cable rows and the bench itself when doing Lat Pulldowns.
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Setting Up Your Lat Pulldown and Seated Row

For the lat pulldown, adjust the spotter arm to the correct height where your legs will be anchored into position when lifting heavy weight. If you are not using heavy weight, you don’t even have to worry about this step.

The Barbarian Spotter arms have holes specifically for resistance band training. So the band peg already fits perfectly. Plus it gives you some adjustment options for longer and shorter legs. Slide one of the foam rollers on, put the band peg through the spotter arm and then slide on the other roller.

In the video below, we are using the BB-9052 Barbarian Commercial Weight Lifting FID Bench. It butts up perfectly to the base. Any of the Barbarian or Megatec benches will work too. Doing seated rows is even easier. You just utilise the resistance band peg holes in the base. Insert the band peg and leave enough space either side for your feet. Naturally make sure you are wearing shoes with decent cushioning in the sole.

Lat Pulldown with a Twist!

The lat pulldown movement is not perfect compared to a lat dedicated lat machine or lat option. The angle and clearance is slightly different. On most lat machines, the top cable will start directly above or slightly in front.

You can see from the video, that the top cable starts a bit more forward than normal. No problems. This is the fun part of home training. You have to work with what you have got.

We can actually turn this into a positive. By leaning back we are in the perfect position to target the upper back. As a bench press fanatic, I can’t tell you how important it is to balance out your strength from front to back.

As bench press is a common measure of strength in the weight room or pub, many young men have fallen into the trap of focussing too heavily on this exercise. Take it from me, you build your bench just as much from training back as you do from training chest.

The upper part of the back is particularly important for bench press. This acts to stabilise the bar when you are benching heavy weight.

To specifically target the lats, you have to try doing pulldowns by sitting in the middle of the machine and using both pulleys – this is how you would do lat pulldowns on any functional trainer. This is excellent for isolating and targeting the lats. The only disappointment will be how little weight you use!

If you want to grunt out heavy weight, just utilise the multi grip chin up bar. If you can’t manage bodyweight grab some resistance bands. If it is too easy, add weight with a dip belt. When it is all said and done, chin ups are one of the most effective exercises for back.

With just these exercises alone you can annihilate your lats and upper back.

Seated Rows

The Seated Row movement is actually close to perfect. The only issue you might find is that if you are using thin soled shoes, the band pegs might dig into your heels a bit. If you opt for the weight stack version of the Smith Cable Rack, remember that you will be restricted to the 50kg weight stack.

That is why I would recommend getting the plate loaded version. You can load up to 150kgs but trust me you won’t get anywhere near this number. This machine has a 1:1 ratio, so you if you can get anywhere near this weight limit you are a better man than me.

This 1:1 ratio makes life a lot easier when using the machine for it’s intended purpose as a functional trainer. You really need very little weight for the many isolation style exercises that you use on this machine. It is easy to add and remove weight because you are using mostly smaller plates like 1.25kg, 2.5kg & 5kgs. So the plate loaded version saves you money, plus makes the lat and seated row option much more functional for the serious trainer.

seated rows

Summary

As a half rack, smith machine and functional trainer combination, there is simply no better machine on the market in terms of quality and price. You could get a killer workout with loads of variation and heavy weight. By adding these extra exercises, it is just an added bonus and will give you an extra dimension to your training. It is like getting an extra machine with only a small outlay. The home trainers dream!

Linas Valuckas
Posted by Linas Valuckas

My name is Linas, I moved to Australia from Lithuania to study. I work part time at Sam's Fitness as a Digital Media Specialist which involves uploading and managing the content on the many platforms we operate on. So this combines my two passions - weight training and computers! 

 If you have any questions about bench pressing I am more than happy to share my Soviet era bench regimes - all the secrets from behind the Iron Curtain!