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Do you want wings?
Working out can do many things for you.
Oh, and with the right routine, you can develop wings!
They won’t let you fly but you’ll be stronger and look better!
Plus, you won’t need to drink any silly sugary energy drinks.
Unless you want to, I guess.
That’s because all you need is a set of dumbbells!
What Are the Lats?
There are three main muscles that make up your back.
The biggest of these are your latissimus dorsi.
It’s the broadest muscle of the back, as evidenced by the name, which translates to “broadest muscle of the back.”
Yeah, people folks who named the lats weren’t the most imaginative folks.
It’s the triangular muscle which goes from your lower back up to your armpit.
Not only is it necessary for making farting sounds with your armpit but it also does a lot for your shoulders.
Without your lats, you wouldn’t be able to rotate, extend, or pull with your shoulders.
Put your elbow by your side and pretend to be a t-rex. That’s what life would be like without the lats!
They also keep your torso upright and stable, so keeping them healthy can prevent back pain.
Finally, if you have strong lats, you can flex your back to look like you have wings!
So, let’s grab some dumbbells and work out those lats!
As with any exercise, you want to get the blood flowing first!
Do what works well for you to warm up. Jogging, jumping jacks, and jumping rope are all a good choice.
Don’t forget to stretch! Here are a few lat-specific stretches.
Standing Overhead Reach
Reach for the sky.
No, this isn’t a hold-up, it’s the stretch!
Stand up straight and try to push your hands as high into the air as possible.
Make sure to keep your back straight and go slow. No bouncing!
Do this for at least ten seconds then relax.
Then do it again, but this time slowly bend to the right. And again, but to the left.
Cycle though a few times.
Squat Lat Stretch
This is like a bodyweight squat, except you’re not trying to work out your legs.
Find something about waist-height you can hold onto.
Keep your heels flat with your feet at shoulder-width. Grab the object and squat down.
Get your butt as close to the ground as possible.
Hold onto that object, relax your back, and lower your head to be parallel with your arms.
Your lower back will round.
That’s okay because we’re using that object for support.
Hold that for at least ten seconds before rising. Do this several times.
You can also lean on a chair instead of grabbing something.
Now that we’ve warmed up and stretched, let’s grab those dumbbells and get to work!
I would recommend doing 3 sets of each of these exercises at the beginning then up to 5 when you’re experienced.
You’ll have to figure out the dumbbell weight yourself.
Aim for a weight that’s just heavy enough that you can hit 8 reps with all of the sets but not many more.
Increase the number of reps until you can consistently hit 12 then switch to a heavier dumbbell.
With these exercises, form and muscle engagement is more important than pure weight.
While pullovers can be an excellent chest exercise, this variant targets the lats for maximum impact.
Lay on your back, preferably with your feet flat on the ground.
Grab a single dumbbell with both hands and hold it in front of your face. Start with a lighter weight than what you think you’ll need.
Bend your elbows and flare them sideways a little bit. Then, lower the weight so it’s next to your head.
Pause then raise it back in front of your face.
Focus on pulling with your elbows. You don’t want the weight to flop around but if you hold it too tightly this can become a forearm and chest exercise instead of lat exercise!
Once you are comfortable engaging your lats instead of other muscles, feel free to increase the weight.
This is a good first exercise, so don’t go too heavy with it.
Breathe in as you lower the weight and breathe out as you pull it back up.
Grab a bench or your bed for this exercise.
Start with the dumbbell in your weaker hand because you don’t want to train yourself into a muscle imbalance.
Place the opposite hand and knee on the bench or bed and lower your torso so it’s parallel to the floor.
With your palm facing inward, pull the dumbbell up to your chest, pause, then lower it back toward the floor.
Make sure to use slow, smooth movements. You don’t want to bounce around!
Also, keep your back straight. You should move nothing but your arm!
Once you’ve done the reps with one arm, swap sides.
Have both arms done an equal amount of reps? That’s one set.
You can also do this exercise with your foot on the floor, but keep that hand on the bench!
This one may be a bit awkward on the bed unless it’s very thin or you’re very wide.
That’s because you need to lie face down on a bench or similar object with your elbows held out at a ninety-degree angle.
Start with your hands straight down.
Slowly raise the dumbbells until your arms are stretched straight outward.
Keep your elbows fixed in space! They shouldn’t move!
Then lower the dumbbells.
Again, we want to use strength, not momentum, so don’t drop them or let anything bounce.
Breathe out as you raise the dumbbells and breathe in when you lower them.
You can also do this while standing with your torso facing the ground and your knees slightly bent.
With a barbell and heavy weights, deadlifts can be an intimidating exercise.
Dumbbell deadlifts are easier, work your lats more, and won’t scrape your shins!
Stand straight up with a dumbbell in each hand.
Squat down by flexing your knees and hips. It helps me to lead the movement with my glutes.
The dumbbells should go straight down and your knees should remain behind your toes.
Pause then stand up. That’s one rep. Keep going, you’re doing a good job!
Breathe in as you squat down and breathe out as you stand back up.
This is similar to the other deadlift but your legs don’t move.
It’s also optional. While I’d recommend it, if your back is blasted after the other exercises, it might be smart to put this one off until next time.
Don’t let laziness be the reason why you skip this exercise, though!
It requires more from your back so use a lighter weight when starting out.
Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent and dumbbells in your hands.
Then lower your upper body without bending your legs at all.
Go low, but not so far that you’re pushing yourself!
This is a weighted exercise, not a stretch, after all.
Pause at the bottom then stand up with a controlled movement.
Breathing is just like with normal deadlifts. In when going down and out when going up.
If you’re going to do both stiff-legged deadlifts and normal deadlifts, cut back on the sets a little bit.
Your back should be nice and sore now!
Let’s cool down by moving, but not too fast. Do some light cardio and slow down over the course of five minutes.
After that, do some more stretches, and you should be good to go!
The lats are an important muscle group.
You use them for everything from pull-ups to merely standing up straight.
Despite their importance, they are an often overlooked set of muscles.
Work them out and you’ll grow wings.
Sure, you may not end up flying through the air, but a strong back will hold you up for years to come!