Top 3 Exercises for Your Lats
Your lats are some of the biggest muscles in your entire body and developing them is extremely important for your success in Gymnastic Strength Training. Without strong lats, more advanced strength exercises would not be possible. In this post, we will go into detail about what the lats do and how you can train them properly in order to improve at GST.
The term “lats” is short for “latissimus dorsi,” which is roughly translated to the “broadest muscles of the back.” Your lats take up a lot of space on your body, inserting on your upper arm bone and connecting to your mid-spine, shoulder blades, and hips. That covers a lot of area! Well-developed lats form a triangle-like fan shape that travels from underneath your armpit, across your obliques, to the side of your lower back. Being that the lats connect to so many parts of your body, it should be no surprise that they are responsible for several different movements.
Gymnasts are known to have superb lat development, even to the point that bodybuilders have historically sought out gymnastic training methods in order to build their backs. The difference between bodybuilding and Gymnastic Strength Training™, however, is that a gymnast's incredible lat development is purely functional. Whether it is holding on the rings, supporting in a handstand, or swinging from the bars, your lats can contribute to many different athletic endeavors.
Furthermore, your lats need to be as flexible as they are strong. Tight lats lead to poor overhead range of motion, which can negatively affect your athleticism regardless of whether you are holding a handstand or throwing a football. If you find that your shoulders are closed in a handstand (meaning that you cannot fully reach overhead), then be sure to take the time to stretch your lats.
The GB Online Courses will improve the strength AND flexibility of your lats, ensuring you grow stronger through a greater range of motion!
Top 3 GST Exercises for Your Lats
Now that we have discussed the lats in detail, here are 3 exercises that will build your lats and help you improve at GST™:
Front Levers are a benchmark exercise in gymnastics and calisthenics circles all over the world. Your goal is to hold your body horizontally from a bar with straight arms. Start this movement in a tuck position with your knees bent in towards your chest and as you get stronger you can gradually straighten your legs. The challenge in a Front Lever lies in that you are holding a position of disadvantageous leverage, forcing your lats and core to work overtime to hold you up.
It should come as no surprise that pull-ups are an effective exercise for strengthening your lats, however, their efficacy lies in how they are performed. If you use too much momentum and swing in your pull-ups, then your lats will not be sufficiently challenged. Similarly, many trainees cut their pull-ups short by using too little range of motion. This reduces the amount that your lats work, and it will also tighten them up over time. Start from a complete dead hang with your arms straight, then engage your shoulders and pull all the way up until your head is clear above the bar.
Last but certainly not least, ring rows are a great horizontal pulling movement that directly works your lats when done properly. As you get stronger, work towards elevating your feet in your ring rows so that your body is horizontal at the top of the movement. This way you can focus on retracting your shoulder blades (think “pinching” them together) throughout the movement and really getting your elbows back behind your body.
GymnasticBodies lat exercises are essential for more advanced Gymnastic Strength Training later on so get started now!