The lat pulldown machine is one of the top products for a home gym – and one that you might feel like you’re missing out on.
It’s a piece of kit that commercial gyms love showing off because it offers a way to train the upper back like a pull up, even if you can’t do a pull up! It’s also a great piece of equipment for adding serious width and thickness to the back.
If you’re looking for a good lat pulldown for your home gym, you need to read this article. It’s a big piece of kit and a big investment, so do yourself a favor and look into what makes a great lat pulldown machine for home before you even think about buying!
Top Lat Pulldown Machines for Home Gym
1. Powertec Fitness Lat Machine
The resounding opinion on this product is that it’s not quite comparable with what you’ll see in a gym but a single notch down.
The build quality and overall construction seem good, though there are occasional concerns with stability. The peg-and-plate model is cheaper for the lat pulldown itself but has two problems: you need to have the plates or it’s useless, and the stability isn’t quite as good.
Obviously, if you have a free weight set at home then the Olympic standard weight horns are a great choice. It does, however, introduce some unpredictability and imbalance when moving – the kind you won’t get in a commercial lat machine.
This is paired with a mild instability overall due to the small ‘footprint’ of the product. Bolting it to the floor is a significant help, but additional free-standing stability would be cool. There are also occasional quality assurance issues with the weight stack- but Powertec have a great reputation for fixing these issues.
Overall, this is a good product but not without room for improvement. The overall picture we get is that you’re getting some value out of this product, but it would help to bolt it somewhere in your home gym. If that isn’t possible, you might not suit this choice.
- A good balance of economy and quality
- Pretty good stability when bolted
- Good customer service
- Manufacturing issues aren’t unheard of
- The footprint is relatively small and the product isn’t stable without bolting
- Definitely getting what you pay for, with some mild annoyances in function
2. XMark Lat Pulldown Station
This is definitely a more stable product when it comes to the footprint – and will likely be better without bolts. However, it does have some of its own stability issues when it comes to the fastening of components together – though this seems to vary from product to product.
The build of the product is pretty consistent with the sub-commercial value and it’s another plate-loaded pulldown. This brings versatility and helps you save money, but obviously does make for a more unstable product. The center of gravity just isn’t like a weight stack.
The assembly of this product is perhaps the let down with some relatively consistent manufacturing issues. Think bent beams, common wobbly fastenings, and occasionally some more oblique issues like rust.
The design of the product is relatively solid, but it seems like the ‘heavy-duty’ title probably doesn’t suit. There are issues here that could be worked out with solid quality assurance, but in the meantime, this product is a hair short of being a really solid home lat pulldown machine.
- More stable than the previous product on this list
- Relatively solid design, even if not really ‘heavy-duty’
- Some problems with stability, as many others on this list
- Quality assurance issues with some key parts, like bent upright beams
3. Valor Fitness CB-12 Lat Pulldown
Valor Fitness come with a pretty solid reputation within the market – as we’ve already been fans of some of their previous products. This product carries on the trend of a great balance between economy and functionality – though not perfectly.
The construction of this product is pretty good, and we think the finish is aesthetic. The finish of pads seems to be reliable and their placement can be really useful for getting comfortable during a lat machine session.
The footplate provides a lot of stability, however, and this is a concern for the versatility of the product. As with Powertec, you can bolt this to the floor, and it will provide a significant amount more stability than the out-the-box design.
The assembly process is also not a forgiving one: this product has a lot going on with the variety of cable locations and the tracking can be a challenge. This is also clear in the use of the product where – as with others on this list so far – the tension is not as smooth as you’d expect with a lat pulldown in a commercial gym.
These are relatively small issues and it’s still a quality product, but you need to be aware of them. We’re pretty convinced these are the kind of low-level differences you’re going to experience with any economy choice, but they can still be seriously annoying – if not a deal-breaker!
- Great balance of economy and quality
- Works well, reliably, with a good brand reputation
- Good stability when bolted down
- Not perfect: some mild functional annoyances like sub-commercial smoothness
- Assembly can be a real challenge due to cable feeding being complex
4. BodySolid Powerline Lat Machine
The best and worst aspects of this product can be expressed with the term ‘lightweight and streamlined’. It’s a tiny product compared to the previous product and it comes with the kinds of pros and cons that you can imagine that brings.
The product is easy to assemble, relatively, and easy to use. It comes with 2 pulleys and no frills – so you can put it pretty much anywhere and we think this would make sense if you’re really tight on space!
However, the downsides are equally clear: it’s small, not amazingly stable, has a low weight-rating, and it will likely not keep up with you as you grow. The 10-year warranty is a bit of a waste since you should easily be maxing out the weight-rating of this machine in that time no matter your sex or weight.
These are damning concerns if you’re looking for a machine with longevity. This isn’t for everyone – perhaps none of these are concerns for you – but they do make it a hard product to justify the price. It’s not amazingly cheap despite all of the flaws, and the appropriate attachments for other exercises are going to cost even more.
There are some simple functional issues that also pop up on top of the lightweight design. For example, the cable groove in the pulley is shallow and slips often. The tension is likely to be worse than others on this list, too – a pair of serious concerns.
- Small and portable
- Won’t take up tons of space
- Could be a good choice if you’re a tiny human or don’t plan on extended use
- Cable tracking is pretty poor in the pulleys for some users
- The lightweight design is a real problem for stability
- Weight rating of 250lbs is really not sufficient for most average-sized humans
- Not as cheap as it functions
5. Akonza Fitness Lat Pulldown Machine
This product is right in the middle when it comes to the balance between more heavy-duty products and the super-streamlined CB-12 we just discussed. The mid-ground is a good one and the whole design is pretty aesthetically pleasing.
