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How to Train the Lower Lats

by
author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
How to Train the Lower Lats
The lower lats extend almost all the way down to your glutes. Photo Credit mel-nik/iStock/Getty Images

The largest muscles of your upper body are the latissimus dorsi, and their power matches their size. They run from your shoulders down into your lower back and connect to your glutes. The lower part of your lats make up part of your middle back and lower back.

Paired with the glutes, they make a powerful tandem that helps power you through demanding exercises like the squat and deadlift. The lower lats are best worked with these big movements, as well as barbell bent-over rows.

Latissimus Dorsi Anatomy

Building up your latissimus dorsi will make it appear that you have wings poking out of your back, since the muscle sits at either side of your back. As the lat runs down from your shoulder into your lower back it spreads out and becomes wider. It connects to your lower ribs, the bottom of your shouler blades, your lower spine and a thick band of tissue in your lower back called the thoracolumbar fascia.

Read More: Lat Exercises With Free Weights

Latissimus Dorsi Function

Your lats act on your shoulder joint to move your arm. They can pull your arm behind your body, pull your arm down towards your body from an overhead position, and either rotate your arm in or out depending on the position of your arm. The lats also help you breathe out by contracting around your ribcage.

Lat and Glute Connection

The glutes are the most powerful muscles in the lower body and they lie directly below the latissimus dorsi. They connect to the lats through a band of soft tissue in the middle of the lower back, called the thoracolumbar fascia. The left side of the latissimus dorsi and the right gluteus maximus are connected and the right side of the lats are connected to the left gluteus maximus. This connection of powerful muscles helps you walk, run and pick up heavy objects.

If you want to work the lower lats you should focus on using this powerful connection between the lower lats and glutes. Large, multi-joint movements, specifically the squat, deadlift and row are the best options. They use both the glutes and lats and you can use a surprising amount of weight in these exercises to stress the muscle.

Barbell Squat

Lifters have used this time-tested barbell exercise since the dawn of modern weightlifting in the early 1900s. It tests the strength of both your back and hip muscles, perfect for targeting the lower lats.

Make sure your feet stay flat on the ground during the squat.
Make sure your feet stay flat on the ground during the squat. Photo Credit Ozimician/iStock/Getty Images

How To: Place a barbell on your back above your shoulder blades. Grip the barbell a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Stand tall with the barbell on your back, then squat down as low as you comfortably can. Try to keep your feet flat on the ground and chest up to prevent your back from rounding over. Stand back up with the weight on your back.

Barbell Deadlift

Your lats work to hold the weight in this exercise and your hips drive the upward momentum that allows you to lift the barbell off of the ground.

Try to keep your spine flat throughout the deadlift.
Try to keep your spine flat throughout the deadlift. Photo Credit b2dare/iStock/Getty Images

How To: Start with a barbell on the ground. Stand in the center of the barbell with your shins an inch away, your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend down and grip the barbell with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Lean back, press your heels down into the ground, and pull the weight off of the ground. As you stand up, press your hips forward until you are standing up straight with the weight in your hands. Then, lower the weight back to the ground.

Read More: Deadlifts and Lats

Barbell Rows

Use this exercise to directly strengthen your back muscles, including your lower lats. Your glute muscles work to maintain your position during the exercise.

The barbell deadlift is primarily a back exercise but also stresses the hip muscles.
The barbell deadlift is primarily a back exercise but also stresses the hip muscles. Photo Credit loco75/iStock/Getty Images

How To: Start standing, gripping a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Stick your butt back and lean your torso forward slightly to begin the exercise. The barbell should be touching the top of your knees in this position. Pull the barbell up until it touches your stomach, slightly above the navel. Then, lower the barbell back until it touches your knees.

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