Performing pullups can lead to greater strength in your lats.
It's difficult to see your latissimus dorsi muscles -- located on your back -- without the use of a mirror. However, just because these muscles are out of sight, don't put them out of your mind when you're developing your strength-training workout. Strengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles not only helps you perform a variety of upper-body motions, but gaining muscle improves your overall health. Many exercises can strengthen these muscles, including pullups and barbell pullovers.
These Muscles Have Your Back
Your latissimus dorsi muscles are often referred to as your lats or, in less-specific terms, the muscles of your middle back. They're found in the middle/outer portion of each side of your back and help you extend, adduct and internally rotate your shoulders. They also play a role in movements such as the downward rotation of your shoulder blades, according to ExRx.net.
Pull Your Weight
Performing pullups might have caused you to panic during physical testing in high school, but this exercise is a way to strengthen your lats with just your body weight as resistance. Stand beneath a pullup bar with an erect posture and reach above your head to grab the bar with a wide, overhand grip. Slowly bend your arms to lift your feet off the floor, and then cross your ankles and tighten your core. Continue bending your arms to raise your body as high as you can, and then slowly lower yourself toward the ground in a controlled fashion.
Add a Challenge
With access to a barbell and a weight bench, you can perform the barbell pullover exercise to strengthen your lats. Lie on your back on the bench, bend at the knees to plant your feet on the floor and hold a barbell above your chest with an overhand grip with your arms straight. Bend your arms slightly and slowly lower the bar past your head until your arms reach the point at which they're in line with your body. Return the weight to its starting position above your chest to complete a rep. (See Reference 5)
Expanding the Routine
Strengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles should be part of a strength-training routine that you perform a minimum of two days a week. This routine shouldn't just target your lats; the American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing a variety of exercises that target all your muscle groups. Perform your lat exercises in one to two sets of eight to 12 reps and allow time for your muscles to sufficiently recover between workouts.