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Why Your Lats Are The Most Important Muscle You’re Not Training

As I’ve talked about before here on BroBible, building a big, strong back is not only important to look like you lift, but is important so you can actually lift.

Yet many people still neglect back training, and specifically on of the most important muscles for building not only strength and size, but staying healthy as well.

I’m talking about the Lats.

Function of the Lats

The lats, or latissimus dorsi, are the largest muscles in the upper body and because of that they perform a lot of different functions. They connect at five different points including the spine, pelvis, ribs, scapula, and upper arm.

They work by adducting, rotating, and extending the arms, as well as pulling the arms back and down towards the hips. A classic example of the effect weak or undertrained lats can have in lifters is been hunched over. This is a result of overdevelopment of the chest and shoulder muscles due to performing more pushing than pulling exercises.

Strong Lats, Strong Everything

The lats play a primary role in all strength exercises, even if they aren’t be trained directly. The squat and deadlift may be mostly lower body exercises but the lats play a major role in stabilization. They lats also play a similar role in the bench press.

Squat

During the squat, the lats are used to stabilize the bar on your back, as well as protect the spine and maintain an upright torso. This has a ripple effect. The healthier your spine, the easier it is to achieve better hip mobility.

To engage the lats during the squat, rest the bar on your upper traps and try and bend it half by pulling the elbows down and toward your hips.

Deadlifts

The lats play a similar role in the deadlift as they do the squat. In order to maintain proper position and not round your back, you need to engage the lats, which will help you drop your hips and bring your chest up.

To engage the lats correctly, think of trying to pull your shoulder blades down into your back pockets. Another good cue is to pretend like you have oranges under your armpits and you’re trying to squeeze the juice out.

Bench Press

Much like the squat and deadlift, during the bench press the lats work to provide stabilization and help transfer force. One of the most often overlooked aspect of bench strength is the leg drive. And in order to transfer that force from your legs to your chest, where does it go through? You guessed it, the lats.

In order to engage the lats more during the bench press, you need to tuck your elbows closer to your body instead of flaring them out. Keeping more of a 45 degree angle helps engage the lats more.

Building Strong Lats

Use the following tips and exercises as part of your back training to specifically target and build strong lats.

Use a Reverse Grip

A reverse grip pull allows the most natural and largest range of motion of all the grip positions. It also keeps the elbows from flaring out. All this serves to help engage the lats more.

Chin-ups are done with the palms facing towards you. This allows you to get the greatest range of motion of any pull-up variation.

Much like the chin-ups, the reverse-grip variation of these two exercises allows you to get the deepest pull and biggest range of motion.

Mix Up Your Pulldowns

They’re called lat pulldowns for a reason…because they are great for working the lats. But varying how you perform them can attack the lats in different ways.

Again, this version lets you get a deeper range of motion than regular pulldowns. See a theme here?

The single arm pulldown really lets you ‘feel’ the lats working. The unilateral nature of the exercise also adds in an increased stability element.

Another great exercise for lat isolation. Keep your arms straight and really focus on using your lats to pull the weight towards your body.

The lats are an extremely important muscle for not only developing strength but keeping your back and shoulders healthy as well. Focus on building strong lats, and everything else will follow.

4 Exercises to Cure the Dreaded Imaginary Lat Syndrome

There’s a pandemic sweeping the nation. Despite a rise in gym memberships, and more and more people training than ever before, a terrible affliction still holds the country’s gym-goers in its hands. What is this horrendous condition?

Imaginary lat syndrome.

The Urban Dictionary defines imaginary lat syndrome as:

…a common case of someone, typically a male, who believes they are rather muscular when in reality this isn’t the case. Those with Imaginary Lat Syndrome can typically be seen walking uncomfortably while flaring their small lat muscles and tensing their arms in an attempt to look “jacked.” In reality, it appears douchey and looks like a toothbrush has been shoved up their ass. Manlets are at high risk of falling victim due to overcompensation reasons.

Another way to spot someone with ILS is if they’re walking around, looking like they’re holding a rolled-up carpet under each arm. These guys have probably got fairly impressive bench presses (due to their commitment to international bench press Monday,) and their biceps may be a little beefier than the average Joe’s, but their lats resemble that of a gym newbie’s. Aside from those protruding pecs and beneath those boulder shoulders, there’s nothing that looks even remotely muscular.

Are you sitting there screaming, “Wait! This is me, I have it, and what can I do?” Fear not. Imaginary lat syndrome might be caused by years of neglect, but it can be remedied by making a few simple switches to your training routine.

Big Lats: What’s the Deal?

When was the last time you heard someone say, “Yeah, that guy’s in shape, but his lats are too big”? Yep, never. It just doesn’t happen. A big, wide back, so huge it blocks out the sunlight will only ever be an asset to your overall physique.

And apart from the aesthetic quality, the lats also have several vital physiological functions. Due to their sheer size and the fact they have numerous points of origin along the spine, the ribs, sacrum and scapular, all inserting at the humerus (upper arm), they take care of many different actions. These include adducting, medially rotating, and extending your arm from the shoulder joint. A stronger, more stable scapular and upper-back will aid shoulder stability, which is essential if you’re involved in any type of throwing sport. Thus, stronger lats can make you a better bench presser or help balance out your physique to combat those years of over-training your chest and shoulders and neglecting your back.

Give Me the Prescription for ILS

If your back workout currently takes place only on days when your chest isn’t feeling sore or if it consists of little more than a few sets of pulldowns and a dumbbell row or two while talking shop with the hot personal trainer, it’s time to get a bit more serious about lat training. We’re talking twice a week. Leave three to four days between sessions, but make sure you get your two weekly workouts in. This could either mean doing two back-specific workouts, or a better approach would be to follow an upper-lower split, hitting each session twice a week, but starting both upper-body workouts with your back exercises.

The Exercises

You could probably reel off eight, maybe ten, possibly even a dozen back exercises if pushed, but how many of those actually get you pumped up to go and train? You know plenty of back exercises, but never do them, so something’s got to be up. And this is exactly where a lot of people fall down in curing their imaginary lat syndrome – back exercises just aren’t that exciting.

