You have two lats or latissimus dorsi. They’re back muscles located on either side of your lower and mid spine, and are among the biggest and most powerful muscles in your body. Your lats are responsible for allowing your back and shoulders to make a huge range of movements and, if you’re training them hard in the gym, they are one of the key sets of muscles that help create that classic v-shaped look. If you want to know what a good pair look like, check out any back shots of Arnie during his bodybuilding heyday. Or, for a more current set, have a butchers at what’s hanging out behind current CrossFit champion Richard Fronning.

There are loads of different exercises you can do to build them but three of the best are the pull-up, pulldown and overhead medicine ball slam. Here’s how to do each of them.

Pull-up

Best for: increasing lat strength

– Hold a pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart and in a dead hang.
– Pull-up until your chin is above the bar.
– Lower slowly under control and don’t swing.

Pulldown

Best for: boosting lat size and shape, particularly when the eccentric stage is completed as slowly as possible

– Sit on the seat with your knees locked under the pad and the bar high enough so your arms are fully extended at the top of the move.
– Pull the bar down to below your chin and hold for one second.
– Let the bar rise as slowly as possible.

Overhead medicine ball slam

Best for: building explosive power crucial to a wide variety of sports

– Hold a medicine ball in front of your sternum with both hands.
– Pull it back above your head.
– Slam it down on the floor in front of you as hard as you can.
– Pick it up and repeat.