Tip: Lat Activation Drill

If you can't feel your lats, or your biceps take over, during pulldowns or pull-ups, do this drill first.

Many people struggle to fully engage their lats with pull-ups and pulldowns. Remember, if you can't feel it, you can't build it!

Before each set of pull-ups or pulldowns, do 3-5 reps of this lat activation drill:

  • Loop a band around a chin-up bar. Don't use too much tension. You want just enough to effectively activate, not fatigue, your lats.
  • Depending on the height of the bar (and you), you may need to go from your knees.
  • Slip your elbow in the band loop so the band is just above your elbow.
  • Reach your opposite hand across your body so you're touching your lat. This tactile stimulus can help to further increase muscle activation.
  • Drive your elbow down until you feel some good tension. Hold for a few counts and focus on squeezing your lat as hard as you can.
  • Rest about 15 seconds and start your set of pull-ups or pulldowns.
Andrew Heming is a strength coach, professor, and former Canadian University U-Sport head strength coach. Andrew helps athletes and skinny hardgainers get bigger, faster, and stronger. Follow Andrew Heming on Facebook