If there is one constant during Wisconsin winters, it’s traditions that involve staying warm. And by staying warm, I mean putting a good layer of insulation on via consumption of Brandy Old Fashioneds, Tom and Jerry’s, holiday treats and a delicious Prime Rib! Those are just some of my favorites, I’m sure you have yours.
So, if we are going to put a layer on during the winter but want to strip it off and look great in the summer, we need to build the muscles that will look good without a shirt on or in tank tops. And one of the most overlooked and underutilized muscles that makes you look great in the summer is, the lats!
Yep those big, thick muscles on your back. They function as support for your shoulders. So if you have snappy, crispy, crunchy shoulders, building strength in the lats is a MUST. And they are the connection between your obliques and your shoulders creating the strength and stability to be able to bench, do push ups and overhead press. Basically, anything you are asking your upper body to do, the lats are involved.
And, if you don’t care about any of that but just want to look good next summer, wider lats have a way of making your waist look smaller. So even if vanity is your only reason to train, lats are key!
One of the best lat building exercises out there is the Bench supported Lat Pullover. However, like any great exercise, it can be butchered and done in a way that completely negates focus on the lats.
So here are some key pointers:
- As you first start, your mobility is gained via proper tension in the lats and obliques. So, inhale as your arms go overhead, stop the movement when the inhale stops and then exhale to return to the starting position. Do that until you feel a serious lat pump. Reality is, your range of motion will likely NOT be past your head.
- Once you have the basics down, focus on doing these two times per week. One time go light with the intent of getting as many reps in as possible with moderate weight. The other time focus on control with a heavy weight and minimal reps (4-10/set). Get 3 sets of really hard work.
- Play with different arm positions: straight arms vs. slightly bent to see what gets the lats more for you. Also, try using a dumbbell, holding it on one end, an EZ-curl bar, a straight barbell or any other implement you find reasonable. It’s about YOU getting your lats stronger, not adhering to a standardized way of doing it.
And if you read this, next time you see me, show me your Lat growth and how awesome you are going to look next summer!