Big lats show the world that yes, you do even lift, bro. In addition to the fundamental back-developing lifts like pull-ups, barbell rows, dumbbell rows, and pull-downs, there is one move that can truly unlock upper-back growth and give you the V-taper you've been chasing. Use this move to establish a better mind-muscle connection and balance your symmetry and your strength for a better overall look and enhanced athletic performance.
If you haven't seen your lats change in a while, then this is one move to add to your workouts. Trust me—it will make all the difference.
Single-arm kneeling lat pull
Check out the Bodybuilding.com exercise database for step-by-step instructions on performing this exercise. Rather than focusing on the how-to, I want to share more about why you need this exercise in your program in the first place.
True, this exercise doesn't look like much at first glance, but it can be a gamechanger. The point of this exercise is single-sided isolation of the lats, forcing you to take a step back from cred-building AMRAP pull-ups and ego-boosting full-stack pull-downs so you can really focus on the muscle you're trying to build.
Far too many lifters overdo the weight they use on back day, which is awesome if strength is your ambition. The problem is the other muscles in your back, as well as your biceps, will want to join the party, meaning the lats aren't as involved.
Isolation has its benefits
This is a cable exercise, so you can use the benefits of cable resistance to better isolate your lats, while minimizing the risk of injury. This means greater activation of the lats as you work in the direction of the cable, and better focus and emphasize on that muscle contraction.
Single-arm isolation also gives you a greater range of motion, which helps break down those muscle fibers even more, leading to better growth and development. By working one arm at a time, each side has to do its own share of the work, so you can build up your weaker side for better balance and symmetry, both aesthetically and performance-wise.
Make the connection
Another great benefit of doing this exercise is so you can establish a better mind-muscle connection and really feel those lats working. Remember the issue of other muscles joining the party and leaving the lats out on those heavy lifts? If you do this isolation exercise and establish a better connection to your lats, you'll gain even more benefit from those other exercises.
Want to eliminate biceps as much as possible from this move? Use a lifting strap around the handle to reduce the forearm and biceps involvement in your grip, so you pull almost exclusively with your back on every rep. Of course, if grip is a priority to you, don't use the strap.
One more point: When the handle goes up, make sure your shoulder blades roll forward a bit so you can get the greatest stretch possible in your lats. As you start the next rep, contract your shoulder blades first, then pull. Trust me, this extra bit of movement in the shoulder blades is a difference you'll feel.
Work it into your program
Obviously, you can add this exercise into your program anywhere you like, but I recommend starting your back workout with this move for all the reasons mentioned above. It will activate and pump up your lats, establishing a better mind-muscle connection at the beginning of your workout.
For this exercise, start with a weight that allows you to easily perform 8-10 reps. The goal here is to feel the muscle working the way it's supposed to. Once you've warmed up with that first set, perform 4 sets of 12-15 reps with the same weight, resting 60 seconds between sets.