A lot of people say that you don’t win a bodybuilding contest until you turn around, and that’s true only because your lats are so impactful to your overall physique that they can make or break your body.
Well-developed lats give that ideal illusion of having a smaller waist, simply because they’re the biggest contributors to the X-shaped figure that bodybuilders aspire to. Wide lats, a smaller waist, and quads that pop out are the classic hallmark of a bodybuilder.
However, it’s incredibly difficult to grow your lats, and if you’re trying to do so, you might be frustrated due to a lack of progress. To some extent, this is because you can’t see them while you exercise, and therefore can’t measure if they’re growing or not.
You’re Not Capitalizing on the Mind-Muscle Connection
Just because you can’t see your lats doesn’t mean you can’t monitor these muscles in other ways. The best way to monitor your lats during a workout is through that mind-muscle connection.
Studies show that a partner who can apply light pressure over your lat while you’re training can robustly help with activation. After a while of doing that technique, you won’t need it as much because you’ve strengthened the mind-muscle connection.
You’re Not Training All Functional Groups in Your Lats
Your lats are actually functionally divided into several neuromuscular compartments. You can divide them in a simple way by at least categorizing them into upper lats, middle lats, and lower lats.
The fibers in the upper lats are more horizontal in nature, and they’re really good at bringing your arms to the side. As a result, they’re what we call abductors. A great way to target your upper lats would be wide-grip lat pulldowns and pullups.
Your middle lats have a great mechanical advantage for rowing-type movement, called a horizontal abduction. Bent-over rows are perfect if you’re trying to target your middle lats.
The fibers in the lower lats are more vertical, so doing neutral grip pull ups, neutral grip lat pulldowns, underhand chin-ups, underhand lat pulldowns, straight arm pull-overs, and straight arm pulldowns will maximize the extension movement of your arms to better target the lower fibers.
You’re Not Taking Advantage of Activation Patterns
Activation patterns are actually the most important aspect of your lats workout. Studies show that the second half of the pull-up creates the most activation in the lats.
This is why you see a lot of people who start doing chinups but end up doing half-chinups, because it’s easier to do. Doing the full range of motion is difficult and mechanically the second half of the motion is easier.
In order to deal with that, there are a couple things you can do:
When you’re done with your final pullup set, you can keep yourself held up while having your arms and elbows tucked in with a wide gap, then pull yourself until you go to negative failure.
Holding your body in that position for so long that you just can’t hold on anymore will maximize the upper portion of the lift. In addition to that, you could do hard training with a partner. When it comes to the second part of your lift, your partner can place a little bit of resistance on your shoulders with both arms around your traps.
If you want to add more resistance to the pullup itself in order to maximize the activation of your lats, you can use some bands or reverse bands. Put the bands on your feet as you’re pulling up and they’ll get stretched, helping make the lift that much harder.
We hope this article helped you understand the three reasons why your lats aren’t growing. We’ll see you again in the next article.