If you want your back to look and feel stronger, focus workouts on your lats — those broad muscles that spread across the middle of your back. Strengthening these muscles is important because they are directly connected to your spine and affect how well you can move your arms and shoulders.
To work out your lats, we offer four exercises to perform with gym equipment. Depending on the exercise, you’ll also feel the impact on your chest, shoulders, and various arm muscles.
As when operating any type of equipment or machinery, don’t get overzealous, or you could pull a muscle.
Watch each video, and click our exercise links to follow our steps carefully. Stay in tune with what’s right for your body, and move at your own pace. It’s not a competition!
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#1 – Neutral-Grip Pull-Up
To perform the neutral-grip pull-up, grab onto the parallel bars of your gym’s pull-up station. With one bar in each fist, make sure you’re in neutral grip: palms facing each other. Hang with your arms long, and then pull your chest up to the bar — remembering to breathe — before lowering back down.
#2 – Dumbbell Pullover
The dumbbell pullover involves a weight bench and a dumbbell. Lying on the bench, hold a dumbbell vertically on your chest. Then slowly pull it behind your head and back over to your chest again. Or, like the guy in the video, carefully move the dumbbell up above and down behind your head for several reps without reaching your chest.
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#3 – One-Arm Dumbbell Row
The one-arm dumbbell row also involves a weight bench and a dumbbell, but you’re positioned differently. Your stomach is parallel to the bench, your back is straight, and one foot is on the floor with a straight leg to keep you stable while you pull the dumbbell up from the base of the bench. Watch Dean Somerset explain all the body mechanics behind performing this exercise correctly:
#4 – Lat Pulldown
Use the lat pulldown machine for this exercise. With palms facing away from you, grip the lat bar wider than your shoulders’ width. Using the strength of your lats instead of just your arms, pull the bar down to your chest, and raise it back up.
You can also perform this exercise with an underhand (supinated) grip like this:
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