Something I see and hear frequently is that people struggle to contract and engage their lats. So what I’m going to do is teach you a method I use for lat activation that has really helped me to find and learn to effectively engage my lats.

So to perform this lat activation exercise, we’re setting up a seated row with handles, and taking a pronated grip.

We’ll then allow the lat to extend into it’s stretched position.

Keeping a neutral spine position we then pull through the elbow moving to a neutral grip and continue pulling until we feel a strong contraction in the lat.

The key tip here is that we’re driving the upper arm and elbow down into the base of the spine.

We are not thinking about scapula retraction at all as the lat does not attach to the scapula.

When we’re then moving into the eccentric we allow the weight to return in a controlled fashion by extending the arms through the elbow.

We are not taking this exercise to failure, we’re just looking to feel the contraction, under minimal load, before then moving on to heavier work.

This is a little different to the majority of work in that we’re really not looking to push weight here, we’re just looking to feel a contraction.

Hopefully this will help you guys to learn to contract and engage your lats, do this before every pull or upper session and you’ll honestly thank me for it!

For even more detail on lat activation, I recommend you check out videos by Joe Bennett, Jon Meadows and Jordan Peters who all have massive detail on these kind of exercises. 

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