Lat tightness can make it harder to achieve efficient positions in lifts like the overhead press, push press, jerk, and even in the front rack during front squats. So if you struggle with any of those positions, give these three exercises a try.
The first exercise is a slow eccentric pullover with a pause. For this exercise, you’re going to lie perpendicular on a bench in a bridge position. From here, you’re going to hold a DB or KB, and starting at shoulder height, you’re going to slowly lower the weight behind you until you feel a good stretch in your lats. You’re then going to pause for 3 seconds before returning to the starting position. We recommend starting with 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
We love this drill because it not only helps to improve flexibility, but you are also building strength in the end range position, killing two birds with one stone.
The second exercise is a banded lat stretch. For this exercise, you are going to attach a thick resistance band to a squat rack, or other immovable object, above head height. From here, you are going to get in a half kneeling position and externally rotate your shoulder. Then, push your hips back and reach your head and chest forward, to stretch your arm overhead.
Once in this position, hold the stretch for 3 sets of 30-60 second holds. This passive stretch is a great way to reduce the tissue stiffness with the lat, and is a bit less demanding than the pullover.
The third and final exercise is the prone lift off. For this exercise, you’re going to lie on your stomach on the floor, holding onto a PVC pipe. From here, you’re going to actively reach your arms as far away from the floor as possible. Hold this contraction for 5 seconds before returning to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 5 reps.
This exercise is arguably the most challenging of the three, as you have to work against gravity to get into as much shoulder flexion as possible.
You can do the banded lat stretch every day if you want, but keep the other two exercises to three to four times per week in the beginning.
After doing these exercises regularly for a few weeks, you should notice some great improvements in your lat flexibility!