It’s easy to forget to work your back muscles. Sure, they might not be as fun as glute exercises, but they’re still important to your overall fitness game. Don’t worry, though – you can just incorporate a few moves that target this area into your workout routine with nothing more than a set of dumbbells – and no trip to the gym required.
“As the largest muscle in your upper body covering most of your back, the lats are extremely important for posture and stabilizing your posterior chain from your neck to your hips,” says Nikka Saadat, personal trainer at Vitruvian. The latissimus dorsi, as they’re officially called, are the muscles under your shoulder blades that run down your spine to your pelvis and across the width of your back, so they play a major role in keeping you upright – that’s why it’s totally worth giving this area some extra love.
Lats also play an important role in any strength training program, adds Rob Wagener, an NASM-certified personal trainer. “In addition to building muscle, lat exercises also help improve your flexibility and range of motion,” he told Bustle. “As a result, they can help prevent pain and injury in the lower back, shoulders and hips.”
While there are specific machines that focus on lats in the gym — like the lat pulldown — you can still hit that zone with a set of dumbbells, says Lalitha McSorley, PT, physical therapist and personal trainer at Brentwood Physio. “The dumbbells allow you to move through a greater range of motion than the weight machine, which may result in a better muscle-building workout,” she told Bustle. “They’re also great for engaging the surrounding stabilizer muscles.”
Read below for a list of lat exercises with dumbbells to try.
Aerenhouts, D. (2020). Using machines or free weights for resistance training for novice men? A randomized parallel trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(21). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217848
Fenwick, CM. (2009). Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and movement, load and stiffness of the lumbar spine. J Resistance Cond Res. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942019.
Lehman, GJ (2003). Variations in muscle activation levels during traditional latissimus dorsi strength training exercises: an experimental study. Dynamic Medicine: DM, 34. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-5918-3-4
OnlineVishwakarma, V. (2019). Effect of Latissimus Dorsi muscle strengthening in mechanical low back pain. https://www.ijsr.net/archive/v9i8/SR20730124217.pdf
Nikka Saadat, personal trainer at Vitruvian
Rob Wagener, NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Lalitha McSorley, PT, Physical Therapist, Personal Trainer at Brentwood Physio