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Lat problems, help please.

Discussion in 'Weight Training/Bulking' started by cymbals, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. cymbals

    cymbals Active Member

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    I've been working out steadily for the last 3 years making decent progress in terms of gaining strength. Over the last year however I've hit a wall with the lat portion of my workouts, especially on the pull downs. I've tried changing exes every 4-6 weeks, which hasn't helped. I cannot pull my body weight. Any suggestions? Thanks.
     
  2. cymbals

    cymbals Active Member

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    Any ideas?
     
  3. stallion16

    stallion16 Well-Known Member

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    Have you tried any of the following exercises:

    Dumbbell rows
    Barbell rows
    cable rows
    Deadlifts


    Two other things:
    1. Form: make sure you feel your back muscles working when you are performing the exercise. One way you can do this is to use a hook grip when doing exercises
    http://doubleyourgains.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/hookgrip.jpg

    Try not to stimulate your arms, but really focus on getting your back to do the work. Picture your arms as just hooks that carry the weight

    2. Eat enough calories: you have to support your training with the right amount of calories, so eat a few hundred calories over your maintanence level and watch yourself grow and your strength will increase.
     
  4. cymbals

    cymbals Active Member

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    Thanks stallion, I have noticed that my lats aren't even sore the day after which means to me that my form is wrong. I have been doing rows (cable and dumbbell). I have not been doing deadlifts. I guess maybe I should look at that. I've always been a little leary of deadlifts having some back issues in the past.
     
  5. stallion16

    stallion16 Well-Known Member

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    A couple of more points:

    1. Progressive overload- you must be lifting more weight or more reps at each session. Beating your previous session is imperative here. Make sure you're keeping a record of each training session.

    2. For your form, again try using the hook grip I mentioned. Also, just because you aren't getting sore doesn't necessarily mean that the workout isn't working. it's not working if you're not able to increase in weight or reps over time (i.e. the first point above).

    3. If you have back issues and you are uncertain of proper deadlift form, then don't do them. Many people (especially online and on internet forums) develop some type of fetish for squats and deadlifts as if they are the next best thing next to sliced bread. Make no mistake, squats and deads are great exercises and I do them regularly. But if you have back issues, if you don't know about the proper technique, if you absolutely hate those lifts...don't do them. No specific exercise or routine is as important as the principle of progressive overload. Everything bows to that rule.
     
  6. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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    Cymbals do a search on soreness.

    Soreness just means you're sore. Often it just means you're doing something new . If your diet is solid you might end up tired but you don't often end up sore.
     
  7. cymbals

    cymbals Active Member

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    The problem is that I get to a certain weight and I can't complete all of the reps.
     
  8. stallion16

    stallion16 Well-Known Member

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    The reason why you can't complete the reps is probably one of the following:

    1. You're going up in weight too fast- let's say you just did 135 lb bench press for 10 reps, and now you want to increase the weight. The following week you add a 2.5 lb weight to each side of the barbell and now you have 140 lbs. Your goal is to now get 10 reps with 140 lbs. But for some reason, you get stuck week after week at about 5-7 reps. What you should have done was Not use the 2.5 lb plates, but instead use 1.25 pound plates on each side of the barbell to do 137.5 lbs in total. A 2.5 pound jump is easier to handle than a 5 pound jump...especially at lower weights. So make the progressive overload smaller but still more than the previous session. Now you might say..."but I don't have anything smaller than 2.5 pound plates". Well 2 solutions to this problem:
    a. Buy 1.25 pound plates online
    b. Find another variable to modify- so let's say you're stuck at 140 pounds for 5 or 6 reps. Instead of changing the weight, change the rest time. If you normally rest 1 minute between sets. Give yourself 1.5 minutes of rest. Once you can handle 140 pounds for 10 reps at 1.5 minutes, then progress by attempting to do 140 pounds for 10 reps with only 1 minute of rest between sets.

    2. Look at other factors- is your diet on point? What are your energy levels like? Did you get enough sleep on this day? Are you focused in the gym or thinking of something else? Issues with any of these things will mess with your ability to progress.
     
