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Latissimus Dorsi Exercises For Strength

Published May 20, 2019 (Revised: August 13, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>They connect muscles in your front side to the muscles in your back. When they’re strong, they keeps your back healthy by supporting your posture. And they are one of the muscles responsible for helping you breathe.</p> <p>We’re talking about the <i>latissimus dorsi</i>—or ‘lats’—of course! </p> <p>Oh, you’re never heard of them? The lats may not be as popular as the biceps or the glutes, but they’re about as important as muscles get. If your lats are weak or tight, you’re likely to have back pain and other issues, too.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll break down the latissimus dorsi: where the ‘lats’ are, what they do, how to cure tight or weak lats, and the five best stretches and exercises you can do right at home.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="latissimus-dorsi"> </picture> <header>Where Is the Latissimus Dorsi?</header> <p>The latissimus dorsi, or ‘lats,’ are large, flat muscles located on the mid and lower part of your back. The lats are the biggest muscles in your back and one of the biggest in the body. </p> <p>Fun fact: latissimus dorsi in Latin actually means ‘broadest muscle in your back <sup>1</sup>.</p> <p>The latissimus dorsi connects to the bone of your upper arms (near the <i>triceps brachii</i>), the spine, and the hip. Like your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">obliques</a>, they also connect the front of your body to the back of your body.</p> <p>Here’s how big your lats are: if your lats are sore, you could feel it as far up as your armpits or as low down as your waist.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Does the Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Do?</header> <p>Your latissimus dorsi help lift your arms up and reach, internally rotate your shoulders, and support your core muscles.</p> <p>Outside of exercise, your latissimus dorsi serve quite an important function—they are one of the muscles responsible for expanding your chest every time you take a breath <sup>3</sup>.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="Beginner exercises">Beginner exercises</a> that require strong lats include pulling exercises like kneeling slides. Lats also play a role in stabilizing your core in many <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="core exercises">beginner core exercises</a> and even help you with upper body movements like push-ups.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Causes Lat Pain?</header> <p>Have pain in your latissimus dorsi? You’re not alone. 80 percent of adults are expected to deal with back pain at some point in their life <sup>4</sup>. And if you have it, we don’t have to tell you back pain is no joke. </p> <p>Depending on its severity, back pain can make it difficult—or impossible—to exercise, work, or even <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="watch television">watch television</a> without discomfort. The back is home to tons of muscles and nerves, and even little tweaks can make small tasks a real struggle.</p> <p>The lats are your largest posterior (back) muscle, and often must work harder to compensate for weak leg or core muscles. You might have lat pain because your lat is being overused or is stuck in a stretched position due to other weak muscles.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Makes the Latissimus Dorsi Weak? </header> <p>Lat pain could be the result of a weak latissimus dorsi. If your lats are weak or not being used correctly during exercises, they can’t support the other muscles in your core, legs, and shoulders.</p> <p>Just like weak glutes can cause back pain or ‘long tight’ hamstrings, weak lats can make your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="shoulders tight">shoulders tight</a> and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="lower back">lower back</a> tight.</p> <p>You likely have a muscle imbalance causing your lats to either work too hard or not at all (most likely the former). </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Else Causes Weak or Tight Lats?</header> <p>Here are three other things that could lead to a weak or tight latissimus dorsi, along with some tips to help reverse the symptoms.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Bad Posture</div> <p>Whether you sit at a desk all day for work or not, poor posture when you sit can easily weaken your lats and cause back pain.</p> <p>By slouching or sitting for too long, your latissimus dorsi can’t properly support your spine, which compresses the disks in your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="lower back">lower back</a>. </p> <p>Try sitting upright with a flexed back and ‘proud chest’—like during a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="perfect squat">perfect squat</a>. Your lats are active and your spine is supported. You might also try a few <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="simple chair exercises">simple chair exercises</a> at work or throughout the day.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Tight Shoulders</div> <p>The lats connect two of the largest joints in the body, your shoulders and hips. If your shoulders are tight from ‘<a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="living in a box">living in a box</a>’ or just not stretching them, your lats might be tight or weak, too.</p> <p>The lats connect to the back of your shoulders and the base of your <i>scapula</i> (shoulder blade). Try some of these <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="shoulder stretches">shoulder stretches</a> to loosen them up, then give these <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="shoulder exercises">shoulder exercises</a> a try.</p> <div class="sub-head">3. Pulled Muscle</div> <p>The latissimus dorsi is used during most functional exercises. Heck, it’s used for pretty much everything.</p> <p>Because your lats are involved in so many movements, they are quite prone to overuse injuries <sup>4</sup>. </p> <p>Playing golf, catch, shoveling, and chopping wood are non-exercise examples of when your lat must work hard.</p> <p>If you’re new to exercise (or manual labor) and push a little too hard, you could strain or pull your lat. </p> <p>One way to prevent pulls and strains is to use the right <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="exercise progressions">exercise progressions</a>. By picking exercises that meet you where your current fitness or strength level is—and progressing them little by little each workout—you’ll get results faster and decrease the risk of injury.