The latissimus dorsi, or lats, are your large, triangular muscles which start underneath your shoulders and go down until they reach the small of your back. Sometimes they are described as wings and these are the largest muscles in your upper body. They serve to pull your shoulders back and down.
Any aspiring bodybuilder will want to know how to get big lats as a nice lat width is considered a crucial aspect of bodybuilders’ physique. It is impossible to get the desired V-shape all top bodybuilders have without building up bigger lats.
If your goal is to develop a bigger back, you need to pull using your lats. To do so, you need to learn how to build your lats by attacking the back, beating it up while pulling harder, stronger, and longer. Your back will not develop unless you put in hard work, control every rep, focus on deep movements, and isolate your wings.
How to Get Big Lats: Exercises
Stand facing a loaded barbell. Keep your back straight while bending your knees and then bend forward. Grab the bar in a shoulder width overhand grip for the starting grip. (You can use wrist straps or try a different grip if necessary).
Hold onto the bar and push using your legs while bringing your torso to an upright position and exhaling. Once you reach the upright position, stick out your chest and bring your shoulder blades back to contract the back. Bend your knees and simultaneously lean your torso forward from the waist with your back straight to go back to your starting position.
Use a pronated grip (with palms down) to hold a barbell. Slightly bend your knees and move your torso forward through a bend at the waist with a straight back; your back should be nearly parallel with the floor. Always keep your head up. Let the barbell hang right in front of you with your arms hanging perpendicular with your torso and the floor for the starting position.
Keep your torso stationary and exhale while lifting the barbell. Keep your elbows next to your body, holding the weight with just your forearms. When you reach the top of this contract position, squeeze your back muscles and briefly pause. Inhale while slowly lowering your barbell to your starting position.
Hold the pull-up bar in a grip closer that is closer than shoulder width and with your palms facing the torso. Extend both arms in front while holding the bar. Maintain a straight torso and create curvature in your lower back while sticking out your chest to find the starting position. Try to keep your torso straight to minimize back involvement and maximize bicep stimulation.
Exhale while pulling your torso up so your head is close to the pull-up bar. During the movement, concentrate on using your biceps and keep your elbows close to the body. Remember that you want your upper torso to stay still, with only your arms moving and the forearms only holding the bar. Squeeze your biceps briefly while in this contract position before slowly lowering your torso to the starting position with your arms fully extended. Inhale during this part.
Hold the pull-up bar with a wide grip and your palms facing forward. Find the starting position by extending both arms in front holding the bar and bring forward your torso and head, creating an imaginary line connecting the back of the neck to the pull-up bar.
Pull up your torso so the bar is close to your back of the neck by drawing your upper arms and shoulders down and back at the same time you lean your head slightly forward. Exhale during this part and concentrate on squeezing your back muscles in the fully contracted position. Always keep your upper torso stationary, with just the arms moving, but the forearms simply holding the bar. Inhale while slowly lowering your torso to your starting position. Your lats should be fully stretched with your arms fully extended.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Put a dumbbell on either side of a flat bench. Put your right leg on the edge of the bench with your torso bent forward at the waist so your upper body becomes parallel with the floor. Put your right hand on the bench as support. Pick up the dumbbell with your left hand, holding the weight while maintaining a straight lower back. Make sure your palm is facing your torso.
Pull the dumbbell straight up the side of the chest with the torso stationary and the upper arm close to the side. Exhale during the step and squeeze your back muscles at the fully contracted position. Ensure that your back muscles, not arms, perform the force and the upper torso is stationary with only arms (except forearms) doing the work. Lower your dumbbell back to your starting position while inhaling. Do all reps on one arm before switching to the other.
This video will give you more inspiration and help you learn how to get big lats:
How to Get Big Lats: Workout Routine
To learn how to get big lats, you need to be able to put the above exercises together in a workout routine. You want your back workout to train all your back’s major muscles, including the lower area and to use heavy weights. You can use higher reps, but focus on lifting heavy weights for bigger lats.
Follow this workout routine every 5 to 7 days over the course of 8 weeks:
Do 3 sets of barbell deadlifts (4 to 6 reps)
Do 3 sets of barbell rows (4 to 6 reps)
Do 3 sets of wide-grip pull-ups or chin-ups (4 to 6 reps with weight if you can)
Optional: Do 3 sets of one-arm dumbbell rows (4 to 6 reps).
Advanced lifters or those who feel like they still have energy can do the final optional portion of the workout, but don’t push yourself as you want to prevent overtraining.
When you are able to do the full 6 reps in a set with a weight, increase the weight for the next set. Remember to rest for 2 to 3 minutes between sets so your muscles can recover and you can maximize your effort.