With that in mind, here are four awesome lat-building moves that will get your training mojo working overtime, strengthen your back, and give you some lats you can actually be proud of for the first time.

The Exercises: 1. The Mighty Chin-Up

Before getting fancy, learn to do chinups. If you can’t do ten strict bodyweight chin-ups yet, that’s your first port of call. No other exercise builds the lats like chin-ups.

You can throw pull-ups into the mix too. While the terms are generally interchangeable, and different people use one or the other to describe a different type of bodyweight pull, chin-ups are usually thought of as being performed with a close, underhand grip, while pull-ups are wider with an overhand grip.

You need some form of chin-up in every single back workout. I suggest starting here.

The Exercises: 2. Pull-Downs? You Serious?

Pull-downs are often considered the skinny dude’s version of the pull-up, and while I’d argue chin-ups and pull-ups are your number one weapon in the fight against imaginary lat syndrome, there’s most certainly a place for pull-downs too.

My two favorite pull-down variations are the neutral grip pull-down, performed with your palms facing inward, and the single-arm pull-down. The neutral grip places your shoulders in a more natural position, and means you get a bigger contraction at the bottom of each rep, whereas single-arm pull-downs help you activate those pesky lat muscle fibers.

Not being able to “feel” the lats is a common problem among wannabe strength-builders. This is generally due to a poor mind-muscle connection, but in my experience, switching to single-arm pull-downs suddenly cures this. The lats kick in, you stop feeling the exercise in your biceps, forearms, and shoulders, and start building some monster wings. If you’re still having trouble, try placing your non-working hand on your working lat and this should do the trick.

The Exercises: 3. Going Straight

An isolation exercise in an article on lat training? Yup, despite the fact it seems in vogue to hate isolation exercises and promote the use of compound moves in the “functional training” sphere, isolation moves absolutely have a place when working your lats.

The straight arm pull-down really gets that mind-muscle connection going once again. Use a rope attachment on the high pulley of a cable machine, take a step back, and start each rep with a big stretch. Then squeeze your lats hard as you bring your hands in to the side of your waist. These work well as a pre-exhaust exercise before launching into your regular pull-downs.

The Exercises: 4. Put Your Chest to Use

You’ve spent hundreds of workouts building that impressive set of pecs, now it’s time to put them to use. They’ll be used to help support you on this exercise, as we perform some chest-supported rows.

Your gym might have a machine for this, in which case feel free to use that. If not though, just set a bench to around a thirty-degree incline, lie face down on it, and grab a dumbbell in each hand. Start with your arms hanging straight down, then row the dumbbells up to your sides, squeezing your lats hard on every rep.

Position is crucial on these. While you’ll hit your lats no matter how you do this exercise, you’ll get much more bang for your buck if you bring the dumbbells up slightly lower – around waist height – rather than higher up. Rowing the dumbbells up to your ribs will transfer the stress onto your traps and rhomboids, which isn’t what we want at the moment.

You can break the rules here as well, and wind up the functional crowd even more by using wrist straps. Ideally, you’d have a grip of iron and not need straps, but if you find your grip’s giving out before your lats are fully fatigued, then strap up and go to town. Make sure you do some grip-strengthening exercises like plate pinches and fat grip work in your other sessions, though.

Lighting Up Lat City

Keep things simple by picking just two exercises each workout and sticking with these for four weeks. This can be any combo and any variation of the four listed above. You might choose weighted chin-ups and machine chest-supported rows in your first workout, and neutral grip pull-downs and straight-arm pull-downs on your second, for instance.

Follow an undulating loading scheme. So your program would look something like this:

  • Week 1: 3 sets of 12-15 reps on all exercises
  • Week 2: 4 sets of 8-10 reps on all exercises
  • Week 3: 5 sets of 5-6 reps on all exercises
  • Week 4: 2 sets of 20 using a light weight (This is essentially a mini deload)

On week five, go back to 3 sets of 12-15, either on different exercises, or on the same exercises as weeks one to four, but using a bit more weight, or aiming to beat your reps from the last cycle. Do this, and imaginary lat syndrome will be but a distant memory.

Photos courtesy of .

Back Workout: 5 Moves To Mile-Wide Lats

Like a lot of guys, my back development used to be a major weak point in my physique. I was much more interested in the muscles I could see in the mirror, so my back training lagged. Eventually, I sat down with my dad, Lee Labrada, and devised a training program to really pack the mass onto my back, especially my lats.

Since then, I’ve been working on building my back to bigger and better proportions. It’s taken a lot of intense and consistent effort, but it’s definitely paid off.

Today, you’ll be going through a back workout with me and my dad. However, before you head straight to the lat pull-down machine, remind yourself to move the weight by squeezing your lats instead of pulling with your arms or using momentum. If you just pull with your arms, you’ll go through an entire workout of glorified biceps curls. That won’t get you anywhere.

Ready to get going? Let’s do it!

Hunter’s Lat Attack Workout Rest 45-60 seconds between sets 1 Superset Straight-Arm Pulldown 1 warm-up set of 15 reps, 3 working sets of 15 reps 1 set, 15 reps 3 sets, 15 reps+ 4 more exercises

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Hunting For Bigger Lats

1. Straight-Arm Lat Pull-Down

This exercise really captures the function of the lat muscle. The lat brings the humerus (upper arm bone) down and back, which is exactly what you’re doing throughout this movement.

Keep a light bend in your elbows, but don’t change your torso angle. The motion should come from the shoulder joint. At the top of the movement, you should feel an intense stretch in your lats; at the bottom, push your chest through. Don’t use anything but your lats to move the weight.

Straight-Arm Pull-Down

We’re pairing this movement with the low-cable row in a superset to pre-exhaust the lats and get a lot of blood into the muscles. The more blood in the muscle, the harder that squeeze will be, because the muscle is so full.

I’m a really big proponent of stretching between sets. So, between your supersets, grab whatever you can and pull on those lats. You’re going to get super tight doing this superset.

2. Seated Low-Cable Row

Get a full stretch in the extended position of this exercise by allowing your lats to stretch forward. On the way back, your back should rarely go beyond a 90-degree angle. Pull hard with your elbows, not your lower back.

