This is How to Get A Barn Door Back
The lats are my favorite muscle (that sounds weird but whatever). This muscle is a bit more complicated than people give it credit for, but don’t worry, you’ll know all there is to know by the end of this article.
- Shoulder Extension (pull your arms behind you)
- Shoulder Adduction (pulling your arms to your side)
- Shoulder Internal Rotation (stick your arms straight out the side and then point your thumb down toward the ground)
- Assists in Hyperextending the Spine (arch your back like you’re about to twerk)
- Anteriorly Tilting the Pelvis (stand up, push your hips back, and poke your butt out… like you’re about to twerk)
- Lateral Flexion of the Spine (bend your torso from side to side)
Erector Spinae/ Spinal Erectors
Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!
There are three layers to the erector spinae. A superficial layer and two deep layers are present. Since this is an article about bodybuilding, we’ll keep this conversation to the superficial layer.
The superficial layer of the spinal erectors have three parts; the Iliacostalis, the Longissimus, and the Spinalis. All three portions have nearly the same functions.
- Extension of the Vertebral Column (arch your back)
- Lateral Flexion of the Vertebral Column (bend your torso from side to side)
- Anterior Pelvic Tilt (stand up, push your hips back, and poke your butt out)
Biomechanics of Back Training
Let’s discuss why the lats are more complex than people give them credit for.
Firstly, the lat fibers do not all travel in the same direction. The lowermost lat fibers go up and outward toward the shoulder joint while the uppermost fibers are nearly completely horizontal.
“So why does that matter?”
Muscles pull in line with the direction of their fibers. Since the lat fibers direction of travel varies, the lower and upper part of the lats must be trained differently.
Unlike the lats, the spinal erectors are pretty straightforward. The fibers’ direction of travel only varies slightly, and the thickness of the upper and lower fibers is generally the same.
“How many reps and sets do I do Wilfredo?!”
Don’t worry dude, I got you covered.
Fiber Type Composition
Fast Twitch Fibers – Fibers that expend energy and fatigue quickly. Fast fibers should, therefore, be trained with heavy weight for low reps.
Slow Twitch Fibers – Fibers that expend energy and fatigue slowly. Slow fibers should, therefore, be trained with light weight for high reps.
The latissimus dorsi has been found to be either a nearly even mix of slow and fast twitch fibers, or slightly slow twitch dominant. So stick to 8-12 reps for lat exercises.
The spinal erectors are predominately slow twitch. Sets at, or above, 15 reps work well for the erectors.
As far as how many sets to do, there is no hard rule. I’m a fan of moderate volume workouts, but I train around 6 times a week. Over the course of a week, I do more volume for a muscle than most people do when annihilating a muscle once a week.