20 September 2010

The missing link (your lats)

As much as I would like to pontificate about whomever the hell this is, I will not.  The missing link I am talking about is in your training.  Here is the missing link in common movements:
Your lat muscles.  This particular set belongs to Dorian Yates.   Lat muscles are involved in pulling heavy shit.  But what many do not know, except for seasoned bench pressers, and strength coaches that are worth a shit, is that your lat muscles can help you crank out more push-ups and help you bench or military press higher weights.   And if you know how to use them, they can help your deadlifting too.

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. 
 And for fuck's sake, if you are gonna do this movement, and have never done it, find an RKC kettlebell instructor or email me because I don't want any of you to hurt your fucking faces trying to do this.

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. 


  1. Oh, the glory of having a huge ass and a flexible back - little to no ROM with your bench press, but still technically counted as a lift.

    Or, you could just get a mighty beer belly. That works wonders for decreasing ROM without cheating as well ;)

    I'm bit on lat training as well - I think they're probably one of my strongest areas. And they definitely help a lot when it comes to benching, and pretty much any big compound. Strengthen your lats, and your pull is going to improve, as well as your benching power. Not to mention, give you one helluva taper ;)

  2. I notice that too about my deadlifting. I do some heavy triples of rows on days I deadlift. And I do pullups sometimes too. I think I have gotten better at the deadlift as a result. I also am starting to work on my bridging too.