Many people don't know how to set their shoulders in a good position for lat work. And those same people often don't understand what you mean when you say "engage your lats."
Use this drill to "find your lats" get into the optimal shoulder position for pulling:
- Get a small plate, no heavier than 5kg or 10 pounds. Remember, you're building awareness here, not strength.
- Hold on to something for support and angle your torso slightly so your arm is hanging down vertically.
- Roll your shoulder up to your ear then back and down. Maintain this position, making sure your neck is relaxed the entire time.
- Keep your arm straight and begin to raise the plate backwards behind you. Focus on your activating your lat the entire time, almost relaxing the arm, tricep, and shoulder.
- Repeat slowly 10 times each side.
- Follow up with a pulling exercise like the ring row and focus on recreating that same feeling, keeping your lats switched on.
This exercise will carry over to your deadlift, Olympic lifting, and even things like calisthenics. It's a great warm up and a great teaching tool.