T Nation

Working the Lats

Just looking for idea… I can not find one back exercise that works my back to the point where its sore. Lat pull downs my biceps do all the work, dumbell row’; biceps do all the work, cable row; biceps do all the work, barbell rows; biceps do all the work. The only thing I know I can do to work the lats is negative chin ups. Im too big too rep out on the chin ups, 300 pounder. Funny thing is when I do Military presses and dumbell presses it works my lats to the point their sore the next day.
I try my best to concentrate on pulling with the lats on lifts, but my bi’s do 75% of the work… Anyone have this issue and have suggestions?? FYI, Ive never worked out my lats persay, always done the 3 compound lifts… bench squat and DL, but Im looking to build the lats to help with the bench…

there’s a post somewhere from the mighty stu where he does pulldowns with a v handle and only brings the bar down to his chin. try that.

Mind muscle connection. Start off really light and make sure you feel it in your lats. Try to think ‘pull with your elbows’ and really squeeze for a little bit at peak contraction.

I used to be in the same boat as you.

I found this exercise (courtesy of John Meadows) to be very helpful in that regard.

Sometimes I do seated pull-downs and lean back on the contraction and then way into it during the eccentric to get that stretch (think Dave Pulcinella from Raising the Bar without the crazy momentum).

Pretty much anything that will let you feel them stretch is what will work to build that connection, in my experience.

Oh, wtf are you doing with your military presses to make your lats sore?

few things.
Use wraps for a few sets for pulldowns. You won’t use your arms.
Also, and I hope I can describe this…
Pulldown machine or cable crossover. Step back away from machine. The weight, if the height is adjustable, should be at a height an arms length above your head or so. Now bend at the hips so that when the weight is at the top, there is a straight line from your hands to your shoulders down to your hips. You’ll want to sit back a little so the weight won’t pull you from your position. Now pull without changing the hip angle.

Also, when you do pulldowns, don’t sit normally in the seat. Have the pad at your belly and don’t move your belly off the pad. Feet should not be flat on the ground. Have them well behind you, kinda like a seat supported kneel.

Try a thumbless grip
Try concentrating on pulling with pinkie
Use a weight you can hold at the bottom
Read the John Medows back articles

Arch your back as much as you can in all lat exercises.

A few suggestions:

  1. Wrist straps on every lat exercise, focus on pulling the upper arm through the ROM on exercises rather than pulling with the hands

  2. Kayak rows- search them on here. They are a brutal creation of CT’s

  3. Lower the weights and try slowing down reps and adding holds at the peak contraction (for example, the bottom of a lat pulldown)

You need to build the MMC up. If the biceps are taking over, it’s because you’re letting them do so. There’s no magic exercise to fix that, you just need to focus on pulling the weight with the right muscles and train your body to recruit the lats better.

Thumbless grip to take out your biceps and forearms. It takes a lot of concentration to really make your lats do all the work. Use a light weight and really concentrate on that contraction. I know what you mean about the lats being sore after a shoulder day.

What i like do to sometimes is heavy military presses, but i’ll get someone to lift the weight for me and i’ll go as slow as possible on the negative. Really engages your lats. This is so because your lats are the antagonist muscle group to your delts.

Thumbless grip is good, but I’d only rely on the straps until you get that MMC down… and then switch over to only using them when grip becomes an issue.

I used to use them quite a bit and my grip strength/forearm size suffered as a result of it. I try to use them as little as possible nowadays (without compromising my training) and prefer the additional forearm work.

I’m not gonna waste time doing wrist curls and shit if I don’t have to, ya know?

[quote]mrgandhi90 wrote:
Really engages your lats. This is so because your lats are the antagonist muscle group to your delts. [/quote]

I’ve never even felt a twinge of fatigue in my lats from doing any sort of pressing movement.

I’m not even sure why they would fire as an antagonistic muscle group if your shoulders are still controlling the weight on the way down… wouldn’t they need to actually be pulling at the weight to get involved?

This sounds like saying my triceps should be sore after heavy, slow barbell curls.

[quote]anonym wrote:

[quote]mrgandhi90 wrote:
Really engages your lats. This is so because your lats are the antagonist muscle group to your delts. [/quote]

I’ve never even felt a twinge of fatigue in my lats from doing any sort of pressing movement.

I’m not even sure why they would fire as an antagonistic muscle group if your shoulders are still controlling the weight on the way down… wouldn’t they need to actually be pulling at the weight to get involved?

This sounds like saying my triceps should be sore after heavy, slow barbell curls.[/quote]

Well, anatomically, they are the antagonist muscle group. Now, imagine this. When you do a lat pull down, you’re pulling weight from above down to your chest and you are therefore engaging your lats. Now imagine doing a military press or a db press. On the eccentric part of the motion you are lowering the weight in the same fashion you would as a lat pull down. However, instead of pulling the weight down, you’re trying to slow the weight down from above you and engaging your lats. It’s basically doing really heavy negatives for your lats. You should give it a shot. Get someone to help you get the positive part of the rep up and on the way down go as slow as possible. You should feel it in your lats. Works for db press, military, machine press.

High volume. And I mean HIGH.

They can take the beating. Big muscle group.

