T Nation

Help With Lat Growth.

I’m sure I can answer my own question but there seem to be some really smart people here so I’m gonna ask you all anyways.

I used to be really into lifting a few years ago, then took about 1.5 years off and got back into it this past december. I’ve made up my losses since then and am back on the road to growth.

I’ve seen good results (to me) everywhere on my body except my lats. I eat like I should and try to follow all the lessons I’ve learned from this site with my workouts. I do all the compound lifts etc etc.

My back routine is generally 4 or 5 sets of heavy deads, lat pull down (because I feel can’t do enough reps on pullups to do full sets) then dumbell rows. I’ve seen great progress in the rest of my back from the deads and rows but my lats seem to be really lagging in terms of width and fullness.

Do I simply need to just do as many reps of pullups as I can? Is that the missing link? Or is there some other movement that I’m forgetting that would help with my lats/width?

thanks

It’d be a lot easier to answer your question with more info, but two things come to mind right off the bat. It sounds to me like you’re really not doing that much volume or much variety. Throw in some T-bars, seated rows, DB Rows, Straight Arm DB Rows, whatever. Use the search engine to search for different lifts.

Also, if you can’t do pull ups yet, try chin ups. If you can’t do those, approach the pull up bar sideways, take a “baseball” type grip, and do pull ups. Not sure what those are called, but they’re easier than chin ups for me. That’s just a real quick answer, but that might at least help with some variety.

Pullups are definitely the best thing you could be doing for your lats. If you don’t think you can do that many, try a pyramid or ladder approach. Pyramid - 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1.(or whatever your highest number is-just hop off the bar in between each set for a short rest, but not too long. these are good to do with a partner who is near your level, that way you only rest as long as it takes your partner to do his set)
Ladder - start at 1, go up like a pyramid, when you get as high as you can but wouldn’t be able to complete the next higher number, start over at 1, using same type of rest periods.

If you don’t feel that would give you enough volume, start your back workout with those and then go into pulldowns for more sets. Also lean back slightly(not swinging back to move weight, but holding about a 30deg backward lean) to activate your lats more, the traditional upright sitting posture puts more stress on your rhomboids and such.

Always start off with pullups, so that you can build up your reps. Another option to improve pullups would be to add 2-3 slow negatives at the end of your last set of pullups. Once you can do about 10 pullups in one set and still be able to do a couple more sets afterward, try adding weight for your pullups.

Get good at doing wide grip pullups and T-Bar Rows.

My lats are my strongest bodypart. I find my lats respond best to frequent, short, heavy, and higher rep ranges as compared to other body parts. I work my lats every upper body day supersetted with a pushing movement (incline barbell or dumbell bench press one session and military or behind the neck presses or dumbell presses next session), start with 1-3 sets of pullups (12-16 rep warmup and 2 sets weighted 6-9 reps). Followed by 2 sets of 8-12 reps of pull downs, t-bar rows, chest supported rows or dumbell rows.

Next session I do the warmup pullups (12-15 reps) followed by 4 sets of barbell rows (135x12-185x12-225x8-245x6). So my lats get worked 2 or 3 times per week, but only 5 sets including warmups. Lots of variety and frequent low volume sessions seem to work best for me.

Damn dude you must have some pretty strong arms too. My lats aren’t nearly that strong, but doing pullups and then following up with lighter work to really get a maximal pump works well for hypertrophy and strength for me. I can actually see the v shape in my back forming :stuck_out_tongue:

The best thing for lats is wide grip pullups. If you can’t do them, get a band to assist you until you can do them without the band. After you get done with your pullups, go do cable rows, reverse pushups, lat pulls, bent over rows, and do them all with a wide grip. I can’t stress the wide grip enough. As Rockscar once said, you should have to monkey swing on the pullup bar to get get your grip wide enough. Also, use some chalk for your grip, or a set of straps (I prefer chalk)

Doing deadlifts on your back day might be what’s HOLDING YOU BACK. It zaps your grip strength and then when you do other lifts you end up stopping because of grip failure and not lat-failure. Put deadlifts in your leg day instead or some deadlift variation as your hamstring targeted compound move.

Once you get rid of deadlifts you can devote your intensity to barbell rows and weighted chins. If you can do 10 pull-ups then start doing weighted pull-ups and chins for 6-8 reps. I think barbell rowing and heavy pull-ups and lat pulldowns will help you trigger lat growth. Deadlifts wont.

You also might want to incorporate dumbbell pullovers on your chest workout or your back workout. Or the pullover machine if you have access to one.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Doing deadlifts on your back day might be what’s HOLDING YOU BACK. It zaps your grip strength and then when you do other lifts you end up stopping because of grip failure and not lat-failure. Put deadlifts in your leg day instead or some deadlift variation as your hamstring targeted compound move.

