Here are five of the best exercises to work the largest muscles in your back.
Your latissimus dorsi, commonly known as lats, are broad, fan-shaped muscles in your middle to lower back that connect to all the other back muscles. While you may not give them much thought, your lats work to rotate and move your arms and shoulders. They also play an important part in your overall weight and resistance training and add width to your body that give your physique the unique “V” shape that shows you mean business.
Want to turn your body into a V-shaped beacon of musculature? Try out this handful of exercises.
You can use all sorts of machines to pump up your lats, but pull-ups are actually the best possible workout for your lats – as long as you do them the right way. To do a pull-up correctly, use your widest overhand grip. For a front pull-up, pull up until the bar touches the top of your chest and then let yourself all the way down. Don’t jerk or swing your legs at any point in the motion, as this will subtract from your lats workout. Instead, make the entire motion in a controlled, fluid motion. For the best lats routine, start and end your back exercise routine with pull-ups.
Lat Pull Down
The second best workout for lats is the lat pull down, and there is a machine made just for it. So take a walk around your gym until you find the lat pull and have a seat. Whereas pull-ups require you to pull your weight upwards, the lat pull requires you to pull weight towards yourself. When doing so, use a wide overhand grip to grow your lats outward, or keep your hands close together and palms facing you to increases the thickness of your lats.
Seated Cable Row
The seated cable row machine includes a bench, footrests, and a cable. Sit down and pull the cable toward your body while sitting upright on the bench with your knees slightly bent. When you pull the weight, make sure you pull towards your lower stomach, and return the handle slowly, keeping your back straight the entire time. This motion works your middle back lat muscles as well as your arms.
Bent over Barbell Row
The bent over barbell row is another great workout for developing your back strength and thickness, as it works your lats and the rest of your back. To do the bent over barbell row, your legs must be slightly bent, your back should stay straight, and you ought to lean forward until you are almost parallel to the floor. Once in this position, pull the barbell up toward you until it touches your stomach. Pull the bar toward your mid to low stomach to develop your lower lats. Pull it toward the top of your stomach or chest, and you’ll work your upper lats.
Bent over Dumbbell Row
While it may sound similar to the bent over barbell row, the bent over dumbbell row is a very different exercise. Whereas the bent over barbell row works your entire back, bent over dumbbell rows hone in on your lats. To do this exercise, place one knee on the bench and lean over, resting your hand on the bench. Stand on your opposite leg and hold the dumbbell with that arm. Lift the dumbbell off the floor and raise it up, pulling it close to your body at your chest or shoulder level. Lower the dumbbell slowly and repeat. Continue with the other side of your body. Try not to let your shoulders or arms do the work, and avoid performing barbell rows in the same workout as dumbbell rows.
These five exercises are the most popular workouts for developing your lat muscles. As usual, if you’ve had previous back injuries or pain, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. And to prevent injury and strain, start slowly and work your way up.