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Chin Your Way to Championship Lats! Leroy Colbert Discusses the Chin In Front and in back of the Neck as the Main Developer of the Lats
By Leroy Colbert

Many of you may not recognize the names of these bodybuilders of the drug free golden era of bodybuilding. But just remember the programs you use today were pioneered by the men of my era.

If there ever was an exercise perfectly suited to call into play the functions of the lats, that exercise is the chin. I consider it the best single exercise for the lats, and I venture to say, that it can develop championship lats almost alone, Chins behind and in front of the neck, do for the lats exactly what curls do for the arms. Both are indispensable for the achievement of their appointed tasks.

I have seen the chin behind the neck prove its worth to a bodybuilder, who has been an inspiration to thousands. Enrico Tomas Mr. universe arrived at Abe Goldberg’s Gym in 1956, with a physical problem that weighed heavily on his mind. His lats just refused to grow and take on the tapering affect from the armpits to a trim waist, that he so desired. Rowing motions and all their variations had completely failed to promote an appreciable response.

Chins were found to be Enrico’s muscular salvation for he completely utilized them to build his lats, beyond his wildest dreams. Everyday Rico saw his lats grow from the stretching and contracting motions of the chin. The chins with weights completed the rounding out of Rico’s physique; he then went on to win the Mr. Universe contest in a walk.

In order to facilitate full growth of the lats, the scapula must be free and flexible. The scapula is the flat triangular shaped bone commonly known as the shoulder blade; it forms the posterior part of the shoulder. The flexibility of the scapula is essential in achieving the maximum of width in the latissimus muscles, for stiffness in this region greatly hinders the working range of the lats. The function of the latissimus muscle is to draw the arms downward to the sides of the body. What motion but the chins give such a vivid picture of that function? Chins, as a lat developer stands alone in its supremacy.

Artie Zeller, a great New York bodybuilder and premier physique photographer with a tremendous lat spread, was the first to open my eyes to the unusual development qualities of the wide arm chins for the lats.

Quite a few years ago, when my bodybuilding enthusiasm was at its heights, I was avidly seeking and exercise to bring out my lagging lat development. Artie suggested that I limit most of my lat routine to the wide arm chin with weight. To this day, I haven’t regretted carrying out Artie’s suggestion.

Lou Degni, another great bodybuilder, who has one of the most phenomenal latissimus development I have ever seen. Chins and virtually only chins develop Lou’s back. If there ever were a greater endorsement of the value of chins, Lou’s back would be it. It’s really a sight to behold, to see Degni chinning the bar. His huge muscular lats seem to grow and grow with the completion of each repetition. Descending from the bar after a set of chins with a 90-pound dumbbell dangling from his waist, Lou’s back would be so pumped with blood that his lats would resemble the wings of a bat in full flight.

I could go on to name many champion bodybuilders such as Abe Goldberg, Marvin Eder, Pete Ganies, Richard Dubios and many others that are shinning examples of the lone stand of chins as a lat developer unparalleled.

Rowing motions one and two arms, are a fine exercise for the back and mustn’t be completely discarded in training for a championship physique. Rowing contributes greatly to thickening the lats and is a fine supplement to the chin, but if there has to be a choice between the two, the chin should be preferred.

Chins as they are widely used today were practically completely ignored by the strong men of earlier days. Their lat development would fail to inspire even the rankest beginner of today.

Can you imagine Eugene Sandow, of the early 1900 hailed as being one of the greatest physically developed men of all times, in a physique contest with today's bodybuilders. A lack of lat development may have blended perfectly in Sandow’s day, but there is no place for a bodybuilder with a lat deficiency today.

There are bodybuilders with thick chunky back muscles and column like spinal erectors only to be revealed as lacking the imposing sweep of the latissimus dorsi muscle, which deprived them to that classical look.

There are few poses a bodybuilder can take that would hide defective lats. Spreading of the lats in some form is almost mandatory in most physique contests. I would pay many times over to chin those lats to championship form, rather than try to conceal their defect by contorting poses.

The lats, one of the most beautiful muscles of the body, add so much to the physique that has them well developed.

Some fellows in their first attempt at the chins may find it a little difficult due to practicing other latissimus movements. The chins being a concentrated movement, do not allow the help of other muscles of the body, such as the legs and the lower back. The benefits of the chins are multiplied by 10 consequently no effort should be spared in mastering them.

In the 20th century, where physique contest judges look for perfection, weakness in so vital a spot as the lats would be plain folly. Any bodybuilder contemplating entering a physique contest, who is weak in the lat department, might as well forget all about such a contest until that defect is remedied.

There really is no reason a bodybuilder should be ashamed of his lats with an exercise like the chin so readily available to render its services. The advanced bodybuilder, who is satisfied with his back development and has as yet to try the chin, would be amazed at the difference the exercise would make in his back development.

For any weight trainee who has neglected doing the chins, I would advise that he start them without use of additional weights, until the full benefit of complete flexibility in the scapula region has been attained. Once full flexibility has been achieved, the addition of weights to increase the resistance may be used.

The using of too much weight in the chin must be guarded against for it hampers the full working range of the scapula, which we are striving for. The chins have many variations like most exercises, but I find the wide arm chin most beneficial for the lats. The use of the latissimus machine should satisfy those who must use weight for the lats. Where as the chins without weight will retain its functions of isolating the scapula.

So fellows, try allotting the major portion of your back routine to the wide arm chins, and watch those lats grow to heights that would satisfy even the most ardent skeptic.


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