Strengthening the latissimus dorsi, the wide muscles of your back, burns calories and helps build a strong, stable physique. These muscles contribute to maintaining proper posture, and work every time you pull your arms back or down. Any chinup or rowing-type movement works these muscles, so you can enjoy a great deal of variety in your training. Consult a health-care practitioner before beginning any strength-training program.
Performing assisted pullups on a pullup machine works your latissimus dorsi and many other muscles at the same time. To some degree this exercise also works the back of your shoulders, the middle of your back, your biceps and your grip. You can use a palms-up or palms-down grip to begin with. Regardless of the grip you use, there is little difference in the recruitment of your latissimus dorsi, according to a 2010 study in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research." Make sure you go all the way up and all the way down, and never drop into the bottom of the lift. The difficulty of this exercise will cause you to work hard and burn more calories.
Seated rows require a seated row machine, but this exercise works your latissimus dorsi as effectively as any exercise, according to a 2004 study in "Dynamic Medicine." Select a weight that will allow you to complete eight to 12 repetitions with good form. Sit on the bench with your feet firmly against the foot plate, knees slightly bent. Grip the handle with both hands, arch your back and pull the handle into your sternum. Do not rock with your upper-body -- use the muscles of your back to move the weight.
Dumbbell rows allow you to work one side of your back with a great deal of intensity, then the other. By moving with quick pace between sets, you can also burn more calories while strengthening your latissimus dorsi. Stand with both feet on the ground and lean forward, bracing one hand on a bench or firm support. With your torso parallel to the ground, hold a dumbbell in your free hand and row it up to the side of your chest. Do not rotate your torso to do this. Turn your head to look away from the hand holding the dumbbell -- this makes it harder to cheat. Select a weight that allows you to complete six to 10 repetitions in good form, then switch sides.
Increased Fat Burning
To burn more fat while you are training, you can perform a descending, or drop set. Use either seated rows or dumbbell rows to do this as pullups are too difficult. Select a weight that you have trouble completing eight repetitions with in good form, and work to get as many reps as you can. Drop the weight 20 percent and keep going. Do this twice per set. If you are performing seated rows with 100 lbs., for instance, after you cannot get any more repetitions, change the weight to 80 lbs. and keep going. After you fail at 80 lbs. reduce the weight to as close to 64 lbs. as you can and keep going. Do this only once per exercise.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; Surface Electromyographic Activation Patterns and Elbow Joint Motion during a Pull-up, Chin-up, or Perfect-pullup™ Rotational Exercise; J.W. Youdas, et al.
- Dynamic Medicine; Variations in Muscle Activation Levels During Traditional Latissimus Dorsi Weight Training Exercises: an Experimental Study; G.J. Lehman, et al.