Ranging from the professional body builder to the casual gym goer, having a torso and even more specifically in this case a back that resembles the letter V is ideal.
To have a back resemble the letter V is the combination of a small waist which would be the bottom of the V in conjunction with big, wide lats comparable to how the top of the V looks.
The primary muscle group involved in developing the ideal V are the lats.
When it comes to engaging the lats, performing movement patterns in one of two ways will do such: vertical movements in which you’re pulling down or horizontal movements in which you’re pulling towards you.
In knowing this, which exercises work best to get bigger lats?
#1 Barbell Deadlift
The barbell deadlift in many cases can be considered the king of exercises in terms of a movement that is not only functional, but practical when it comes to how we engage in completing physical tasks daily.
The deadlift is described as a posterior chain dominant movement in which the aim is to engage the muscles on the back side of our body – hamstrings, glutes, low back, and lats.
Playing around with different hand positions on the barbell such as a conventional deadlift grip in which the hands are torso width in relation to placement on the bar, snatch grip in which the arms are essentially the width of the barbell as well as adjusting the starting height of the hips from a conventional position to a Romanian or straight-leg hip position will engage different areas of the lats creating a balanced utilization of the lat muscles.
#2 Bent-Over Barbell Row
The bent-over barbell row is a movement in which a horizontal pull towards the body is present.
The movement itself involves hinging or leaning forward at the waist while holding the barbell at full extension below the waist as the start position.
Once the row movement begins, the most beneficial position is to pull the barbell to the bottom of the sternum or bottom of the chest.
Alternating between a double-overhead or double-underhand position as well as positioning the hands to be torso width or wider than shoulder width allows for greater leverage depending on preference on top of creating a broader area for the lats to be engaged.
#3 Close-Grip Seated Pull Downs
Just like the name suggests, close-grip seated pull downs involve the vertical movement pattern in which pulling weight down directly engages the lats.
When it comes to pull downs, it’s been thought that a wider grip will create bigger, wider lats.
This is not completely true. Regardless of a wide or close grip, the lats are activated in a similar fashion.
A closer grip has been found to decrease the amount of stress placed on the shoulders long-term.
#4 Standing Lat Pull Downs
Similar to close-grip seated pull downs, the movement involved with standing lat pull downs is one in which a straight bar is attached the pulley of a functional cable machine and while standing with predominantly straight arms, the bar is pulled below the waist in one motion.
The positioning of the hands will be placed on the bar just outside of shoulder width to create the greatest amount of leverage while pulling the bar down.
Being careful to limit an excessive amount of forward lean at the waist while performing the standing lat pull down is key.
#5 Seated Rows
Seated rows involve being seated while pulling weight towards the body in a horizontal fashion.
While performing seated rows, being conscious to remain upright and minimize leaning back at the waist while pulling will allow for the lats to stay under constant tension allowing for greater engagement leading to an increase in strength and size.
Referencing back to close-grip seated pull downs, the lats will not develop to be bigger or wider if a wider grip is present.
From the standpoint of joint health, a closer grip will protect the shoulders over the long run.
For your next back day, incorporating these five exercises will lead to achieving bigger, fuller lats.