Flair Out & Stretch Your Lats


I was told once way back when, as a lanky, ectomorph of a gym newbie by a yoked lifter, “If you want to show everyone up, just walk in and do 20 unassisted pull-ups before you workout.” I was on a serious mission and had he told me to stand on my head and whistle old lang syne I probably would have. None the less, “lat work” became a big part of my training. And still is. Over the years I’ve trained back several different ways. It has never been enough for me to “just do deadlifts.”


The latissimus dorsi muscles, or the “Lats,” are one of the widest muscles in the body and are commonly referred to as “the wings.” Triangular in shape, the lats flair our from either side of the upper spine along the scapula to the humerous, or upper arm, and down to the lumbar.  Swimmers, rock climbers, and bad-ass physique competitors all have lats worth a little envy.


Building a nice set of wings need not be an arduous task or futile. It simply requires a little fine tuning and getting out of the comfort zone of standard, cookie-cutter routines. As in daily life, making the smallest of changes can have the biggest impact. Alternate between these three exercises so baby can get some back.

Short Grip Lat Pull-Down

The Pull-down is a standard in any back workout. Switch the grip often and target the lats a more efficient way. Perform the exercise with hands slightly shoulder width apart.

Tip (switch it up) 


Wide Grip Lat Pull-Down

I incorporate the wide grip at the end of a workout using a high rep/low weight formula. My goal here is to exhaust the muscle. Grow baby, grow.

“When looking back doesn’t interest you anymore, you’re doing something right”

Bent Over Dumbbell Rows


Form is always the game-changer with any exercise as targeting the muscles correctly is the ultimate point. I equate it with a nutrition plan that’s on point. It also helps seperate the truly serious from the knuckleheads. Here, focus on keeping the elbows tucked in. Avoid letting them flair out.

And of course don’t forget bro-mans advice from earlier. Throw in as many unassisted pull ups as you can, whenever you can. Trust.


Balance and symmetry. Strength and agility. Get it right, get it tight.

6 AM8 PM Monday – Friday

By Appointment


“The desire for symmetry, for balance, for rhythm in form as well as in sound, is one of the most inveterate of human instincts” – Edith Wharton 


Tips for Dips

Once, awhile back, when I was a true gym rookie longing for gains, (we all start somewhere) I asked a regular I’d seen around, for some tips on improving my bench press. He summed up his advice with this, “You should be able to bench your body weight.” It stuck with me. After all, who doesn’t want a well defined chest? (Insert Tarzan yell)



Body weight exercises are effective muscle and strength builders for a number of reasons. Mainly, they utilize multiple muscle groups putting them in the category of compound exercises. Working the chest, the shoulders, and the triceps, the dip is to the upper body what the mighty squat is to the lower.

No gym?

Dips are one of those exercises that can be performed anywhere, anytime. (Even your office.) Like pushups, there is no need for stack slamming, or sophisticated broscience – just do them.


Body weight exercises also target muscle groups extremely well. Unlike a machine, (no, I do not hate on machines) which tend to force you into a position, body weight exercises utilize both primary and secondary muscles, stimulating all those fibers down deep. Booyah – Gains.

“It is easy to perform a good action, but not easy to acquire a habit of performing such actions.” – Aristotle 

5 Tips for Dips 

1. Activate the Lat’s. This is like posing. Once you activate the muscles, and “feel” it, it becomes second nature. The lattisimus dorsi help support the upper body.

2. Don’t over-extend. As with any exercise, proper form is essential. Hyper-extending puts unnessary stress on the shoulder joints. “Going lower” isn’t going to make the difference. Stay at a 45° degree angle at the bottom.

3. Chin up. “Keep your chin up” has been a phrase I’ve been told my whole life. For good reason, too. Here, Keep your head level, with eyes focused and straight ahead. The form will follow.

4. Keep elbows close to side. Again, form is key. This helps to target all muscle groups as well as reduces stress to the shoulders.

5. Slow and controlled. Trying to pushout as many as possible in an effort to feel like a beast isn’t going to help achieve the gains faster. Execute these controlled and in a methodical fashion.

There are all sorts of “variations on a theme” but the biggest tip of all – start small, master the basics, and build.


For more on dips, body weight workouts, and ways to keep your chin up email:



6AM – 8PM Monday – Saturday

By Appointment


Designing a Routine Part I.b for BACK

Building Muscle

“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone” – Reba McEntire

Symmetry is the hallmark of good training. Bodybuilders, physiques competitors, and avid gym dwellers strive for just the right proportions.

The Back, comprising of multiple muscle groups, plays an important part in all of this. Gentlemen, if you really want that small waistline you need Lats that flare. Some of us ectomorphs have to work them for days, but it is attainable.

Very attainable. Assuming, of course, your nutrition is in on point, and you are training a minimum of 3 days a week.

Muscle Groups Worked

  • Latissimus Dorsi The “Wings” the Lats 
  • Teres Major The little Lat 
  • Rohmboids 
  • Trapezius 
  • Erector spinae 

Frank Zane, a bodybuilder from back in the “Glory Days”, became known across the land for his hyper-focus on symmetry. You just don’t rack up the titles he did without it.

While not a bodybuilder in the competition sense, I have followed his approach for years and base a good deal of my workout strategies around his knowledge.

I also believe in targeting muscle groups from multiple angles and being slightly unconventional. No wackadoodle broscience, just some creativity.

The Goal

To not only build strength and definition, but to focus on proportion.

The Workout (Option 1)


I was taught that if you choose these on Back Day instead of Leg day do them first. A compound exercise utilizing all the muscles in the back and some in the legs, keep reps low.

Warm up Set

Working Sets 8, 6, 6 or 5 x 5

Alternating Close Grip Lat Pulldown 

Get a Grip


Why close grip? A common misconception is that a wide grip = wide lats. A closer grip, slightly shoulder width apart, is more effective.

Sets 3

Reps 12, 10, 10,

V-Bar Pull


Because it’s a tried-&-true mass & thickness builder for the Lats & Rhomboids, I continue to use V-Bar Pull downs in a 5 sets of 5 rep range, using heavy weight.

Sets 5

Reps 5

✔ Tip: Keep rest periods here longer than others. 2 minute range or more. Why? Your using heavy weight.

Bent over Dumbbell Row


Sets 3

Reps 12, 10, 10

Pull ups/Unassisted

These are a no-brainer. When I was a struggling newbie, a fellow gym-goer said to me once, “If you really want to put all these knuckleheads to shame, everytime you walk in to the gym, go straight to the pull up bar and crank out 15, then go work out.”


It’s just one of those things that’s just stayed with me.

Sets 2

Reps “Until failure” “To fatigue” I still say, “As many as you can”

Standing Lat Pulldown

A good way to help isolate the Teres Major, or “Little Lat”


It’s also effective as you do not have the knee pads to use as resistance as you do in sitting. Focus on keeping your core tight and knees slightly bent.

Stand facing the stack with arms raised out front parallel with the floor. Grip bar shoulder width apart and pull down. Hold for a 2 count. Raise and repeat.

In all of my finishing exercises I reduce weight to lower and perform high rep sets.

Sets 3

Reps 15, 12, last set as many as I can.


The shoulder blade squeeze. This just feels awesome. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Now your ready for a protein shake, or your Tupperware full of egg salad, or 2 boiled chicken breasts, or…..

Read more from Frank in his interview with Flex : Q&A with Frank Zane