Activating Lats

My squat is at a slow crawl and i think what’s wrong is weak lats/abs. abs i’ll work on and get stronger but my lats are different. in the basic movements like rows and chins my biceps dominate the movement and i can never get any lat stimulation. is there any exercises i can do or tight muscle groups that may be affecting this? is there any tips i could incorporate in rows/chins to get my lats to fire?

That happend to me a while back before i trained back… simply practice flexing your back/ lat muscles like u

would your biceps, also do bodyweight chins and focus on squeezing your back/lats… I also use a thumbless grip

when working my back/lats… Hope this helps

Poliquin says to do bent over DB rows, but when you row: A. Think about pulling with your elbow, not your hand, and B. Pull the DB towards your hip.

Use the same “pull with your elbow” concept for chins/pullups.

How many pullups can you do with good form? I suspect that if you keep working your chins/pullups to a point where you can do 3 sets of 10, with bodyweight, you will have a much better understanding of how your lats work.

in the mean time, I recommend doing pullups (palms face away from the body) with as wide a grip as you can. Begin each pullup from a dead hang (very bottom position; arms should have all of the slack taken out of them). Finish each pullup with the bar at the top of your rib cage. When performing the pullup, feel a bit as if your arms are pulling outwards (from the hand), as if you are trying to rip the bar apart. Also, as you raise, you should feel the upper arms pivoting at the shoulder blade, and the shoulder blades should squeeze down and together at the top. All of what I described above is the correct form for a pullup. Even if you can only do ONE pullup with correct form for now, do it, and work on it.

Two final tips for developing the mind-muscle connection with regards to the lats are straight arm pushdowns (on a lat pulldown machine or cable pulley station, standing, begin gripping with the bar up in front of you and a thumbless grip. pull the bar down as far as you can without bending your arms. you will feel the contraction in the lats. The other exercise to work on is, if your gym has them, machine pullovers. I find these great for the mind-muscle connection. Do a couple sets with as complete a range of motion as you can, and then do some excruciatingly slow negative reps (i.e. just the lowering phase of the motion). As slow as you can.

One thing to mention about the lats is that I find a huge increase in lat recruitment on most exercises as I increase the range of motion. Force yourself to do all exercises in the largest range of motion comfortable!

I would go with a different approach and recommend arched back good mornings. The lats help keep the back locked/arched and the abs brace the spine, so you kill 2 birds with 1 stone. They sure helped me.

From Matt Rhodes

7/8/2009 12:49:57 PM - Zach Rounsaville

Your Hugeness, what are Dizenzo Rows?

I like that, although Huge is not a good representation of me, now.

Dizenzo Rows are standing lat pulldowns to the belly.

  1. Stand in front of a lat pulldown
  2. Use the wide grip handle
  3. Arch your upper back and squeeze your shoulder blades together exactly the same way you would on the bench
  4. Pull the bar down and touch where you do when you bench

I think this really helps you to learn how to use your lats when you bench. At the very least, it pumps up your rear delts and lats.

Plus, everyone names their exercises, so why not the Big Guy?

I hope the description helps you out.

Read “Best of Back” ( Strength Training, Bodybuilding & Online Supplement Store - T NATION ) and do some Cobra pulldowns (one-arm pulldowns on incline bench with cables).

Don’t know what others’ experience are, but Cobra pulldowns are the best exercise I’ve found to “feel” the lats working.

Thanks everyone this is all very useful info.
rrjc: i asked everyone i knew yesterday about tips for this and that was the only useful tip i got was to pull with ur elbow but i still didn’t quite get what they meant but i c how that’d activate the lats if u think about pulling it more towards ur hip where i was pulling it up more towards my chest leaving my lats out of the movement.

liarpantsonfire: i’ve been stuck on 8 for semi wide grip chips but i’d only really be using my biceps and i would only go a couple inches past my chin. if i were to do it in 100% perfect form and wide grip and use a fuller range of motion i’m guessing about 2 lol. That makes sense about trying to rip the bar apart and will try this soon.
dhickey and seanz: i’ll try both: i’ll try both of these n c how they work

Does anyone think that the main reason y my lats suck is that i was stupid when i first started working out and would concentrate on my biceps and actually got them very strong compared to the rest of my upper body,
so when i would do exc. that involved both biceps/lats my body chose to use the stronger muscle of my biceps?

This could also apply to many peoples glutes as well as my own where we emphasize quads/hamstrings/low back and glutes usually get left out.

one more thing, i just tried flexing/squeezing my lats with the tips u guys gave me and found that they cramped up extremely bad. I’m assuming that’s a sign that they’re not use to firing?

[quote]Foreva44 wrote:
one more thing, i just tried flexing/squeezing my lats with the tips u guys gave me and found that they cramped up extremely bad. I’m assuming that’s a sign that they’re not use to firing?[/quote]

Probably a sign that they’re not used to conctract forcefully.

I helped a friend of mine feeling his lats during pull-down by standing behind him, grabbing his elbows and trying to push them UP while he was bringing them down. If you can ask someone to spot you this way, I’m shure you’ll notice a big difference on lat activation.

I’ve started using straps when doing rows , chin/pull ups . after a few weeks , it seems to make a difference . not sure yet how much though .straps also seem to alleviate the pain on the inside elbow .

[quote]Foreva44 wrote:
one more thing, i just tried flexing/squeezing my lats with the tips u guys gave me and found that they cramped up extremely bad. I’m assuming that’s a sign that they’re not use to firing?[/quote]

It probably is just cause they arent used to being fired, it happend to me when i first started

doing it but you should get used to it and it will help

i did some of the stuff u guys said and for me it helped to contract my lats between sets and the pull-ups didn’t go as good as i would’ve liked (prolly cuz i’m 2 weak to do them in perfect form) but in rows thinking of pulling the dumbbell more towards ur hip helped ALOT. i encourage any1 else with this problem to:

  1. flex ur lats alot
  2. on rows pull the dumbbell towards ur hip