T Nation

Lat Questions

I can’t seem to find the mind-muscle connection when I do pull downs or pullups. I have a great mind-muscle connection with my lats when doing machine rows or dumbbell rows. When I switch back to a bb-style routine should I do a few higher rep sets of lat pulldowns at the beginning of my workout for pre-fatigue, and to work on m-m connection? If I do so much better with rows, are vertical pulls even really necesary for high end lat growth?

My lats are hella weak looking. I want to fix that first and foremost.

Do you know how to spread your scapula, for instance in order to do a back lat spread?

If not I encourage you to learn, because that really helped me with this exact scenario.

But if so, I have found that flexing my lats, and pushing them out hard in between sets of pulldowns and pullups really helps me to the keep the focus on the lats.

On a sidenote, since you aren’t getting a good connection with your lats when you do pulldowns, where are you feeling it? That could tell us something about improper technique.

Try pre-fatiguing the lats with a straight arm lat pulldown before doing the main exercise, that has helped my mind-muscle connection greatly when it comes to feeling my lats doing the work in pull ups and lat pulldowns.

[quote]mr popular wrote:
Do you know how to spread your scapula, for instance in order to do a back lat spread?

If not I encourage you to learn, because that really helped me with this exact scenario.

But if so, I have found that flexing my lats, and pushing them out hard in between sets of pulldowns and pullups really helps me to the keep the focus on the lats.

On a sidenote, since you aren’t getting a good connection with your lats when you do pulldowns, where are you feeling it? That could tell us something about improper technique.[/quote]

rear delts and bicep, but not feeling a whole lot of anything. I feel like extending the shoulders forward helps so much with activating the lats in rows, I just don’t know how to get the same effect from vertical pulls. However Kroc’s advice seems good. I might start doing chins like him again.

When I started to pause for a brief few at every rep, I began to connect with them. The seated cable row more so. Hold the contraction for a few and squeeze. The lat spread came naturally to me, but making the mind-muscle connection took some effort.

[quote]zephead4747 wrote:
mr popular wrote:
Do you know how to spread your scapula, for instance in order to do a back lat spread?

If not I encourage you to learn, because that really helped me with this exact scenario.

But if so, I have found that flexing my lats, and pushing them out hard in between sets of pulldowns and pullups really helps me to the keep the focus on the lats.

On a sidenote, since you aren’t getting a good connection with your lats when you do pulldowns, where are you feeling it? That could tell us something about improper technique.

rear delts and bicep, but not feeling a whole lot of anything. I feel like extending the shoulders forward helps so much with activating the lats in rows, I just don’t know how to get the same effect from vertical pulls. However Kroc’s advice seems good. I might start doing chins like him again.[/quote]

Really emphasize and feel the stretch on each rep. In other words you want to actually stretch the shoulder blades up and slightly forwards (hope this makes sense, if not let me know and I’ll try to explain it in better detail) on every single rep. Then pull your elbows down/shoulder blades down, contracting the lats.

You also do not need to bring the bar to touch your chest or even reach your chin. Just contract the lats as much as you can and wherever the bar ends up, that’s where it ends up.

Watch Dave Henry do lat pull-downs (skip to about 1:54 for the lat pull-downs), see how he really emphasizes the stretch? Try doing them like that and see if it doesn’t help.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Z9MQJw2Mw

I wrote a long diatribe to juanjromero on this very subject (on how to improve/rapidly get the mind muscle conenction here). Go look through his thread on “performance photos” or send me an email :slight_smile:

Short answers:

  1. Start opening doors with your back rather than your arms. i.e. open a door with one hand but INITIATE the movement by retracting your scapula rather than bending your elbow. Its fun and works amazingly.

  2. lats need to be stretched if you want them to engage in any motion. The last part of pullup/pulldown is immaterial to the the lats and is more rhombs/lower traps. I see way many kids (mostly black acc to my observation) churning out pullups upon pullups with NO back width whatsoever.

  3. Try the 2-cable stacks pulldown using your hands as hooks and keeping wrists “light”. you can;t help but use the back here, and if you let the weight stacks “tear” you apart before moving them “in”, your lats will initiate the movement.

Finally backwidth and V taper have everything to do with your clavicles, but at YOUR age (to zep), rack pulls (HEAVY ASS) and heavy ass pulldowns and the palumbo lat stretches WILL widen you (guaranteed)

[quote]zephead4747 wrote:
I can’t seem to find the mind-muscle connection when I do pull downs or pullups. I have a great mind-muscle connection with my lats when doing machine rows or dumbbell rows.

When I switch back to a bb-style routine should I do a few higher rep sets of lat pulldowns at the beginning of my workout for pre-fatigue, and to work on m-m connection? If I do so much better with rows, are vertical pulls even really necesary for high end lat growth?

My lats are hella weak looking. I want to fix that first and foremost.[/quote]

Also try doing the pulldowns tony freeman style for a while with perfect form, pushing DOWn the shoulder blades before moving the bar (in addition the heavy ass pulldowns with slight body english)

[quote]tribunaldude wrote:
I wrote a long diatribe to juanjromero on this very subject (on how to improve/rapidly get the mind muscle conenction here). Go look through his thread on “performance photos” or send me an email :slight_smile:

Short answers:

  1. Start opening doors with your back rather than your arms. i.e. open a door with one hand but INITIATE the movement by retracting your scapula rather than bending your elbow. Its fun and works amazingly.

  2. lats need to be stretched if you want them to engage in any motion. The last part of pullup/pulldown is immaterial to the the lats and is more rhombs/lower traps. I see way many kids (mostly black acc to my observation) churning out pullups upon pullups with NO back width whatsoever.

  3. Try the 2-cable stacks pulldown using your hands as hooks and keeping wrists “light”. you can;t help but use the back here, and if you let the weight stacks “tear” you apart before moving them “in”, your lats will initiate the movement.

Finally backwidth and V taper have everything to do with your clavicles, but at YOUR age (to zep), rack pulls (HEAVY ASS) and heavy ass pulldowns and the palumbo lat stretches WILL widen you (guaranteed)

zephead4747 wrote:
I can’t seem to find the mind-muscle connection when I do pull downs or pullups. I have a great mind-muscle connection with my lats when doing machine rows or dumbbell rows.

When I switch back to a bb-style routine should I do a few higher rep sets of lat pulldowns at the beginning of my workout for pre-fatigue, and to work on m-m connection? If I do so much better with rows, are vertical pulls even really necesary for high end lat growth?

My lats are hella weak looking. I want to fix that first and foremost.

[/quote]

damn, looks good. I’ll be trying this.

[quote]tribunaldude wrote:
palumbo lat stretches WILL widen you

[/quote]

link?

This is something I have seen all the time. I have no proof or explanation of why this happens so take it or leave it, but I am convinced that a very nice movement to gain heavy lat devlopement (in addition to pulling obviously) is “overhead pressing” without back support - push presses, reverse grip military whatever.

Why? I honestly have no clue, but it could be that the lats develop much more when also forced to work as stabilizers.

Side note, I gained almost nothing in my delts doing standing militaries (since I could never move heavy enough weight standing compared to seated) but worked magic for my lats.
Seen this very frequently around me too.

Of course, it could be that my form (and those whom i train) while overhead pressing involves pushing the upper arms off the “table” you form by flaring out your lats at the bottom of the movement.

you might wanna try the dc lat stretch… worked wonders for me