Posted by: PFB
Q: I've head that I should do lat pulldowns to the front rather than behind the neck. Why?
A: To work the lats effectively, you must keep your back slightly arched. By pulling the bar to the front, you're all but guaranteed to keep the arch, while a pull behind the neck lends itself to cheating as you get tired. Thereby you could routinely rob yourself of the benefit from the last few reps of each set without even knowing it. In addition, it's a more natural movement to pull the bar to the front. Your shoulders are at a less vulnerable angle and as you get stronger you will avoid cumulative shoulder injuries. This is only true for some people, but the bad news is that you usually don't know if you're one of them until it's too late, so play it safe.
Last but not least, there is an important thing to notice about the lat pulls to the front. You might be tempted to lean back too much when you get tired, thus giving yourself an extra pull. Try to avoid this kind of swaying - sit upright with a lightly arched back, and stay that way throughout the exercise.