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Activating the Lats


I seem to have a problem activating the lats on my left side during back exercises. I'm not sure what the problem is, especially since I've got no issues with my right side.

I think I've read something here about learning to flex the lats properly in order to feel it when rowing, but I'm not sure if I can find the post. I did a search and that didn't really help.

Are there any ways to alleviate this problem? My left side is a problem with my back as a whole, but with lats it's especially troublesome.


One-arm lat pull down, one-arm dumbell row, one-arm cable pull-over…don’t rush into big weight before having learnt to “feel” the lat.

You can also use unilateral version of the “tips” Thibaudeau gives here: http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/mondays_with_thibs_you_dont_know_jack_about_your_back

Having someone putting her fingers (a hot cardio bunny would work just fine!) against your back/lat can help you feeling (and activating) it.


Focus on pulling through your elbows and using the hands as hooks.


How do you know you aren’t activating your lats? If you are doing a heavy ass lift like a row or pullup, you must be activating your lat.

Here are some thoughts though.

  1. Stretch your pec(s) before pulling. If you have a tight pec on that side, it could be the problem.
  2. Before I do pullups, i visualize the movement and do a standing underhand grip row to the belly button area. No weight, just pull the elbows back and down, and stick your chest up. Fell your lats pulling your elbows back.

Other than this, if you dont have any major form problems, its probably all in your head.


Oh by the way, Curb Your Enthusiasm is a great show.


Thanks for the advice guys, I’ll move dumbbell rows to the beginning of my back day, and stretch my pecs (especially left) beforehand.

And yes, Curb is amazing :D.