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Using the Lats to Bench

I’m totally ignorant on how this works. I Bench Raw because I’m too weak to justify buying a shirt.

What sort of queues can I tell myself to use my lats while Bench Pressing? Should I try to Snap the Bar? Should I try to really tuck my elbows? How do I get these guys involved in the movement?

I understand how important it is to have a strong back for stability, but I’m still baffled on how the lats contribute to pressing the bar.

Arch your back, tuck elbows in…

it’s natural for me to lift using my lats, I can ‘feel’ it, but it’s rather hard to explain

I could be wrong, but lats are for pulling, so I doubt you’d feel them when you’re pressing the bar up.

I think the lats help by giving you a stronger base and helping to maintain stability. If your back is weak, you won’t be able to stay tight on the way down, the bar will end up in the wrong place, and your drive off the bottom won’t be very good.

Definitely tuck the elbows. Try this: raise your arms out to the side so that your upper arm is at 90 deg to your torso - now contract your lats as hard as possible. Remember that “feeling” and now bring your upper arm in to about 45deg (or even less) and contract your lats again hard - which contraction is stronger?

Having strong lats definitely increases my stability on the bench, I consciously try to lower the bar with the lats. It’s hard to master (I’m still trying to get it right and I don’t do it 100% myself) but when you get it, your lats will feel like a loaded spring and you should have better drive off your chest in the bottom portion of the bench.

Try using an empty bar and relax your pressing muscles and try to lower the bar with just your lats and using your lats to drive the weight up - it won’t go up all the way but it will a little. During my bench warmup sets I try to establish the mind muscle connection and when I get to the heavy weights, I am more stable and I don’t get the “oh shit this is heavy” feel when I unrack a heavy weight.

Combined with a solid arch and you will notice that when the bar is almost about to touch the chest at the bottom, your ribs will actually rise a little to meet the bar as your lats scrunch up. Then bang! Blast that weight up.

Tucking your elbows towards the bottom of the bench will help achieve that loaded spring effect in the lats. Give it a try and see.

As well as tucking your elbows, squeeze the bar as hard as you can, and try to pull it apart.

Do a T-Mag search for Dave Tate’s bench pressing articles he talks about how to use your lats properly in your bench. Basically answers your question and then some.

The lats are a major support muscle. Try doing 50 or 100 reps of push ups, the next day or so you’ll have soreness in your lats as much as anywhere.

The proper way to use your lats is to get as big an arch as possible, and then pull your shoulder blades together as tight as you possibly can, and hold. Take a deep breath into you belly, not your lungs and have someone hand you the bar, now you’re ready to bench. Keep your elbows in and lower the bar while keeping your shoulder blades pulled together, touch and explode the bar straight up, not in a backward arc, exhale but don’t lose your tightness, inhale and start the next rep.

George

You can’t shoot a cannon ball out of a canoe.

Lats become critical if you use a lower, tucked-elbow groove. They kind of do what pecs do when you bench in a higher groove. Lats also heavily effect your ability to control the bar on descent. If you can’t control the bar on the way down, then it is not likely to go or do what you want it to.

Bench Press 600 Pounds - A 12 Step Program
by Dave Tate

Make sure when you have someone lift the bar off to you they dont take it to high cause that will take you out of your set up, shouders pinched, lats flexed etc. Definitely read that article and anything else by Dave Tate.

Row 405x10, you probably got no mind muscle coordination.

[quote]Mega Newb wrote:
Row 405x10, you probably got no mind muscle coordination.[/quote]

315X10 isn’t enough?

I don’t have a problem keeping my elbows tucked. I’m way stronger pulling than I am pushing. I can feel how useful it is to have a strong back for lowering the bar under control so you don’t lose your tightness and as a result lose your starting strength.

But I’m just not feeling like my lats are what’s actually directly responsible in any way for making the bar move the same way the delts and triceps are. Should I try to tuck my elbows even more or is the purpose of the lats just stabilization?

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Mega Newb wrote:
Row 405x10, you probably got no mind muscle coordination.

315X10 isn’t enough?

I don’t have a problem keeping my elbows tucked. I’m way stronger pulling than I am pushing. I can feel how useful it is to have a strong back for lowering the bar under control so you don’t lose your tightness and as a result lose your starting strength.

But I’m just not feeling like my lats are what’s actually directly responsible in any way for making the bar move the same way the delts and triceps are. Should I try to tuck my elbows even more or is the purpose of the lats just stabilization?[/quote]

315x10 is probably enough

The more I arch my back the tighter my lats etc get, sometimes they even cramp when I bench. Its hard to use your lats at all if you lift flat backed.

You know when you do cable rows, or barbell rows, and you get the bar to your chest/sternum area and your back tightens up real nice, like you reached full range of motion?

I pull my shoulder blades together, arch, and then pull my lats together as hard as I can, and it just happens.

Great thread guys, I’ve been trying to work on this also. I’ll try and put some of these comments to use tonight.

[quote]Mega Newb wrote:
FightingScott wrote:
Mega Newb wrote:
Row 405x10, you probably got no mind muscle coordination.

315X10 isn’t enough?

I don’t have a problem keeping my elbows tucked. I’m way stronger pulling than I am pushing. I can feel how useful it is to have a strong back for lowering the bar under control so you don’t lose your tightness and as a result lose your starting strength.

But I’m just not feeling like my lats are what’s actually directly responsible in any way for making the bar move the same way the delts and triceps are. Should I try to tuck my elbows even more or is the purpose of the lats just stabilization?

315x10 is probably enough

The more I arch my back the tighter my lats etc get, sometimes they even cramp when I bench. Its hard to use your lats at all if you lift flat backed.

You know when you do cable rows, or barbell rows, and you get the bar to your chest/sternum area and your back tightens up real nice, like you reached full range of motion?

I pull my shoulder blades together, arch, and then pull my lats together as hard as I can, and it just happens.[/quote]

I’ll just have to assume that I’ll feel it one day.

My guess is your getting a shitty lift off that is pulling your shoulder apart when your taking the bar out. If you tuck your elbows and touch at your sternum or below you will definitely feel your lats, and definitely try to break the bar apart.

[quote]JoeC5267 wrote:
My guess is your getting a shitty lift off that is pulling your shoulder apart when your taking the bar out. If you tuck your elbows and touch at your sternum or below you will definitely feel your lats, and definitely try to break the bar apart.[/quote]

Now that you mention it I always train alone. There is no lift-off.

No lift off can pull you out of your groove too if you’re not careful, just try and pull your shoulder blades together and squeeze the bench w/ your rear delts.

Tuck your elbows into your sides and conciously resist the bar on the way down and that will engage your lats to some extent. Think about squeezing the bar as tight as you can and make sure your wrists are straight.

Don’t worry, just think about keeping your entire back tight and in a good arch and it will come. Read those tate articles, great bench info.