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How do I Build Big Lats?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 17, 2024
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The latissimus dorsi, also known as the lats, are the large middle back muscles located below the shoulder blades. These muscles give the athlete an extended v-shape when exercised properly. There are several weightlifting exercises that are designed to build big lats. These include seated rows, cable lat pull downs, and extended arm pull-ups.

Building big lats requires a structured fitness program with proper diet and nutrition. A bodybuilder typically eats a well-balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. This diet typically includes low-fat foods and is higher in good proteins. Eating a well-balanced, high-calorie diet is essential to gain lean muscle mass.

Many body builders use protein supplements to assist in weight gain. Building big lats requires hours of dedication and determination with both diet and exercise. Protein supplements can be added to a daily diet to increase muscle mass. Studies have shown that exercising three to five days per week with proper diet can produce significant muscle gains.

Cable lat pull downs are one of the best exercises for building big lats. This exercise is performed in an upright seated position, with the weightlifter pulling the bar toward his upper chest area. This looks similar to a pull-up but the bodybuilder remains seated with leg braces supporting the lower body. Cable lat pull downs strengthen the low to middle back area, giving the bodybuilder a larger fuller back.

Pull-ups have been used for decades to strengthen the biceps, triceps, deltoids, and lats. This compound exercise movement can produce big lats when performed correctly. The best pull-up program should include three sets of 20. Over time the bodybuilder can increase this set count to three sets of 50. Weight belts can also be added to a pull-up program, which helps add resistance.

Dumbell pullovers are a good compound exercise that assists the development of lat muscles. This exercise is performed by lifting a dumbbell behind the back area and extending the arms over the head. Dumbell rows focus on the triceps, biceps and lat muscles. This is typically a good finishing exercise for the lower back area.

Most professional body builders strive to obtain big lats. These muscles require extensive training to become professionally defined. A professional bodybuilder can highlight his lats with the famous front lat spread pose. Having larger lats gives the athlete a look of bat wings. This V-shaped figure makes a bodybuilder appear larger and more dominant.

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Discussion Comments
By nextcorrea — On Jan 31, 2012

If I develop big lats and loose fat around my waist I will have that V shaped look right? I have wanted that kind of body my whole life but am only now getting serious about working at it.

Is there a specific routine I can do that will develop my body into that V shape?

By backdraft — On Jan 30, 2012

@jonrss - Good tip. Pushups are another great way to develop your lats. In fact, the lats are one of the easiest muscles to build up without a lot of gym equipment.

People can do pull ups at any park that has a set of monkey bars and pushups can be done anywhere. Another great lat exercise is to go into a handstand up against a wall and do pushups this way. It is a similar motion to a pullup but inverted. It works the muscles in slightly different ways.

By jonrss — On Jan 30, 2012

One great way to get big lats is to do pullups. In fact they are maybe the best way to build muscle mass in the upper body. The pull up is an amazing exercise and should be a art of anyone's routine that is trying to develop their back.

If you really want to focus on the lats make sure to use an overhand grip and use a variety of different arm widths from very narrow to very wide. Also, do at least 2 or three set of pullups with every workout, more if you can. Pullups are most effective if you use them to really push your body to exhaustion. Get the most you can out of those muscles every time.

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