I wrote in an earlier post about how to build your back muscles, but that more spoke to developing your back as a whole. In this post, I’ll talk specifically about the lateral muscles and how to build them up. These muscles are under your armpits and are what flare out to add that V-shape to your body.
Developing these muscles goes a long way to completing your physique, as opposed to having a straight rectangular trunk. There are a number of ways to isolate the lats, which I will get into below as well as provide video instruction on how to perform these exercises properly to get the best results and negate the risk of injury to these important muscles.
How to Work Your Lats
These are the largest muscles in the back, so it is important that you keep them strong. Beyond just being aesthetically pleasing, they are crucial for so many daily tasks that you do. Add these movements listed below to your workouts and you’ll be carrying grocery bags like a pro! The best exercises for the lats are ones that heavily involve the laterals but don’t necessarily isolate them. This way, the rest of the back and the biceps are recruited to be able to lift heavier weight, leading to better strength and size gains.
One note – for all of these, focus on doing high weight with low reps, as opposed to a low weight with high reps. Focus on the movement, taking it slow and deliberate to really engage the back muscles and not cheat with your biceps or shoulders.
This exercise is the core of any good weightlifting program and is one I touched on in other posts on this site. It recruits so many muscles to perform this compound movement and really helps for gaining size and strength all over. Not only is it a great lat exercise, but it’s also just a great exercise in general. Focus on heavy weight with low reps, but don’t use too much weight as to sacrifice form. Check out the video below on how to perform this movement properly.
I talked about this one in my post about strengthening your back, but this one really targets the lats for a great workout. You can vary this one up with a wide grip or a narrow grip, in front of your head or behind your head. The key is not to do the same thing over and over – change it up to keep your muscles guessing and getting different looks. Focus on using your back muscles to pull the bar down, and not your biceps.
You can perform this with dumbbells as well, but I prefer engaging both sides at the same time with a barbell. This exercise will engage all the muscles in the back and allows you to lift more weight than other variations of row exercises.
More Things to Keep in Mind
Since the back is such a big muscle group, you will want to train your whole body to get your anabolic system going to promote muscle growth all over. One good workout program that I follow for adding size and strength is the Shortcut to Size workout by Jim Stoppani, which I reviewed here on this site.
Also, don’t forget about nutrition. Your muscles are hungry after you tear them up in the gym, so it is best to feed them with the nutrients and hormones that they need. I’m a big fan of taking TestoGen supplements to keep my testosterone levels high to build muscle.