What Are Lats?
- The term "lats" is an abbreviation for the word latissimus dorsi and refers to the two wing-shaped muscles on your back. They are the largest and most powerful muscles in that area. Move one hand across your body and place it on the back muscle behind your shoulder and underneath your armpit. You are now feeling part of one lat. Rotate the free arm inward and move it toward your ribcage. This movement should result in your lat contracting.
Lat Pull-Down Machine
- The lat pull-down machine is a common piece of equipment found in most gyms. To use a lat machine, sit down at the machine and grasp hold of the bar hanging above you. Pull the bar toward your collarbone and then slowly return it to its original position. Your hands should be placed wider than your shoulders on the bar. The bar is attached to a stack of weights that can be adjusted to your ability.
To replicate this machine at home, buy some theraband, or another type of exercise tubing, and hook it around a sturdy hook-like area in your house. A door knob or the upper edge of a door are good choices. If you can't find something that will serve as your band hook, you may have to install a hook. There are hooks especially designed for this purpose available on websites selling exercise equipment, such as PerformBetter.com.
- Some exercise tubing comes in different lengths; other types come rolled up in one length. The latter allows you to customize the length you prefer. Cut it longer than you feel is necessary at first, as you can easily bunch up the band in your hands or roll it around your wrists to shorten. When you do perform the lat pull-down on your homemade machine, ensure that the ends of the exercise tube are the same length on either side of the hook. Get a tubing/band package that comes with different resistance levels, if possible.
- If you hook your band over the upper edge on a door, place a chair in front of the door to most efficiently perform your lat exercise. Sit down on the chair, with the door squeezed between your knees to keep it still. Sit up--abdominals in and shoulders down and back--and extend both arms up and grasp the band ends hanging over the door. Move your arms out to the sides--away from your ears--so that they are in the same position you would place them on the lat pull-down bar at the gym. The band should be somewhat taut. Move your arms down to your sides, your elbows leading. Stop pulling when your hands are about shoulder height, then slowly return them to their original position.
If the band is not giving you enough resistance, grasp higher up on the band so that it is more taut in the starting position. You also can double up the band to make it more taut. Adjust the band until you find the degree that best suits your fitness level.