However, we absolutely hate the cable-feed for the bottom pulley. It’s just a carabiner attachment for the upper pulley, which means you’ve got a ton of odd tension changes when using the low pulley. It looks horrible and it makes the whole product look and feel cheap and shoddy.
There are a whole plethora of problems with this product that are varying degrees of obvious. To start at the start, shipping is unreliable and the QA for this product is often really poor. Poor machining, missing parts, and poor assembly instructions are common complaints for Akonza.
From here, the practicalities of the design are limited. The upright beam is often unstable, much like the whole product, which is liable to serious instability while lifting. If you’re over 6’, this is also going to be a seriously difficult machine since you’re probably going to be in the path of the weight.
Overall, a pretty challenging product. It comes with most of the problems associated with the lightweight Bodysolid product but without the lightweight, portable setup. The worst of both worlds, in many ways!
- Aesthetically pleasing design (until you use the bottom pulley)
- Poor quality lower cable feed
- Problems with machining and QA abound
- The product itself is too small for many users over 6’ tall
- Parts are often missing or defective
Honorable Mention: Rogue Monster Lat Pulldown Machine
If you’re looking to solve all the problems that we’ve seen with the economy products above, the rogue model offers an interesting step up. It’s a bigger investment, for sure, but comes with a ton of extra value that could be just what you’re looking for.
From looking at it, you can tell this is a commercial quality lat pulldown machine – but it comes with some tweaks. For example, the alignment for the weight stack improves stability and balance in the middle of the product.
The footplate is solid as hell, the tension is exactly what you’d expect from a commercial lat pulldown, and the overall experience is in line with the price. It’s a huge step up from the lat pulldown machines we’ve already discussed but comes with all its own weight along with the functional perks we’ve mentioned.
There’s no comparison: this is the best product. The obvious choice is whether you want to pay for your own commercial-grade lat pulldown – which is going to be the best choice if you don’t have plates lying around, or if you want the best results.
If you can spring the cash, this kind of product could be your go-to upper back and arm workout machine for decades. It’s that kind of life-long investment, so take some time to seriously think about what you want from a lat pulldown machine!
- Amazing function
- Gorgeous design and durability
- Clever little features
- Pretty much a lifelong investment, since it’s not likely to experience serious defects
- Very expensive compared to others on this list
- Clearly not an economy choice, in spite of the amazing value
Lat Pulldown Machine Buying Advice
There aren’t many factors you need to consider for a lat pulldown above and beyond the things we’ve mentioned like durability. However, the trifecta of stabilize, range, and tension are the keys to getting a great product.
There are a lot of moving parts in a lat pulldown machine and the stability of the whole system is important. You don’t want to feel like you’re being overly cautious because your machine is going to topple over.
There’s a lot of weight on a lat pulldown and it can be easy to wobble the machine if stability isn’t great. This comes from a number of sources, but the footprint is one of the most important. It’s a measure of the floor-space that the product – and specifically its ‘feet’ – take up on the floor.
The weight also provides stability so you’re going to find that lighter weight models are less stable. This obviously trades off against their portability and ease of assembly – as well as their overall size.
Good quality, rubberized feet can be a great choice for stability – and bolting a machine down is another possibility. This does require a lot of commitment, however, and could be a hassle – so a product with good stability is better, all things being equal!
Tension and Smoothness
The tension on the weight stack – and how it moves when you put force into the handle – is a serious factor. The ideal is a smooth, consistent feeling that you’d expect from a commercial lat pulldown at your local gym.
This is one of the key factors in the experience that you have with a lat pulldown. The smoother the pull from the start position to your chest, the better the constant tension on the muscle. This is the point of a good cable machine, so it’s a huge factor in product quality.
Better tension and smoothness means a better result, so it’s key to look out for. If the tension is poor and the connection to the weight is unreliable, there’s not much you can do to salvage the product’s overall value.
Range and Size
The size of the product does have benefits of its own – especially if you’re a taller human. There are times when small or lightweight products sacrifice the effective range or put you in uncomfortable positions.
In our reviews, we’ve already seen that products can limit their use if the positioning doesn’t allow for larger humans. It’s easy to get your knees in the path of the weight, but it’s also possible that the bottom position isn’t low enough to achieve consistent tension.
Always look for reviews from people your own height and have a clear idea of the dimensions you want. Balancing your space and the effectiveness of the product is a challenge so it needs to be at the front of your mind when shopping for a lat pulldown machine for home gym.
Final Thoughts and Our Picks
The lat pulldown machine is a tough one for the home gym since it’s such a specific machine. There are tons of factors in the best and worst lat pulldown machines – and we’ve outlined most of them.
The biggest concerns are definitely stability, tension smoothness, and the size of products. Our favorite balance so far is definitely the Valor Fitness CB-12. It’s a quality product that offers a mixture of the best lightweight and stable features.
Even this product has its own issues, but it provides the best reliably-useful economy lat pulldown machine for home. It’s a great compromise and offers some of the best benefits of a lat pulldown machine without the price of a commercial piece of equipment.
The Rogue Monster lat pulldown is the commercial comparison: it comes at a higher price, but the function is near perfect. It’s a big investment but if you’re looking to build a home gym lasting a lifetime and have the cash to put in, we definitely recommend considering it!
The lat pulldown machine is a quality piece of equipment and the right choice here can revolutionize your back and arm workouts. If you’re ready to pull the trigger, the Valor fitness model is our top choice for good function at a good price.