Do You Suffer From Imaginary Lat Syndrome (ILS)?

imaginary lats syndrome

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What Is Imaginary Lat Syndrome? (ILS)

Have you ever heard of Imaginary LAT Syndrome (ILS)? The Urban Dictionary describes this problem as:


“The awkward stance that some males take in order to swell their chest in a ridiculous attempt at make non-existing muscle seem present. Generally, the arms are lifted away from the body as if huge lat muscles were pushing them away.” 

Although there has been a recent rise in gym memberships, this terrible affliction still holds many of the country’s gym-goers in its sway.

It tends to affect either those who are excessively heavy or skinny.

It’s not to say that all males that suffer from this affliction are out of shape, there are many whose biceps might be a little bigger than the average Joe’s.

The problem here is that their lats are those of a gym beginner and except for those boulder shoulders and protruding pecs, they would have nothing to show for their gym memberships.


Why Do Guys Do It?

Although there hasn’t been much research on the subject of imaginary lat syndrome, there are a few reasons that some experts believe that men suffer from ILS. They include:

  • Starved for attention: It’s not uncommon for ILS sufferers to open their arms wide and parade around the gym, usually with a weight lifting belt and gloves to accessorize. These individuals attempt to make eye contact with everyone and to enhance the effect, he may stick his chest out as well.
  • Insecurity: The same reason some men puff their chests out before a fight, they want to look bigger and stronger to their opponent. In this case, the guy believes that everybody around him in the gym environment is an opponent in some way and he must show everyone that he is big and strong.
  • Paying homage to Ronnie Coleman: In case you were wondering, Ronnie Coleman, is an eight-time winner of the Mr. Olympia title. His fans seem unaware that he relaxes his lats in real life and can bring his arms down to his side like a normal human being. Bodybuilders only open their arms wide on the stage and it’s done in an attempt to impress the audience and judges.
  • Searching for love: It is theorized that the primary reason that men use this posture is to impress or attract a mate. Another theory states that it may be used as a dominance or defense posture that gives the ILS sufferer the illusion of appearing larger to a threat or to intimidate rival males and scare them away from the beautiful, fit women at the gym.

Check Out This Video On Invisible Lat Syndrome:

Discouraging Imaginary Lat Syndrome

The best way to discourage ILS is to avoid making eye contact with sufferers.

There is a strong chance they are hungry for your attention and acknowledgment of their gains, withholding attention will make them realize it just isn’t working.

Another strategy to discourage ILS in loved ones is to face it head-on.

Below are some sample statements you can use to confront a person who you may want to confront.

“Dude, your lats are not that big, stop it.”

“Just the two watermelons today then?”


Is There a Cure to Imaginary Lat Syndrome?

The good news is that imaginary lat syndrome sufferers are not doomed to suffer from this ailment forever, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

All they have to do is develop real lat strength and size instead of imagining it.

The lats must be engaged in a productive way i.e. sufferers will have to reach muscle failure without stopping to take a selfie for Instagram.

One of the best ways to build real lats is by deadlifting, this exercise is guaranteed to transform your upper body.

An added bonus, deadlifting will also help you improve your shoulder and bench press.

There’s no need to fake it at all.

How Do You Get Your Lat Muscles to Fire?

In order to build your lat muscles the key is to focus on pulling movements. There are numerous exercises that build the lat muscles up, but before you do them, it’s important to activate the lats by doing some lightweight moves to warm up the area.

In order to get your lat muscles to fire, before you begin your pull-day exercises, get a lightweight barbell or dumbell and just do three sets of 12 reps of barbell rows, or even use the lat pull-down machine.

If You Don’t Have Access to Equipment?

If you dont have access to equipment like dumbells, barbells or a latp pulldown machine, you can still get your lats to fire before you workout your lats.

Get Your Lats to Fire with Prisoner Rotations

Prisoner rotations are a very underrated move for activating the lats. Do ten reps of these and you will feel your lats warm up.

Make sure you focus on doing them slowly and be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades and lat muscles together as you do them, all while keeping your arms as straight as possible.

Remember, you’re only warming up your lats so do not go heavy. This is just step one to getting your lats to fire

How Do You Strengthen Weak Lats?

The first go to exercise for building the lats is pull ups or chin-ups, and then as you get better at them, you need to focus on adding weight and progressing to weighted variations by wearing a dipping belt as you do them, pull ups and chin-ups are the best exercise for strengthening the lats and as they are a calisthenic move, your strengthening other areas too like your core, biceps, shoulders and back. If you can’t do them, then getting to your first pull up or chin up is a great thing to aim for. Look at negative pull ups or eccentric pull ups as a speedy way to get good at pull ups. You can also add in some other exercises like barbell rows, dumbbell rows, and under-grip pull-downs.

Do You Suffer From Imaginary Lat Syndrome (ILS)?

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