So, that title was total click bait. Sorry, there are no Pilates exercises for your lats...not that Pilates doesn't work your lats...let me explain...
Someone asked me the other day for an exercise to work their lats. And I was stumped for a little bit. What should I give them? The arm weight series? Row Series on Reformer? Pull Up on Chair? And then it hit me why I didn't have a quick answer. All Pilates exercises work your lats. And more importantly, in Pilates, we don't break the body down into segments.
Your lats (or latissimus dorsi) are a major posture muscle and connect your trunk to your pelvis. They also help to rotate your scapula (shoulder blades) downward, which is important since most people are becoming kyphotic due to smart phone or computer use, or overworking their chest muscles. If you have a kyphotic posture, your shoulders generally rotate inward.
But in Pilates, we don't isolate the lats and then work them separately from the rest of the body for 10 minutes, or have a "back" day and a "leg" day. We are continually trying to depress the shoulders for good posture and alignment (not the entire way, but only say, 80%). So, the 100 becomes a lat exercise. Even a "leg" exercise like Footwork on the Chair uses your lats to help keep your trunk elevated and stable. See those ladies working above on the ladder barrel? They're working their lats, too, to help keep their balance.
And that brings me to the bigger realization I had when I was asked this question. In Pilates, we don't think of the body as separate parts. We think of the body as a whole. We want to strengthen our lats so they can help us stabilize our trunk, not just to have strong lats, or to have a good-looking back. It's important to see how all the muscles connect, not to just work them in isolation. It's this connection that makes Pilates so functional. That way, your lats help you lift your child, lift weights, and execute the Pull Up on Chair. We don't want to separate your muscles from the movement your body needs to perform, and that's what makes Pilates a movement system.
So, go ahead and work your lats. Every exercise, all the time. Your posture will thank you for it, and you'll be stronger and more supported in all you do.