How Do You Hit Lats Without Using Biceps?

pull up lats
June 27, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “how do you hit lats without using biceps?”. Some people bring their biceps into lat movements too much.

At the same time, the body works as a unit and it is not possible to completely eliminate bicep involvement in lat exercises.

This article will explore this topic in detail and will be an informative read. I hope you will enjoy learning more about this topic.

How Do You Hit Lats Without Using Biceps?

Some of the best and most well known exercises for targeting the lats are pulldowns and pull ups. Pull ups are the most effective exercise for building up the lats.

However, some people can find that heavy weighted pull ups can strain their lats easily. To involve less biceps on pull ups you should avoid the underhand grip. By going with an overhand grip you will recruit the biceps muscles less.

In addition, taking a looser grip on the bar on pulldowns and pull ups will involve less biceps. You will make the exercise harder and will need to use less weight. However, you will benefit from isolating the lats very effectively.

Lat pulldowns using a wider grip or a V bar attachment will also minimise bicep recruitment. In addition, inverted rows can work the lats and upper back and don’t involve the biceps too heavily.

Personally, I am a huge fan of inverted rows with fat gripz. I do this every week and find that this exercise blows up my upper back and forearms. Finally, focusing on achieving a good mind muscle connection and retracting the shoulder blades will allow you to utilise the biceps less.
pull up lats

Pull Up Variations With Less Bicep Involvement

As pull ups are a tremendous exercise and arguably the best for developing the lats and upper back, it is important to know which variation recruits the biceps less.

Underhand grip pull ups will bring the biceps into the movement more. If you want to use your biceps less on pull ups you should use pull up variations with a neutral or overhand grip.

This one step alone will make a big difference in terms of muscle recruitment. Taking a looser grip on the pull up bar will also allow you to utilise the biceps less.

The exercise will become harder, but you will feel the contractions in your upper back better. Taking a wider grip on the pull up bar will also recruit your lats more heavily and work the biceps less. 

V Bar Pulldowns

When it comes to pulldowns, overhand V bar pulldowns and wide grip pulldowns will recruit the biceps less in the movement.

I am a big fan of V bar pulldowns, you can’t use as much weight but you can get some incredible muscle contractions in the upper back.

Performing the V bar pulldown will invariably mean that you will be using a very close grip. To bring your lats into the exercise more you should retract your shoulder blades and focus on bringing the weight down with your elbows.

You should feel a very good muscle contraction in the bottom position. Be sure to execute the exercise with full control throughout the range of motion. A little body english is fine as long as it doesn’t become excessive.

v bar pulldown

Inverted Row

The inverted row is another fantastic exercise for building up the entire upper back complex. You will also be able to work your lats well without incorporating your biceps into the movement too heavily.

I view inverted rows as the baby brother of pull ups. Weighted inverted rows can even replace the benefits of a traditional pull up. You are moving your body through space and strengthening a lot of smaller stabiliser muscles.

I perform this exercise with an overhand grip and I also use fat gripz. In this way I find that I am able to work my lats and grip at the same time. Don’t do inverted rows with an underhand grip – this would engage the biceps too much.

Previously I have discussed on this site the benefits of the inverted row.

Mind Muscle Connection

A lot of people have trouble training their lats. This is because these muscles are not visible.

You have to establish a good mind muscle connection in order to feel these muscles working and become in tune with them. Signs of an intermediate or advanced trainee is being able to achieve a solid mind muscle connection when training.

You have the muscle maturity from many years of training and have a good depth of knowledge about how to train effectively. 

Previously I have talked about mind muscle connection on this site.

Another important point when you are training is to ensure that you do a lot of good quality rowing movements and exercises that work the back. This will help to develop the muscles in the back better and you will have a stronger back.

If you don’t train back with sufficient effort but do train your biceps very hard, you will find that you biceps will be taking over more on exercises involving the lats and back in general.

This is not a good thing and will hinder your back development. 

Lee Hayward’s Advice

I have mentioned Lee Hayward many times on this site. This is because he is a man who I respect in the fitness community and he has been around for a long time. 

He gives good quality information and advice. Lee is a huge advocate of pull ups and believes that they are the best exercise for building lats. As you are moving your body through space you will get more neuromuscular activation.

Lee actually bangs out a set of pull ups in between every back exercise in his workouts. This is an interesting approach but the results speak for themselves. Lee is well known for his great lat development. 

Another tip that he gives is to hang from the pull up bar at the end of your workouts. This really stretches the lats and helps to stretch the soft tissue and connective tissue. This will help you to expand your lats.

Final Thoughts

How do you hit lats without using biceps? It is hard to take your biceps out of the equation completely. But you can minimise bicep involvement by not using an underhand grip on your pulldowns, rows or pull ups.

In addition, you can try V bar pulldowns and pull ups with an overhand or neutral grip. This will allow you to work your lats without bringing your biceps into the movement too heavily.

In addition, it is important that you establish a good mind muscle connection when you are working your back. Training your back hard and building up lots of thick muscle will help you to feel your back muscles engage during training.

If you don’t train back with proper effort and work your biceps too heavily with isolation exercises, your strong biceps will take over a lot more on back exercises.

This is not what you want! If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> Do Trap Bar Shrugs Work Better Than Barbell Shrugs?

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