[quote]anonym wrote:

[quote]mrgandhi90 wrote:
Really engages your lats. This is so because your lats are the antagonist muscle group to your delts. [/quote]

I’ve never even felt a twinge of fatigue in my lats from doing any sort of pressing movement.
[/quote]

I get a decent lat pump from very high volume overhead pressing work.

If you’re doing full presses (deadstop, full ROM) with proper technique, the lats are actually pretty involved. They serve as a shelf and help initiate the movement.

Feeling the MMC, pulling with your elbows, all great suggestions, but sometimes (and I do this a lot), a pre-exhaust movement first can really help get a larger target muscle nice and toasty. I’m a big fan of starting my back sessions with straight-arm pulldowns done using a rope attachment (while angling my torso forward), OR PARTIAL pullovers with 2 dumbells. These let me really feel the lats without anything else coming into play, and also serve as a great warmup for the beating I intend to subject them to immediately after.

S

these were the responses to my “how to feel lats” question in one of kingbeefs thread. they worked for me.

[quote]synergy93 wrote:
This is exactly why I advocate using straps on some of your sets.

Let the damn straps do the work of holding onto the bar. If you’re squeezing the bar tightly, your arms (both upper and lower) will do a lot of the work. Adjust your torso angle to target the specific area of your back you’re aiming for…this is different for everyone due to body structure.

Another tip is to hold the peak contraction on most of your back exercises (especially lat pulldowns of any sort), until you feel you can effectively recruit the area of your back you’re focusing on. CT has covered this extensively.

I’ve found that just a few workouts using this method, is enough to “reprogram” you to efficiently pull with your back and contract it in a manner that maximizes targeted muscle contraction and fatigue.

Once you have a good handle on how to do this, you can start bumping up the amount of weight you use.

Once you can move heavy loads, while maximizing controlled contractions, you’re in business.

It doesn’t matter what specific back exercise you’re doing…DB rows, BB Rows (to a certain degree), Pull ups (to a certain degree), lat pulldowns with any of the attachments, seated cable rows, machine rows, etc. Although some pulling exercises lend themselves better to peak contractions and fatigue with moderate to high (8-12) reps, you’ll see the best results implementing control and MMC on most back exercises in the beginning.

Yes, the load will be limited, but there’s a bigger picture. Have some damn patience, master the movements and learn to listen to your body.

The “big weights” will come in time, but not if you don’t address the basic fundamentals first.

I see guys using terrible form more on back exercises and squats, because of their egos. It’s funny, because you think anyone is going to be impressed by your 1/2 range of motion 225 lb. squats or half ass pull ups? Nope. It shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks anyway. You should be lifting for yourself, not others.

Put your time in, focus on good technique, learn to do things right, listen to your body and your top weights will climb in time, along with added muscularity. Then people will take notice, if that’s your goal.

You’ve gotta pay your dues early on. [/quote]

I think you can be a little too strict sometimes. I personally think a little sway is good to help you initiate the movement with your lats on certain movements such as lat pulldowns. For me atleast, when I am too strict and upright is when I start intiating the movement with my arms. Gettin a good stretch at the top and initiating the movement with a slight sway is ideal imo.

[quote]bigmac73nh wrote:
A few suggestions:

  1. Wrist straps on every lat exercise, focus on pulling the upper arm through the ROM on exercises rather than pulling with the hands

  2. Kayak rows- search them on here. They are a brutal creation of CT’s

  3. Lower the weights and try slowing down reps and adding holds at the peak contraction (for example, the bottom of a lat pulldown)

You need to build the MMC up. If the biceps are taking over, it’s because you’re letting them do so. There’s no magic exercise to fix that, you just need to focus on pulling the weight with the right muscles and train your body to recruit the lats better.[/quote]
All you need to know right here. I use straps on every back exercise that I do except for Dead lifts and it has done wonders for MMC and taking the Biceps out of the picture.

[quote]AzCats wrote:

[quote]bigmac73nh wrote:
A few suggestions:

  1. Wrist straps on every lat exercise, focus on pulling the upper arm through the ROM on exercises rather than pulling with the hands

  2. Kayak rows- search them on here. They are a brutal creation of CT’s

  3. Lower the weights and try slowing down reps and adding holds at the peak contraction (for example, the bottom of a lat pulldown)

You need to build the MMC up. If the biceps are taking over, it’s because you’re letting them do so. There’s no magic exercise to fix that, you just need to focus on pulling the weight with the right muscles and train your body to recruit the lats better.[/quote]
All you need to know right here. I use straps on every back exercise that I do except for Dead lifts and it has done wonders for MMC and taking the Biceps out of the picture.[/quote]

I forgot to mention deadlifting lol, thanks for reminding me. An addendum to what I posted before:

Don’t strap on deadlifts until you hit overload weights where your wrists are absolutely unable to take the strain. This should help you maintain grip strength and forearm size.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t feel the muscles at work on deads- obviously you should be shooting for a good feel on all sets, including those on compound lifts. IMO it just makes more sense to forego straps on heavy moves since they are still effective if you go lighter, yet the isolation work is pretty useless if you can’t feel the muscles working (which straps should help with). I’m a big believer in using the isolation moves to teach the muscles how to work, then relying on the compound moves to actually do the serious muscle building.

Edited.

pre exhaust your lats first with pullovers the nor your normal routine and concentrate on pulling with the lats,thumbless grip may help.