Hey Angels and Alphas,
Your lats, or in other words, your latissimus dorsi muscles, are probably not something you really focus on when you’re working out. Abs, biceps, glutes, sure. But lats often get overlooked in favor of muscles that are more visible, muscles that are easier to activate.
What countless people don’t realize is that these muscles, which span a massive portion of your back muscles, actually do a lot of work for you, and focusing on making them stronger is one of the best things you can do for your overall strength.
Your lats basically attach to the middle and lower back, your lower ribs, your pelvis, and your upper arm, and they’re crucially involved in the pulling movements with the arms such as rows, pullups, pulldowns, as well as the extensions and rotations of your arms.
They even play a massive role in exercises where you wouldn’t usually expect them to play a role. With proper form, your lats can actually help pull your spine into a proper, more extended position for a certain deadlift, resisting the usual tendency of the back to basically round up from the weight of the bar.
In simple terms, yes, you want your lats to be as strong as possible.
But what are some signs that your lats need work? Here are 3 signs to watch out for.
#1 IF YOU CAN’T FULLY EXTEND YOUR ARMS OVER YOUR HEAD…
If your lats are tight, they’re weak. No two ways to go about it. If your lats and scapular regions don’t allow you to fully extend overhead, this is a clear sign that they need some work.
Here’s one way you can test your range of motion: simply lie down on your back, bend your knees while keeping your feet on the floor, and naturally, this should flatten out your lower back. Then try to extend your arms overhead and then to the floor behind you, all without bending your elbows. If your elbows bend or you notice your arms touch, you should start working on both strength and range of motion for your lats.
Shoulder mobility might not really seem like a big deal, but it’s vital. The shoulders are utilized in pretty much every upper body movement you do. When you’re lifting, reaching, holding objects in your day-to-day life or workouts, you usually rely on the optimal function of your shoulders at all times. The biggest supporters of the shoulders are, you guessed it, the lats.
#2 IF YOU CAN’T DO A PULLUP
Countless people are working on achieving their first pullup (or even chinup) with no success. They’re strong, at a healthy weight, and they’ve been working out with negative pullups or band-assisted pullups for awhile. But if you’re in this situation and you still can’t do a pullup despite putting in the work, this could likely be because of neglected lats. The lats are where your strength should come from when you’re doing a pullup, and other shoulder and back muscles usually operate as secondary movers that aid in stability.
Though people will often try to pull up with their biceps or traps during the movement, the most efficient muscles to utilize here are your lats. Don’t expect to go much further in reps if you don’t focus on building up that lat strength.
#3 IF YOU’VE GOT BAD POSTURE
To be completely fair, this could largely be due to a variety of factors. The fact is, making your lats stronger will help you massively with further postural issues. There are countless factors that contribute to this – for example, if someone is training a lot of pressing and pushing movements without really doing any pulling movements, strengthening the lats will go a long way to improving posture.
For some people, weak lats could be at the root of their bad posture. Sitting all the time with poor posture will lead to a weak mid and upper back. This, in turn, damages your abdominal strength. A strong core is an absolute must for good posture, so the exercises where you have to resist rotation (such as landmine presses or the Pallof press) can help train both those regions at the same time.