Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Lats

If you really want to see long-term results from your training you have to do more than just train hard – you have to train smart!

April 10, 2013

By Nick Tumminello

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding is a comprehensive system I’ve designed and battle-tested for designing smarter workouts by ensuring you hit the muscles you’re targeting as thoroughly as possible.

This article will show you how to apply the Performance U Full Spectrum Bodybuilding system to create smarter (and super-effective) back-building workouts that can help you build bigger, wider Lats. All YOU have to do is bring the intensity.

3 Types of FSB Exercise Classifications for Lats

When I talk about “smarter workouts”, I mean ensuring that each and every workout hits the muscle groups targeted in the most effective way and from every angle. We’ve found that the workouts we perform do just that by incorporating at least one exercise from each of the four categories below.

The FSB training system uses four categories of exercises as types based on how they create a Point of Maximal Loading on the muscle (PML).

1. Exercises that create the most load (PML) on the muscle (or muscle group) in the lengthened position. These exercises create the most muscle damage. That’s a good thing!

2. Exercises that create the most load (PML) on the muscles in the mid-range position. These exercises aid in increasing motor unit-recruitment!

3. Exercises that create the most load (PML) on the muscle (or muscle group) in the shortened position. These exercises tend to create the best muscle pump!

4. Exercises performed on a CAM style machine. Weight-machines designed with a CAM system aren’t dependent on a single load vector like free weights or cables, so you don’t get a chance to rest at the bottom or top position. This is a unique benefit these machines offer as they provide a more consistent resistance throughout the entire range of motion.

Put simply, since each type of training modality (free weights, cables and CAM machines) offers unique benefits that the others may miss, each is utilized in the FSB system to create more well-rounded and comprehensive workouts.

Note: Read my Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: 101 article to help you better understand the PML and the methodology behind the FSB system.

Also, read my 5 Machines That Are Better Muscle-Builders Than Free Weights article to learn more about why machines, they’re benefits, and why they’re one of the four pillars of the FSB system.

The Best Lats Exercises In Each FSB Category:

Exercises that create a PML on the lats in their lengthened position:

Dumbbell Pullovers
Abs Wheel Roll-Outs
Bent-Over Straight Arm Cable Pulldowns (High Cable)

Exercises that create a PML on the lats in their mid-range position:

Chin-Ups & Pull-Ups
Lat Pulldowns (Neutral, Overhand or Underhand Grip)
Band Swimmers (30/30 protocol)
Dumbbell Pullovers (on Decline Bench)
Straight-Arm Cable Pulldowns (High Cable)
T-Bar Rows
Bent-Over Barbell Rows (any grip)
Dumbbell Rows

Exercises that create a PML on the lats in their shortened position:

V-Lat Pulldowns
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
Wide Grip Pull-Ups
Parallel Bar Straight-Arm Shoulder Dips

CAM Machine:

Pullover Machine
Hammer Strength High Row Machine
Opposing Movement Straight-Arm Cable Pullover*
Compound Rows*

*Both opposing movement straight-arm cable pullovers and compound rows (both shown below) are performed using a cable (not on a specific CAM machine). However they do create a CAM machine-like action, which is why they’re included in this category.

How to Perform the FSB Lats Exercises

Since I’ve listed a few new moves and some new variations on classic moves, here are the descriptions on how to perform the exercises you may not be familiar with safely and effectively:

3 Variations Of Straight-Arm Cable Pulldowns

Straight-arm cable pulldowns are a classic bodybuilding exercise. However, not many lifters take advantage of all the available options you can use to vary the training stimulus on the lats with this exercise.

As described above, there are three ways we use straight-arm cable pull downs in the Performance U FSB method:

  • Bent-over straight-arm cable pulldown

  • Straight-arm cable pulldown

  • Opposing movement straight-arm cable pullover

Each of these three exercise applications is demonstrated in this video below.

Band Swimmers (30/30 protocol)

This exercise is essentially a “dynamic effort” version of the straight-arm cable pulldown. The band allows us to move at a very fast pace without having to deal with any momentum.

The 30/30 protocol calls for 30 reps of banned swimmers to be done within a 30 second timeframe. In other words, you’ll do one repetition per second.

This protocol is a great way to give your lats a high volume training stimulus that encourages maximal motor unit recruitment (due to the intensity and speed involved).

This video shows you how to perform band swimmers:

3 Ways to Perform Dumbbell Pullovers

I don't need to tell you how to do dumbbell pullovers as they are a long-standing bodybuilding exercise that's a familiar move to even novice lifters. However, modifying the angle from which you perform pullovers (as demonstrated in the video below) can give you another way to apply this battle-tested exercise.

V-Lat Pulldowns

Many gyms have a machine designed for this exercise. However, if yours doesn't you can simply use adjustable cable columns as shown in this picture:

Straight-Arm Shoulder Dips (aka Reverse Shrugs)

Put simply, this exercise is a reverse shrug motion performed from a parallel bars dip station. This move really focuses on your lats!

Compound Rows

Compound rows are our cable equivalent to the hammer strength highroad machine as they offer a very natural and unique puling arc that trains the lats in a very comprehensive manner.

FSB Lats Workouts

There are two program design concepts you need to know when it comes to how we design our FSB workouts:

  • 12-20 total sets per muscle per week is the benchmark we use in each FSB workout

  • We’ll choose at least one exercise from each of the 4 categories above in each FSB workout

Now that you understand these principles, here are four sample FSB workouts you can use to build some monster lats!

Workout 1

PML in Mid – Chin-Ups and/or Pull-Ups
PML in Stretch – Dumbbell Pullovers
PML in Short – V-Lat Pulldowns
CAM Machine – Compound Rows

Workout 2

PML in Short –Wide-Grip Pull-Ups
PML in Stretch – Bent-Over Straight-Arm Cable Pulldown (High Cable)
PML in Mid – Dumbbell Rows
CAM Machine – Hammer Strength High Row Machine

Workout 3

PML in Stretch – Dumbbell Pullovers
PML in Mid – T-Bar Rows
PML in Short – Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
CAM Machine – One-Arm Compound Rows

Workout 4

CAM Machine – Opposing Movement Straight-Arm Cable Pullover
PML in Stretch – Dumbbell Pullovers
PML in Short – Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
PML in Mid – Lat Pulldowns (Neutral Grip)
PML in Short – Parallel Bar Straight-Arm Shoulder Dips

Shameless Plug Time!

If you want more back-building awesomeness check out my Secrets of Back Training 2-DVD Set.

More Full Spectrum Bodybuilding articles to help you train each muscle group smarter and harder:

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: 101

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Chest

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Quads

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Shoulders

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Hamstrings

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Biceps

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Triceps

More to come…

In my final installment in this epic FSB series I’ll cover calves, abs and weekly FSB training splits to help you “put it all together!”