Pull-ups, pull-downs and medicine ball slams are three of the best latissimus dorsi exercises, according to Men's Fitness. These are possible using a number of variations, such as wide-grip lat pull-downs, underhand cable pull-downs, straight arm pull-downs, v-bar pull-downs, close-grip front lat pull-downs, v-bar pull-ups and "Rocky" pull-ups, explains Bodybuilding.com. Additional exercises include chin-ups and leveraged isolated rows. Many of these exercises require the use of common gym equipment.
The latissimus dorsi are two of the body's largest and most powerful muscles. Translated from Latin, latissimus dorsi literally means "broadest of the back." The muscles are on the sides of the lower and mid-spine. They are a part of the core muscle group of the torso and serve a range of stabilizing and supportive movements in the back, spine and shoulder joints. Wikipedia notes that it is beneficial to exercise these muscles safely to avoid tightness and subsequent chronic shoulder pain and chronic back pain. Tightness in the lats can also result in tendinitis in the tendons connecting the lat muscles to the thoracic and lumbar spine. Many people also enjoy building these muscles through exercise in an effort to obtain the coveted v-shape appearance in the back, says Men's Fitness.