I wouldn't go out and call lats the most neglected group of muscles in the human body, there's plenty of legitimate claim for that by other muscles. At the same time I absolutely feel they don't get the love they need. Especially when it comes to 2 of the more popular exercises (and 2 of my favorites), the deadlift and KB swing.
Today's post I have a couple of videos to show 2 drills I use in my programming to help clients feel those suckers. I certainly am not claiming to be the inventor of these drills, but as much as I want to give credit to who I stole them from, I can't remember who it was. Either way let's get into these guys and what I find them useful for.
For those that don't know, deadlifts are probably the biggest bang for your buck exercise (at least one of if not) out there. Among other things that can be catastrophic on this lift, if the bar on your deadlift starts to separate from your body, it'll be bad news. Even after cues such as, "Keep the bar tight to you" and "Squeeze the oranges in your arm pits" (you laugh but it works). Some clients still look at me like I've just grown a third eye and an extra nose.
Other than the option of just repeatedly yelling at them and getting no where with it I found this little gem and will have them do a set of 10-12 reps with it. Sometimes I'll even program it in their warm up or as a part of a super set with the deadlifts. The items needed are a super band (start fairly light) and either a dowel or pvc pipe.
-Back and Arms straight
-Pull the dowel down under control
-When you reach your body try to snap the dowel accross your lap with your wrists
Usually after integrating this into a clients program for a month or so they start to scrape their shins. There isn't a solution to that, it's suppose to happen, you're doing it right so keep going.
The KB swing has grown in popularity, with good reason. It's an amazing exercise that hits a lot of points most coaches are begging for. It's a hinge, teaches you to use your glutes, core needs to be engaged and it's great for both power and metabolic purposes.
There are 2 things that I almost always have to fix when I see someone doing a swing, they use a squat instead of a hinge pattern, and they let the bell go far too high (anything at head level is too high for me). For the latter reason I will have clients do the above drill. It teaches them what the top position of a swing should feel like. Lats tight, along with glutes and core engaged. Dan John had said that your lats should be so tight that you have to "play chicken with your zipper", I'll let the rest of you elaborate on that for yourselves. The tools you need for this guy are a super band, medium to heavy bands will work best, and something heavy to anchor said band to.
-Arms straight at about chest level
-Keep tension on the band the entire time
-Drive your heels into the ground and squeeze your glutes hard!
The result of this after having it programmed for a month or so is learning how to do as Dan John says and avoid smashing yourself in the descent of a swing.
To review, give the lats some love, make sure the bar is not walking away from you on your deadlifts and make a game of chicken out of your kb swings. That's all I got today guys, go out there and get after it!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS