Strengthening the lats of your back, or the latissimus dorsi muscles, is achievable through numerous strength-training exercises. These exercises may be performed with a variety of equipment, such as cables, exercise balls, free weights and strength-training machines. Strive to perform a consistent lats workout once or twice a week with at least two days of rest between workouts to ensure proper muscle recuperation.
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Cables are often available at fitness facilities as an option for strength training multiple muscle groups in the body, including the lats. Lat pull-downs, standing rows and seated rows are performed with cables on several types of strength-training equipment. A T-bar is helpful when performing lat pull-downs with cables. Moving your hands from a wide grip to a shoulder-width grip and to a narrow grip between pull-down sets will strengthen different areas of your lats. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions of each cable lat exercise.
An exercise ball is a valuable workout tool for numerous exercises, including several back-strengthening exercises. Pushups may be performed on the exercise ball, causing resistance along your lat muscles to strengthen and tone them. Exercise ball pushups are performed at a 45-degree angle to help target your lats. Stability ball stabilizers also help target the lat muscles, in which your body is also at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Instead of supporting your body with your hands and arms as in a pushup stance, support your body weight by resting your abdomen on the ball. Keeping your body in a straight line from your feet to your head, take turns holding your arms in an "I" position, followed by "T," "Y" and "W" positions. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions of each ball exercise.
Dumbbell rows and bent-over rows are essential exercises for strengthening your lats. Each of these exercises may be performed with dumbbells, or you may choose to perform bent-over rows with a barbell. Dumbbell rows should be performed with one arm at a time, using the opposite arm for support on a weight bench. Try to maintain a straight back in both of these exercises, keeping your abdominal muscles tight for further back support. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions of dumbbell rows and bent-over rows.
Strength-training machines, or weight machines, are designed to perform specific exercises and are helpful for training beginners. Unlike free weights, most strength-training machines stabilize secondary muscles to concentrate on the target muscle being trained. Lat row machines and lat pull-down machines help keep your body stationary while performing the motions of each exercise to ensure that you are properly executing the exercise. If you wish, perform rows and pull-downs on these machines in place of dumbbell rows and cable lat pull-downs if you are a beginner.