To target the lats more efficiently first you will need to understand its function. To do that we would need to know where the muscle attaches to the bones. The muscle inserts at the back side of the humerus (upper arm) and originates from the mid part of your back (T5-T12 vertebrae). So the function of latissimus dorsi is to pull your arm down towards your side. This is called adduction, bringing the elbows down not back. Also helps to extend the arm at the shoulder joint, which is shoulder extension.
If you think of a lat pulldown you may have seen people leaning back when pulling the bar down. By doing this the elbows go back and retracts the shoulder blades. In this case, the mid and lower traps are working much more than the lats. Make sure to keep your elbows down when performing wide grip pulldown. Another advice I can give you when performing the exercise is to focus on your elbows. In that way, you can really concentrate on the lats and avoid overloading the biceps (body and mind connection). Next, make sure to adapt the full range of motion and maintaining good form at all time. I would encourage you to train both two arms and single arm pulldown. Attacking the muscle from a different angle will help its development.
Single arm pulldown
I personally find single arm pulldown much more efficient for targeting the lower part of the lats. Also, it places less strain on my shoulders because of its position. Again, maintaining a good form is essential to target the lats.
Reversed grip pulldown
The third type of lat pulldown I’d like talk is the reverse grip. Another great exercise for lats development you will need to consider. The elbows travel very close to the side of the body. In this case, you are doing a shoulder flexion. I would advise you to keep your hand’s shoulder width apart. Maintaining neutral arm position will reduce the strain on your shoulders, elbows and wrists. Keep your chest up and back in neutral. Make sure to control the movement during the eccentric phase (when extending your arms) to get better results. The problem with this exercise is that you can use too much of your biceps. To avoid this is very important to focus on your elbow when pulling down. Body and mind connection is crucial in this case.
The last exercise for lats development I’d like to talk about is the dumbbell row. This is an excellent exercise for developing width. However, to get the best results you would need to minimise the elbow flexion. This way you will exclude (almost entirely) the biceps. The shoulder flexion is what you aiming for. The dumbbell path should be backwards instead of upwards. To do that you would need to use lighter weights. Having said the above you need to acknowledge that you can’t completely isolate the latissimus dorsi muscle from the rest of the body when training. However, you can target it more efficiently. More information about the topic you can find here.
If you find the article useful make sure to like it and I will make sure to include more exercises in my next article to give you more options for this muscle. If you have any suggestions make sure to share them with us.
Thank you for your time.