#3. J Rope Pull-down
Since the lat fibers don’t run completely vertical nor completely horizontal, you can’t fully target them with most traditional back exercises. And that’s where the J pull-down comes in. It’s a kneeling exercise that allows for a full activation of the lats by forcing your arms to work according to the slanted movement pattern of your lat fibers, and helps stimulate maximum middle back muscle recruitment and growth. By combining a stiff-arm pull-down with a modified seated row, the J rope pull-down packs the best of both worlds in one powerful move.
In other words, this exercise combines scapular depression and scapular retraction in the most effective way and can exhaust the upper lats in a very unique way that enables better mass gains.
- Position yourself on your knees in front of an adjustable cable machine with a lat pulldown bar positioned at the high setting. Keeping your shoulders down, grab the bar with an overhand grip at shoulder width with arms fully extended and elbows flared out.
- Start the movement like a stiff-arm pull-down then smoothly transition into a rowing movement. While keeping the torso stationary, pull the bar down until it touches your chest and you feel a decent stretch in your lats. Pause for a second, then return to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner.
- Don’t round your upper back and don’t slouch your shoulders. Make sure to sit tall with your chest up and shoulders back and down all throughout the movement.
- Keep your head in a relaxed but fixed position.
#4. Lat Pull-ins
Lat pull-ins were developed by bodybuilding coach and biomechanics expert Doug Brignole, who claims that this exercise is the ideal lat movement and many experienced bodybuilders seem to support his view. In other words, lat pull-ins can make up for what other traditional back movements lack in terms of lat activation, more specifically rowing movements and lat pull-downs and pull-ups, because they allow you to stretch and contract your lats in a far superior way.
Unlike the standard pull-up or pull-down where the resistance is pulled vertically and downward, and unlike the standard row where the resistance is pulled horizontally and backwards, lat pull-ins place the resistance directly out to the side of the body where it is then pulled inward, which emphasizes the moving of the humerus toward the origin of the lats on the spine and thereby engages the lats in the most effective way.
This is not to say that you should completely ditch rows, pull-ups and pull-downs because they are great movements which certainly have an important role in a well-balanced and complete training routine, but in order to maximize the tension on your lats and take your back development to the next level, you’d greatly benefit from adding lat pull-ins into the mix as well.
Lat pull-ins are ideally done with one arm and a cable that’s coming from an angle between 45 and 60 degrees from the side – 45 degrees are better for working the upper lat fibers, while 60 degrees are ideal for the lower lat fibers.
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- Place a bench a few feet away from a cable machine and set a single pulley attachment as high as possible.
- Extend your arm directly to your side at a 45/60 degree angle and grab the attachment with an underhand grip.
- Slightly tilt your upper body in the direction of the machine and pull the resistance inward, toward your side, until you get a good contraction in the lats. Your elbow should move inward and toward the spine.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
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