Prepare the appropriate weight taking account of your fitness level and training type. Stand and grab the bar attached to the pulley at the widest possible overhand grip and then sit on the machine seat. Sit up straight and do not bend at the waist. Hold your hands upwards in line of the pulley trajectory.
From the position with hands upwards lead the motion at your elbows, pulling the bar attached to the pulley behind your head (contracting your back muscles). Exhale while performing the downwards motion. Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Watch that your torso is firm and does not bend at waist while you are seated. Feet are firmly fixed on the floor. Make sure you do not shift your spine at the neck forward.
Start with lighter weight to master the technique well.
Wide-grip pulldown behind the neck or the pull-up alternative (wide-grip pull-up behind the neck) is an exercise targeting lats.
The main difference between shoulder-width grip pulldowns and wide grip pulldowns is that in wide grip pulldown the elbows move alongside the torso, not in front of it. This is the movement best suited for lats development – other muscles get involved to a lesser degree than by shoulder-width grip.
It is hard to find a good reason why to pull the bar behind the neck: this movement is shorter than the “normal” version of pulldowns, less effective and significantly more damages the rotator cuff, a group of tendons and small muscles in the shoulder area.
Another problem with wide-grip pulldown behind the neck is that you need to bend your head down. This is not a favorable position for your upper back when undergoing serious mechanical pressure. Widening of vertebral spaces makes the trainee prone to various upper-back disorders and injuries including slipping a disk.
One possible explanation for the behind-the-neck pulldown popularity is that it is harder to do and thus more challenging. Many trainees probably follow the “no pain no gain” slogan rather literally not realizing that harder doesn’t always mean more effective.