Due to there being little agreement as to which exercise is the most effective for activating the latissimus dorsi, and its intramuscular components are rarely compared, this study investigated the intramuscular components of the latissimus dorsi during both trunk and shoulder exercises. Sixteen male subjects performed four isometric exercises: inverted row, body lifting, trunk extension, and trunk lateral bending. Surface electromyography (sEMG) was used to collect data from the medial and lateral components of the latissimus dorsi, lower trapezius, and the erector spinae at the 12th thoracic level during the isometric exercises. Two-way repeated analysis of variance with two within-subject factors (muscles and exercise conditions) was used to determine the significance of differences between the muscles and differences between exercise variations. The inverted row displayed the highest values for the medial latissimus dorsi, which were significantly higher than those of the body lifting or trunk extension exercises. For the lateral latissimus dorsi, lateral bending showed significantly higher muscle activity than the inverted row or trunk extension. During body lifting, the % maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of the erector spinae showed the lowest value, significantly lower than those of the other isometric exercises. The inverted row exercise was effective for activating the medial latissimus dorsi versus the shoulder depression and trunk exertion exercises.
The lateral bending and body lifting exercises were beneficial for activating the lateral component of the latissimus dorsi. Evaluating trunk lateral bending is critical for examining the function of the latissimus dorsi.