Seated Low-Cable Row

Keep your chest high during all of your back movements. If you let it drop, you’re more likely to start pulling with your biceps.

3. Reverse-Grip Lat Pull-Down

Stay fairly upright and pull the bar all the way to your chest. Doing this movement with a reverse grip allows you to pull the elbows down easier because you’re in a really natural angle. Pulling your elbows down hard will provide a deep, full contraction. At the top of the rep, put your head through your arms. That allows you to fully stretch and elongate your lats.

Reverse-Grip Lat Pull-Down

Your grip width on this exercise comes down to personal preference. I like to have my hands in line with my shoulders. That way it’s a straight pull and puts less strain on my wrists. No matter where your hands are, though, the important thing is to get your elbows down and back, and to keep your chest high.

4. Reverse-Grip Barbell Row

Much for the same reason we do reverse-grip pull-downs, reverse-grip rows allow the most natural position and the biggest, deepest pull and contraction. When you do a row with an overhand grip, sometimes your elbows can “chicken wing” out and away from the body.

A lot of people want to move their torso up high as they row. That’s unnecessary. If you’re coming high, it’s because the weight is too heavy. Stay over the bar. Your back angle should never change.

Reverse-Grip Barbell Row

Keep your head in a neutral position, aligned with your spine. Don’t crank your neck up so you’re looking at the ceiling. Your head position will keep your spine at a nice, flat angle.

The bar should stay close to your thighs. Drag the bar up your legs and pull it into your belly button.

This is one of those exercises that people can get too excited about and add too much weight. A lot of the time it’s not the size of the tool, but how you use it. Use enough weight to really feel that contraction in your back, but not so much that you have to use other muscle groups to move it.

5. Close-Grip Lat Pull-Down

This movement differs from a regular lat pull-down because you’re going to sit facing away from the weight stack. Instead of putting your knees under the pads, wedge your butt beneath them and keep your lower back flat against them.

Close-Grip Lat Pull-Down

That position should take out all of the extra motion and keep your lats totally isolated. Really focus on the stretch, and then pull the bar all the way to your chest.

Attack Your Back

Give this burly workout a shot! If you have any questions after watching the video, don’t hesitate to shout them out in the comments section below.

David Otey, C.S.C.S, is a member of the Men’s Health Advisory Board.

When you think of the glamour bodyparts to train in the gym, you often think first of the so-called “mirror muscles.” These are the muscles that every guy loves to train, and the ones that you can always see easily—chest, arms, abs, and shoulders.

But if you really want to that perfect superhero physique, you have to build a ripped and chiseled back, too. Specifically, you have to hit your lats, the wide, fan-shaped muscles that loom large along your back. The perfect physique doesn’t really come together without a muscular back that tapers in width from shoulders to waist. And that taper is really a product of lat development.

Training your lats, however, feels boring to some and daunting to others, because sometimes, we think of pull-ups as our only option. But there are a host of exercises that can get the job done. Here are 10 moves that will really develop your lats. Make sure you’re hitting 2 or 3 of these moves at least once a week to round out your physique.

A Quick Lats Anatomy Lesson

In order to work your lats you have to understand them at least a little: They’re the large, triangle-shaped muscles on the back, creating a thick taper from shoulder to waist. The muscle inserts into the upper part of the humerus, your upper arm bone, from the inside. Their purpose is main two-fold: Your lats primarily work when you pull things, and when you adduct things. What’s adduction? Raise your arms out to your sides, forming a “T” with your torso. Now lower them forcefully back to your sides. That forceful lowering action is adduction.

This all means that traditional rowing motions with your arms by your sides pulling straight back will impact your lats. Get too wide with your grip on a row though, and you begin to see more involvement from the rear deltoid and middle traps. Researchers have also found there could be some mild advantages from pulling with a medium grip width specifically in the vertical plane. In both the upward and downward path of the movement there were some small advantages from a muscular recruitment standpoint the the medium grip which seemed to be just right.

The 10 Best Lats Exercises

Now let’s get right into the best lat moves out there.

Deadlifts

Men’s Health

The classic barbell deadlift is often thought of as a hamstring and glute developer, but it’ll smoke your lats too. Think about it: Whether you’re lifting or lowering that barbell with a heavy weight, it’s hanging from your arms, and your back muscles have to pull. Don’t underrate this move as a foundation of a solid back.

How to: Load a barbell with weight on the ground and stand close to it, so it nearly touches your shins. Grasp it with an overhand, slightly-wider-than-shoulder-width grip. With feet shoulder-width apart and arms just outside of the legs, push the hips back as far as possible then bend the knee far enough to reach the bar. From the bottom position with a tall spine, pull the bar from the ground by standing tall and pulling the hips back to your standing position. Throughout the movement, it’s important to maintain a strong posture. Descend down controlling the bar back down to the ground.

Barbell Row

Men’s Health

Fixed moves with both arms can maximize the amount of weight that can move. This move is a staple in most bodybuilders, athletes, and probably your routine by this point.

How to: Stand next to a loaded barbell set on the ground. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward so your torso is slightly higher than parallel to the ground, then grab the barbell using an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Look down, not forward. Tighten your core. Hinge upwards, raising your torso to a 45-degree angle with the ground and lifting the barbell. This is the starting position. Keeping your core tight and your shoulder blades squeezed, bend your elbows and pull the barbell to your lower chest. Aim to keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle relative to your torso as you do this, and try to touch the bar to your ribcage. Lower to the start with control. That’s 1 rep.

Dumbbell Row

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This is one of the first variations novice lifters learn. You simply hinge forward, place one arm on a bench or rack for balance, and grasp a dumbbell in the other arm. Keep your torso steady as you bend your elbow and use your back muscles to pull the dumbbell up toward your ribcage. Dumbbell rows involve a host of back muscles, but if you want to focus on your lats here, aim to get a good stretch at the bottom of the motion.

How to: Start standing, holding a single dumbbell in your right hand. Now hinge forward until your torso is nearly parallel with the ground. Keep your core tight and your feet shoulder-width apart as you do this. Place your left hand on a box or bench for balance. This is the start. Pull the dumbbell back to just above your belly button, then slowly return it back to the start.

