Upper Back Muscle - Latissimus Dorsi
Anatomy of Back Muscle
The Latissimus Dorsi, is what people more often refer to as the back muscle or simply the "Lats". However, the term 'back muscle' encompasses more than just the lats to also include other muscles in the back such as the Rhomboid, Teres Major, Erector Spinae, and the Trapezius. Each of these different muscles in the back perform different functions, and are all required for a full and complete back muscle development. The following sections will explain the back muscles in more detail with a diagram included below.
Back Muscle Diagram
Upper Back Muscle Development
One of the most impressive features of a bodybuilder's physique is the fully developed back - full, thick, lat muscles with a wide sweep. Lat muscle development is crucial for the "V" shape of the body - with wide shoulders, wide upper back, tapering into a tight waistline.
The width of the lat muscle is developed with any type of pulldown movement such as chinups and lat pull downs. Various factors such as the width of your grip, your angle of pulldown, or pulling down to the front or rear, will affect how your lats muscle is worked.
Development of the lower lat muscle requires exercises that use a narrow grip, such as close grip chin up, close grip pulldown, or one arm dumbbell row.
Latissimus Dorsi Muscle
The Latissimus Dorsi is probably the most notable muscle in the back, as this is the muscle that gives you that nice v-taper. The lat muscle is a large triangular muscle that extends from under the shoulders down to the small of the back on both sides. It covers the lumbar region and inserts into the humerus, and curves around the lower border of the Teres Major muscle.
Basic function of the latissimus dorsi is to pull the shoulders downward, and toward the back.
Latissimus Dorsi Exercises
- Chin ups
- Lat pull down
- Barbell rows
- Dumbbell row
- T-bar rows
Rhomboid Major & Rhomboid Minor Muscles
As its name suggests, the rhomboid muscle is diamond shaped. The Rhomboid Major muscle is located directly below the Rhomboid Minor muscle. The Rhomboid muscle inserts on the medial border of the scapula. It holds the scapula on to the ribcage, and its main function is to retract the scapula, pulling it toward the vertebral column.
- Bent Barbell Row
- Dumbbell Row
- Wide grip seated cable rows
Teres Major and Minor Muscle
The Teres Major is a thick and somewhat flat muscle. It originates from the dorsal surface of the inferior angle of the scapula and inserts into the medial lip of intertubercular groove of the humerus. Its main function is to adduct and medially rotate the arms.
Erector Spinae Muscle
The Erector Spinae are large muscles located along the spine. It divides into 3 longitudinal columns which are:
- iliocostalis muscle
- longissimus muscle
- spinalis muscle
Each of these muscles have its own point of origin, insert, and actions. Together, these three muscles form the Erector Spinae muscle, and they work to extend and side bend the spine.
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