Latissimus Dorsi Muscle
aka "The Lats"
Anatomy of the Back Muscles

The Latissimus dorsi (aka the Lats) is the widest muscle of the back, and below is just a brief overview of the anatomy of the lats.

"Latissimus" means widest and "dorsi" means back, so the lat muscle is literally the widest muscle of the back.

The lats are sometimes referred to as the "swimmers muscle" because they works really hard to move the shoulder in a freestyle swimming motion.

Origination/ Starting Postion:

The Lats originate from the spinous processes of the inferior six thoracic vertebrae, the thoracolumbar facsia, iliac crest, and inferior 3-4 ribs.

Insertion/ Ending Position:

The lats goes from the back and inserts onto the floor of the intertubercular (biciptial) groove.


The lats will adduct the shoulder (bring the arm to the side), extend the shoulder (pull the humerus backwards), and internally rotate the shoulder (turn the shoulder inwards).

The lats can also raise the trunk up towards the arm during climbing or walking with crutches.

And the lats can also tilt the pelvis forwards and extend the lower back.

The lats primarily work on the shoulder joint, but they can also affect the lower back and pelvis.

Nerve Supply:

The lats are innervated by the thoracodorsal nerve.

Exercises for the Latissimus Dorsi

Often, back exercises and lat exercises are synonymous. Some of the most popular back exercises that work the lats are pull ups of all kinds, the seated row, or the lat pull down machine.

The lats will also work during exercises like straight arm pull downs or pull overs.

Choose a variety of back exercises, and mix up your workout to keep it fun and challenging.

Yours in health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT

Learn all Best Back Exercises and Lat Exercises

Return to the Main Arm Muscle Anatomy Page from the Latissimus Dorsi

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