T Nation

Rows vs Pull-Ups for the Lats

I know you’re going to give me that crap about how the rows help with thickness and the pull-ups and chin-ups help with “verticallity”, which of course is very true.

But, from your heart, which do you prefer?

-Row Bonus: Easier to lift more weight and become stronger at the movement (you don’t need to be strapping on shit).

-Pull-Up Bonus: Easier to develop the mind-muscle connection and feel the lats working.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Depends so much more on what type, and even more so, how you perform the exercise.

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats. Alternatively, wide grip cable rows, squeezing my shoulders back at the end, are great for my upper back.

Pullups/wide grip pulldowns I’ve never liked for my lats, feel it all rhomboids, but close, neutral grip, big stretch at the top, keeping elbows in front of me, squeezing it down but not necessarily bringing it all the way down to my chest, has been the best type of pulldown for my lats.

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
Depends so much more on what type, and even more so, how you perform the exercise.

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats. Alternatively, wide grip cable rows, squeezing my shoulders back at the end, are great for my upper back.

Pullups/wide grip pulldowns I’ve never liked for my lats, feel it all rhomboids, but close, neutral grip, big stretch at the top, keeping elbows in front of me, squeezing it down but not necessarily bringing it all the way down to my chest, has been the best type of pulldown for my lats.[/quote]

Why do you think that underhand grip barbell rows give you best results? Is it because you can lift more weight with this grip or do you get more range of motion?

I wouldn’t use cables for upper back due to the nature of it’s power and “aggressiveness.”

I find it strange that you don’t feel your lats so much during pull-ups and chin-ups.

Cheers.

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
Depends so much more on what type, and even more so, how you perform the exercise.

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats. Alternatively, wide grip cable rows, squeezing my shoulders back at the end, are great for my upper back.

Pullups/wide grip pulldowns I’ve never liked for my lats, feel it all rhomboids, but close, neutral grip, big stretch at the top, keeping elbows in front of me, squeezing it down but not necessarily bringing it all the way down to my chest, has been the best type of pulldown for my lats.[/quote]

And what do you think about this:

I always try to favor my weaker side (left) so I’m doing barbell rows with a mixed grip (left = pronated, right = supinated) to stimulate a bit more my left rear deltoid.

Do you think this is a good idea?

I like them both for lats. Barbell rowing @ 45 degree angle and pulling the bar low hits the lower lat. When your rowing is more perpendicular its more mid back/thickness.

[quote]aspengc8 wrote:
I like them both for lats. Barbell rowing @ 45 degree angle and pulling the bar low hits the lower lat. When your rowing is more perpendicular its more mid back/thickness.[/quote]

I would argue that the perpendicular row is better for the lats, because the 45 degree angle favors the UPPER back, easy for the traps to help out there.

Cheers.

[quote]trap_builder wrote:

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
Depends so much more on what type, and even more so, how you perform the exercise.

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats. Alternatively, wide grip cable rows, squeezing my shoulders back at the end, are great for my upper back.

Pullups/wide grip pulldowns I’ve never liked for my lats, feel it all rhomboids, but close, neutral grip, big stretch at the top, keeping elbows in front of me, squeezing it down but not necessarily bringing it all the way down to my chest, has been the best type of pulldown for my lats.[/quote]

Why do you think that underhand grip barbell rows give you best results? Is it because you can lift more weight with this grip or do you get more range of motion?

I wouldn’t use cables for upper back due to the nature of it’s power and “aggressiveness.”

I find it strange that you don’t feel your lats so much during pull-ups and chin-ups.

Cheers.[/quote]

Definitely not the more weight thing, I should have mentioned that for pretty much all lat exercises, I do not care about weights used at alllll anymore, it’s so much more about feeling the muscles work. For some upper back work I still focus a bit on weight progression but still ensuring I feel it in the right places.

Underhand, for this specific exercise, just feels better for me, really pushing my elbows back and squeezing, kind of like the way bbers squeeze their elbows back right before doing a lat spread, if you know what I mean.

I know a lot of people say ‘wide grip for lats,’ but I’ve actually heard a lot of knowledgeable people say this really isn’t the case, close grip actually hits the lats much better.

[quote]trap_builder wrote:

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
Depends so much more on what type, and even more so, how you perform the exercise.

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats. Alternatively, wide grip cable rows, squeezing my shoulders back at the end, are great for my upper back.

