T Nation

Lats involvement in the Bench Press

I dont understand how the lats can help significantly in a bench press (powerliftin/bodybuilding/or other style). Can someone please explain this without out saying Louie Simmons/Dave Tate said so which is the answer that I have been getting a lot lately. Thanks

Well, for one thing, the bigger your back, the bigger your overall upper body measurements. The bigger your chest/back measurements, the less distance the bar has to travel which means you’ll lift more weight in powerlifting. Plus big lats provide a stabilizing “platform” from which to bench. There are other reasons too but you can read Tate’s articles (and others) to learn them if you really want.

Dave Tate recommends benching with the back arched. (so you can lift more weight) The lats and pecs both bring the arms closer to the body. The more the decline or arch, the more the lats are involved.

flex your lats and your arms go forward.this is why lats work driving the weight.

The lats play a good role in the bottom of the movement and act as a good platform. The reason why powerlifters bench with an arch in their back is to minimize the distance the bar has to move, and if that isn’t good enough reason to arch your back go and look at a pictures of powerlifters competing in the bench press all of them will have an extremely arched back.

paul- the bigger your back the bigger the upper body measurement- true. But if the added musculature is in the back rather than the chest i dont see how this will decrease the distance the bar has to move. You lower the the bar to your chest so the only ways to decrease the distance i know of are to arch the back increase the size of the chest or shorten the arms (change the grip). Saying that a bigger back means you have to lift the bar less of a distance is like saying that if you put another pad on the bench you will have to lift the bar less distance. You said they provide a stabilizing platform I agree 100% but that is not as a prime mover as dave tate indicates in his articles.

Patman- I read it but it doesnt really say much of use. while the back and the chest both may act to adduct the arm and internally rotate it the chest seems to move the arms forward and the back seems to move them backward

ROB- contract you lats and your arms go backwards not forwards. The go forward when you flex cause you are simultaneously flexing antagonist muscles

dynosar13 - HOW do they play a good role in the bottom of the movement. How does the arch help with lat involvement?

It is not Louie Simmons, it is human anatomy. The last move the bar for the first 2-3 inches. Good lats means a good start on the bench.

chris why the fuck do you ask if you already think you know the answer and tell everyone they are wrong.obvious you never benched in your life and will never learn anything.

I’m with Rob. If you can’t feel your lats work at the bottom of a bench press then A) you’ve never done it B) you don’t know what you’re doing and definitely C) you ain’t never gonna have a bench worth a damn. When I bench press, either barbell or dumbbell, my lats get sore as hell. Bench press, deadlifts, and squats affect a lot of muscle groups. Even barbell curls force other muscle to fire, front delts for an example.

I agree with MR, my lats are allways sore as hell after a heavy bench day. If yours arent I think your doing something wrong.

I asked because I want to know the answer. Is it my fault if no one gave an answer that had any scientific merit?

What I bench has nothing to do with anything. The fact that you lats gets sore has nothing to do with whether they are a prime mover or not.

My lats are always the most sore after doing a lot of pushups.

Chris - You have to learn to use the lats in your bench. Most people don’t naturally bench in such a manner as to allow their lats to assist in the bench.

If your setup is right (i.e. elbows in close to the body, scapula retracted, chest high, back arched) they help by rotating the whole shoulder girdle down and back such that the elbows are pushed towards the front of the body.

If you only want to bench for greater pec development, then don’t bother learning this style. If you want to have a big bench, then the only way is to learn this style of benching.

Have you tried using any of Louie Simmons/Dave Tates form suggestions? The only way to know for yourself that the lats can contribute to the bench is to try it yourself.

Your latissimus dorsi are responsible for the adduction and medial rotation of your arms. When you bench press, you start with the distal epicondyle of your humerus away from your torso. As you finish your bench press movement, the distal portion of your humerus is closer to your median. Therefore, your humerus has experienced adduction, which is the primary job of your latissimus dorsi. Thus, the stronger your latissimus dorsi, the greater your bench press. You can better see the involvement of your latissimus dorsi when doing a dumbell press instead of a bench press.

If you do a incline bench…the lats are not used as much.
If you do declines…then they come into much more play.
If you did not have lats…you could probably military press more than you could decline press.

Thanks for you reply. Yeah i have tried benching like that, infact its my most regular method of benching. I dont ‘feel’ it in my back, but then again when doing singles i dont ‘feel’ it anywhere. Also my back is probably my strongest body part, so it takes a LOT to get it sore or even to feel it there.

Hey thanks for your reply, that was the kind of post I was hoping for from the start. Alright, so the lats are involved with the adduction, but when using the powerlifting method advocated by tate and simmons they recomend having the arms in a relatively adducted position at the start and throughout the entire exercise. When pressing like that it appears as though the humerous goes from being externally rotated to internally rotated at the end of the movement…and internal rotation is a major factor of both the pecs and the lats. So i guess they are used in that respect (aduction and internal rotation), but i still see these as being relatively minor. Im going to keep thinking about it, its kinda hard to get your head around the fact that the lats can be significant in anyrespect other than as a stabilizer when they are responsible for extension of the humerous (bringing the arm down and backwards) when a bench press involves flexion (the exact opposite movement).

Hey Chris,
Chances are you just answered your own question. The bench is a chest and tri exercise primarily, and if your back is stronger than your chest and tri’s, it stands to reason the your lats won’t hurt.
You also mention that just because a muscle gets sore doesn’t make it a prime mover. Vladimir Zatsiorsky( a professor at Penn State) wrote a textbook called “The Science and Practice of Strength Training” and I think he would disagree. If the muscle gets sore it would need to be trained to improve that lift.
Also in some Ian King or Charles Poliquin articles from way back, I think it was stated that a way to make a muscle group stronger was to make it’s antagonist muscle group stronger, and I think they list references at the end which would be the research they base the articles on.
Peace, Tmofa

Hey, Thanks for your reply. Cool name, is it your real name or just a name you use on the forum. Not that im an expert on names or anything but it sounds kinda like a Maori name. Anyway, what you say makes a lot of sense. Im not sure about the part though about if a muscle gets sore it would have to be trained to improve a lift. Just say for example that your traps are sore from keeping the shoulder blades retracted but they are sufficiently strong enough to perform that function under virtually any load. Would they then need to be strengthened for the bench to increase? (Im not saying you’re incorrect Im geniunely asking a question). Thanks for the info on the articles ill be sure to look for them.