The Front Lat Spread pose is probably the most difficult pose to master. Unlike every other pose (except for the rear lat spread pose) instead of tensing you have to stretch your lats and back, trying to make your back as wide as possible – spread your wings!
You’re effectively aiming for a cobra-like effect, at the start of the pose your back is ‘tucked in’ and narrow and then BOOM! you spread your lats out for a startling, crowd-pleasing transformation. If your back is big enough, and your posing good enough you’ll make grown men cry, small children scream and women faint. Let’s face it, the Front Lat Spread rocks.
So why is the Front Lat Spread pose so difficult to get right when all you do is stretch your back? Well, that’s the thing – how do you stretch your back out? And how do you explain it to someone who can’t do it? ‘Just stick your back out’ doesn’t really help does it? The simple fact is that some people NEVER figure it out. This page is my attempt to help make sure you aren’t one of those people.
Like most front poses, the front lat spread starts off in the front standing relaxed pose:
1. Standing relaxed
Stand in the relaxed (which is anything but) front pose. (See the Front Double Biceps Pose article for more information on the relaxed pose.)
2. The all important arms back transition
It is fairly straight-forward but you bring your hands up to your waist and then most bodybuilders dig their thumbs or fists into their sides, just on and above where the hip bone is. It gives you something to anchor your arms on.
Dorian Yates bringing his arms back prior to his signature move!
3. Execution of the main pose
This is it, you’re now ready to hit the lat spread! Since your arms are hitched up and back your lats are at their tightest – tensed and almost not visible from the front. The next stage is where you bring your arms forward and – CRUCIALLY – at the same time you push your shoulder blades and shoulders out and forwards. It is not enough to just bring your arms forward.
This next shot of Dorian is just moments before he moves his shoulder blades out. See how even though his arms are out to the sides his lats are still not stretched out.
Dorian Yates moments before pushing his shoulder blades out.
Sadly, this is how many many people pose when they do the lat spread – no matter how much they lift their shoulders or splay their arms out they just can’t get those bat-wings out.
It’s really difficult to explain but it’s the shoulder blade / shoulder girdle movement that spreads the lats out, without that feeling of your shoulder blades stretching out around your rib cage on your back you just won’t get your lats to pop.
Look what happens when Dorian Yates pushes out his shoulder girdle…
Dorian Yates completing the front lat spread pose.
If you compare it to the previous photo the difference is incredible isn’t it? His arms have barely moved but the lats are really spread wide now and his delts are forward due to his shoulder girdle moving forward and out (away from the spine). He’s kept his legs tensed through the whole pose, as well as his arms and finally his pecs. Almost all the front facing muscles should be tensed (knees slightly bent to keep the quads tensed).
Some bodybuilders like to tense their abs in this pose, others try to maximise the apparent size of the torso by lifting their rib cage as high as possible, preventing the abs separation from being visible.
Dorian Yates and Lee Haney – two Mr. Olympias who knew how to look great in the Front Lat Spread Pose!
Andreas Munzer knew how to keep his abs looking amazing whilst in the front last spread.
4. Perfect Pose
So what makes a perfect Front Lat Spread? For me it’s the ‘pop’ – the dramatic difference caused by the lats spreading out dramatically, like you are spreading your wings. So, to maximise this effect you really need to focus on pulling the arms and lats back as much as possible and then making the transition into the full lat spread as dramatic and impressive as possible. Watch as many competition videos as you can and see how the top amateurs and professional bodybuilders do it, especially those with big backs who really ‘pop’ when they perform the front lat spread.
If you have trouble getting your lats wide then you are probably struggling with getting your shoulder blades and shoulder girdle pushed out and forward. It is like rounding your shoulders but at the same time feeling for a stretch around your shoulder blades, feeling them move around your rib cage to the front – your whole upper back should feel stretched to the brink, that you can’t really stretch it out any more than you’re already doing.
It helps if you can get someone to watch you perform the pose so they can see whether you’re stretching your back out properly or just hunching your shoulders up and moving your arms up.
Practice, practice, practice! Nothing beats practice for this pose – the more you do it the more you’ll feel that stretch in your back and understand how to best move your shoulder girdle so that you stretch your lats out as cobra-like as possible. Good luck, and train hard!
Dorian Yates had possibly the best back in bodybuilding history.