Pull-ups and Chin-ups

Men’s Health

The pull-up and the chin-up are well-known moves, and staples for lat development. Both moves are simple: You hang from a bar, with an overhand grip (pull-ups) or an underhand grip (chin-ups), and pull your chest to the bar. To really hit your lats, avoid the so-called “kip,” a Crossfit idea that has you explosively swinging your hips to create momentum that drives your chest to the bar. Work up to 3 sets of 10.

How to: Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand (pull-up) or underhand (chin-up) grip, hands about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight, bend at the elbows and shoulders and pull your chest to the bar. Pause, then lower with control.

Lat Pulldowns

The lat pulldown is a cousin of pullups and chinups, and it definitely seems similar. But we’re giving it its own spot here because of how it lets you focus in on your lats. Freed of grip concerns and the need to manage your lower body perfectly, you can really focus in on your lats and finish off every rep with a good squeeze.

How to: Sit in a lat pulldown station and grab the bar above with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Tighten your core and keep your torso upright. Pull the bar down toward your chest, bending at your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades. Slowly return the bar to the top of the station. You can also try a kneeling variation, shown in the video above.

Landmine Row

The landmine row has a lot in common with the barbell row, except the angle of your pull is slightly different. The landmine row, with the barbell anchored behind you, lets you get more of a squeeze with your lats. And because it’s anchored, you cheat less and squeeze a little bit more.

How to: Set a barbell in a landmine and place some weight on the opposite end of the barbell. Wrap a V-bar handle around the weighted end and grasp its handles. Hinge forward so your torso is at a 45-degree angle with the ground; this is the start. Squeeze your shoulder blades and row the weighted end of the barbell toward your chest; pause, then return to the start.

Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pullover is viewed as a chest exercise by some, and it’ll hit your abs considerably too. But as you pull the weight back above your torso, your upper arms mimic a row motion. And the best part comes before that: your lats wind up getting a great stretch as you lower the weight.

How to: Lie with your back on a bench, holding a single dumbbell overhead with both hands, gripping the weight instead of the bar. Keep your arms straight as you lower the weight in an arc behind your head. Once you feel a stretch in your chest, pause, then pull it back to the starting position. As you pull it back, your lats come into play, driving the motion. Think 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps here.

Meadows Row

The brainchild of bodybuilder John Meadows, the Meadows row has you approaching the landmine from a different angle for a vicious single-arm row. The angle forces the resistance to travel both up and away, challenging you to pull explosively near the top.

How to: Stand next to a landmine, facing away, your outside leg about 6 inches from the end of the barbell and your back leg in a staggered stance behind you. Hinge forward so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the ground, and rest your outside hand on your outside leg. Grip the bar with an overhand grip with your inside hand. Tighten your core. This is the start. Now row the bar to the bottom of your chest. Squeeze. Lower with control.

Renegade Row

Men’s Health

This Crossfit staple lets you train your lats while building shoulder stability at the same time. It’ll also challenge your core. You’ll find yourself using lighter weights than you might on other motions, too, which means you’ll have a good opportunity to finish each rep with a squeeze. Just sit this one out if you have shoulder issues.

How to: Get in pushup position, with your hands on a pair of dumbbells in a neutral grip, and your feet about shoulder-width apart. Do a pushup. As you raise your torso, lift one dumbbell off the ground and row it toward your belly button; you’ll need to support your weight with your other shoulder. Return to the pushup position, then lift and row the other dumbbell. Alternate the first dumbbell you row with during every pushup rep.

Inverted Bodyweight Row

Men’s Health

This row has you lying underneath a bar, tightening your entire torso, then rowing your chest to the bar. It’ll challenge your abs and glutes, but expect it to be hard. The good news: It’s an incredibly scale-able bodyweight move: Make it easier by raising the bar higher and assuming a position closer to standing. Or make it easier by bending your knees and planting your heels into the floor (instead of maintaining a fully straight line from shoulders through feet).

How to: Lie under a barbell or Smith machine and grab the bar with an underhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Position your feet and torso so that you’re at a 45-degree angle with the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades; this is the start. Now pull your torso and body upwards, aiming to touch the bar between belly button and chest. Lower back to the start. That’s 1 rep.

Deadstop Row

The deadstop row is similar to the barbell row, except after each rep, you lower the bar all the way to the ground, bringing it to a dead stop. This gives you a chance to reset your form and tighten your core, and if you struggle with grip strength on the barbell row, it gives your forearms a break. The result: You move more weight, but without sacrificing form or risking injury.

How to: Setup for this is very similar to a barbell row. Once again, you stand next to a loaded barbell set on the ground. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward so your torso is slightly higher than parallel to the ground, then grab the barbell using an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Look down, not forward. Tighten your core, and make sure your hips are slightly lower than your shoulders. This is the start. Keeping your core tight and your shoulder blades squeezed, bend your elbows and pull the barbell to your lower chest. Aim to keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle relative to your torso as you do this, and try to touch the bar to your ribcage. Lower the barbell all the way to the ground, and let it come to rest (a dead stop) on the ground, then begin the next rep.

David Otey, C.S.C.S. David Otey, C.S.C.S.

During workout, many pay little attention to the lats muscle. This is known as the largest muscle in the back. While it’s great for you to become well-built and strong, it’s also essential that you build the vital muscles in your body. This guarantees you good health and the strength you need to lift heavy objects or carry your body with confidence. In this article, you would discover the importance of the lats muscle and how you can work out the right way. Additionally, we will carefully explain the terminologies around the lats. We would like you to have a perfect understanding of how this muscle influences your physique and overall health.

What is the Lats Muscle?

Do you know what muscles in your body are responsible for opening your car door, pulling your home front door, and lifting weights? Did you know that most daily activities are linked to the lats? Also known as the latissimus dorsi muscles, the lats are located on both sides of your back, just under your shoulder and down to your hips. These muscles are essential for giving your body the ideal manly physique which makes people admire your build. Now, when you do planks, pull-ups, and rows, for example, you exercise the lats muscle. Hence, engaging in lat muscle workout can help you build your body to fight against lat muscle injury or even the lat muscle pain. For many men, looking sturdy is a MUST. Thus, when you don’t get your lat pull-down muscles worked, you prevent your body from getting the core and strength it requires to carry out daily tasks.

