Dumbbell Lat Workout To Build Bigger and Stronger Back

Strengthening the latissimus dorsi, or lats, is important for a well-rounded physique and improved functional strength.

You can work your lats with dumbbells to add mass and width to your frame for a competition-ready physique or develop a stronger, more functional back for sports performance.

Dumbbell lat exercises are some of the most effective moves to target your lats and upper back.

In this article, we’ll cover the top dumbbell lat exercises, how to perform each exercise with proper form.

Anatomy of the Lats

The back consists of several layers of muscle stacked like a sandwich. The muscles of the back subdivide into three categories.

  • The upper back is made up of a large triangular-shaped muscle called the trapezius.
  • The middle back consists of the latissimus dorsi (Lats).
  • The lower back is made up of the erector spine muscles.

The latissimus dorsi muscle, commonly known as the “lats,” is a large, triangular muscle located in the upper back and sides of the torso.

It originates on the lower six thoracic vertebrae, the lumbar vertebrae, and the iliac crest of the pelvis, and inserts on the humerus (upper arm bone).

The lats function to extend, adduct, and internally rotate the arm, as well as to stabilize the shoulder blade and assist in spinal extension.

They are also involved in other movements such as pull-ups and chin-upsrowing exercises, and even some core exercises.

Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Anatomy
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7 Best Dumbbell Lat Exercises

Here are 7 of the best dumbbell lats exercises to add to your workout routine to build a bigger and stronger back.

1. One Arm Dumbbell Rows

One arm dumbbell rows are a strength exercise that works your back muscles, specifically targeting your lats, rhomboids, and traps.

This exercise can be done with a single dumbbell that helps to work on each side independently, thereby providing better muscle isolation and a longer range of motion.

One Arm Dumbbell Row

How To Do

  • Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in one hand.
  • Bend your knees slightly and bend forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and parallel to the ground.
  • With your other hand, brace yourself on a flat bench or the ground.
  • Keeping your elbow close to your body, pull the dumbbell up towards your side, squeezing your back muscles at the top.
  • Lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position, and repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Keep your core engaged to maintain proper form and avoid swinging the weight.
  • Make sure to keep your shoulder blades pulled together throughout the exercise.
  • It is important to use a weight that is challenging but not so heavy that it causes you to lose your form.

2. Bent Over Dumbbell Row

 The bent-over dumbbell row is one of the best dumbbell exercises for building bigger and stronger lat muscles.

It is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the back, shoulders, arms, and core. The exercise is a favorite among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts because it builds strength and muscle in the upper body.

As you stabilize your body during the movement, the muscles of the core, especially the abdominals and obliques, are also worked.

Dumbbell Bent Over Row

How To Do

  1. Stand with a narrow stance and hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
  2. Hinge forward at your hips while keeping your back straight
  3. Let your arms hang straight down towards the floor, with the dumbbells in front of your knees.
  4. Pull the dumbbells towards your torso. Try to bring the dumbbells to the level of your ribcage or a little lower.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Maintain flat back – don’t round lower spine.
  • To protect the spine and enhance stability, contract your abdominal muscles.
  • Avoid swinging the dumbbells.
  • Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you return the dumbbell to the starting position.

3. Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pullover is a classic strength training exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the upper body, including the latissimus dorsi, chest (pectoralis major), and the triceps.

It is one of the few exercises that effectively targets both the chest and the lats.

Dumbbell Pullover

How To Do

  1. Lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor and your head hanging off the end of the bench.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in both hands with an overhand grip and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Raise the dumbbell straight up over your chest until your arms are fully extended.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping your arms straight.
  5. Pause at the bottom of the movement for a brief stretch, then slowly raise the dumbbell back to the starting position


  • Choose a weight that allows you to perform all reps with proper form.
  • Breathe deeply and exhale as you lower the weight behind your head.

4. Incline Dumbbell Row

The incline dumbbell row also known as chest-supported row, is an ideal row variation to get the best form, prevent mid-row rocking, reduce the risk of injury, and isolate the muscles you’re looking to build.

Keep your chest on the bench throughout the movement will eliminate momentum and work the muscles you want.

Read More: How To Perform The Chest Supported Row And Its Variations

How To Do

  1. Adjust an incline bench and set it below 45 degrees.
  2. Your chest should be supported by the bench, with your chin above the top. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand.
  3. Let the dumbbells hang directly below your shoulders. With your palms facing each other and your elbows close to your body.
  4. Now, pull the weights as high as possible, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
  5. Hold this position for a second before returning the dumbbells to the starting position.


  • Keep movement under control and don’t let gravity take you down faster.
  • As you pull the dumbbells towards your body, don’t hyperextend the thoracic spine.
  • Try to pinch your shoulder blades together at the top.

5. Renegade Row

The renegade row is a full-body exercise that targets the primary muscle groups of the lats, shoulders, and core while also engaging the tricepsbiceps, and legs.

It is a variation of the traditional plank exercise that adds resistance by incorporating a rowing movement with dumbbells.

You can increase the intensity of this exercise by trying renegade row push up.

Dumbbell Renegade Row

How To Do

  1. Start by positioning yourself in a plank position with a pair of dumbbells placed on the floor underneath your shoulders.
  2. Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine by squeezing your glutes and keeping your hips level.
  3. Begin the exercise by rowing one dumbbell up to the side of your chest.
  4. Keep your elbow close to your body. And try to squeeze your shoulder blade toward your spine as you lift the weight.
  5. Lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
  6. Perform the row with your other arm, this completes one repetition.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you lift the weight.
  • Make sure to start with a weight that you can control and maintain proper form with.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body as you lift the weight.

