What Are “Lats?” And Why Do I Want Them?
“Lats,” as bodybuilders often call them, are a pair of muscles that are technically called “latissimus dorsi.” These muscles are found in the lower back, and they extend around both sides of your torso. Because of their location, these muscles are essential to develop if you want your body to have a good V-shaped taper. This taper is important because when you become more muscular, there is always a chance that someone will mistake your muscle for fat. A well-shaped profile ensures that you will immediately be recognized for the hulking stud that you are.
A Simple Workout To Build Great Lats:
The following is a quick-reference list that you can use for your back workout. There are many exercises that can strengthen and build your lats, but we have attempted to break it down to the five most important ones.
1. Bent-Over Barbell Row: 8-12 reps
For this exercise, you will need to load a barbell and hold it in both hands as you stand in place. Bend over and lean forward while still holding the barbell down at your waist. Now, lift the barbell up and back before slowly descending and repeating. As the name implies, the motion is a little bit like rowing a boat.
2. Bent-Over 2-Dumbell Row: 8-12 reps
This one is almost identical to exercise #1. The only difference is that you use two dumbbells instead of a barbell. Make sure you hold your dumbbells vertically like you would if you were doing hammer curls.
3. Wide-Grip Pulldowns: 12-15 reps
This one requires a weight machine. Sit in front of the pulldown bar, facing the machine. Arch your back a little and throw your chest out for proper posture. Now grab the bar in a wide grip, as wide as your arms and bar will allow. Your palms should be facing outward. Now just pull it down, let it back up (maintaining some tension as the bar lifts) and repeat 12-15 times.
4. Underhand Pulldowns: 12-15 reps
This exercise is almost identical to #3. Sit down and position yourself as before, but this time bring both your hands to the middle of the bar so that they are close together. Your palms should face inward (towards you), and your grip width should be a little less than the width of your shoulders.
5. Back Extensions: 20 reps
For this exercise, you will need a hyperextension bench or something much like it. It is possible to improvise this piece of equipment, but be very careful and make sure that you don’t use something weak! A failure at the wrong moment on this exercise could end with you being dropped on your head, and that’s no fun. To do the exercise, you just wedge your feet in place, cross your arms, and bend forward as far as possible. Pull yourself up and repeat 20 times.
Principles To Remember:
Now that we have given you an introduction to the subject; let’s look at some of the finer points. There are a few particular tricks that can make the entire process much easier and more productive.
1. Don’t Go All The Way To Muscle Failure
“Muscle failure” is defined as the point when you simply cannot lift anymore. Although it is tempting to work yourself to total exhaustion, thinking that you are getting a maximal workout, it is a bad move in the long run. The fact is that lifting to exhaustion is a good way to strain yourself, thus delaying all your workouts until you are healed.
Instead of going to a state of total exhaustion, try to stop when you are nearing exhaustion but not quite there yet. It can take a little trial and error to find that perfect “sweet spot.” Be especially sure not to exhaust yourself when doing things like squats and bench presses, where a failure could cause serious injury. Take a look at this poor guy and learn well from his mistake.
Modify The Reps As Needed
In the workout listed above, a certain number of reps has been assigned for each exercise. Bear in mind that this is a goal, not an absolute demand. For instance, exercise #5 calls for 20 reps. If you find that you cannot do 20 reps, do the best you can and leave it at that. Don’t try to push yourself and overdo it just because you want to feel good about getting those last few reps.
Make Sure To Breathe Properly
It can be tempting to hold your breath when engaged in strenuous exercise. Although this instinct is totally natural, it is not the best way to go. Make sure that you inhale and exhale as you perform each rep, exhaling as you exert yourself and inhaling as you return to starting position. For instance, a bench press will usually involve exhaling as you push up and inhaling as you let the bar down.
Proper breathing serves two purposes. First, it helps you to maintain proper rhythm. Second, proper breathing will deliver more oxygen to the muscles, allowing for a fuller and more rigorous workout. As you can see from this study, the muscles actually consume oxygen when they are put to hard use. Think of oxygen as the universal supplement.
Do Your Reps In Short Sets With Rest Periods
When we say that you are supposed to a certain number of reps with this workout, bear in mind that you don’t have to do them all at once. Instead, do them in short bursts with a short rest period in between. If you aren’t sure what to try first, try doing sets of 4-6 reps followed by 3 minutes of rest. If this proves to be too easy, you can do sets of 8-10 followed by 2 minutes of rest.
Always Stretch Thoroughly
As with any athletic activity, you should always limber up before you get started. Lifting weights is an inherently strenuous activity, and injuries are very common. Perhaps the best way to avoid this is to stretch very well before every session. For morning workouts, this is doubly important.
As my old martial arts teacher always said, a tree which is old, stiff and hard will snap in a strong wind. In the same manner, a flexible young tree can bend with the wind and thus avoid the destruction suffered by the larger trees.
Consider Your Nutrients
Proper diet is very important if you want to build the largest and strongest body that you can. Just as an architect requires bricks and beams, your body requires material in order to build itself. The nutrients that you get from food and supplementation are those building materials.
As most people know, protein is of the utmost importance for building muscle. However, your overall caloric intake is also a factor. It is important to realize that supplements and nutrients are not an instant solution. If they are not combined with a good diet and regular exercise, their benefits will be lessened.
Most protein supplements contain whey protein, which is made from milk and is a very high-quality source of protein. Whey protein is obviously not suitable for those who are lactose-intolerant, but for everyone else, it is a great choice. It is common for good reason, as we can see from this study. The study shows that whey actually has several important health benefits aside from its muscle-building properties.
Don’t Forget Your Protective Equipment
You might have seen some people at your gym wearing a thick belt or special gloves when they are weight training. It’s very possible that you have looked at them and said: “I don’t need all that gear just to lift weights!” While this statement is technically true, it is also a foolish attitude. A good thick weight belt and some sturdy fingerless lifting gloves are worn mostly for safety reasons, and this is why you need them. Gloves give you a better grip when lifting, and can do a lot to prevent dangerous drops. When your hands get really sweaty, you will be happy you bought those gloves. The belt is intended to brace your back and reduce the chance of a catastrophic back injury. Don’t leave home without these things!
Build Your Back Into A Monster
As a final note, it is worth mentioning that lats are not the kind of muscle group that should be isolated. Because of their central position, they usually work in cooperation with other muscle groups. This is the way that nature intended your lats to work, so don’t be a fool and try to fight the natural order. You build good lats by building a good back. Since they are a large muscle group, your lats might well be a little stubborn, but just remember that victory means nothing without effort. For more great posts, follow us on Facebook!