How to Tone Your Latissimus Dorsi

Toning your lats increases strength in your back.
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The lattissimus dorsi muscles, also called your lats, are located just below your shoulders and wrap around your upper ribs on either side of your body. The muscles are part of your upper back, making exercises that target the area an ideal addition to your routine, if you'd like to tone the area. MayoClinic suggests including at least 12 repetitions of each lat move, two or three times each week. Some moves require no equipment, while others make use of weights and gym equipment. Mix and match the exercises at each session to create a well-rounded lat-toning routine.

    Include lat pulldowns in your routine. This move requires a gym machine, but is ideal for working the muscles in the area. To do the move, sit on the lat machine, back facing out. Grasp the handles, palms facing outward and at about shoulder width. Pull the handles down, bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Return the cable to the starting position to complete one repetition.

    Do the bird-dog move regularly. This exercise is a good choice for a home lat-toning workout because it doesn't require any equipment. To do a bird-dog, start on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend your left leg and right arm at the same time, keeping your back straight and your abdominal muscles activated. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg and left arm.

    Add kneeling lat stretches to your toning routine. To do the exercise, kneel on the floor facing an exercise bench. Keep your upper body straight and arms at your sides. Lean forward, placing your hands on the bench. Lower your upper body until your back is flat and hold the move for 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat the exercise two to four times per session.

    Include pullups several times each month. This move works many of your back and shoulder muscles, but is particularly effective for your lats. This is an exercise that is likely done at a gym, unless you have the equipment at home. To do a pullup, grasp an exercise bar with your arms straight, palms facing forward and hands wider than shoulder width. Pull your body up until your head is above the bar. Lower to the starting position to finish one pullup.

    Things You'll Need

    • Lat pulldown machine

    • Exercise bench

    • Exercise bar


    • Talk to your doctor before starting a new lat-toning routine. If you feel any pain while working your lat muscles, stop and contact your doctor.

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