[/quote]

Although I predominantly do full body workouts, that’s a really good idea for those doing split workouts as well as a good arguement for split workouts. Hadn’t ever thought about it.

[quote]BigAlSwede wrote:
FightingScott wrote:
Doing deadlifts on your back day might be what’s HOLDING YOU BACK. It zaps your grip strength and then when you do other lifts you end up stopping because of grip failure and not lat-failure. Put deadlifts in your leg day instead or some deadlift variation as your hamstring targeted compound move.

Although I predominantly do full body workouts, that’s a really good idea for those doing split workouts as well as a good arguement for split workouts. Hadn’t ever thought about it. [/quote]

Well if you’ve been doing full body workouts, when you switch to split workouts just do an upper-lower split. Have 1 heavy upper body day, 1 heavy lower body day, 1 hypertrophy-rep-range upper body day, and 1 hypertrophy-rep-range lower body day. Put dead lifts in on heavy lower body days and do wide-grip and romanian deadlifts on your high-rep lower body days or on heavy leg days where you went heavy on squats and shouldn’t be deadlifting heavy.

I don’t think 5-day splits really work unless you’re genetically gifted, on drugs, or extremely advanced.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Doing deadlifts on your back day might be what’s HOLDING YOU BACK. It zaps your grip strength and then when you do other lifts you end up stopping because of grip failure and not lat-failure. Put deadlifts in your leg day instead or some deadlift variation as your hamstring targeted compound move. [/quote]

That’s a great point that I haven’t thought of. I’ll give that a try.

I can do about 10 pullups, but it seems that after that first set I just can’t do anymore. I’ll have to see about getting some bands too.

Sounds like mental blockage.

Try doing as many pullups as possible. Rest and do whatever it takes to build up the willpower to get back up there and pull away. Don’t settle for 1 set, do as many sets as possible as many reps as you can do. Or every set do a different variation, change your grip width every set, switch to chinups, change your grip on those too. Do towel pullups/chinups. Use a towel on one hand and force the other side of your body to do the pulling while the other side just statically flexes and maintains stability.

Either way you got to break through the walls you have set up in your mind. Self-imposed limits are usually subtle and you don’t notice your actively doing it.

Try negative pullups. Stand on a chair or something that gets your upper to middle chest touching the bar. (I always put my head back because for some reason I can feel my lats working harder, so my body ends up kind of arched or curved, whichever it i when you are leaning back?). Then slowly lower yourself, trying to take 5 to 10 seconds on each rep.
I do these because I can’t do pullups and it is a way I read of how to advance.
What I am doing is 6 sets. Here is my rep scheme.
Workout #1 1-1-1-1-1-1
Workout #2 1-2-1-2-1-2
Workout #3 2-2-2-2-2-2
Workout #4 2-3-2-3-2-3
Etc…
The only difference in the way I do it is i keep it the same rep scheme for one week. As I do back and chest twice a week.
Since you can already do pull ups you may want to start more advanced than this (or maybe not). Expect severe DOMS, especially if you don’t stretch your lats in between every set, trust me. I can feel my lats are getting harder, and a little big so far.
Also be aware that a lot of people do not believe the lat pulldown machine to be a good way to train for pullups.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Doing deadlifts on your back day might be what’s HOLDING YOU BACK. It zaps your grip strength and then when you do other lifts you end up stopping because of grip failure and not lat-failure. Put deadlifts in your leg day instead or some deadlift variation as your hamstring targeted compound move.[/quote]

I disagree with this. I do pullups and chins before deadlifting. My grip strength isn’t zapped. All you have to do is hang from the bar every now and then, it builds your grip in no time.

If hes having grip issues and is wanting to DL and chin on the same day, then he can simply use straps when he does chins. If hes pulling heavy when he DLs, then using straps for chins isnt going to kill him.

If hes pulling pussy weights and training with zero intensity, well, the straps still arent going to hurt him much because hes got much bigger issues.

If you can do 10 wide grip chins, then add weight and work up to 10 with that, add more weight and repeat.

What I found to help my back take on a V shape is to do pull up “shrugs.” I cant think of any other way to explain them.

What you do is take as wide of a grip as possible on the wide grip bars, and just shrug yourself up. Keep your arms completely straight and just use your shoulders to pull you up a couple of inches. Since the ROM is so short, you’re going to have to hang some weight off of you from a dip belt or something.

These helped my teres major (and rhomboids, too) get much bigger, giving a wider appearance on my back.