What are the Functions of the Lats Muscles?

Your lat muscles play a big role in your upper body and activities that involve lifting. The lats muscles are linked to your ribs, spine, upper arm, and scapula. As a result, these muscles contribute a whole lot to how you rotate your arm and pull things toward you (in contrast to pushing). Furthermore, they determine how you support yourself during workouts like deadlift, bench press, and squats. Your physical stability is also dependent on how your lat muscles are formed and worked. When your lat muscles are big and strong, you can participate in sports which demand throwing or lifting. Nothing can be more rewarding than knowing that you had trained your body to be better at bench pressing or aiming for the prize. Other benefits of a healthy latissimus dorsi muscle include:

  • Improved running speed
  • Adduction
  • Enhanced breathing
  • Good back support

Additionally, with the knowledge that the lats muscle attaches to the humeral, scapular, and pelvic, it becomes important that you do everything possible to keep them healthy. Think about all the times when you raise your hand above your head or extend your right hand for a handshake. These body movements are possible, thanks to your lats. In essence, healthy and bigger lats make life easy.

Imaginary Lat Syndrome

Interestingly, a common situation among men and bodybuilders is the imaginary lat syndrome. The lat syndrome describes a situation where a man assumes that he is muscular whereas he has only imagined the muscles to be there. Usually, such men raise both arms so high, raise their shoulders, and push their biceps out to give the impression that they have large lat muscles. In the actual sense, such erroneous belief creates a misconception, since such men have committed much time to a gym routine. If you fit this description, then it is indeed possible for you to correct it. How? Get on a new workout routine. With the lats muscle workout routine, you get to focus specifically on the largest muscle in the back. Irrespective of how big it gets, you have nothing to lose. In the long run, strong and big lats muscles make you the best guy in the pack.

Benefits of Lats Training

Lats training is designed to help you pay attention to your back after many years of building your chest and arms. This training is geared at teaching you how to exercise your latissimus dorsi muscle and develop a back with proper proportions. Now, it’s important to add that training requires effort and consistently. Like most workouts for bodybuilding and muscle building, lats training needs you to stretch yourself and go hard until you begin to see the results you need. From dumbbell lats to other wide back exercises, training to build your lats is the way to go. So, how do you get started? Focusing on your lats muscles requires identifying the actual exercises that bring quick and sustainable results. Generally, the lats muscles have higher growth potentials and should be worked on, whether you choose chin-ups or deadlifts. One thing we must not overlook is that as you train for your lats enlargement, you shouldn’t exert so much pressure with your arms. Instead squeeze your lats and feel the contraction. If you don’t feel any contraction, you may only have succeeded in working your arms and building bigger biceps. But haven’t you had enough of that already? Here’s the deal: Your lumber spine gets support from your lats and the exercises you do shouldn’t focus on parts other than your upper body. Paying attention to the humeral extension, adduction, and rotation helps you to build your upper body and push your arms outward rather than inward. The pressure which comes from pressing hard against your pelvic strengthens the lats muscle and prepares it to deal with activities like swimming or rowing. The rule: get stronger to get bigger! When you engage in exercises which make you stronger, your lats muscle and other important back muscles like the teres major and minor, rhomboids and trapezius will form perfectly.

Best Lats Muscle Exercises

Now that you know where your lats muscles are and why it’s important that you build them, you should get started with lats exercises. When working out, be mindful of going too hard. Inasmuch as strength is important, injuries should also be prevented. Lats muscle injuries can be extremely painful especially because the muscle is located in the middle of the back and it is the largest. How does the latissimus dorsi pain feel like? For one, the injured person would feel a tear or rip to the muscle and it could be very painful. In the worst case, lats pain could cause severe pain to the shoulder blade, joints and the neck. Thus, we recommend that you follow a modest training routine which doesn’t leave your lats muscle feeling sore. Below are workout tricks to include. And whether you’re interested in lats exercises at home or training with professionals, your focus should be on getting massive lats.

Rows

Rows are one of the most popular lats exercises and you can perform them in different positions. This workout plan is patterned after rowing a boat since it focuses on your middle and upper back. As you move backward, the lats muscle on both side of your back becomes firmer and stronger. In addition, rows can be performed in the following ways:

  1. Dumbbell rows
  2. Barbell rows
  3. One arm row
  4. Renegade row
  5. Bend over row with bands
  6. Power plank with rows
  7. And many more!

It all depends on how you fit them into your exercise routine. Regardless, rows are great for stepping up your game as far as your lats muscles are concerned

· Pull-ups

Next to rows are pull-ups which are known as the toughest back exercises. Why? You practically lift yourself off the ground with your arms gripping a pull-up bar. For newbies, this may be difficult. You may want to begin by placing a chair under your feet for support. Place your arms on the two sides of the bar with your shoulder in the middle and pull your weight up. The more times you do this, the easier it becomes for you. And you can gradually shift the weight from your arm to your lats. Remember, this isn’t about building biceps, but about building the largest muscle in your back. On these two main exercises rest other components of the lats training. Thus, feel free to watch videos on how to do the exercises right.

Conclusion

In this post, we have discussed the basics of the lats muscle. Do you agree now that weightlifting is better when your lats muscles are well-built and bigger than that of the average Joe? Do you feel the need to take supplements for lats growth? Get in touch with us for trusted and proven products. Exercise and consistency can go a long way. Yet, supplements like NITROCUT can complement your efforts. Let’s hear from you!

Five Great Lats Exercises To Try

People who are into physique training like to talk about achieving the V-shaped torso, and if that’s on your to-do list you’re going to want to dedicate some time to working your latissimus dorsi – AKA your lats – because bulking them up will leave you with a broad, powerful-looking back. Even if this is the first time you’ve heard the phrase V-shaped torso, what we’re about to tell you next should still make you want to keep reading. The lats are responsible for a huge range of movements and a strong set of lats promote good posture – and who doesn’t want to improve their posture?

Unsure where to start? We’ve got your back. Here are a few of our favourite lats exercises.

