The REAL Reason Your Lats Won’t Grow!

If you ever wondered what the real reason your lats won’t grow is, this is a must watch video. Here I am going to show you what you likely have been and have not been doing when it comes to your back training that is leading to you not getting the back gains that you’re looking for. With just some simple modifications to your workouts, you will be on your way to building bigger lats.

The first thing you have probably been doing when it comes to your back workouts is that you’ve only been lifting heavy weights. This usually comes in the forms of rows, lat pulldowns, and weighted pullups. There’s nothing wrong with performing these exercises with heavier weights, but you are likely relying on something that comes with the heavy weight, especially in back training, and that is momentum.

Momentum is easy to take advantage of with back training in comparison to pushing exercises such as the bench press or a seated overhead press. In those two cases, if you can’t push the weight up, it’s not going anywhere. With a row or lat pulldown, you can use some body english and momentum to move that weight when you normally might not be able to.

While this can be helpful for building top end strength in the lifts that require it and may have given you some size to go along with that strength, the size of your lats might not have reached their full potential yet. This likely also has to do with the fact that you are also cutting short the range of motion in order to be able to manipulate that weight in space.

So, knowing that we are limiting our lat development based on the use of momentum and a shortened range of motion, we can introduce ways to fix these shortcomings.

First, let’s look at decreasing the weight we are using with our back workouts. While you might think that lowering the weight is counterintuitive, it’s actually going to be more beneficial than you realize. By lowering the weight, you will be able to have better command of it in space to create a greater stretch and contraction – realizing the benefits of full range of motion. With full range of motion of the lats, you can better unlock muscle growth by tapping not into just a greater contraction, but also achieving a greater stretch.

Now, when it comes to using lighter weights with your back workouts, it becomes even more essential that you start training your lats to failure in the higher rep ranges. I’ve mentioned before that as the rep range increases to include more than 12 reps, the more important it is that you train to failure on that exercise. Doing so will actually lead to better gains and more hypertrophy in the muscles you are trying to target.

We can also modify our training to not only include lighter weights, but utilize exercises that take your lats through full range of motion. The first exercise I like to mention is the rocking lat pulldown. This unilateral version of a standard pulldown allows for a greater contraction of the lats by being able to abduct the target arm.

The kneeling one armed pulldown is another great unilateral option for targeting the lats that will require even lighter weight to be used since you don’t have the assistance of the other arm to initiate the movement like you do in the rocking pulldown.

Next, we have the one arm high cable row (of my favorite back exercises of all time). Not only does this exercise allow you to target one side at a time, but the nature of the exercise takes you through full range of motion and a hard contraction with the elbow tight against the body as well allowing you put the muscle on full stretch at the top of each rep.

Another exercise option for your next back workout is the straight arm pushdown. Another exercise that allows you to target the lats effectively through a good contraction and allowing for the lats to be put on stretch at the top end in the range of motion while sitting the hips back. A slight tweak you can make to this exercise to further enhance the stretch on the lats is to simply perform this exercise in a kneeling position.

Lastly, an alternative to the standard pulldown to grow your lats is the underhanded version. Simply changing the orientation of your hands on the bar is enough to create to accentuate the stretch that you get on the lats at the top of the rep – again, going after that range of motion!

If you are looking for a complete workout program that help you to build bigger lats if you struggle to build them now, then be sure to head to athleanx.com via the link below and use the program selector to find the training plan that matches your exact goals now.

If you’re looking for more videos on how to build a bigger back, be sure to click on the link below to subscribe to this channel here on YouTube and remember to turn on your notifications so that you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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47 thoughts on “The REAL Reason Your Lats Won’t Grow!

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Leave your most burning question about this video or any other training, PT or nutrition question within the first 2 hours of this video’s release (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!!) and I will pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

    • Zoi Jr says:

      Hi Jeff, Athlean X team! Been suffering with Sciatica for almost 6 weeks. I’ve been following the stretching you shared on your past video though I feel like I have hit a plateau. May I get some more advice moving forward? Am I not suppose to do weight training? Are there food that is not allowed or food that are helpful?

