Lats All, Folks!

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See what I just did there?

I took the closing epilogue of an old Looney Tunes cartoon and applied it to an article I wrote on lat training.

Barack Obama ain’t not nuthin on my word play!

Chances are anytime you ask someone what the latissimus dorsi are you get one of two things happening:

1.  Someone conjures up their inner Dorian Yates and breaks off a lat spread like like no one’s business.


2.  They look at you with a quizzical look – as if you had three nipples – look down, snap their fingers rapidly, and then, in a light bulb moment blurt out, “WAIT……I got it!  That’s the name of that one planet that that dude with pointy ears is from, right?  You know, in Star Trek?

Alas, the latissimus dorsi or “lats” for short are an often glazed over muscle group relegated to nothing more than “that muscle you work on the pulldown machine.” Which is unfortunate because I’d argue that the lats are one of the more critical muscles in your body in terms of not only aesthetics, but performance as well.

In this article, which went live on yesterday, I up the geek ante slightly and talk anatomy as well as the MANY functions of the lats (there’s a lot more than you think).

More importantly, I discuss strategies one can implement to learn how to “engage” the lats more effectively, which in turn helps protect the spine, which in turn results in more weight lifted, which in turn raises your awesome factor by like a lot.  It’s science.

Continue Reading (<— Click Me You Sexy Beast)


Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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Comments for This Entry

  • Ltsmash

    I really felt like a sexy beast when clicking! Great article Tonyand also a great reminder for me as I tend to struggle with engaging the lats in the deadlift. When I tried out the straight arm pulldown the first time it was also the first time I really understood how it feels when the lats are working.

    January 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Brent

    band activating with hip hinge is a genius idea. Mos def gonna use that from this her forward in life.

    January 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Emily Abigail Beker

    I appreciate the tips to do upper-body set-up prior to grasping the bar. But how do straps fit into this equation? It always takes me a moment to secure straps, and I fear that alignment will be lost by the time I'm in position. What to do??

    January 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      I don't think using straps are going to be that detrimental or anything so long as you ensure you get your chest up and hips down. Honestly, though, I view straps as more of a crutch than anything. I say try to use a double overhand grip for as long as you can (maybe just with warm-up sets), and then revert to alternating with a "mix" grip with each subsequent set. At least do that for a few sets, and then revert to straps for your last 1-2 sets. Any way you can help build your grip strength would be a good thing.

      January 11, 2014 at 5:46 am | Reply to this comment

  • Jake

    Tony, does this same principle apply to RDLs as well? I feel I'm able to get a much deeper stretch when I only focus on pushing my hips back and letting the bar travel down my shins farther. I could see "squeezing the oranges" as being more stable, but also much more tiring for a set of RDLs and also shortening the ROM

    January 12, 2014 at 10:55 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Absolutely Jake!. When I coach the RDL, I always tell people that the only way the bar is going to get lower to the ground is by hinging back. A lot of people think that they need to actively lower the bar, which isn't necessarily the case.

      January 12, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Reply to this comment

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