  9. Mauidude

    Mauidude Active Member

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    Hey Cymbals!

    Just popped in to post a thread and saw your thread on lats. I had the same problem a few years ago - could barely do one pull up (not chinups). Now, even though I'm older (54) I can crank out three sets of 8-10 reps.

    Personally, I think pull ups are one of the best lat exercises out there. For me, as squats are for the legs, pull ups are for the lats.

    Here is what I did. I have resistance bands of varying resistances. I would start off with the heaviest one and hook the handles over each end of the chin up bar (I had one that hooks over the door frame with handles on each side). Then I would hook the bank under one foot and do assisted pullups. For reps, I kept it in the 6-10 range. I did this 3 times a week.

    The following week, I moved down a resistance band and tried doing the same number of reps. If I couldn't get my reps in, I went back to the previous band. I kept progressing down the bands until I was using any.

    Also, focusing on form is important. I use a neutral grip (some call it the monkey grip because you don't use our thumbs to wrap around the bar). When pulling really focus and dial into the lat muscles. I always imagine pulling my shoulder blades together and pulling my chest to the bar. Also, because my hands are very small, I use straps because I found my grip gave way before my lats did.

    I've never had soreness in my lats, so don't use that as an indication of anything. When I'm working out a body part regularly, my muscles don't get sore even when increasing weight and intensity.

    Hope this helps.
     
  10. Sneak

    Sneak Member

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    That is a fantastic breakdown of progressive overload! Bookmarked!
     
  11. cymbals

    cymbals Active Member

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    Thanks guys, some great advise there. I guess I didn't know that 1.25 lb plates were available. I'll look into that. As far as rest time goes I always assumed 60-75 seconds is all anyone should rest for. I'll give these things a try. If feel that my diet is in check. Those bands sound interesting, maybe if I could do assisted pullups it would help my confidence level a bit, thanks again.

    PS good talking with you Mauidude, it's been a long time.
     
  12. bradh

    bradh Well-Known Member

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  13. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    For many people , the widegrip palms-facing-away pulldown is generally tougher to do than a palms-facing chin.

    Of the chins, IMO, the close parallel-grip chin is the easiest and also the strongest add-weight version if you decide to add weight.

    The best way I have found to increase the ability is to do close-grip parallel chins and also widegrip pulldowns.

    If I'd taken an extended layoff for some reason and couldn't do one of either....this is what I'd do:-


    Go to a cable lat pulldown bar.....one that has a bar where you can add freeweight plates. Mine has the rating of Zero to 200lbs.
    Many stack plate rigs don't go that high but there are some that do.....

    Get a mat and kneel down under the pulldown bar.

    The pulldown bar should be high enough over you that when you extend your arms there should be some tension on them allready.

    You are NOT in a "sitting" kneeling position.....everything is straight...the only thing bent is your knees.

    After doing a few warmup reps with a light weight, then:-

    Keep the reps at 2 per set for either ex. (One session do the close-grip parallels....the next session do the widegrip)

    Put weight on until it is challenging.Do 4 sets of 2 with a 2 minute rest in between sets.

    When you do either ex.....don't focus on the arms.....think of it as a whole body exercise and "tense" up all muscles in your body, especially core. You can still breathe with your core "tensed" if you do it correctly.

    As sessions go by you will, of course, increase the weight incrementally .

    At some point you will be ready to abandon this rig and do actual pulldowns and chins.

    Remember.....you do NOT do a "sitting" kneel when doing these. You do a "standing" kneel.

    I've always used this method after extended layoffs and it works for me very well.
     
  14. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    By the way......just chinning or doing pulldowns, no matter how good you do them, might not get your Lats to where you want them.

    On the palms-facing Chin, the biceps often take-over on the strictly-vertical version of this ex.

    On the Widegrip palms-facing -away pullup,sometimes only the upper Lats are worked.

    For good results on a palms-facing Chin.....(when you can do one)....

    Go parallel close-grip and as you go up, lean your upper body way back
    and focus on pulling with your Lats.