      Cheers!

    • Maxmissle Missle says:

      I just can’t get bigger Arms I have trained triceps biceps both watching from your videos but my arms don’t look big they look impressive in their definition but they dont fill the sleeves can I even fill the sleeves or its my genetics?

    • Dimitri Sloterek says:

      Lately there is a lot of content just focused on muscle growth, while strength or athletic purposes are far less discussed. I would be for example interested in an explosive back workout, to increase how high I can jump out of a pull up (e. G. In climbing) or an explosive, polymeric leg workout for basketball etc. I mean I would like to be able to use my muscles too and not just look at them 😉

  2. ScorchingStarBhaskar says:

    Jeff, can you please do a post training static stretching video? Also, can you do different kinds of training routines such a 5x a week, 4x a week?

  3. Devi Jade says:

    My back is definitely the last thing to build. I will add some of these I’m super focused, looking for the best exercises that will help me. Thanks

  4. 60 Second Calisthenics says:

    The wide V-shape back. The holy grail for mens aesthetic fitness. Thanks for the tips Jeff. ✅

  5. Ahmed Naveed Alam says:

    Hey Jeff, there a lat pulldown machine that operates with weight plates and i feel like they have little to no momentum goes into pulling them down. I was wondering how effective those are. Thanks

  6. Carlos Leo says:

    Jeff, could you do a video on stretches to do before sleep? You’ve mentioned doing them before, but I’d love to see a routine from you

  7. Dres says:

    One question I’ve had for quite some time: when doing back exercises, especially full stretch, what should I be thinking about in regards to my shoulders?

    Context: when I do full range exercises for the back, I notice my shoulders moving in the direction of the pull when at the bottom of each exercise and I’ve always suspected that it might be eating my gains, but I’m not positive. Should the goal be to keep shoulders as stationary as possible during the full rep, or is it okay to have them follow the direction of the pull. As always, great stuff Jeff!

    • jambojack says:

      Your back is multiple different muscles. If you let your shoulders (scapula) move forward and back it uses traps/rhomboids and reduces effect on lats. To isolate lats, best to squeeze shoulder blades together at the bottom of the rep and then pull elbows backwards. It will really reduce the weight you can do, if you do it properly.

    • Nom Nom says:

      @jambojack
      To target the lats, you need the elbows close to the body (adduction).

      To target mid trap/rhomboids, you need your upper arms at horizontal, parallel to the floor (horizontal abduction)

  8. Harshavardhan Sindekar says:

    How can a person suffering from SCOLIOSIS strengthen their back especially their lower back without risking any sort of injury? What excercises & stretches could you recommend Jeff?
    Love your content ❤️

  9. Jason Antonio says:

    Hey Jeff, do you still stand behind some of your older programs, such as AX1 and 2? Would you ever consider updating those to include some of the more current science or knowledge that you have spoken about in the past couple years about training?

  10. icapoi says:

    In your workout plans, many of the exercises call for hitting failure around 12. Do you recommend strictly sticking to what the program calls for, or is it ok to lower the weight with increased reps while targeting better ROM?

  11. Michael Christie says:

    One thing I’ve been experimenting with is doing pause pull-ups and weighted chin ups. These have been seriously challenging my lats and I think they’re gonna get me great results!

  12. InStrong Workout says:

    *Only hard work give results! Thank you man. After watching you for almost 2 years I started my own fitness channel. And this is my real passion now. Hope one day I will help people like u man*
    Hello from Ukraine!

  13. John Robinson says:

    I have found one-arm cables to be the most effective lat exercise for me. Best stretch, longest ‘pull’, best results. However, it is necessary to take a break from them from time-to-time. They are simply too intense to do continuously.

  14. Bottlecapbill says:

    Honestly I’ve always had better results using less weight and stricter control just like this video suggests. You lose so much with that little bit of momentum you fanagle when lifting heavy. The good news is……….yes you’ll have to drop the weight but you’ll find that you’re slowly racking it back up again very quickly as you gain new strength from the more disciplined range of motion.

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