Your lats are the biggest muscles in your upper body. Developing a mind-muscle connection with them is mandatory for developing a wide back. If you can't properly engage the lats, you'll always struggle with exercises like pull-ups, rows, and deadlifts.
Have a hard time feeling your lats work? Do some activation work first on back day. Here are three lat activation exercises you should perform prior to pulling. Just 2 sets of 10 reps each will do the trick.
One-Arm Cable Adduction
- Set up the cable at shoulder-height. Stand with your palm facing down and arm out to the side.
- Keeping your arm straight, pull the cable down and in towards your side.
- As it nears your leg, rotate your shoulder so that your palm faces away from you. Make sure your hand ends up about where your back pocket is.
- Pause for one or two seconds at the bottom of each rep and squeeze to feel your lats engage.
Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown
- Begin with straight arms, a slight hinge in your hips, and a forward lean so that your lats are full stretched.
- Pull the bar down toward your waist and push your hips forward to meet the bar.
- Finish in a straight standing position with your hands near your thighs and your hips extended.
- Pause for one or two seconds at the bottom of each rep as you squeeze your lats and glutes.
Wide-Grip Barbell Lat Pulse
- Begin with a wide grip on the barbell and a slight forward lean. Rotate your shoulders so that your elbows face outward.
- Extend your shoulders so that you lift the barbell away from the legs.
- Control the bar while lowering it back toward your legs.
- Once your feel the bar touch the back of your legs, extend your shoulders again.
- Do this exercise in a "pulsing" motion to keep tension on your lats.