Researching the research.

Researching the research


Not all scientific studies should be accepted as fact.



You’d like to believe that research scientists who
are publishing studies on weight training know what they’re
doing. Unfortunately, much as there are numerous bad personal
trainers out there, there are numerous bad researchers. For
proof, we selected a recent article published in the Journal of
Strength of Conditioning Research by researchers from Brazil,
who performed a study comparing the lat pulldown (done in
front) to the behind-the-neck pulldown.


Researchers concluded that the front lat pulldown
was superior to the behind-the-neck pulldown, despite the fact
that the two versions of pulldowns yielded no difference in
muscle activity in the lats. They further concluded that behindthe-
neck pulldowns should be avoided, but they admitted that research shows that there is no risk
of shoulder injuries (as many falsely
claim) with this version of the


Before you
give up on the behind-the-neck
pulldown — which FLEX concludes
is an effective exercise for the lats
when performed properly — you
need to consider the exercise
form on the pulldowns that the
researchers had the subjects use. Go
to the forums at flexonline.com and
look under our “When Good Studies
Go Bad” topic to see the study and
the photos of the exercise form
used. As you will notice, both the
pulldowns to the front and the behind-the-neck pulldowns
were done with such horrible form that the results of the study
basically mean nothing.


Do not give up on the behind-the-neck lat
pulldown. To do it properly, bend forward at the waist, so you
don’t have to flex your neck forward, which can be dangerous.
Also, always look to FLEX for your training advice. We weed
out the bad studies from the good ones so that you don’t have
to make heads or tails of what researchers are telling you.


Reference: S. Sperandei et al., “Electromyographic analysis of three
diff erent types of lat pull-down,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning
Research, 23(7):2033-38, 2009.