T Nation

What are High Lats

Hello all.

Some people say that "x bodybuilder has high lats and that is bad. "

What in the name of Arnold is that? I think I understand what high calves are. But what about lats? Any examples?


The latissimus dorsi has its proximal attachments on the spinous processes of the inferior six (T7-T12) thoracic vertebrae, surrounding fascia, the iliac crest, and inferior 3-4 ribs. The distal attachment is on the humerus.

Although I’ve never given it much thought, I assume that high lats can refer to either:

a) the attachment on the humerus (at the intertubercular groove) to be more superior on the humerus (effectively limiting one’s potential for a profound “V”).


b) someone having a shorter than optimal vertebral column or higher iliac crests, particularly the thoracic portion.

Hope this helps (although I am shooting from the hip a bit here).

“High lats” is what you see when you look at a bber from the front and it looks as though his lats insert at about the same level his pecs do. In other words, they don’t come very far down his torso.

An example would be Lee Priest, although his lats aren’t THAT bad. Interestingly, Orville Burke also had “high” lats, but because they were so wide he was rated as having a good back. If you want an example of a bber whose lats were NOT high, take a look at an old picture of Franco “The Man with the Golden Back” Columbu, whose lats looked like they swept almost all the way down to his hips.

Interesting question really, as it has often bugged me when so-called experts claim that an individual isn’t working on his “lower lats” more because he seems poorly muscled there.

Just happened to have this close to my table here- Direct From GRAY’S ANATOMY: LATISSIMUS DORSI, VARIATIONS.?The number of dorsal vertebr? to which it is attached vary from four to seven or eight; the number of costal attachments varies; muscle fibers may or may not reach the crest of the ilium.
A muscular slip, the axillary arch, varying from 7 to 10 cm. in length, and from 5 to 15 mm. in breadth, occasionally springs from the upper edge of the Latissimus dorsi about the middle of the posterior fold of the axilla, and crosses the axilla in front of the axillary vessels and nerves, to join the under surface of the tendon of the Pectoralis major, the Coracobrachialis, or the fascia over the Biceps brachii. It is present in about 7 per cent. of subjects and may be easily recognized by the transverse direction of its fibers.

Eric was sort of on the right track. What the above is basically saying, is because the LD is such a compund muscle, with “bundles” of fibres vs one single fascial plane, there is a large amount of variation between individuals. This is mainly seen around the lower end of the LD (the “origin”), where the muscle may, or may not originate at the edge of the hip (the iliac crest), or the lower ribs. In some individuals this origin is higher, the muscle stemming from higher ribs, and no pelvic attatchment.

Although I have never heard this term, I would guess this is what you’re getting at. I would also say that in muscular trained individuals, the variation will stand out MORE vs less, as muscle hypertropy of a “High latted” individual will enlarge the upper back, but do nothing for the lower portion immaterial of exercises, as the muscle simply isn’t there in the first place! For these guys I would guess the best they can do is to work on the obliques and lumbar muscles to try and redress the balance somewhat.
Hope this helps! SRS

Denver, Colorado Springs,et al are high lats.

I have high lats; oh well.

Thankj you all! Awesome replies!

I have low lats. When I originally began to develop them I could do close grip pull ups ridiculously easily while not being able to do one single wide grip. I also had to strengthen my lower lats (though they are very low, connecting at the hip) in order to begin to develop my upper lats. It is actually somewhat difficult to get a normal V shape with really low lats. My back tends to be very wide from my hip up. But I have begun to address this problem by focusing on wide grip movement only. It has worked out well and I must say my back is one of my most powerful areas because of this. I thought I’d just give you the other side on this…

On this same line of topic, I’m having trouble “feeling” my lats on my horizontal pulling day…I’m doing Bent over BB rows, I can’t seem to get them “sore” the next day (I know soreness isn’t the best indicator, but it works for me), nor can I feel them working during the sets…ON the flipside, I always can feel them and get them sore on my vertical pulling day with pullups/chins/etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated?? Thanks in advance!

Haven’t seen your form, but you may be using too much weight. Try lowering it some, and then really squeezing the lats as you bring the bar up to the sternum (vs the lower abdomen).

I find that if I try to jack the weight up too much to “feel” it more, then my lower back just starts doing more work, I am lifting the bar to a lower level on my torso, and I start doing a deadlift lean.

Give it a try. SRS:-)

You want to build real lats? Try four sets of pullups with negatives. That’ll tear 'em up.

Start the first two wide, then narrow chins for the last two as you stare at the ceiling. It’s entirely a question of how much pain you can endure.

Thanks for the tips…I tried dropping weight but maybe I need to go lower…this might seem like a stupid question, but do you get the lower lats, and midtraps sore from BO BB rowing, I can’t seem to do it ( I know soreness isn’t the best indicator but it works 4 me)???

Dude, I can never predict soreness. Sometimes I do the toughest workout, and feel nothing at all; other times I’ll just be playing around with the bar/light weights, and I’ll be sore as hell for the next few days. Go figure!

Anyway, got me thinking about technique again. Don’t know why I didn’t say it before- something I picked up from C Thibaudeau- you should try doing the BOR with a supine (palms away from you, under the bar) grip, and placed shoulder width apart. By bringing the arms closer to the torso, and effectively “locking” them into 1 plane of motion, you can’t fail to feel it in the lower lat area.

Let me know if this works for you. SRS


thanks for the tips bro…I’ll try them on Friday, and let you know how it goes.