If you want a big back then your lats are going to be the muscle that makes the biggest difference. In latin, the word ‘latus’ means broad and ‘latissimus’ means broadest. Dorsum refers to the back. Therefore latissimus dorsi, the scientific name for the muscle, means the broadest muscle of the back. Already you can see that it’s a real powerhouse muscle.
The lats originate from the lower portion of the back and insert on the back of the humerus (the upper arm muscle). Their action is to bring the arm towards the shoulder, turn the arm inwards and extend the arm backwards at the shoulder joint.
As they span such a large area of the body it’s important to train them correctly. Here are 7 exercises to really make your back pop.
1 – Weighted Pull/Chin Ups
First off, pull ups and chin ups are the best exercise to target your lats. Being able to pull your own bodyweight off the ground and above a bar requires a lot of effort which means your body needs to be strong in order to complete the movement.
Once you can comfortably do this for eight reps then it’s time to take things further by adding weight. Grab a belt and attach 5kg. As soon as you can complete another 8 reps for 3 sets then add 2.5kg. If you keep doing this then soon enough your back will be massive and you’ll be stronger than ever before.
2 – Single Arm Rotational Pull Down
Pull downs are an isolation movement for the lats which means that they are the main muscle being targeted with very little stress put upon any other muscle. Completing this movement with one hand allows for you to add rotation to the movement and complete a higher range of motion. Both of these things mean that your lats will have to work harder and therefore you’ll receive more growth.
Remember, this is an assistance exercise. Pull ups should be the main bread and butter of your lat training and then pull downs are the cherry on the cake. The main focus of this exercise is completing a full range of motion so don’t worry about loading up the weight.
3 – Renegade Row Push Up
This movement not only works the back but the chest, triceps, rear delts and core as well. It’s a great way to warm up the whole body and can be used as an assistance exercise if needed. As it requires minimal equipment then it’s also perfect for when you’re on the move or in a place such as a hotel gym where they don’t have much to offer.
4 – Decline Cable Rope Pull Over
Not many people know about this exercise but it makes for a great addition to your back training. The exercise is a single joint movement than can really finish off your lats at the end of a workout. The decline bench means that your back is placed under a lot more tension than if you’re using a fat bench. You can also complete the movement with dumbbells though the cable means that there is constant tension through the whole movement which will stimulate more growth.
5 – Bent Over V-Grip Cable Row
This is a really unique way to train the upper portion of the lats. It’s very similar to a seated cable row except that you’re bent over and the weight is coming from above. The exercise means that you have to engage your core muscles to keep the proper form.
To shake things up a little try changing your grip from overhand to underhand and vice versa so that you can hit different areas of the back.
6 – Rack Pulls
Rack pulls are basically the top part of a deadlift and we all know how good that is. This means that this exercise will have a lot of carry over to your other lifts and requires strength across the whole body. You can use it as part of your warm up or as a way to finish off at the end of a workout.
As you’re only completing the top half of the deadlift it means that it’s not as strenuous on your mind or legs so you’ll have more energy and will be able to lift more weight. The focus is entirely on the back.
7 – Lying Cable Pull Over
Once again, this movement can be completed with a preacher curl bar or dumbbells but the cable creates constant tension throughout the movement. The wide bar attachment is perfect for this exercise as it means you can have a wide grip which targets the lats further. Really stretch and squeeze your lats at the beginning an end of the movement to make them work harder.