</p> <p>And as for shoveling and chopping wood, we recommend making the kids do it. There! No more lat pain.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Stretches Can I Do for My Lats?</header> <p>Give some of these lat mobility exercises a try if they’re feeling tight.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">1. Downward Dog</div> <p>This is an example of doing an up down dog, one of our favorite <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="beginner exercises">beginner exercises</a>. But the top position—when Coach Tyler’s body looks like an upside-down V—is a position called downward dog. And holding that position will help stretch out your lats.</p> <p>To really maximize the stretch, grip the floor and push your hands through the floor hard. Look back at your feet and keep your elbows locked out. The more you push, the more you’ll feel a stretch in your shoulders and latissimus dorsi.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Grab Onto Something!</div> <p>One easy way to stretch your lat is to grab onto something and pull. </p> <p>You can use a door frame, a counter-top, or a pull-up bar if you have one. Ideally, it’s something at eye level so you can position your body for a stretch without having to bend over too far.</p> <p>The key: everything from your waist to the top of your head stays in one line (like it does in downward dog).</p> <p>Be careful, though. Whatever you grab (or hang from) should be able to support your weight. If you have a pull-up bar, stand on a sturdy stool and just bend your knees to make yourself shorter if you can’t do pull-ups.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Latissimus Dorsi: 3 Exercises to Strengthen Your Lats</header> <p>If you’re ready to build strength in your lats, try these three exercises during your next at-home workout. Give the “Try this workout” a go and let us know how you do!</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">1. Table Tops</div> <p>Start to finish, you’ll notice Coach Tyler’s spine is perfectly straight from his lumbar (low) spine to his shoulders. It requires a lot of core and lat strength to hold this position as you bridge up and pause at the top—not to mention glute, tricep, and shoulder strength, too.</p> <p>To really work your lats during this full-body exercise, squeeze your belly at the bottom and keep your elbows tight to your body. You’ll notice your mid and upper back must work extra hard when your elbows stay close.</p> <p><b>Try this workout</b>: Superset table tops with a lower-body exercise like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="drinking birds">drinking birds</a> or <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="alternating reverse lunges">alternating reverse lunges</a>. Do 12 table tops, then without a break, do 12 of your chosen lower body exercise. After 24 total reps, take a one-minute break, then do two more sets.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">2. Planks</div> <p>It’s no secret planks are great for building strong core muscles. But they’re also awesome for your lats, too. </p> <p>When you hold a good ‘hollow’ position—as seen above in this kneeling plank variation—your lats are firing and working with your abs and obliques to stabilize your spine.</p> <p><b>Try this workout</b>: Do a week-long plank challenge. Start with a challenging-but-doable plank set. 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or more—it’s up to you.</p> <p>Using which plank variation you’re comfortable with (<a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="beginners">beginners</a> can start with kneeling planks), try adding 3 to 5 seconds to your longest plank each day. </p> <p>By the end of the week, you could add over 30 seconds to your original.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">3. Simple Side Bends</div> <p>Another one of our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="beginner exercises">favorite beginner exercises</a>, simple side bends will work your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="obliques">obliques</a> and lats. Stand tall with good posture and squeeze your abs and back so you don’t slouch.</p> <p>This exercise also doubles as a stretch, too. Just turn it into an isometric exercise by simply hold the position on one side.</p> <p>To maximize the stretch, push your hip toward the side wall (the hip on the side you’re stretching). Don’t let your torso turn forward or backward. Gently lean into the stretch, which you’ll feel going all the way up your side.</p> <p>Hold for 20 to 30 seconds on one side, then switch.</p> <p><b>Try this workout</b>: Do a five exercise core <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="circuit training workout">circuit training workout</a> with simple side bends. Use some of these <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="ab">ab</a> or <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="oblique exercises">oblique exercises</a> for inspiration!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Latissimus Dorsi—Wrapping Up</header> <p>By now, you see the importance of having two strong, mobile latissimus dorsi—even if you still aren’t 100 percent sure you’re pronouncing it correctly. Hey, you can always stick with ‘lats.’</p> <p>Good posture, functional exercises, and occasional rest is the key to keeping them healthy. The lats are prone to injury because they’re used in pretty much everything. </p> <p>Our recommendation? Cite your ‘lat health’ next time you want your kids to shovel the driveway. Kidding, but try these exercises, and let us know how they go.</p> <p>If you dig them, check out our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="exercise section">exercise section</a> for more workout tips and advice.</p> <p>And if you’re ready for more effective workout and nutrition advice, join the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="Warrior Made fitness tribe">Warrior Made fitness tribe</a>. Our fantastic coaches, awesome recipes, and amazing and supportive community have helped thousands lose weight and achieve a total body transformation.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="Latissimus dorsi muscle">Latissimus dorsi muscle</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="Latissimus dorsi muscle">The Anatomy of the Latissimus Dorsi Muscle</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="Back Pain Facts and Statistics">Back Pain Facts and Statistics</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer" title="latissimus dorsi">How do you stretch the latissimus dorsi?</a></li>

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