“How do I activate my lats?” Surprisingly, that’s a more common question than not in the bodyweight world and is actually a question I got asked a while back.
During pull-ups specifically.
Sets of pull-ups require an immense amount of upper body strength and all too often I see people failing. Failing because many of them use sheer bicep and shoulder strength to knock out their sets.
If you feel only biceps during your sets, then you are not activating your lats.
This works for a while, but if you can recruit more muscle – and a larger muscle group – like your lats, your pull-ups will benefit in the long term.
In the grand scheme, your lats act more as part of an initiating/activating sequence for your core, pecks, triceps and rear deltoids.
Recruiting your lats allows you to make your pull-ups a full body exercise and that’s going to make them more efficient.
But now to the meat of this article – how to activate your lats for your pull-ups.
Step 1. Starting from a dead hang, don’t let your shoulders shrug into your ears. Consciously pull your shoulder blades down and think of pulling the bar towards your hips.
You should instantly feel your lats activate.
Step 2. Think of trying to break the bar with your thumbs. This will activate your your pecks and triceps, stabilizing your shoulder and readying you to pull through the movement.
You can train this on the neurological level with any movement you do – barbell row, rowing, deadlifts – anything with pulling.
Try it out. You will improve your pull-up stamina.