There’s a lot of shit nfo out there on social media and the Interwebs in general on the how and why when it come to building that upper body, and it can be tough to know what movements are gold and what is a waste of time. As always, we gotchoo! By the end of this episode you know where these muscles are, what they do, and how to make them strong as fuck.


Latissimus Dorsi is their proper name, but you can just call them “lats.” 

  1. They’re a pair of large, triangle-shaped muscles on either side of your spine. They go from the very inside of your upper arm by your shoulder down to the back of the pelvis at the waist, creating a taper spanning your entire back.
  2. The muscle inserts into the upper part of your upper arm bone, from the inside. Their purpose is two-fold: 
    • Your lats primarily work when you pull things, and when you adduct things. What’s adduction? Raise your arms out to your sides, forming a “T” with your torso. Now lower them forcefully back to your sides. That forceful lowering action is adduction.
  3. How do you build yourself some thick lats? Let us share!
    • Deadlifts. They’re often thought of as a hamstring and glute developer, but it’ll get your lats too. 
      • Think about it: Whether you’re lifting or lowering that barbell with a heavy weight, it’s hanging from your arms, and your back muscles have to pull it to keep you from dropping it.
    • Rows, any kind, but let’s pick a few favorites:
      • Barbell rows are dope because the required stability in the spine and core muscles (keeping a neutral spine) and isometric hamstring activity (hinging the hips in a bent position), the action makes this a full body pull exercise.
      • Dumbbell rows involve a host of back muscles, but if you want to focus on your lats here, aim to get a good stretch at the bottom of the motion. You can modify dumbbell rows eight ways to Sunday to get a solid upper body pump. 
    • Lat pulldowns really let you focus in on your lats. Freed of grip concerns and the need to manage your lower body perfectly, you can really focus in on your lats and finish off every rep with a good squeeze.
      • Any variety. You should switch up your lat pull-down variations every so often, so you keep your muscles on their toes. 
      • Really quick form check on those lat pulldowns regardless of variation: pull the bar down until it’s approximately chin level.. Exhale on the downward motion. A slight shift backward is normal and ok. Aim to keep your upper torso stationary. Keep your feet flat on the floor and engage your abs as you pull. The bottom of the motion should be where your elbows can’t move downward anymore without moving backward. Be sure to stop at that point and do not go lower.
      • From the bottom position, with the bar close to your chin, slowly return the bar to the starting position while controlling its gradual ascent. Don’t let it crash into the weight plates.


Those giant speed bump muscles you see on super strong athletes? Dems the traps. 

  1. The trapezius is a large muscle in your back. It starts at the back of your head and neck, extends across your shoulders, and down the middle of your back, forming a trapezoid.
  2. Without getting too deep into anatomy lesson today, The trapezius muscle is divided into 3 areas: Upper, middle, and lower. 
    • Each area has a different use. The upper trapezius originates from your occipital bone in the back of your skull and the back of your neck. The muscle also has attachments to the spinous processes of cervical spine one through six. Attachments of the lower fibers of the trapezius come from the spine too, cervical seven through thoracic 12.
    • The trapezius muscle acts as both a posture stabilizer and a movement muscle.
      • The traps play an important role in posture. They move the shoulders, lift arms out to the side, and protect the neck and spine. You use them when you shrug or pull your shoulders back.
  3. How do you grow your own speed bumps?
    • Deadlifts. You know why. Because they’re magical compound pulling movements. 
    • Face Pulls can be performed with a cable machine or even a resistance band if you’re short on equipment or space. 
      • This movement is slept on and can be clutch in helping you build a stronger upper body. 
    • Rack pulls are great for your trap gains, and you’re focusing on strength and form for other compound lifts. 
      • By taking the weight off the ground and lifting from an elevated place, you can focus more on the pull without the full range of motion and lower back stress of a standard deadlift.


Boulder shoulders, is that you? If it’s not yet, it can be! Last but not least, let’s talk about delts. 

  1. Your deltoid muscles are in your shoulder, which is the ball-and-socket joint that connects your arm to the trunk of your body.
  2. Your deltoid muscles start near your collarbone and shoulder blade. The end of the muscles (insertion point) attaches near your humerus bone. 
    • The deltoid muscle is responsible for the brunt of all arm rotation and lets you keep carried objects at a safer distance from the body. 
    • It is also tasked with stopping dislocation and injury to the humerus when carrying heavy loads.
  3. Grow some giant shoulders! We’ve got a few things you can do to get started. 
    • The lat raise is a bodybuilding mainstay and is perfect as the second or third exercise in your shoulder workout or push/pull day. 
      • It HAS to be done correctly though, cuz if you don’t, it opens the door for shoulder injuries.
      • Initiate the upward movement by slowly lifting your arms away from your body. Allow the shoulder blades to move naturally with the shoulder joint. Continue to raise your arms until your elbows are at shoulder height or just below your shoulders. You should still feel tension in your shoulders. Your palms should be facing the floor at the top of the movement. (you should almost feel like you’re reaching out toward the corners of a room with the raise versus just raising your arms, if that makes sense)
    • The front raise is another bodybuilding staple that can grow your delts. 
      • Again, make sure you have proper form, don’t overextend. You don’t get style points for incorrect movements that look cool. 
      • Lift your arms until your elbows are in line with your shoulders or just below your shoulders. Allow the shoulder blades to move naturally with the shoulder joints. Your palms should be facing the floor at the top of the movement.
    • Reverse flys are neat because they target typically weak areas of your shoulders… like your rear delts and rotator cuff, so you can avoid shoulder pain and chase that pump!
      • You can do them several ways, do what works best for you: DBs, cable machine, or resistance bands. 
      • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides. Press the hips back in a hinge motion, bringing your chest forward and almost parallel to the floor. Let the weights hang straight down (palms facing each other) while maintaining a tight core, straight back, and slight knee bend.
      • Raise both arms out to your side on an exhale. Keep a soft bend in your elbows. Squeeze the shoulder blades together as you pull them toward the spine.
      • Lower the weight back to the start position as you inhale. Avoid hunching your shoulders, and keep your chin tucked to maintain a neutral spine during the exercise.

You’ll notice when you go research the movements we covered today; that they all for the most part require your lats, traps, AND delts. WEIRD.  No wonder we slammed them all together in an episode!



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.