Pullups/wide grip pulldowns I’ve never liked for my lats, feel it all rhomboids, but close, neutral grip, big stretch at the top, keeping elbows in front of me, squeezing it down but not necessarily bringing it all the way down to my chest, has been the best type of pulldown for my lats.[/quote]

And what do you think about this:

I always try to favor my weaker side (left) so I’m doing barbell rows with a mixed grip (left = pronated, right = supinated) to stimulate a bit more my left rear deltoid.

Do you think this is a good idea?
[/quote]

Not really to be honest, because it will change how the movement is done by each arm. I think it’d be better to focus more on single-arm exercises like DB rows for a little while.

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats.[/quote]

Gonna try this out.

Do you have any cues for not having your upper back take over on rows?

[quote]ishinator wrote:

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats.[/quote]

Gonna try this out.

Do you have any cues for not having your upper back take over on rows?[/quote]

For me underhand grip and bending over further targets the lats more. The more upright i stand the less i feel my lats and the more i bring in my upper back and traps.

You will likely need to to drop the weight the less upright your stance is to. For me at least i can row heavier weights the more upright i stand.

Would also try and keep your elbows against your sides rather then flaring out when you row. Lastly you should try to row the bar to your belly button or slightly below it.

Hope this helps.

[quote]Matthaeus wrote:

[quote]ishinator wrote:

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats.[/quote]

Gonna try this out.

Do you have any cues for not having your upper back take over on rows?[/quote]

For me underhand grip and bending over further targets the lats more. The more upright i stand the less i feel my lats and the more i bring in my upper back and traps.

You will likely need to to drop the weight the less upright your stance is to. For me at least i can row heavier weights the more upright i stand.

Would also try and keep your elbows against your sides rather then flaring out when you row. Lastly you should try to row the bar to your belly button or slightly below it.

Hope this helps.

[/quote]

Yeah pretty much exactly all those things lol, I also like to try to pull the bar right into myself and squeeze it up for a second at the top of each rep

I prefer rows over pull ups. I don’t really consider pull ups as a main exercise any more. I just use em as a warm-up. That’s not to say that Inever focused on em, but it seems that after a few years of training things like cable rows, pulldowns, meadows rows, tbar, work better.

I’m assuming it has to do with the angles and amount of weight that you can use. Again this is just what I’ve noticed for myself, and I didn’t really drop pullups as a staple until I could do thirty in a row and sets of ten with 45-75lbs.

i’m 6’ 150# these last 45 years. was a runner 20+ years now a cyclist 20+ years. been doing at leats 200 pullups a week for more than 45 years. i look like a cyclist or a runner. thin… only time i see my lat is if i flex it and it sticks out an inch. if pullups make you wide, why aint i wide?? i know i burn a million calories training, but as hard and as many dips and pullups i do, you think you be able to see a bit of width on me. none at all. i look like lance. lean, but no width from pullups…heard a million times they make you have wide thick lats, but they dont make me that way…

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:

[quote]trap_builder wrote:

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
Depends so much more on what type, and even more so, how you perform the exercise.

Most people would say barbell rows are mostly a ‘back thickness’ exercise, but I find underhand smith BB rows, very strict form and squeezing it up into just under my bellybutton for a full count at the top, is the absolute best exercise I’ve found for my lats. Alternatively, wide grip cable rows, squeezing my shoulders back at the end, are great for my upper back.

Pullups/wide grip pulldowns I’ve never liked for my lats, feel it all rhomboids, but close, neutral grip, big stretch at the top, keeping elbows in front of me, squeezing it down but not necessarily bringing it all the way down to my chest, has been the best type of pulldown for my lats.[/quote]

Why do you think that underhand grip barbell rows give you best results? Is it because you can lift more weight with this grip or do you get more range of motion?

I wouldn’t use cables for upper back due to the nature of it’s power and “aggressiveness.”

I find it strange that you don’t feel your lats so much during pull-ups and chin-ups.

Cheers.[/quote]

Definitely not the more weight thing, I should have mentioned that for pretty much all lat exercises, I do not care about weights used at alllll anymore, it’s so much more about feeling the muscles work. For some upper back work I still focus a bit on weight progression but still ensuring I feel it in the right places.

Underhand, for this specific exercise, just feels better for me, really pushing my elbows back and squeezing, kind of like the way bbers squeeze their elbows back right before doing a lat spread, if you know what I mean.

