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How To Engage Lats In Pull Ups

6 min read

When your secondary muscles are stronger, they overpower the lats and dominate the exercise. These secondary muscles include your traps, rhomboids, and biceps. During this movement, your shoulders should be positioned in front of your body and not retracted to be at the same level with your chest. Hold this position for a few seconds while engaging your lats and core. Bend both elbows to a 90-degree angle, making sure your palms are facing your body. L pull ups are a compound exercise which work a variety of muscles both in your upper and lower body.

You want to feel a stretch in your lats at the bottom. First, the pulldown allows you to increase the volume . Often times, you can’t do any more pull ups but your lats are yet to be fully exhausted through this plane of motion. The wide grip overhand pull up is the hardest pull up variation you can do. The latissimus dorsi is not a muscle like the calves, which are really hard to grow.

This means that an underhand grip potentially increases the amount of biceps involvement to some degree in comparison with the other grips. Don’t misunderstand me here… biceps will still definitely be recruited with an overhand and neutral grip as well. It’s just usually to a slightly higher degree with an underhand grip. So, when you’re working on perfecting the “pulling with your elbows” tip I mentioned before, you may be better off sticking with an overhand grip when performing back exercises. “Okay…”, you may be thinking, “but why am I not feeling my back workout then?

Hinged Row

Lats in the golf swing are used for rotation of the shoulder, arm extension and getting at the down and forward. That way you’ll be able to get the major benefits of both exercises, and help build out a better rounded physique. So avoid any kicking or swinging, as it’ll just draw attention away from the muscles you’re actually trying to target. And while the pull up is a relatively simple exercise, there are several places you can go wrong. When it comes to any exercise, there are certain mistakes that you want to avoid making, to ensure you get the most out of each rep you do and don’t want any time. You generally work each muscle group two or three times a week, so you can alternate between the two variations to be able to enjoy the benefits and gains of both.

This will activate your lats and prepare you to pull using your lats as the primary driver. There are plenty of methods where proper form and technique can still take first place if your goal is to develop back strength and size. If you think you’re already good at pull-ups, try the following variations.

How To Do A Real Pull

You lats can become tight from overuse or if they become overactive. They can also be tight from certain injuries or simply a lack of stretching and using a full range of motion. We won’t go in-depth on resistance band lat exercises as we’ve covered this in another blog. That said, your lats become less activated as the weight moves over your head and your chest takes over. So, unlike the pushdown, which is a lat isolation exercise, the pullover is a lat and upper chest exercise.

To do this one, position an incline bench so that it is facing away from the machine. Sit on it, then grab the straight handle overhead behind you at about shoulder width and pushdown with your arms fixed as seen in the pic. Another way to do the cable pushdown is to start with a slight bend in your knees, your hips back, and your torso leaning slightly forward. Then as you press down, you perform hip extension while pressing your chest up proud and squeezing the heck out of your lats.

The handle should be up high so that when you are holding the handle in the starting position, your arm is fully extended and you have a stretch in your lats. Move slowly on the eccentric phase until your arms are fully extended and you have a stretch in your lats. This will allow you to maximize stretching tension.

The Best Lat Exercises Part 2: Three Of The Best Lat Exercises To Feel Your Lats

To properly perform a pull-up, you should maintain the natural arch of your lower back without exaggerating it. Every pull-up you perform will activate your lats to some degree. Without your lats, you wouldn’t be able to perform any ‘pulling’ movement, no matter how strong your biceps are.

Retracting and depressing your shoulders keeps your lats fully engaged. Imagine you’re holding a tennis ball in between your shoulder blades to squeeze them together. If your lats are weaker than the surrounding muscles, your stronger muscles will take over. Put simply, you’re going to be targeting the surrounding muscles and leaving your lats disengaged throughout the set. Using a grip that is too narrow shifts the focus of the exercise from your midback and lats to the brachioradialis in your forearms.

Stick with the best lat exercises and keep on trying – your hard work will pay off. In an effort to target this elusive muscle group I tried every exercise – yup, even the best lat exercises – imaginable. Variations of pull downs, chin-ups, pull-ups, and pullovers encapsulated my programs while I slowly gained size and strength. If you can’t do a single pull-up, it’s common advice to start with negative-only pull-ups.

If you give your body a command like “pull my chest to the bar” then it will figure out the most efficient and easiest way of doing that. If you think about exclusively pulling from your lats and focus on your mind-muscle connection then your body will respond accordingly and it will fire off your lats. Doesn’t mean they don’t have a role, as mentioned above they do certain things. For most it’s a feeling and not something that actually happens.

In terms of aesthetics, the lats are a crucial muscle to have well developed. It’s a super strong muscle that facilitates movements of the arm when your torso is fixed and vice versa. Try to get at least 3 sets in for optimal stimulation. Lats are most engaged during the midportion of a pullup….this is where the focus should be. 2 cycles of physical therapy have failed it I realized that it was because I was not doing the exercises correctly, using my biceps instead of my back.

There are many different effective lat stretches. Below you will find some of the best ones that pretty much any healthy individual should be able to do… We’ve already wen’t over the benefits of pull ups and chin ups, so you can scroll up to learn why you should do them and how to do them. Your shoulders should be slightly higher than your hips. Get into a bent over position with your body parallel to the floor. Put a slight bend in your knee and push your hips back then lean your torso forward so your body is just above parallel with the floor.

I have a real problem pushing with my chest; no matter what I try, the arms seem to do most of the work instead of the more powerful chest muscles. As a result my arms are decent, but my chest looks pathetic. When researching exercises for middle/lower traps, i find a bunch of sites recommending rows. And then when i research exercise for lats, i find a bunch of sites recommending the same rows exercises. Walk into any typical gym in the world and you’ll ALWAYS see people doing various weight training exercises with a weight that is so obviously too heavy for them. And, the thing about pulling exercises is that the biceps will always be recruited secondarily to some degree.