How to engage lats in deadlift

How to engage lats in deadlift
How to engage lats in deadlift

The deadlift, a foundational compound movement, is a testament to your strength and power. While it primarily targets your posterior chain, unlocking the potential of your lats can significantly enhance your deadlift performance. Engaging your lats promotes proper form and helps you lift heavier weights while reducing the risk of injury. In this guide, we’ll delve into the art of harnessing the power of your lats during deadlifts to take your lifting game to new heights.

The Anatomy of Lat Engagement

Before we dive into the how-to, it’s essential to understand the anatomy behind the latissimus dorsi muscles. Commonly referred to as the “lats,” these muscles are the large, V-shaped muscles on either side of your back. They connect from your upper arm to your lower spine and play a pivotal role in various movements, including pulling and lifting.

The Lat Connection to Deadlifts

Engaging your lats in the deadlift is like adding turbochargers to your lifting engine. When your lats are activated, they create a stable foundation by connecting your upper body to the barbell. This engagement prevents the barbell from drifting away from your body, minimizing the risk of straining your lower back and ensuring efficient force transfer.

Setting Up for Lat-Driven Deadlifts

Proper setup is crucial for effective lat engagement. Begin by positioning your feet hip-width apart and placing the barbell close to your shins. As you grip the bar, ensure your hands are outside your knees. This wide grip encourages lat activation from the get-go.

The Lat Engagement Technique

How to engage lats in deadlift

As you initiate the lift, focus on “spreading the floor” apart with your feet. This external rotation of your hips creates tension in your lats. Imagine you’re trying to bend the bar around your shins, further engaging your lats. Throughout the lift, maintain this tension by pulling the barbell towards your body. This action keeps your lats tight and your spine aligned.

Breathing and Lat Activation

A crucial yet often overlooked aspect of lat engagement is proper breathing. Please take a deep breath before you start the lift and hold it until you’re past the most challenging part of the lift, usually around the knee area. This intra-abdominal pressure not only stabilizes your core but also enhances lat engagement.

Accessorize for Lat Success

Complement your deadlift routine with specific lat-targeting exercises. Bent-over rows, pull-ups, and lat pull-downs are excellent choices. These exercises strengthen your lats and reinforce the mind-muscle connection, making it easier to engage them during deadlifts.

The Mental Game of Lat Engagement

Engaging your lats isn’t just a physical endeavor; it’s a mental one, too. Visualize your lats working in harmony with the rest of your body as you perform the lift. This mental imagery enhances the neural connection between your brain and muscles, improving overall activation.

Overcoming Common Lat Engagement Challenges

How to engage lats in deadlift

Do you feel like your lats aren’t firing up as they should? Common issues include a weak mind-muscle connection, insufficient warm-up, or poor form. Address these by incorporating lat-specific warm-up exercises and practicing lat engagement during lighter sets.

Progression and Patience

Mastering lat engagement in deadlifts takes time and patience. Start with lighter weights to refine your technique before gradually increasing the load. As your lats become more robust and engaged, you’ll notice a remarkable improvement in your deadlift performance.


In the deadlifting world, tapping into the power of your lats can be a game-changer. The connection between lat engagement and overall strength is undeniable. Following the techniques outlined in this guide, you’re well on your way to lifting heavier and brighter. Remember, it’s not just about how many ounces are 119 grams; it’s about how you harness the force within to conquer the deadlift and elevate your lifting prowess.

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