Pull-up

Nothing works your lats quite as well as a proper pull-up and, unlike with some moves on this list, you don’t have to pay as much attention to keeping your back straight because gravity will take care of that for you. Just don’t beat yourself up if you struggle when you’re starting out – pull-ups are hard.

Hang from a pull-up bar with your arms extended, hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing away from you. Brace your core and slowly pull yourself up (keeping your back straight, of course) until your neck is above the bar. Pause, then lower in an equally controlled manner until your arms are straight again.

Lat pull-down

Remember when we said pull-ups are hard? This pull-up-like exercise can help you build up to them. There are no prizes for guessing which muscles the lat pull-down works, but there are definitely rewards for those who do it.

Sit in the lat pull-down machine with your legs beneath the padding. Grasp the bar with both arms extended, keeping your back straight. Slowly pull the bar down towards your chest, pause, then allow the bar to rise again under control – the release is just as important as the pulling phase.

Medicine ball slam

This mean medicine ball exercise is ideal if you want to both work on your lats and release some pent-up anger.

Place a medicine ball – 12kg is our recommendation, but go lighter if you need to on the ground in front of you. Squat down to pick it up, making sure you keep your back straight. Lift the ball above your head with your arms extended. Once there, slam the ball down onto the ground as hard as you can.

Reverse-grip barbell bent-over row

If the hanging and the slamming weren’t taking your fancy, rowing might be the exercise for you. Stand in front of a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees. Making sure your back is straight throughout, bend forwards – hinging at the hips – until your torso is nearly parallel to the ground. Grasp the barbell with an underhand grip, palms facing away from you, and hold it around shin height. Pull the barbell in towards your stomach, keeping your elbows tight to your body, until the bar touches your sternum, then lower slowly.

Dumbbell pull-over

If after all the pulling, slamming and rowing you feel like you need a little lie-down, finish your session with this move. Take care when selecting a weight and if in doubt go lighter. You’re going to be holding that weight above that gorgeous mug of yours.

Lie with your head and back flat on a bench, and your feet flat on the ground, holding one dumbbell in both hands with your arms extended above your chest. Keeping your arms extended, lower the dumbbell behind your head until it’s roughly level with your head, then bring it back up to above your chest. If you start to feel discomfort in your shoulders, don’t lower the weight any further; instead, go and work on your shoulder mobility and/or pick a lighter dumbbell.

Even Bodybuilders Have a Tough Time Hitting These Muscles

Bodybuilders are the epitome of strength, the kings of the muscle court. So it probably comes as a shock that even they have a difficult time building certain muscles up.

These men and women are in killer shape, however, they aren’t immune to the struggle that is muscle gain. Trainers and bodybuilders alike ranked the hardest muscles to tone and build and gave tips on how to finally build those tough-to-target muscles (page 7).

6. Biceps

Sorry, but your bicep curls aren’t working as well as you think. | iStock.com/Ibrakovic

Various bodybuilders expressed difficulty building up their biceps. However, according to Muscle and Fitness, they may just be doing the wrong bicep exercises for long-term results. “Curling aimlessly is just as limiting as it sounds,” it found, and encouraged using bands and widening your grip to further define the biceps.

If you want to define your biceps without building big muscle, try these exercises designed to tone your arms without using weights.

Next: How do you turn that four-pack into a six-pack?

5. Abdominal muscles

Bicycle crunches help to hit those hard-to-reach lower abs. | iStock.com

Regardless of how long you plank for or how many crunches you do, your “lower abs” (biologically speaking, there is no distinction) never seem to surface. It feels nearly impossible to complete the six-pack, and more often than not, most people just settle for the top two to four.

Biology and diet are in part to blame for the struggle, however, there are still a few tricks you can use at the gym to target your lower abs. Incorporate exercises that target all of your abdominal muscles like jackknives, boat pose, and bicycle crunches. Focus on engaging your lower abs with each movement to optimize the exercise.

Next: You won’t want to shrug off this muscle group.

4. Shoulders

You need to be careful how you work your shoulders. | iStock.com

Lifestyle coach and trainer Craig Ballantyne called the shoulders “the first place to get hurt and the last place to get big” for bodybuilders. He recommended building big shoulders using the “back-to-front” approach in order to increase muscle mass while reducing the potential for injury.

The “back-to-front” approach is fairly self-explanatory: start each workout training the back of the shoulder, then the middle deltoid, then finish with exercises for the front of the shoulder. For example: Start with reverse flyes, move onto standing deltoid raises, and finish with a seated dumbbell press.

Next: Don’t neglect this hard-to-build muscle group.

3. Pecs

Pecs are notoriously tough to grow. | iStock.com

The pecs are a notoriously difficult muscle to build according to Men’s Health, and many bodybuilders feel the same. Derek Charlebois — known as “The Beast” among the bodybuilding community — called his chest the “stubborn muscle group that just does not seem to want to grow.”

Physical trainers recommend warming up, taking things slow to start, and incorporating regular rests to start. Charlebois claimed the bench press, incline bench press, and cable crossovers all contributed to the incredible results he saw over the course of just six months.

Next: These muscles are the hardest to build and easiest to injure.

2. Lats

Full range of motion is key when developing the lats. | Kostolom/iStock/Getty Images

The biggest issue with lats? They’re nearly impossible to isolate. Bodybuilding experts stress focusing on quality rather than quantity when targeting your lats. “What’s most important is to cut back on the amount of weight in order to perform the reps at a full range of motion,” Generation Iron recommended in order to build real muscle mass.

Bodybuilders use chin-ups and pull-ups to build up their lats. Remember to keep your elbow position in mind throughout your workout: holding them wide will target the upper lats while keeping them tighter to your sides will trigger the lower lats.

Next: Bodybuilders call this muscle group the hardest to build up.

1. Calves

Make sure to add calf raises into leg day. | iStock.com/Ibrakovic

Genetics play a large role in calf size since they control muscle distribution. There are other factors — like your circulation and nerve supply — that also affect how your calf muscles develop.

According to the experts at Generation Iron, the key to overcoming “chicken legs” to make your calves a priority rather than an afterthought. Build a well-structured workout that incorporates all three of the calves’ major muscles. The site recommends including reverse calf raises and standing or seated barbell calf raises in your workout.

