One way to have your lats come help you is to figure out how the hell to consciously use them. Stand in front of your counter and stick your hand straight out and try to press your hand through the counter. It won't work. Then run your opposite hand down your side, starting from your armpit and you will feel your lat muscle. Step one is complete. Now, you can do exercises to make them stronger, and stronger lats yield stronger pulls and presses, which I and others have said before are the basis of any good program.
Pull-ups or chin-ups are great for your lats. If you can't do them, get a friend to help. You'll be glad your did. You will also notice your biceps getting a nice workout too. But to concentrate on the movement and being aware of your lats, act is if you are pulling with your elbows. It's silly, but it works.
Now that you are aware of them and are hopefully making them stronger, here's how you use them to help your pressing. If you are bench pressing, do it with your feet on the ground with your shoulders and ass touching the bench, like you are supposed to do. And for the love of God, keep your goddamn head touching too. When you break the bar, lower it controlled style, and act like you are trying to break the son of a bitch as you press it up. Notice the difference.
If you are overhead pressing, it helps to imagine that you are pushing yourself away from the bar, or kettlebell. Once this simple cue comes to you, you will feel your lat working at the press. Another way to learn to engage the lat in pressing overhead is the bottoms up kettlebell military press.
|Here I am with my friend at our kettlebell club, and we are both bottoms up pressing a 32kg kettlebell. FYI I am not the one wearing the singlet.|
Here is how you can maximize your deadlifting potential with your lats. Sort of. One of the things to think about when deadlifting is your grip. I mean think about it when you go for a maximal effort lift. If you actively grip the fuck out of the bar, you'll feel your lats flex, which will aid in the lift. This could be the difference between a red or a white light at a competition. Do this every time you deadlift, whether you pull conventional or sumo or use a trap bar, or what have you. Learn about your lats, and improve in life and lifting.