The lats are weak if you have Kyphotic Lordotic Posture (rounding in the front of your shoulders and an anterior tilt of the pelvis). This is due to the overactivity in the pecs and anterior delts. In an effort to strengthen the lats you should begin with flexibility for the pecs and shoulders and strength training for the upper back extensors.
Flexibility to combat Kyphosis
There are numerous stretches to open the pecs and shoulders that can be done lying, seated, against a wall or standing. You can also incorporate trigger point work or foam rolling. My favorite chest opener is lying supine on a foam roller with your arms in cactus/goal post position. Hold for 1 - 5 minutes. Gravity takes care of the rest!
Strength for the upper back extensors
Begin by selecting a series of specific exercises to strengthen the lats, posterior delts, and serratus anterior. Work on all 4’s, prone, supine, seated, standing and/or on the knees. I find that unilateral work helps you achieve balance in the body at a quicker rate. Begin with single arm work using your non-dominant arm. Do one-minute, 1 full set (8-12 reps). Then, if possible, depending on the exercise you selected, do your next set with both arms working. If the movement must be done unilaterally, then do twice as many reps on the non-dominant side.
As you work on your upper back extensors and pec/shoulder flexibility apply these alignment notes:
- Work with your pelvis in either a posterior tilt (tucked under) or neutral (not arched or tucked).
- Plug your shoulders down your back so the lats are accessible and you can build up your shoulder and spine stability.
- Breathe. Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back.