Latissimus Dorsi – Let’s Hit the Back!


Hey everyone!

Welcome back or welcome to the page. Today I would like to get into exercises for the latissimus dorsi (from now on called the lats) muscles. These are muscles that are located in the back and control upper body limb movement.

We’ll discuss where the muscles are located, where they are attached, what their purpose is as far as movement, and how to best exercise the muscles for growth.

Let’s get started!

Definition of Latissimus Dorsi

The name latissimus dorsi means ” the broadest muscle of the back.” As you can see from the diagram, it is one of the widest latissimusmuscles in the human body. This muscle is commonly referred to as the “lat” muscles and it is a large, flat, triangular muscle that is not used much in daily activities, but is quite useful when climbing.

Latissimus Dorsi Origin and Insertion

The lat muscle originates along the lower spine, from about the 5th Lumbar to the 7th Thoracic vertebrae. It also is attached to the lower three or four ribs, part of the scapula, and the sacrum. The muscle fibres run on an angle away and up from their origin and are inserted all together on the floor of the biceptual groove of the humerus bone. Due to this origin and insertion, the lat is a major muscle when it comes to moving the arms and the shoulder.

Major Actions of the Latissimus Dorsi

Given that the lats are such a big muscle, you would think that they would be used on a regular basis in everyday life, but that is not the case. It is used a little when you open a door, but that’s about it.

The lat is an important muscle when swimming or rowing, and it is the major muscle (along with the pectoral muscles) used when doing a pull up. That is why the lat is often called the climbing muscle. When you are hanging with your arms above your head, it is the lat that you use to pull yourself up.

The lat is a pulling muscle, and the exercise you need to perform to strengthen the lats are just that, pulling exercises.

Latissimus Dorsi Exercises

Any type of pulling exercise will strengthen the lat muscles. It is one of the largest muscles in the back, so you will be exercising it along with the trapezius and rhomboid muscles when you perform any of the back exercises.

Since biceps are also a pull muscle, when you work the back muscles, you are also working the biceps. It is important to focus your mind on the back muscles to get the most intense workout possible. Arms is another day!

Here are some exercises you can perform to strengthen and widen the lats.barbell row

The first is the barbell row. In this exercise, you grab a barbell with a shoulder width grip, lean forward at a 45 degree angle, and pull the bar up to your hips. It is important to use an overhand grip on the bar to eliminate as much bicep use as possible. Again, focus on the lats. Think about squeezing them to initiate the movement, and be sure to use a slow and steady pace, especially on the way down, to get the most out of this exercise. Do 3 sets of 12 exercises with a weight that you can just finish the 12th rep.

The next exercise is pull ups. This is a difficult exercise, even for the seasoned weight lifter, but it is one of the best exercisespull ups for the growth of your lats. To perform this exercise, grab an overhead bar with an overhand grip, about shoulder width, and pull yourself up to the bar trying to touch the bar with your upper chest. This is a difficult exercise, as I said, and you may want to assist yourself on the way up with a bench or an exercise band, and then do the down portion of the exercise very slowly. This will start to build the muscles to the point that you can do the pull up part unassisted. Don’t be discouraged! It will take some time and some practice to get to a point where you can do a set of 8 or 10 pull ups.

renegade rows

Another great lat exercise is the renegade row. Begin this exercise in the push up position with a dumbbell in each hand. Tighten your core, and pull one of the weights up to your chest and put it down. Then do the same with the other arm. That is one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps. To begin, these can be done without weights or with your knees on the ground.

Finally, I will mention the lat pulldown. I mention this one last, because you will need a machine to perform it. Don’t worry if lat pulldownyou don’t have one, just do the other exercises mentioned, and your lats will grow and widen. I like to finish off my back routine with a wide-grip lat pulldown, using a light enough weight to allow a full range of motion through all 3 sets of 15 reps. I do this just to ensure the lats are nice and fatigued! If you don’t have a machine, you can incline your bench to about 30 degrees, lie on your stomach, and do lat pull ups with the barbell or dumbbells instead, remembering to keep the weight lighter for this finishing exercise.

lat row

lat row

Those are just a few exercises that you can perform to exercise the lats. Remember that all your back muscles will be worked when you perform these exercises, not just the lats. In a later post, I will share an entire workout routine that will hit all the back muscles with a variety of exercises. For now, pick a few and get busy!

Last Words

So there you have it. The latissimus dorsi muscle. It is one of those muscles that help your waist look narrower, the wider they get. So keep that grip wide, practice those pull ups, and grow a wide back!

Thanks for listening.muscular back

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Also, if you are a father (or mother) (or anyone for that matter) who would like an easy to follow program that includes a menu and work out information, check out this article from a few months ago.

See you in the next post.

Have a great day!


Tom Fitzsimmons

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