In the previous installment of the Jihad series of articles, we talked about what many men consider the only muscle on the front of the body. In this edition, we’ll be talking about its counterpart in the posterior region. If you’re somewhat familiar with the muscles groups of the body, and you guessed the traps, not only are you wrong, you’re also bad at reading the title of the article. If you did manage to read the title, and also know where your lats are, nice work! But no bonus points.
Since becoming Dorian Yates (picture on right) is out of the question and undesirable for most people, we wont spend any time discussing the different types of steroid cycles and how to manipulate your hormones, but I will tell you how to work your lats effectively and safely, so that you can get develop a lean, muscular physique that is flattering to you figure, and makes you look like you have lifted weights before.
One of the major problems plaguing American culture in general, and gym culture in particular is ILS. Imaginary Lat Syndrome. You see it all the time, when homeboy and his crew roll into your friendly neighborhood LA Fitness, rocking white under armor shirts or tank tops that are just a bit too small, and giving the stink eye to anyone who dares disturb their 50 cent fueled reverie with a glance or a nod.
The one major way to if this epidemic would be to get rid of all of the bench presses in the gyms, but to do so would be to incite a riot of pent up testosterone that had previously been unleashed on Mondays (chest day), Wednesdays (pecs and abs) and Fridays (Chest and Bi’s), so this option is out of the question.
However, I propose that there is another way out. ILS, meet your match.
Start with a set of straight arm pulldowns or pullovers. The SAP’s are one of the exercise I see done incorrectly most of the time at the gym, because most people only do half of the exercise.
Pullovers are easier to do correctly, and can be done with either a machine, or an adjustable cable. A dumbbell does not work the full range of motion. If you can’t find a machine, grab an adjustable cable, put a a bench in front of it, (use a rope, or a bar), and keeping your arms straight, pull from all the way above your head to your belt line, making an arc.
End position: (no need to look behind you)
Remember, keep your arms straight the whole time.
Bonus, this exercise works your low chest and triceps also!
When you’re finished with that, head over to the pullup bar, assisted pullup machine, or lat pulldown. If you can do over 20 pullups in a single set, you should be fine with the bar, if not, switch between the bar and the assisted machine, or just use the machine. If that’s too much for you, you probably shouldn’t be doing this program. If you’re hard headed though, grab the lat pulldown machine. Make sure you take a wide grip to start, you can gradually move it in as it gets harder. Your last set should be done in a neutral position, (palms facing each other.)
Here’s where it gets tricky. Your back is stubborn, much like Lindsey Lohan’s coke habit. It wont grow unless you force it. It generally takes a high number of reps per set, and a real squeeze at the end of the rep to force some growth. So these pullups will be done with a 4-0-1 rep tempo. That means a 4 second negative (going down), no pause at the bottom, then 1 second up (or as fast as possible.)
Next exercise is a barbell row. Steal a barbell from a bench, plant one side in a corner, and grab the narrow grip handle, stack some 25’s on the end (for range of motion) and dye your hair a late 90’s blonde color. Now you’re ready to start.
I hope that I don’t have to tell you too keep your chest up and shoulders back during ALL of these exercises. I heard someone say that the shoulders are poison to your ears. Keep them as far away as possible. Also, abs tight, knees not locked out. etc etc.
Lastly, go over to a standard cable row machine. Attach the wide handles and row as many times as you can at a weight that feels heavy. Shoot for over 35 reps with good form and a squeeze at the end. Don’t be a sissy and leave early. Run over to the pullup bar as soon as you’re done, grab on and hang. Don’t let go. Go for as long as you can from the bottom position. This might destroy your hands and forearms, but that’s OK. Long before recliners, most socialization was done hanging from tree branches, so you’re just getting back to your roots.
In case you were concerned that I wasn’t actually going to lay it out for you, here it is. Lat explosion:
Pullovers: 3 sets 50 reps.
Pullups: 401 tempo 4 sets of 8-10
Barbell rows: 4 sets of 12
Wide Cable rows: 1 set Max reps
Dead hang: 30 sec- 1 min
This workout shouldn’t last you any longer that 4 games of Modern Warfare, or around 45 minutes. Stretch out and go home.