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The Lift Doctor: Wider Lats and Bigger Arms

The Doc's workout prescription for bigger back and arm muscles.

By Jim Smith, CSCS
The Lift Doctor: Wider Lats and Bigger Arms

"I've been trying to expand my lats. Can you give me some killer lat workouts?” – Robert Anderson

The key to more back mass is angles and variety. 

Of course, everyone knows that pull-ups are one of the best exercises for building width in the lats. When incorporating more pull-ups into your routines, you have many options.  You can change the width of your grip, overload the movement with a weight belt, or even the grip component by wrapping  a towel around the bar. The goal is to attack the bar from many different angles.

Pull-ups are a beast exercise, no doubt. 

But don’t forget about high rep lat pulldowns and bent over rows. Both have a ton of different variations, not only to hit different angles, but also to keep to jack up the intensity of the set. For lat pulldowns, lowering the weight on the stack and continuing with a dropset or moving your hands out wider on the bar (snatch grip) for bent over rows can make both exercises much tougher. 

Other keys to getting a wider back:

1.  Don’t forget the rear and side delts – Packing more mass onto the side delts with tons of dumbbell laterals and building out the posterior delts with flye variations, will give your shoulders a wider look; which will carryover to the overall width of your entire upper body and make your back look wider.

2.  Lose body fat – Shedding some excess flab around your midsection will make your waist smaller and give the appearance of a much more pronounced v-taper. Throwing in a couple cardio sessions in the morning, saving your starches until after your workout, and training your core hard, will go a long way in making your back have a wider appearance.

3.  Push the volume – dropsets, supersets, giant sets, reps-based sets are all great ways to get a lot of volume in, in a short amount of time. Use mechanical advantage dropsets—giant sets combining various exercises of descending difficulty targeting the same muscle group—to go to new levels of intensity in your back training.

Example:

1.  Pull-ups x 8 reps
2.  Seated Cable Rows x 12 reps
3.  Straight Arm Pulldowns x 20 reps
Repeat 3x

The bottom line is, whenever you increase the intensity of your workouts, good things happen when you’re trying to build more muscle.

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