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This Month In Body
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    Tired of wishing for the lats of your dreams? Use these five exercises to make them a reality. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Getting the V-Taper

Build better lats to get the back muscles you desire.

Your latissimus dorsi muscles are the largest muscles in your upper body. Called “lats” for short, these muscles are on either side of your torso. Beginning at the base of your spine, they extend around your sides and connect at your upper arm. Men are especially concerned about building strong lats to shape their back muscles into that desirable V-shape.

Tired of wishing for the lats of your dreams? Use the following five exercises to make them a reality.

Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown machine provides an ideal exercise to build your lats. Using a wide or close grip on the pulldown bar allows for slight variations in how your lats are worked. Alternating between a wide and close grip also helps prevent injury caused by repetitive muscle overuse. Adjust the weight resistance to meet your fitness level, then sit on the seat with your feet flat on the ground and your thighs under the pad. The bar should be at a height you can comfortably grasp with your arms outstretched. Hold the bar with an overhand grip. Keep your upper body stationary and pull the bar down toward your chin as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly return the bar to the starting position. Repeat.

Barbell Deadlift

The barbell deadlift is a highly effective exercise for building all muscle, including your lats. Adjust the weight on the barbell to meet your fitness level. Place your feet under the bar, hip-width apart, angled slightly outward. Bend down and hold the bar with hands placed shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your shins almost touch the bar. Tighten your abs and glutes and raise the bar off the ground as you press your feet into the ground. Raise the bar to knee level and thrust your hips forward as you stand up. Do these movements in reverse to lower the bar to the floor.

Dumbbell Row

Dumbbell rows are a great exercise to work your back and shoulders. To do a two-arm bent over dumbbell row, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees. Grab a dumbbell in each hand so your palms are facing inward. Keep your back straight and your legs stable throughout the entire exercise. Bend at the waist to a 45-degree angle. Lift the weights straight up so your elbow raises toward the ceiling. Slowly lower the weight and repeat.

Pull-Up and Chin-Up

Both the pull-up and chin-up are effective at building your lats and back. A wider grip on the bar is more challenging on your lats, while a narrower grip incorporates more of your biceps. It may be helpful to do a variation. For a chin-up, hold the bar in an underhand grip so your palms are facing you. In a pull-up, hold the bar in an overhand grip so your palms are facing away from you. In either, hold the bar and let your body hang down. Pull your shoulders down and together, tighten your abs, and pull your body up until your chest reaches the bar. Pause and slowly lower back to a dead hang. Repeat.

Seated Cable Row

Work your back and arms with seated cable rows. Use a seated row machine and adjust the chest pad and seat so your shoulders are level with the handles. Add weight as needed. Place your feet on the foot pads, sit upright, and extend your arms to hold the cable. Bring your shoulders down and together as you bend your elbows and pull the cable toward you. Keep your back neutral and your elbows tucked by your sides. Pause and then slowly re-extend your arms. Repeat.