Your Latissimus Dorsi muscles, otherwise known as “Lats” are the largest muscle group in your upper back. Essentially, they connect your arms and shoulders to your spinal column and create that “V” shape you can see in a person’s rear torso.
If you want to create a wide, strong-looking back, then movements that strengthen your Lats are the way to go. Your Lats aid in good posture, a stronger spine, and are a key muscle group used when pulling any sort of weight or object towards you.
They are critical assistants to your arms and shoulders when performing heavy lifting. Even such simple daily tasks as opening your front door or getting into your car require activation of your Latissimus Dorsi, so make sure you train them regularly as part of your fitness routine.
And for those of us who work desk jobs all day, well-conditioned lats will also help to keep you sitting upright and reduce potential neck pain if we lean too far towards our screens.
Some of the best Lat-conditioning exercises you can try are the Pull Up and the Bent Over Row.
Pull Ups in particular are one the absolute hardest bodyweight movements you can do, but if you can build your strength up and perform them correctly, you’ll be rewarded with a back that looks like it could fell a tree in a single blow.
If you’re a beginner at training your Lats, always start off slow and easy. There’s no need to strain your back.
Particularly with Pull Ups, try the Assisted Pull Up or Lat Pull Down machine in your gym to get your body used to doing the exercise before attempting it with only your bodyweight.
Joel Runyon is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® - performance lifestyle brand encompassing performance apparel & formulas, IMPOSSIBLE Fitness® programs, and a philanthropy arm. An endurance athlete and entrepreneur - he's also the creator of MoveWellApp and owns Ultimate Meal Plans. Find out what next challenge Joel is crossing off his impossible list here.