Next: These tips will help you build any muscle, no matter how pesky.

So, what’s the secret to targeting tough-to-build muscles?

Low weights and high reps are key to building muscle. | iStock.com

The bigger the weight, the bigger the muscle, right? Wrong. It turns out using low-weight volumes and high repetitions actually lead to the greatest hypertrophy, or enlargement of cells, by pumping more amino acids into muscles.

Research also shows that focusing on full-body workouts, eating small meals throughout the day, and incorporating a thorough warmup can help you build and maintain muscle mass.

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Which muscles do pushups work?

Below is a guide to eight different types of pushup. The exercises are in order of difficulty from the easiest to the most challenging.

1. Wall pushup

Share on PinterestImage credit: CDC, 2012.

Wall pushups are suitable for beginners or anyone with a shoulder injury. This type of pushup helps build shoulder and chest strength but places a reduced load on the muscles.

Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, and chest.

  1. Stand in front of a wall, just over an arm’s length away. Feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bring the hands to shoulder height. Lean forward, extend the arms, and place the hands flat on the wall. Hands should also be shoulder-width apart.
  3. Inhale and bend the elbows, lowering the body toward the wall. During this movement, squeeze the core and buttocks to maintain a strong, straight position.
  4. Pause for 1 second and then push off the wall with the arms, keeping the hands on the wall. The feet should remain flat on the floor. If the heels come up, move slightly closer to the wall.

Try to do 3 sets of 12 repetitions, reaching a total of 36 pushups. Take a short break between sets.

2. Modified pushup

The modified pushup is for people who want a more challenging exercise than the wall pushup but are not quite ready for a standard pushup. When doing this pushup, focus on tightening all the muscles to maintain a stiff, straight body.

Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, chest, and serratus anterior.

  1. Start on all fours, with the knees and toes touching the floor. Hold the legs and feet together.
  2. Look down at the floor to maintain a neutral head position. Place the hands below the shoulders, keeping the arms straight.
  3. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible. Pause here for 1 second.
  4. Breathe out. Push the arms straight to lift the body off the floor and back into the original kneeling position. Make sure that the back does not sag, the core remains tight, and the buttocks do not lift into the air.

Repeat the exercise 12 times and then do an additional 2 sets, with short breaks between them. This will make a total of 36 pushups.

3. Standard pushup

Share on PinterestImage credit: Frank C. Müller, 2006.

The standard pushup requires more work than the modified pushup because it does not involve using the knees to help support the body weight.

Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, chest, and serratus anterior.

  1. Start on all fours, but extend the legs so that the knees do not touch the floor. Tuck in the pelvis and keep the head in a neutral position by looking down at the floor. Place the hands under the shoulders and keep the arms straight. This is known as the plank position.
  2. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible. Pause here for 1 second.
  3. Breathe out while pushing the arms straight to lift the body off the floor and back into the plank position. Make sure that the back does not sag, the core remains tight, and the hips do not lift into the air.

Try to do 3 sets of 12 pushups.

4. Wide pushup

The wide pushup is only slightly different to the standard pushup. It involves widening the distance between the hands, which places more focus on the chest muscles.

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, and back muscles.

  1. Get into the plank position, as in the standard pushup, but place the hands further out to the side.
  2. Follow the same technique as the standard pushup for lowering and raising the body while tightening the core and buttocks. The elbows will point further out to the side as the arms bend.

Try to do a total of 36 pushups, dividing them into 3 sets with short breaks between.

5. Narrow pushup

The narrow pushup is another variation of the standard pushup, but it is usually more difficult. It reduces the distance between the hands, which means that the arm muscles have to work harder.

Muscles worked: triceps and chest muscles.

  1. Get into the plank position but, this time, place the hands closer together and directly below the chest.
  2. Follow the same technique as the standard pushup for lowering and raising the body while tightening the core and buttocks. The elbows should tuck back into the body as the arms bend and straighten.

Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions to reach a total of 36 pushups.

6. Elevated pushup

The elevated pushup position raises the feet above the body, meaning that a person needs more strength to get back into a plank position. A person can increase the elevation over time as their strength improves.

Muscles worked: shoulders, upper back, and triceps.

  1. Start in the plank position and then raise the lower half of the body by placing the toes on a sturdy object, such as a box, chair, or bench.
  2. Place the hands underneath the shoulders, keeping the arms straight.
  3. Breathe in. Engage the core and buttocks muscles and bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible. Pause here for 1 second.
  4. Breathe out. Push the arms straight to lift the body off the floor and back into the plank position. Make sure that the back does not sag, the core remains tight, and the hips do not lift into the air.

Again, aim for a total of 36 pushups, dividing them into 3 sets of 12 repetitions with a short rest before each new set.

7. Clap pushup

The clap pushup, which is a type of plyometric pushup, is one of the most demanding types of pushup. A person can try this once they are very confident in their upper body strength.

The clap pushup can help increase muscle strength, power, and body awareness.

Muscles worked: shoulder, chest, and arms.

  1. Begin in the plank position with the hands slightly wider apart than the shoulders.
  2. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible.
  3. Breathe out. In one smooth movement, forcefully push the body upward by straightening the arms and lift the hands off the floor, bringing them together to clap once.
  4. Land with the hands back on the floor and a soft bend in the elbows.

This type of pushup requires a lot of strength, but a person will find that they build up endurance over time.

For this exercise, it is best to start with 5 to 10 repetitions over 3 to 5 sets. Rest sufficiently between sets to allow the body to recover.

8. Pike pushup

The pike pushup is another demanding pushup variation that loads more weight onto the shoulders and triceps when pushing back up.

Muscles worked: shoulder, serratus anterior, upper back, and triceps.

  1. Start on all fours with the hands placed shoulder-width apart, the heels off the ground, and the head looking down. Lift the buttocks into the air, keep the arms straight, and bend at the hips to form an upside down V shape. This is a similar position to the Downward Dog in yoga.
  2. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the head and let it gently touch the floor, if possible.
  3. Breathe out. Push the arms straight to raise the head and shoulders back to the starting position.

