Not Feeling Lats On Back Exercises? Answers Here
Are you doing back exercises and not feeling your lats? Do you want to target those muscles but don’t know quite how to do it?
We’ve all been there. Sometimes nailing down the right technique or form can mean the difference between serving up weak results, or getting that amazing sculpted look you crave.
Whether you’re working on lat pull-downs in a gym, performing band exercises at home, or trying something completely new – this blog post is here to answer all of your questions about properly targeting your lats for maximum gains!
Why am I not feeling lats on back exercises?
Several key factors contribute to not feeling your lats (Latissimus Dorsi) on back exercises. These can include using too much weight which results in relying on momentum and other muscles rather than engaging your lats, failing to maintain the right form which detracts from the effectiveness of the exercise, and overall not having a good mind-muscle connection. Your posture when doing back exercises, the angle at which you pull, and how hard you grip can all affect whether or not you feel your lats. When doing any back exercise, you want to make sure you are engaging your scapula as this is crucial for making sure your lats are activated correctly, and leading with your elbows instead of yanking or jerking the weight and pulling with your hands. You also want to make sure that whatever back exercise you are doing, you do with control and focus on the negative part of the rep. Additionally, try to avoid gripping too hard and maybe consider changing your grip by removing your thumb (suicide grip), as this might help you engage your lats more effectively.
To help engage your lats more during back exercises, there are several tactics you can employ. Let’s dive right into them!
Reduce the weight
When it comes to back exercises, the weight might feel great and your ego may be telling you that more is better. But heavier isn’t necessarily always better when it comes to back exercises.
Starting off light and focusing on form can help you engage those lats as it enables you to get a better feeling for the exercise, but it will also help you develop that all-important mind-muscle connection with your lats.
If you feel like you need some extra challenge, opt for higher reps or add in pauses and holds at different points in the movement. This can help engage your lats even more when the weight is slightly lighter.
We have all seen those people at the gym attempting to lift a heavy load, only for them to do something that resembles some kind of rowing action that isn’t using their lats anywhere near as much as they should be. Not only will this detract from the overall effectiveness of the exercise, but it can also lead to back injuries.
Beginners also tend to commit this error, as they’re still familiarizing themselves with the proper form and technique, plus ego lifting also has a lot to do with it.
Focus on form
Form is key when it comes to back exercises. Proper form will help you get the most out of your back exercises, but it can also help you engage those lats and make sure that they are being targeted correctly.
Make sure you keep your back straight (like a plank) and your arms close to the body throughout the movement. Pull with your elbows, not your hands, and squeeze those lats at the top of the rep for added emphasis on targeting them effectively.
When doing lat pull-downs, it’s important to always keep your elbows in front of your body as this will help you target the lats more directly, rather than relying on other muscles such as the biceps or shoulders.
When you are doing any kind of row, it is important to focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as this will ensure that you are engaging your lats more effectively.
Finally, when doing any kind of back exercise, always keep your core tight and try to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. This will help make sure you are targeting your lats correctly, but it will also help reduce the risk of any kind of back injury.
Focus on the mind-muscle connection
Establishing a strong mind-muscle connection with your lats is essential if you are looking to properly target them during back exercises. This tactic will intensify your lat engagement and also guarantee that you are making the most out of every back exercise.
This is something that takes time to develop and can be a bit tricky for some people. The best way to do this is by focusing on feeling your lats working during each rep. This helps you make sure that your lats are being engaged correctly, but it will also help you develop a better understanding of the exercise and how to get the most out of it.
Another great way to help increase your MMC is to get a training partner to poke and prod your lats while you do the exercise. Perform the exercise correctly and gain a greater understanding of it by engaging your lats. You will get the most from each rep, but also enhance your confidence in executing them.
Overall, developing a good mind-muscle connection with your lats is essential if you are looking to get the most out of any exercise.
As you may or may not know, having a good posture when doing any kind of exercise can help make sure that you are engaging the muscles that you want to target. This will help ensure that you are targeting your lats correctly, but it will also help reduce the risk of any kind of injury.
When it comes to back exercises, good posture is essential if you want to engage your lats correctly. You should keep your back straight like a plank, but you should also maintain an upright position throughout the whole exercise. This will help make sure that your lats get targeted correctly and it will also reduce the risk of any kind of back injury.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their posture is hunching over when doing back exercises. This puts more strain on your lower back, but it also deters from the effectiveness of the exercise as you are not engaging your lats properly.
Rounding your back or arching your back during any kind of exercise can also be detrimental and should be avoided as it can lead to a number of injuries. This takes away from the effectiveness of the exercise, but it can also increase the risk of serious injury.
Angle of pull
The angle at which you pull can also affect how effective an exercise is in targeting your lats. As pulling at a different angle can change the focus of the exercise, it is important to pay attention to how you pull.
When doing the lat pull-down, for example, you want to make sure that you are pulling the bar straight down while leading with your elbows down to your collarbone. This helps target your lats and will also reduce the risk of any kind of shoulder injury.