I know a lot of people say ‘wide grip for lats,’ but I’ve actually heard a lot of knowledgeable people say this really isn’t the case, close grip actually hits the lats much better.
[/quote]

OK, thanks for the explanation man.

The close-grip makes sense because you probably get more range of motion and time under tension.

[quote]spk wrote:
i’m 6’ 150# these last 45 years. was a runner 20+ years now a cyclist 20+ years. been doing at leats 200 pullups a week for more than 45 years. i look like a cyclist or a runner. thin… only time i see my lat is if i flex it and it sticks out an inch. if pullups make you wide, why aint i wide?? i know i burn a million calories training, but as hard and as many dips and pullups i do, you think you be able to see a bit of width on me. none at all. i look like lance. lean, but no width from pull-ups…heard a million times they make you have wide thick lats, but they dont make me that way…[/quote]

This is because you are doing so many pull-ups that this has an aerobic exercise and you are targeting your type I muscle fibers, which are good for you because you like this type of work but are weak and look like crap.

Another reason is that you are not heavy enough to develop big lats.

[quote]spk wrote:
i’m 6’ 150# these last 45 years. was a runner 20+ years now a cyclist 20+ years. been doing at leats 200 pullups a week for more than 45 years. i look like a cyclist or a runner. thin… only time i see my lat is if i flex it and it sticks out an inch. if pullups make you wide, why aint i wide?? i know i burn a million calories training, but as hard and as many dips and pullups i do, you think you be able to see a bit of width on me. none at all. i look like lance. lean, but no width from pullups…heard a million times they make you have wide thick lats, but they dont make me that way…[/quote]
its because your very light weight (150) you need to add weight. also if your useing the pullup as a movement patern many muscles are involed, you have to squeeze the back. also dont lock out at the bottom and dont go all the way up, you must keep tension on the lats. Also slow your pullups down 3 seconds up 3 seconds dow or 2 seconds up 2 seconds down.

[quote]spk wrote:
i’m 6’ 150# these last 45 years. was a runner 20+ years now a cyclist 20+ years. been doing at leats 200 pullups a week for more than 45 years. i look like a cyclist or a runner. thin… only time i see my lat is if i flex it and it sticks out an inch. if pullups make you wide, why aint i wide?? i know i burn a million calories training, but as hard and as many dips and pullups i do, you think you be able to see a bit of width on me. none at all. i look like lance. lean, but no width from pullups…heard a million times they make you have wide thick lats, but they dont make me that way…[/quote]

Your problem is that you’re 150.

[quote]spk wrote:
i’m 6’ 150# these last 45 years. was a runner 20+ years now a cyclist 20+ years. been doing at leats 200 pullups a week for more than 45 years. i look like a cyclist or a runner. thin… only time i see my lat is if i flex it and it sticks out an inch. if pullups make you wide, why aint i wide?? i know i burn a million calories training, but as hard and as many dips and pullups i do, you think you be able to see a bit of width on me. none at all. i look like lance. lean, but no width from pullups…heard a million times they make you have wide thick lats, but they dont make me that way…[/quote]

I mean this with all seriousness: what was your point?

I can’t tell if you’re volunteering information and advice that bodyweight pullups, by themselves, won’t really build lats.

Or, if you’re actually wanting some help building your lats.

I can almost guarantee you that weighted pullups, done with a form that emphasizes your lats, will definitely cause them to grow, provided adequate food and rest. There may be many BETTER ways to build them, but with additional weight and working within the right rep ranges, you’ll get some results.

It’s kind of the same idea that bodyweight pushups and bodyweight squats only do so much up to a point.

Pull Ups are the basis of all my back workouts just through habit though probably since i’ve always done them since childhood.

I just have a crazy mind muscle connection when doing them (as you suggested) and doing different grips allows variation for me.

[quote]spk wrote:
i’m 6’ 150# these last 45 years. was a runner 20+ years now a cyclist 20+ years. been doing at leats 200 pullups a week for more than 45 years. i look like a cyclist or a runner. thin… only time i see my lat is if i flex it and it sticks out an inch. if pullups make you wide, why aint i wide?? i know i burn a million calories training, but as hard and as many dips and pullups i do, you think you be able to see a bit of width on me. none at all. i look like lance. lean, but no width from pullups…heard a million times they make you have wide thick lats, but they dont make me that way…[/quote]

You aren’t going to grow any muscle size whilst you are running or cycling. It just isn’t possible. If you are a sprinter then that’s a different story but if you are training for endurance then that is how you are going to look.
Surely you must know this?