A person can try using a yoga block or something similar if they are unable to touch the floor with their head. For this pushup, it is best to begin with short sets of 1 to 5 repetitions and then work up to larger sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

Most guys learn to do pushups in the fourth grade. Ever seen a fourth-grader do a pushup? It’s not pretty. And unfortunately, few people ever get better.

“Unless they’ve had instruction before, I’ve never seen someone off the bat do a pushup perfectly,” says metabolic training expert B.J. Gaddour, C.S.C.S., creator of the follow-along DVD series Men’s Health Speed Shred. “I see 99.9 percent of people do it wrong.”

But performing pushups incorrectly can make your lower back ache, hurt your shoulders, and keep you from getting the most muscle-building benefits out of the exercise. Here are the top pushup mistakes—and Gaddour’s fast fixes.

Mistake #1) Your elbows are flared out
If someone took a bird’s eye view picture of your body, would your upper arms form a “T” with your torso? That wouldn’t be surprising—after all, that’s how they teach fourth graders. But it’s not the best approach. That’s because it puts a lot of stress on your rotator cuff, which can lead to injuries. Instead, keep your elbow tucked as close to your body as possible. Now think of pushing through your armpit, Gaddour says. You’ll not only engage your chest and triceps, but you’ll also rely on your lats, traps, and even your biceps, while protecting your shoulders.

Trouble retraining yourself? Perform pushups on your fists with your knuckles facing outward (palms facing each other), while keeping your wrists straight. You can also hold onto the sides of a box or a low step. Flaring your elbows out will feel extremely unnatural in either of these hand positions. For more new moves from top trainers, sign up for the Exercise of the Week newsletter.

Mistake #2) Your hips are sagging
Your head, upper back, and hips should all be in a straight line during the entire pushup. If your hips drop below that line, you’re not getting the full core benefit out of the movement, and could cause lower back pain. The fix: Tightly squeeze your glutes (butt muscles) during the exercise. Here’s a drill Gaddour uses with his clients: Set up in a pushup position with your feet against a wall. As you do a pushup, press your heels into the wall. You’ll feel yourself tighten your butt—and that’s exactly how you should feel any time you do a pushup.

Mistake #3) You rely on gravity
Don’t just drop to the floor. As you lower your body down, drive your palms into the floor and use your arms to pull your body to the ground. “Think of doing a row on the way down,” Gaddour says. This engages your upper back muscles, giving them more of a workout. It also makes you stronger instantly, since the elastic energy you create by lowering your body down makes pushing up easier.

Mistake #4) You’re not stretching your wrists
Do a lot of pushups, and your wrists will probably start to hurt. There’s a simple reason why: You don’t typically bend them that way. To find relief, stretch your wrists in between sets. Rest on all fours with the back of your hand on the floor and your fingers pointing toward your toes—so that your wrists are bending the opposite way that they flex during a pushup. Another drill: Clasp your hands together with your fingers interlaced and your palms completely touching. Roll your clasped hands clockwise and counterclockwise for 15 to 30 seconds in each direction.

Mistake #5) You do incline pushups or knee pushups
If you’ve been doing knee pushups forever and can’t seem to make the leap to full pushups, there’s a good reason for that: “Elevating your hands or pushing on your knees takes the load off your body, but you’re working a different angle on your chest muscles,” Gaddour says. “You’re not hitting the same muscles to the degree you will when you’re flat on the floor, so it won’t get you ready for a floor pushup as much as you’d like.” A better way to work into full pushups is the Bear Crawl Pushup (also called a Bent-Knee Pushup.) Start in the position below, then do a pushup while keeping your knees bent.

As you become stronger, move your feet out farther and farther until you’re doing a standard pushup.

Discover how Gaddour shed fat and build muscle—and how you can, too—with the new Men’s Health workout, The Incredible 82-Day Speed Shred.

Updated 10/26/2012

Big chest and lats with simple bodyweight routine?

OK that picture helps everything – that isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, and it certainly achievable with bodyweight work.

The think about that physique is the low body fat and moderate muscle mass. To achieve the first part focus on your diet, assuming you are just lacking in size, eat close to maintenance or a little over.

With regards to how to build muscle, as people have stated, the key is volume. Focus on being able to do exercises in the 10-15 rep range with good form for 5+ sets. The challenge with body weight exercises is increasing difficultly. Unlike with weights were you can just increase the weight, your challenge is to decrease leverage.

Chest exercises can be increased in difficultly like so:

  • Push-ups on the knees
  • Standard push-ups
  • Wide-grip push-ups (A narrow grip works the triceps more)
  • Incline push-ups (the greater the incline the more the deltoids are worked)

After a certain point push-ups may become easy, but you can just throw on a backpack with some weight – books, sand, small children – to increase the difficulty.

Back exercises include:

  • Body weight rows (A broom across some chairs will work)
  • Incline body weight rows (Elevate your feet on a box)
  • Chin ups (Supine grip)
  • Pull ups (Pronated grip)

Again, a backpack can be helpful. But by the time you can go 10+ reps for 5 sets your lats will look awesome. Regardless of what people suggest, you can get a great back with body weight alone. Will you win Mr. Olympia – no, will you impress most people – yes.

Even just devoting a day to pushups and a day to pull ups will work your shoulders quite well. Your front deltoids, which are “meatier” and help build that shoulder contour actually play a large roll and are worked thoroughly in Transverse Flexion or pressing while your posterior deltoids will be worked by the rows and pullups. While both pushes and pulls will work your lateral deltoids. Both exercises have the added benefit of working your core for stabilisation – i.e. your abs, obliques and lower back – as well as the oft neglected serratus anterior – those muscles that kind of look like ribs or fingers but only show on boxers and posers.

Routine

Day A: 10-15+ reps x 5 sets pushups

Start on the knees and move to the next exercise in the list once you can hit 20 reps on your last set.

Day B: 10-15+ reps x 5 sets pullup variation

Start with rows, and move through the progressions as above.

Day C: Rest.

Repeat A-B-C until you look awesome. As I mentioned, this kind of work won’t have you winning Mr. Olympia – but if you can do 50+ pushups or pullups in a single session, you will have a strong and enviable physique like the picture you posted.

What are lat muscles?

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