Big Lats and a Rippling Back
Most people who train in the gym exercise their shoulders, abs, arms and chest aka the mirror muscles. But if you are really after getting a perfect superhero physique, then training your lats is essential. Although this exercise can be tedious at times, the result afterwards is worth the pain. So, if you want to dive into the nitty-gritty of a back-focused workout, this article will walk you through the process and help you get a handle on the confusing approach to building mile-wide lats and a chiseled back.
Also known as the latissimus dorsi muscle, the lat forms part of the largest muscles found in the back. Specifically located at the centre of the back, the trapezius partially covers it. When you flex the muscle, it extends and rotates the arm. This V-shaped muscle joins the vertebral column and the arms. By doing so, they supply strength to the shoulder and back, while stabilising and protecting the spine at the same time (6).
Anyone who desires to build their upper-body strength, prevent injury, and also improve the range of motion cannot do without working on their lats. With that being said, how long does it take to get big lats? Read on to discover that.
How to get big lats and traps
You cannot build a stronger lat if you are not willing to work on your trapezoid muscles (traps). The traps are important to your spinal and scapular movement. When you do this, you would have successfully increased the strength in your upper body. Specific steps that you can follow if you want to know how to get big lats and traps at home include the following (3):
Bent Over Y
- Open your feet apart.
- Hold light dumbbells while your thumbs are in upward position.
- Bend over position as you hinge at the hip.
- Form a Y shape by raising your arms in front of you.
- Maintain that posture for some time before you gradually get back to where you started from.
- Hold on to a pullup bar and hang on it.
- As you do so, keep your core tightened and align your spine.
- Then, extend your head and neck upward by gradually pulling your shoulders back behind and then downward.
- Pause for a moment before your return to your initial position.
This type of exercise is best if you want to build your upper traps. The steps to follow are explained below:
- Use an overhand grip to hold a barbell.
- Hold the bar in front of your waist at arm’s length.
- Bend forward at your hip a little while your back remains in an arched form.
- Bend your knees a little.
- As high as you can, shrug your shoulders in the direction of your ears while your arms remain straightened.
- Hold on for a while and do the movement backward until you get to where you started from.
Steps on how to get big lats
Sometimes, before people commit to exercising their lats, questions like how long to get big lats often pops up. Another major question fitness fanatics obsess over is how to get big lats without pullups. While there are no shortcuts to blowing up your lats, here are some exercises that can speed the muscle growth process along (5).
Inverted Bodyweight Row
You can achieve this by lying underneath a bar while you fasten your torso before you row your chest to the bar. So, where do you start?
- Get a Smith machine or barbell and lie under it.
- Using an underhand grip, clutch the bar. As you do this, make sure the handle is a bit wider than the width of your shoulders.
- Maintain a 45 degree angle by positioning your torso and feet.
- Then, start by squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Try to touch the bar by pulling your body and torso upwards. As you do so, let the bar connect between your chest and belly button.
- Go down and repeat the process.
If you want to make it easier, raise the bar and maintain a position that is close to standing. Alternatively, you can bend your knees and let your heels remain firm on the floor.
Dead stop Row
If you want to do this exercise,
- Load a barbell set on the ground and stay close to it.
- Slightly bend your hinges and knees forward to make your torso higher than parallel to the ground.
- With a shoulder-width grip above your hand, grab the barbell. While doing that, don’t look forward but downward.
- Let your shoulders be above your hips a little and make your core tight.
- As your core remains tightened, squeeze your shoulder blades and draw the barbell closer to the lower part of your chest while your elbows are about 45 degrees bent.
- Once the bar touches your ribcage, let the barbell go down towards the ground and pause there (bring it to a dead stop) before you start the process again.
Bringing it to a dead stop allows you to set the form again and also make your core tight. If for any reason your grip strength struggles with the barbell row give your forearms a little break before you jump right back into the exercise.
A huge advantage that this exercise provides is increased shoulder stability on top of the lats training. So, if you want to try it out, here is your blow-by-blow guide:
- Maintain a pushup position.
- Place your feet apart at shoulder-width while your hands remain on a pair of dumbbells (don’t hold them yet).
- Lift a dumbbell above the ground while you raise your torso at the same time and move it close to your belly button.
- Support your weight using your second shoulder as you do this.
- Go back to the pushup position and lift the second dumbbell before rowing it.
The process involved in this is similar to the barbell row. But then, the difference is in the direction of your pull. When you do this exercise, you will be able to squeeze your lats more. With that in mind, here is how to go about it:
- As you wrap a V-bar handle around the weighty area, hold the handles.
- Then, lean forward a little so that you can achieve a 45-degree angle between your torso and the ground.
- Row the weighty side of the barbell close to your chest while squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Pause for a brief moment and start the process all over.
This kind of exercise is similar to chin-ups and pullups, only that the training helps you to focus on your lats. Follow these steps:
- Maintain a lat pulldown position and slightly hold the bar wider than the width of your shoulders.
