One of the sure ways to add some real edge to your appearance is a thick, pumped-up back musculature – after all, no level of development in the upper body can compensate for a dead, flat back. And the ultimate attention-grabbing stars of a strong, big back are the Latissimus dorsi muscles, of course.
These days it seems that too many bodybuilders hit a wall when training the lats, which leads them to the conclusion that only guys with great genetics are able to build massive, wide backs. In fact, we hear this so often that we’ve decided to address the issue in this article. So, is it true that you lats development depends totally on your genetics?
Hell no! Let’s be clear from the start on this one – “it’s all genetics” is merely a myth invented and used by the laziest among us. While it’s true that genetics will give some guys a head start in some areas of the body, genetic disadvantages are not unchangeable facts of life. Each person has a unique set of genes that provides him with certain potentials and limitations, and the management of those depends solely on the person and their choices.
Even in the context of the most disastrous combination of genes, there is plenty of room for progress and transformation. It sure won’t be easy, but it can be most definitively done. And this is as true in the case of back development as it is in any other department. If you dedicate yourself to this goal and work hard on it for a longer period of time, given that you have an adequate training routine, you will undoubtedly experience some amazing changes.
A great way to start adding width to your lats is the wide-grip chin up. This compound exercise is phenomenal for building impressive width and thickness in the upper and outer back, while hitting the shoulders and biceps as well. Chin ups are difficult to perform, so if you are not strong enough to do the number of sets and reps required to stimulate real growth with this exercise, try the assisted chin up machine first in order to get used to the movement and develop more strength.
But if you’re able to do a couple of repetitions, have some patience and keep on working on it until you reach a decent number. You can be sure that no other exercises comes close to this one in terms of lats development. For optimal results, perform four sets of unassisted wide-grip chin ups with 6-12 reps per set. The grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width. Once you have become strong enough to survive 12 reps per set, increase the challenge by introducing a plate-loading belt with some relatively light weight.
Make sure to stretch fully and straighten your arms at the bottom of each rep – don’t forget that the negative or eccentric portion of the movement is as crucial to growth as the positive one.
Then, throw in some barbell rows, T-bar rows and seated cable rows for adding some extra thickness to your lats.
In conclusion, remember that the key to substantial progress in any area of the body is perseverance. If you train hard and heavy, it won’t be long before you witness the ability of your willpower to kick the ass of any genetic disadvantages you might have. Keep on pumping!