The Latissimus Dorsi is the widest muscle in the human body. So why wouldn’t you use your lats to help you in the squat, bench & deadlift? Most people would never think to. I wouldn’t have either if it weren’t for learning under Zach Homol who teaches you to be the most efficient lifter that YOU can possibly be. When you learn how to engage your lats it only leads to more pounds on the bar. It won’t happen over night though. It took months of Zach hammering terms like “lock the lats in” or “load your lats” for it to finally click for me. And when it did, it added immediate weight to the bar.
On the bench press when you unrack the weight, bring the bar out as far over your chest as you can. Almost to where you feel like you are going to loose the weight. Now once you tuck your traps into the bench, create an arch in your upper back, externally rotate your tucked feet on the ground, externally rotate your arms, have your wrist in alignment & have the bar resting in the palm of your hands, your lats will be engaged and you will be in the most optimal position to press the weight. Your press will feel much more fluent and easier as you get used to benching while having your lats engaged.
When you squat your whole body is under stress. So why would you not want the most out of your body to support the weight? Engaging your lats on the squat all has to do with hand placement and elbow positioning. Everyone is different but that’s why you have to mess around with your hand placement and find what works for YOU. Now that you have found that “happy medium” with your hands, your elbows should not be flaring out. Keep your elbows tucked under the bar. This will keep your upper back tight, lats engaged & allow you to support the weight the most efficiently.
The deadlift was the toughest out of the big three for me to learn how to engage my lats on. However, when it finally clicked, it helped tremendously. When you reach down to grab the bar sit your body back into position, keep your chest UP, pull the slack out of the bar & your lats will be loaded and you’ll be ready to pull some heavy weight. It is all about positioning and keeping your chest up that will carry over to your lats being engaged.
The Latissimus Dorsi is a big muscle that should not go overlooked like it most commonly is. When you learn how to utilize your lats it will take your lifts to the next level. You will notice a difference and you will be able to lift more weight. But before you jump into your lift, make sure your lats are firing for optimal strength. Do some seated rows or some bands work & get those lats firing if you are serious about taking your numbers to the next level!
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