    There are Upper and Lower lats on your body.....the upper ones are easy to work-out.....but to get the right "look" you need to hit the lower ones as equally.

    A Seated Two-hand CableRow is good....use a parallel grip handle....do not "rock" your back, keep it upright...pull the handle into your lower stomach area..
    Now DO NOT focus on pulling with your arms......Focus THE ENTIRE time on pulling the weight in (and letting it back out) with your LATS.

    This is important....too many Lat exercises are turned into bicep exes
    by the way they are performed.

    There is another version of the CableRow......
    You use on arm at a time.
    Your stand and then bend over so your upper body is horizontal with one foot aways ahead of the other.
    When you grasp the handle your arm is EXTENDED FULLY as far as it will go ...and you have some
    "pre-tension" on the handle.
    Your upper body is on the same plane as the cable and your extended arm will be up by your ear.
    If you are pulling with your right hand , your left elbow will be resting on your quad near your knee.
    Your front leg will be bent about 90 degrees. Your back leg will be extended backwards a ways.

    When you bring the handle in, you focus on bringing it in with your Lats....and as you bring it in,
    you contract the same side of your body as well.
    You let it out in reverse order.
    If you are doing it with your right hand you will have your left foot ahead...and vice versa.

    Many of these "specialty" exercises are done after one has already done "compounds " beforehand, like Deadlift etc.
    So on the "specialty" exes don't be afraid to use hooks as part of the ex.

    I'll see if I can post a pic of this last version I mentioned.
     
    #14 HevyMetal, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  15. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    Here's a video that roughly approximates the Lat ex I was talking
    about in post #14.

    Do it after you've already done some two-hand lat pulldowns etc.

    This ex was used by pro bodybuilder Larry Scott.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ78FGpNQKY

    and here is another one called the "Lawnmower" which is similar:-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBfpTw_gk2E

    The one I described is halfway between the two, neither high or low but horizontal.
    But it may be hard to find a machine where the cable is mid-range.
     
    #15 HevyMetal, Nov 30, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011
  16. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    I have to add that if you do a kneeling Lat Pulldown of any type:=

    It won't work if you just kneel down with the Lat Bar at "slack" in your grip.

    The way to do it is:-

    (1) Set the amount of resitance wieght
    (2) Stand in front of the bar and grasp it
    (3) Slowly sink down to one knee then the other
    (4) As you get down to your knees the bar should already have been pulled away from it's static position 2 or 3 inches so that your arms are at max stretch and there is already a pre-load.
    (5) This way there is never a 'slack ' moment in load throughout the whole set.

    (6) When you are finished simply rise up to standing position and let the bar rest.
     
  17. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    Thought I'd resurrect this thread for another personal two cents worth.....


    One ex that is overlooked for Lats is the barbell or dumbell or cable Pullover.

    It is more effective when supersetted or tri-setted with palms-facing narrow grip chins or palms-away narrow grip pullups.

    Many posts want to know how to isolate the Lats.

    Arthur Jones of HIT fame once built a Med-X machine that isolated the Lats and used it effectively on Casey Viator and others.

    But nowadays you are not going to see any if at all of those machines in gyms.

    The Pullover is about the closest ex that simulates it.

    There is another one where you use material that encases your elbows, and this material is suspended on cables from overhead. You "jack" the reps using Lats only and the arms are taken out of it.
    I've tried this and found it to be awkward and rather ineffective at best.

    I found that the following will have your Lats cursing you:-

    Narrow-grip palms facing chins......(if can't do a chin, use the Lat pulldown machine but make sure your arms are full extended)

    followed by:- Pullovers

    followed by:- Rows. ( I like the seated Row. make sure that when you pull in your hands are right down below your navel....don't "high row").
    You can use all manner of row movements if you like......like the bent-over barbell row or the single dumbell one-arm bench Row.)

    Do them Tri-set....with not much rest time between sets.

    After that wait a while and then finish off Widegrip palms away Pullups (or use Lat machine if you can't do one.)
     

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