Working the lats and traps, nature has arranged the human body in such a way that the two biggest muscles of the back, the lats and the traps, can actually be seen, not only from the back, which one would expect, but also from the front. This is especially true when these two major back muscles are fully developed. The other area which concerns the bodybuilder is the lower back. The two columns of lumbar region, the erector spinae. These are very powerful muscles which, when fully developed, create an impression of strength and virility.
Beautifully sculpted backs, as we are used to seeing them today, just were not around fifty years ago. True, the strongmen of the times did have thickness and mass, but the enormous, excessively tapered backs of our current era are a relatively new phenomenon. Many people worry that the development of the trapezius will detract from the visual width of the physique. This is not so. What detract from the visual width of the body are underdeveloped shoulders and wide waist and hips.
The only time one should refrain from performing specific trapezius exercises is when one has inherited a short neck. Heavy trap development will give short necked bodybuilder an unattractive hunchiness.
The lats are the biggest muscles of the back. They are "wings" that can be seen from the front under the arms. There are two ways to approach lat building. First, the scapulas (shoulder blades) must be stretched out. This is done with wide grip chins, either in front or behind the neck, or by doing the lat spread pose. Then thickness must be built in the area. usually by performing one or more of the various bent over rowing movements.
As a result of inherited traits, some men possess high lats and others low lats. The vast majority of us are somewhere in between. It is generally accepted that a person with high lat development should perform plenty of rowing movements, pulling the bar into the waist to work the belly of the muscles, whereas a low lat individual requires no further development in the bottom regions and could concentrate on stretching out the upper areas with wide grip chins. Natural shape or type cannot be totally turned around, of course, but some changes can be accomplished.
It is important for most bodybuilders to train the lats for width and thickness, which means that they should make a point of doing at least two lat exercises (one stretching movement and one rowing movement) each back workout. The question has been raised as to which is the superior exercise for pulling out the lats, the wide-grip chin, or the wide-grip lat machine pulldown. Theoretically, the lat machine wins, because the pulldown motion can be extensively controlled, in that you can bring the bar way down below the shoulder level if you wish (by adding to the range of resistance). Also, the lat machine permits a greater variety of reps with very little inconvenience. If you wanted to perform numerous sets of 30 reps, for example, you would have to use a lat machine, unless you are a superman.
Ironically, theory isn't always the winner. There is no doubt that the chin where the body is pulled up to the bar does confer some benefit that the pulldown motion does not. This seems to be the consensus throughout the bodybuilding community. The following are the best exercises for the back to give you mass. For an extensive overview of each exercise go to Smart Physical Workout for routines and description for each exercise.
The list of back exercises are as follows and is not in any particular order;
Bent- over rowing, this is one of the most popular exercises for putting some meat on your lats.
Low Pulley Rowing
Wide Grip Chin
T Bar Rows, This move primarily for the belly of the latissimus
Single Arm Dumbbell Rowing
Lat Machine Pulldowns
Good Morning Exercise
Enjoy your workouts, and dont overdo it, you should be in it for the long haul, and not just a short period of time, because remember your health is for a life time.