The Latissimus dorsi (lat) is a large muscle that extends along the side of the torso, behind the back, and down the front of the cleavage. Its main job is to pull us side-to-side, as well as hold us up vertically.
Stretching this muscle helps several muscle groups relax and allows for more flexible movement. A powerful back is one of the most important factors in being able to move your body in a way that is best suited for you.
Things like the power of the legs and core have been shown to have a direct influence on these muscles so it’s important to work them hard if you want to be able to perform an exercise correctly.
Best Lat Exercises For Mass
Here are 5 best lat exercises you should add to your routine:
Barbell bent over rows
The barbell bent-over row is a great exercise for strengthening the middle back area and developing overall back strength. The barbell bent over row is one of the most popular back exercises because it works every section of your back, including the shoulders and traps, chest muscles, lats, biceps, and hamstrings.
Here is how you do this exercise:
- Start by holding a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and hips so that your torso is at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- Let the barbell hang down in front of you, keeping your arms straight.
- Bend your elbows and pull the barbell up to your chest, keeping your upper arms close to your sides.
- Pause for a moment, then lower the barbell back to the starting position.
The key to a powerful barbell bent over a row is from starting with an appropriate stance. Start by positioning the feet hip-width apart, then setting the knees at an angle that doesn’t allow much knee bend.
From there, a straight torso provides the best alignment for this exercise and supports muscles to help move the weight through the rows. Concentrating tension on the back muscles during the lift is ideal for targeting these hard-working muscles as much as possible, so avoid arching or hunching.
The weight should be pulled directly off of the floor in a single motion as much as possible while pulling elbows back only slightly to maintain stress on the upper back muscles and keep them engaged throughout the duration of the exercise.
Weighted Chin Ups
Weighted chin-ups are a great exercise to improve your upper back strength and upper chest. Weighted chins build the muscles in your back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps that aren’t commonly worked out at other exercises.
For example, weighted chins isolate your lats, making them appear bigger than normal. They also work your lower traps (rows).
Here is how you do this exercise:
- Hang from a chin-up bar using an overhand grip that’s shoulder-width apart.
- Attach a weight belt around your waist, and add weight to it.
- Bend your knees and cross your ankles behind you.
- Pull your body up until your chin is over the bar.
- Lower your body back to the starting position.
The main benefits of weighted chin-ups include increased overall strength in the arms, upper back, and entire upper body. The weight adds a resistance factor which requires balance and concentration to maintain the proper posture while moving through the chin-up motion.
This causes an increased reaction time during execution which will improve hand-eye coordination and reflexes in general. Weighted Chin Ups may also be a great warm-up exercise or way to start a routine as they require little skill or technique and can make your other resistance training exercises more effective by getting you prepared for them.
Lat pulldowns are a great exercise to add to your routine if you want to build bigger arms, or just plain want to one-up someone by showing off those biceps. This is the perfect exercise for beginners since most people don’t have the strength (or upper body size) needed to perform most activities.
Here is how you do proper lat pulldown exercises:
- Sit down in front of a lat pulldown machine, and adjust the knee pads so that they are properly positioned for your height.
- Grasp the lat pulldown bar with an overhand grip, and position your hands about shoulder-width apart.
- As you exhale, slowly pull the bar down to your chest, making sure to keep your back and shoulders straight throughout the movement.
- Once the bar reaches your chest, hold for a count of one, and then slowly return the bar to the starting position.
This exercise is heavily weighted on the lats, which means the bigger and stronger they get, the better your development will be. Performing pulldowns on a lat pulldown machine will allow you to isolate the lats and give them constant tension, making it an ideal exercise for targeting their growth.
T-bar rows are one of the best exercises for your back, but they can be challenging to perform correctly. The “T” shape in this exercise adds to your difficulty because it forces you to engage core muscles in addition to your stabilizer muscles to keep the movement pattern going.
To do this exercise:
- Start by placing a weighted barbell in a landmine or a corner.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart, and brace your core.
- Hinge at the hips and reach down to grab the barbell with an overhand grip.
- Keeping your core engaged, row the barbell up to your chest.
- Lower the barbell back down to the starting position, and repeat.
If you want to target the muscles of your back, this exercise helps you do just that. The T-bar row is an effective lower back workout that can be performed by all levels of athletes.
They are also extremely challenging, especially for a beginner. While the barbell is on the ground, it may be difficult to hold onto it, so you need to focus on gripping the barbell as hard as you can before moving into the pull-up motion.
Underhand Grip Bent Over Rows
Underhand grip bent over rows are among the best compound movements to build a strong back. They also provide extreme lower back, mid-back, and upper back strength.
This movement helps develop a well-rounded back, with both thickness and width across areas like the lats, middle and rear part of your traps, rhomboids, or even the latissimus dorsi (lats).
Let us take a look at the steps needed to perform the Underhand grip bent over rows exercise properly:
- First off, to perform an underhand grip bent over row you will need to set a barbell (preferably an Olympic barbell) with the desired weight. You should set the barbell up with your chosen weight on a squat rack or a power rack.
- After setting the desired weight, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab the barbell using an underhand grip (palms facing you).
- Once you have the barbell, slightly bend your knees and hinge at your hips until your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Be sure to keep your back straight throughout the whole exercise.
- From this position, row the barbell up to your lower chest while maintaining the 45-degree angle.
- Pause for a moment at the top of the row and then lower the barbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Before using this exercise regularly, it may be a good idea to start simple. Try just doing one set of 10-15 reps once a week at first, and then keep building from there as you become stronger.
Another good idea is to alternate between straight-arm lat pulldowns and bent-over rows. This way, your back muscles have time to recover between exercise sets.
Before starting this or any other exercise program, be sure you get your doctor’s approval first to ensure it’s safe for your body.
The lat exercises covered above are extremely effective and will provide a sound framework for your back workouts. These exercises will ensure that your lats get the workout they need to maximize their growth and performance.
If these exercises aren’t already a part of your routine, you should make sure they are added. You can bet on excellent results if you put in consistent work with these exercises.
Routine is key, so be consistent no matter what exercise you try, and always make sure to warm up before using any weight to prevent injury.