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Why is it Important to Have Strong Lats?

exerciseprogramming physicaltherapy strengthtraining Dec 25, 2019

Why is it Important to Have Strong Lats?

Having strong lats is not just for bodybuilders. The lats (short for latissimus dorsi) are a large muscle that runs from the shoulder, across the back, and even shares attachments with the hip. Because of these unique and broad attachment points, the lats do way more than giving you wings.

The lats play an extremely important role in stabilizing the neck, shoulder, the back, and the hips.  Think of them as a stability powerhouse throughout your entire system.  If the lats aren’t strong, we tend to see compensation in movement that leads to pain or injury in any of the above mentioned areas.

To simplify the role the lats play - they help put your body and your joints in a better position, which makes for healthier joints and a happier body.

What Role Do The Lats Have in Performance?

As you can see above, the lats play a large role in maintaining good posture and stability to keep your joints happy, but how do they help with performance?  To be strong, whether that’s with lifting or in athletic performance, we have to be connected and moving well through our core, hips, and shoulders.  If we end up seeing a broken link at any point in the chain, then performance will suffer and the body will have a ‘leak’ in performance.

Due to the unique attachment of the lats as described above, the lats (along with the core musculature) are the glue that help to connect upper and lower body when working correctly.  The lats play a huge role in everything from carrying, tackling, swinging, squatting, picking up heavy objects, sprinting (yes runners, this is for you as well) and everything in between.

Just because you don’t do a lot of upper body strengthening does not mean you can ignore this area of the body.  It has so much carry over to performance, posture, and athletic ability that it should be prioritized for everyone.

Exercises to Build Stronger Lats

Check out the videos below for some of our favorite variations of lat strengthening movements.  As you’ll see, many of these emphasize core strength as well.  We want to be incorporating full body movements like the ones below to fully strengthen the lats in the way they’re designed to work with our daily and sport activities. 

These can be used as your main upper body strengthening movements if you have less experience, or as accessory work to your main lifting and athletic movements for those that have been training for longer.  Click any of the videos below to upgrade your lat strengthening program.

Standing Straight Arm Extensions

Having strong straight arm pulling strength is key for stabilizing the shoulder and creating a strong back.

Hollow Hold with Straight Arm Pulldown

This challenging variation we’ll work your core and your lats all in one, great for those looking to build up strength in the gymnastics movements (pullups, kipping, muscle ups, etc).


Carry Variations

The lats are ever so important when carrying heavy objects. Here are some great variations that incorporate both shoulder and core strength.


Rowing Variations

Rows are king when it comes to building strong lats and strong shoulders. Check out some of our favorites below.


Hanging Variations

Before we get into pullups, we have to have strong shoulders and lat engagement when hanging from a bar. Check out a couple videos below to get started.

Pullup Variations

Once we have adequate strength built up with the other movements, it’s time to start training pullups. Check out some of our favorite progressions into the pullup below. Videos are listed from least challenging to most!


These are some of our favorites when it comes to building stronger lats. Remember, the lats are not just for show and play a big role in the shoulders, lower back, and lower body.

Most people don’t know how to stay healthy and fit without getting hurt. At Inside Out Strength and Performance, we provide a clear plan to get you in the best shape of your life, without getting injured, so that you can be active and confident that you’ll feel your best for years to come.

We help North County San Diego’s active adults and runners dealing with pain or injury get back to living a pain-free, strong, and confident life.

We are the Strength Docs who help active adults and runners live a strong, confident, and pain-free life. Fill out our contact form here to get a clear plan and get started.

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