Your latissimus dorsi muscles or lat muscles can be found in the middle of your back and, according to Shape Fit, are responsible for helping you extend, rotate and pull your arms in toward your body. The lats are engaged during activities that require your arms to pull, lift or manipulate weight. You can perform multiple lat exercises at home using resistance bands, your body weight and free weights.
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Pull-ups can be done with a removable pull-up bar or one that you affix to a doorway in your home. To perform a standard pull-up, place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the bar so that your palms face away from the body. Bend your knees to hang from the pull-up bar, lift yourself up as high as you can, and slowly lower yourself back down. Perform pull-ups until you can no longer complete one full repetition.
Modified pull-ups also strengthen the lats and are beneficial at beginner fitness levels. To execute a modified pull-up, place your heels on a chair or stool that is a few inches in front of your body, hold onto the pull-up bars and perform a pull-up. This method still utilizes the pull-up position but allows you to lift only a portion of your body weight. As these pull-ups become easier, move the chair further away from the body. Be sure to use only your upper body strength to lift and lower your weight.
Single-arm rows allow you to focus on one side of your lat muscle at a time. For this exercise you will need a free weight and a sturdy surface to lean on. You can use a dumbbell and bench or similar objects that you have at home. Choose a weight that you can perform at least eight repetitions with; don't do more than 12 repetitions. To perform a single-arm row, place your left knee and left hand onto the bench, place your right foot on the ground, keep your back flat, hold the weight in your right arm, allow your right arm to hang toward the ground, lift your right hand upward until it is next to your chest, and lower your arm back down. After you complete the desired number of repetitions on the right side, switch to the left side.
The seated row exercise uses a resistance band to strengthen the lat muscles. Resistance bands offer low and high resistance; choose a band that you can perform eight to 12 repetitions with. To set up for this exercise, the center of the resistance band needs to be placed around a sturdy stationary object. To get into the correct position for a seated row, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of your body, bend your knees slightly and hold the resistance band by the handles. To perform one repetition, pull the bands toward your body, allow your elbows to extend behind your body, hold for one count and slowly release to the starting position.
The bent-over row uses two free weights or a barbell in the standing position. By lifting and lowering the weight you engage your lats and strengthen these muscles. To perform a bent-over row, stand with your feet about hip-width apart, bend over slightly, keep your back flat, allow the weight to hang toward the ground, slowly lift the weights upward toward your ribs, and lower back down.