6. Dumbbell Deadlift

The deadlift is the King of all exercises, and It is a powerful exercise designed to build an overall physique that uses more muscles than any other lat exercise.

The dumbbell deadlift is the best exercise for posterior chain muscle strengthening, which includes the lat, erector spine, glutes, and hamstrings.

You can do the deadlift with either a barbell or a set of dumbbells. One of the biggest advantages of using dumbbells for deadlifts is that you can work with a wider range of motion than with barbell deadlifts.

Dumbbell Deadlift

How To Do

  1. Place a dumbbell in front of you. Grab the dumbbells with each of your hands.
  2. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible and contract your back and hamstrings.
  3. Raise the dumbbell from the ground using your hamstrings and glutes.
  4. You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight, and head looking up.
  5. Raise it to the point where your body is erect. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine.
  6. Hold the dumbbell for a moment at the top of the lift.
  7. Now, lower the dumbbell slowly at a steady slow pace by bending at the hips first and then at the knees and let the weight almost touch the ground for a moment before you begin the next rep.


  • If performed incorrectly, the deadlift can cause more harm than good. Keep the back straight at all costs.
  • The lower back muscles take a long time to recuperate; therefore, heavy deadlifts should only be done once a week.
  • Go full range of motion and keep the form correct.
  • Avoid jerky movements and keep motion-controlled.

7. Dumbbell Seal Row

The dumbbell seal row is a variation of the traditional row, designed to isolate the muscles of the lats without pressure on the lower back.

It is performed lying face down on an elevated bench, eliminating the possibility of using momentum. This ensures a pure and effective back workout.

Dumbbell Seal Row

How To Do

  1. Lie face down on the bench with your chest near the top edge, legs straight, and feet resting on the ground.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Let the dumbbells hang straight down from your shoulders.
  3. Row the dumbbells upwards by squeezing your shoulder blades together and bending your elbows.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  5. Perform for the desired number of reps.


  • Keep your core and spine stable as you pull the dumbbells.
  • Keep your core and spine stable as you pull the dumbbells.
  • Keep your elbows closer to your body.
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Benefits of Strengthening the Lats using Dumbbells

There are a couple of important benefits of using dumbbells for your lat training, such as:

  • Dumbbells lat workout require more balance than barbells or machines that can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
  • Dumbbells allow unilateral training (training one limb at a time), increase core stability, and improve muscular imbalances.
  • It allows for greater joint safety and stabilization and allows the joints to move naturally within their range of motion.
  • It affords a greater level of variety, which prevents physical and mental burnout.
  • Dumbbell exercises allow for a greater range of movement, which leads to an increased number of muscle fibers recruited.
  • Lat exercises with dumbbells are perfect for the at-home exerciser with the limited space.
  • But one of the best benefits of dumbbells is the ability to change up training variables such as Body positioning and Grip, which leads to a greater exercise selection.
  • With dumbbells, you can position yourself in a bent over position, prone position (lying face down on a bench), incline prone position, seated bent over position and so on.

How To Train Lat With Dumbbell

Using dumbbells, you will be able to target all areas of the lats muscles from different angles and through a full range of motion.

To structure an effective lat workout with dumbbells to increase mass and strength, the number of reps and sets will vary based on your fitness level, weekly workout frequency, and strength training goals.

  • For strength gains, do 4 to 6 sets of 1 to 6 reps for each exercise using a weight that is at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM). The fewer reps you perform, the closer to 100% of your 1RM you should aim.
  • If your goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth), perform three sets of 8 to 12 reps of each exercise, using weights that are 70 to 85% of your 1RM.
  • When training for muscular endurance, it is usually recommended to use higher reps (15 to 20) with moderate loads, where the weight is at least 50 to 70% of your 1RM.

Training Volume

Trainee LevelFrequency (per week)No. of ExercisesSetsRepetitions
Beginner1-2 times1-23-410-12
Intermediate2-3 times2-33-48-12
Advanced3-4 times3-44-66-10

Dumbbell Lats Exercises Workout Plan

Beginner Workout Plan

If you’re new to lifting weights, don’t worry. This beginner-friendly dumbbell lat workout routine is a great place to start.

When this becomes easier, you should pick a heavier weight.

After you’ve upped your weight several times and feel strong in the movements below, move on to the intermediate routine. Until then, you can follow this beginner back workout plan.

Bent Over Dumbbell Rows38-10
Dumbbell Pullover310-12
Renegade Row312

Intermediate Lat Workout

If you are an intermediate level or have outgrown the beginner routine, try the intermediate lat workout routine below.

Dumbbell Deadlift48-10
Dumbbell Bent Over Row3-410-12
Farmer’s Walk4AMAP
Bent Over Dumbbell Rows38-10


These dumbbell lat exercises and workout plan are great for anyone who wants to build a wider back and build strength.

The exercise not only allows for targeted lat muscle development, but also provides an overall massive back look. It is easy to do exercise and requires no more scientific details or fancy equipment.

Be smart: don’t limit yourself to dumbbell exercises. Use other back exercises like cable, bodyweight, and barbell Lat Exercises to complement them and get the most out of them.


  • Krzysztofik, M.; Wilk, M.; Wojdała, G.; Gołaś, A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4897.
  • Lehman, G. J.; Buchan, D. D.; Lundy, A.; Myers, N.; Nalborczyk, A. Variations in muscle activation levels during traditional latissimus dorsi weight training exercises: An experimental study. Dyn. Med. 2004, 3, 4.

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