- Let your torso maintain an upright position while you tighten your core.
- Lower the bar close to your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades as you bend both elbows.
- Gradually place the bar back to its position.
How to get big lats with pull ups
The central area that pull-ups focus on is your lats. But you should bear in mind that this kind of exercise is not the same with chin-ups. Instead of using supinated grip as it applies in chin-ups, the pronated handle is what you use during pullups. So, how do you go about it (1)?
TRX Biceps Curl
If you cannot get the TRX, you can also use any suspension system available. To carry out this exercise, do these:
- Straighten your arms and lean back
- Bend your bows while your palms go in
- Curl your hands in the direction of your chest to uplift your body.
- Maintain the elbows up and switch your hands.
- Gradually return to where you started.
- Raise your chin above the bar (you can use a band or step).
- Lower yourself gradually to where you have fully extended your arms.
- Depending on how easy you want it to be, determine the rate at which you will lower yourself. Bear in mind that the faster you move, the easier it gets.
How can I make my lats bigger at home?
In our day and age, at-home training is within reach for virtually anyone. Once you’re able to box out a small area for exercise and you have a few pieces of equipment laying around, you are good to go. On that note, here are some of the workouts that you can incorporate into your at-home lats training routine (6).
One Arm Row
- Raise your elbow to your torso level when you are doing this exercise.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades to engage the muscles better.
- Then, take the weight down a bit and start the process again.
- Repeat the process for each side 12 to 16 times.
Seated Rows With Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are perfect for lat exercises at home. They also pose a variety of challenges for your lats as they fire up your muscle fibres. This is why, when you are just starting out, it is advisable to get a lighter resistance band, and as your strength improves, you switch up to heavier ones. Then, people who are restricted to wheelchairs or those who cannot move around at will can find these resistance bands useful. Here’s how to go about the exercise:
- Choose a position ( you can either stand or sit).
- Bind a band on a stationary piece of furniture or around a sturdy pole.
- With your hands, hold the band and move back to increase the tension.
- With your feet hip-width apart, either while standing or sitting, squeeze your lats and let your elbows bend beside you.
- Slightly bend your knees while standing on the band. At the same time, place your feet parallel to the ground.
- Hold the band close to your feet so it can produce adequate tension.
- Pull the band up and down.
- Wrap a band around a sturdy object.
- Then, hold the band with your hands and move back a little to increase the tension.
- With your feet firmly apart on the ground, lean forward a little.
- Let your arms back out and rise. At the same time, squeeze your lats and bend your elbows beside you.
As a bonus, this workout engages your lats as well as the lower part of your back, hamstrings and glutes.
Straight Arm Pulls
- Wrap a band around a sturdy object in front of you.
- Stay under the torso with the ball.
- Move far from the anchor to build tension on the band.
- Straighten out your arms before you and maintain that position.
- Then, pull them back behind you and lower them as you squeeze your back.
How to get big lats with dumbbells
The American Council on Exercise noted that you could use dumbbells to achieve mechanic and metabolic growth of your muscle (2). How long does it take to get big lats? Your level of commitment to working out will determine that. Try to incorporate the following exercises into your routine to maximize your results:
- Stack your heels over your toes so that you can maintain a plank position.
- Grab a dumbbell each with your hands and keep your wrists straight.
- Bend your elbows and push yourself up and down.
- Switch the dumbbells on both hands and bend your elbows. Then, row up as you squeeze your lats.
Standing Dumbbell Rows
- Keep your feet apart while standing. Then, place them parallel to the ground as you bend your knees slightly.
- Maintaining a flat back, lean forward.
- Grab a dumbbell and straighten out your arms.
- Row the weights upward and downward after bending your elbows. As you do this, pause at torso level. If you want to focus on each lat, switch the rows.
How do you hit upper lats?
One of the simplest techniques to accomplish this is to do a reverse-grip lat pull-down (4). Pull the bar towards your chest while you bend a little. If you pull down your elbows hard, you will feel a deep contraction. In addition to blowing up your upper lats, this exercise improves stability in your lower back.
In conclusion, the lats are important for back health, shoulders and proper posture. They also help to breathe well as the lower ribs are raised, which is one of the reasons why working them is essential. So, if you want to develop your lats, make sure to incorporate the exercises we’ve picked out into your workout routine.
Remember to take care of your entire body! Take up this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 4 Moves to Help You Master the Pull-up (2015, acefitness.org)
- 5 Benefits of Dumbbell Training (2015, acefitness.org)
- 16 Traps Exercises for a Bigger, Better Back (2018, menshealth.com)
- Back Workout: 5 Moves To Mile-Wide Lats (2020, bodybuilding.com)
- The Top 10 Lat Moves to Build a Perfect Back (2019, menshealth.com)
- Work Your Lats With These Creative Exercises (2019, verywellfit.com)