T Nation

Pullovers and Pre-Exhausting Lats


After reading the Yates thread and watch many pros and the guys here with the biggest backs all recommend preexhausting the lats at least at some point in there training lives, I decided to try it. Straight arm push downs I have done before and never liked it. Tried the HS one today and felt bleh, could barely contract lats. The nautilus nitro one hasn't worked either, and db ones hit my tris. My question is how has anyone successfully made them work? It's there a technique to it or is it simply practice? I do drive with my elbows, the bar is too long to even hold well lol.


How do you the straight arm pull downs?

What attachment?

What torso angle?

What elbow angle?

If you cant feel any of these things it means you have poor MMC with your lats. You have to fix this. Either by learning to flex your lats without flaring them and then doing isometric holds to build the connection. Or by getting better at these preexhaust methods. Using light enogh weight to allow your lats to do most of the work but heavy enough to provide meaningful resistance.


The pull doWn I use a rope attachment and try and copy how stu does it in a thread I found, forget which. As for the muscle connection it's sucks with any vertical pulling. Rows I'm fine with. Can doing my chest first hurt the connection? I train back and chest together and train chest first because I'm wobble on the bench after back cause I kill it on rows due to them being my only back exercise I feel well. Im just wondering cause I have a much better back connection before chest and loose it after chest. The blood in my chest perhaps? I can flex my lats so my elbow comes backwards. When you say isometric holds do you mean during or after? Cause i forceivly flex at the top of rows for a second


If your muscle connection sucks with vertical pulling....... do more vertical pulling. problem solved


I think you just answered your own question. If this is an issue, train back separate from chest. And FTR, what has been working for me quite well for lats is I start with a pullover machine, really focusing on stretching them at the top of every rep, initiating with my lats, and pushing my elbows back at the end.

Then I do straight arm pulldowns, similar to how Stu does them in that video but with a long straight bar (have done them with a rope but I actually prefer the straight bar), again really focusing on pushing my elbows back at the end.

Note: I'm no monsah but this has taken my back from one of my worst to possibly my best body part.


you are worried about pre-exhausting when you can't even recruit??


Don't know if maybe there's a terminology-difference here, but pre-exhausting seems like a very effective way to increase recruitment. IE you do movements, such as pullovers, to get your lats working, get blood in them, start to feel them, so you can feel them better and use them more in the main exercises. Just like people doing fly's before bench press so that they use their chest more for the bench press.


you mean activate? pre-potentiate?

seems the opposite of pre-fatigue to me...


Not expert, but I did read that article as well, and decided to give it a try. I did them off of a flat bench and grabbed the db from the floor and simple pulled the oh to over my chest. Did these with my arms in one position and pulled with my lats. From the floor to about eye level was the only place I felt a good stretch, so that is where I kept the range of motion. I use fairly light weigth, because I haven't done these in years.
I think these are great alternative for lats if you don't have access to machines.





Both functions can be achieved by doing the exact same pyshical task. Which you do is mostly a product of how far you take it.

How can you fatigue something without activating it?


Pre-exhaust not burn out. Use the HS sit back in the chair and pull with your back. I'm still not used to it but it does work it, the more you practice and think about it the better you will get.


I mean iso metric holds outside of the gym. Like while youre sitting in your chair reading this, FLEX (not flare) your lat (one at a time). Youll probably have to bend your torso sideways a bit. And hold it. As you hold it attempt to squeeze the muscle as hard as possible. Release after a few seconds. Repeat.

You can do this with any muscle group. It's a very effective way to learn to target muscles. THe goal is to be able to do the same thing when you add weight. Obviously this works better for some muscles than others. But for lats, just getting your brain used to recruiting them should be enough.

I also prefer a straight bar, to a rope, when doing straight arm pulldowns. It is very important to lean forward and not stand upright. Keep a bend in the elbow and maintain that angle the entire time, the elbow shouldnt flex. You should lean forward and then bring the bar in towards your navel, in an arcing motion, not a straight diagonal line.


Thanks for the advice I will defiantly try the holds and work on the straights arms one day and work on the pullovers the other day


okay maybe i messed up the terminology...

i thought that prepotentiate or activate was about getting recruitment so it worked properly for the exercise (e.g., activate your glutes before doing your squats)

i thought prefatigue or exhaust was about fatiguing a muscle so it doesn't take over from other things when doing the exercise. like... making stuff up now... prefatiguing the traps so the lats would do more work on rows or somethinglike that... maybe i vaguely heard of prefatiguing pecs or maybe triceps so the other one did more for bench...

(hence opposite)


I have generally had a hard time using my lats, but a main movement I have found to actually pump them up is controlled db rows. 12-20 reps with a light enough weight to focus on the lats, hold it and lower slowly (not actually all that light, though. I wouldn't consider it a pre-exhaust exercise, but it might be one you want to try)


For BB purposes it's more like, pre-fatigue the target muscle group, so that they are the FIRST thing to fail on a compound movement. For instance, you want to bring up lateral delts. So do a set of lateral raises, then immediately perform your db shoulder press.

I imagine if you pre-fatigue the traps on rows, you'd probably get terrible lat activation since your traps would likely be the first to go. Or think about doing a set of curls before chin ups. You'd really fuck up any chances of good back activation as your bis would drop out first.

IMO the concept of pre-fatiguing one muscle group so that another "takes over" is ill-advised. It is a relearning of a movement pattern that is necessary, and to do this is hardly ideal with one of your muscle groups completely shot.


I imagine if you pre-fatigue the traps on rows, you'd probably get terrible lat activation since your traps would likely be the first to go. Or think about doing a set of curls before chin ups. You'd really fuck up any chances of good back activation as your bis would drop out first.


i thought it would be a good way to ensure that the lats did the work since the others would be too tired to take over.

i thought... that that was the point of pre-fatigue...


Activate? Pre-fatigue? Pre-potentiate?

More like give-me-a-fuckin-break.

In my opinion if you want bigger lats, you simply do more/heavier pullups, pulldowns, and/or strict DB rows. I don't believe in "pre-fatiguing" ANYTHING for any muscle group unless you only do it one time because you are truly unable to feel how a muscle is supposed to be working in a certain exercise.


And what I'm saying is that the body doesn't have some kind of built in neurological switch that will just make sure your lats take over once traps are toast. This requires a relearning of a movement pattern...the movement pattern that ensures your lats are pulling most of the weight. You can't just force MMC. Think about trying to teach a lifter who's quad dominant how to recruit more PC on squats. If you have them do a gagillion leg extensions how successful do you think they'll be at recruiting their hammies on the squat then? They'll just cave over as soon as their quads give out before anything else.

You have to learn the movement pattern that best recruits your target muscle DESPITE the surrounding muscles also being at their strongest.

Or read the following from Dorian Yates with respect to my bis/chin ups argument...

"In my early career, I experimented with various types of grips, and I found that using a closer grip with the hands either parallel (facing each other) or fully supinated (underhand) actually provided the best contraction and most complete range of motion for the lats. Throughout my Mr. Olympia reign, I never did a single set of wide-grip chins or lat pulldowns. My two choices for vertical pulling were always a narrow underhand grip for lat pulldowns, which I would go up to 400 pounds on, and the Hammer Strength Iso-lateral pulldown machine.

A final reason to consider using a narrow grip beyond the issue of range of motion is the fact that it puts the biceps in a stronger position. Since the biceps are far smaller and weaker than the lats, putting them in a position where they are guaranteed to fail before the lats are properly stimulated, as in any wide-grip vertical pull, will cause you to shortchange your potential growth."