Furthermore, due to the way our body’s mechanics work, if you are doing the exercise correctly, you won’t be able to pull the bar lower than your collarbone anyway, as your range of motion won’t allow it.
On the other hand, when doing bent-over rows or any kind of rowing movement, you want to make sure that you are pulling the weight or bar towards your torso and leading with your elbows. This will help make sure that you are targeting your lats, but it will also help reduce any kind of shoulder injury. You see lots of people pulling the weight towards their chest area and this can be detrimental to your shoulder joint in the long run.
The way you grip the weight or bar also matters when it comes to back exercises as this can determine how much resistance and tension is placed on your lats. You should try to have a strong grip on the bar, but you should also make sure that you are squeezing your lats as this will help increase the tension placed on them.
In addition to having a strong grip and squeezing your lats, you want to make sure that you are not gripping too tight as this can lead to fatigue which in turn detracts from the effectiveness of the exercise. You should be mindful of your grip, but you should also make sure that your hands are comfortable on the bar. This will help reduce any kind of strain or pain in your hands, but it will also help ensure that you are targeting the right muscles.
Another thing you can do to help target your lats more when doing lat pulldowns and seated cable rows is to remove your thumb from the bar and place it on the same side as your other fingers.
This is known as a suicide grip and it can help increase the tension placed on your lats as it forces you to pull the bar or weight back and up towards your torso whilst leading with your elbows. Not only this, but it also helps keep your body in an upright position which is essential for targeting the right muscles.
This will help increase the tension placed on your lats, but it will also help ensure that you are engaging them correctly.
Engaging your scapula (shoulder blades) when doing back exercises is important as this helps activate the right muscles and ensure that you are targeting the right areas. This will help increase the effectiveness of an exercise, but it will also reduce any kind of strain on your lower back.
When doing any kind of back exercise, you want to make sure that you are squeezing your shoulder blades together and driving them away from each other. This will help increase the tension placed on your lats, but it will also ensure that you are engaging all the right muscles.
Boost your scapula engagement by pretending to shrug – but with your shoulder blades! Take a deep breath and hold it while you stick out your chest and draw back both of your shoulders. Make sure you don’t forget to squeeze because that’s how you know they’re engaged.
Another way to engage your scapula is to sit down on the floor against the wall with your arms by your side and your elbows at a 90º angle. Simply push off and away from the wall with your elbows. You should feel a fantastic connection between your mid-back and your shoulder blades. Practice this until you get familiar with how retracting your scapula feels, then take it into the gym when doing back exercises.
Slow eccentric phase
Slow negatives are a great way to increase the tension placed on your lats and ensure that you are targeting them correctly. Slow negatives also help reduce any kind of momentum when doing back exercises which can be detrimental to results.
The idea behind slowing down the eccentric phase (lowering phase) of a back exercise is to increase the time under tension and therefore, increase the amount of work your muscles have to do. Slowing down the eccentric phase helps make sure that you are using the good form as it reduces any kind of momentum.
Take at least four seconds in lowering the weight or bar and then at least two seconds in squeezing your lats at the bottom of the movement. This helps increase the tension placed on your lats, but it will also help you maintain good form when doing back exercises.
Being in complete control when working out is crucial to ensure that you are targeting the right muscles. It will also help reduce any kind of momentum which can be detrimental to results.
When doing back exercises, make sure you move slowly and in control as this will help increase the tension placed on your lats. It will also help keep your form in check and ensure that you are targeting the right muscles.
Just as with anything else, practice and repetition can be very beneficial when it comes to targeting your lats during back exercises. You need to become familiar with the correct technique and form, but you also need to develop a mind-muscle connection.
This means being aware of the tension that you should be placing on your lats and actively focusing on engaging them during exercises. The more familiar you become with the correct form, technique and muscle engagement, the easier it will be to target your lats when doing back exercises.
Related: Why are pull ups harder than dips?
Are you actually working them?
There’s one thing to consider after all that’s been said… are you actually working your lats?
You may think that you aren’t, but if you maintain the correct form and technique, then there is a good chance that you are working the lats. You don’t have to have a case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) to know that you have worked your muscles, as sometimes it can take up to 48 hours for the feeling of soreness to appear.
Remember, soreness isn’t always an indicator of good form or effective training. If you are making progress and can see the gains being made, then chances are you are targeting the right muscles.
Ultimately, it takes time and practice to feel your lats when doing back exercises. You need to make sure that you maintain the correct form, have good control over the movement, and actively engage your lats during the exercise.
It’s also important to remember that soreness isn’t always an indicator of how effectively you are targeting your lats. If you are making progress and seeing the desired results, then chances are you have been targeting them correctly. So don’t forget to stay patient, practice and get familiar with the correct form, technique and muscle engagement! Good luck!
Do you struggle to feel your lats when doing back exercises and have these tips helped? Let me know in the comments below.