Having a strong, wide lat is the goal for many. Chiselled, V-shaped lats (latissimus dorsi) contribute to that coveted inverted triangle look. But you don’t need a fully-equipped gym to work this major back muscle group.
While there are many lat exercises that can be done in a gym, there are also a number of effective lat exercises that you can do at home with minimal or no equipment.
In this post, I’ll share 10 of my favorite lat exercises that require little to no equipment. You can use bodyweight, dumbbells, or resistance bands to work out different parts of the lats.
- Anatomy Of The Lats
- Lat Exercises at Home – No Equipment Needed
- 1. Pull Ups
- 2. Inverted Row
- 3. Supermans
- 4. Side Plank Rotation
- 5. Scapular Push-Ups
- Lat Exercises at Home – Minimal Equipment Needed
- 6. Resistance Band Pull-Aparts
- 7. Bands Lats Pulldowns
- 8. Face Pulls with Resistance Band
- 9. Renegade Row
- 10. Single-arm Dumbbell Rows
- Tips for Effective Lat Training at Home
- 1. Incorporate a variety of exercises
- 2. Consistent Training
- 3. Mind-Muscle Connection
- 4. Progressive Overload
- 5. Rest and Recovery
- At Home Lats Workout Plan Without Equipment
- Lat Workout At Home With Resistance Band
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.
The lats function to extend, adduct, and internally rotate the arm, as well as to stabilize the shoulder blade and assist in spinal extension.
Want to take your gains to the next level? Discover your daily calorie needs with our free TDEE calculator
Lat Exercises at Home – No Equipment Needed
You don’t need a lot of machines or fancy equipment to get strong and defined lats. With just your own bodyweight, you can perform powerful lat exercises right in the comfort of your home.
These bodyweight exercises will help you build an impressive v-taper and wide back without any equipment.
1. Pull Ups
Pull-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises for building upper body strength. Not only do they require little equipment, but they also work many different muscles simultaneously.
The pull-up increases the strength, thickness, and width of your back, specifically your lats. The lats are what influences back width and form the “V” in the upper back.
There are many different types of pull-ups that fit your fitness level and focus on specific muscles. You can perform assisted pull-ups, weighted pull-ups, wide-grip, narrow-grip, and even switch to chin-ups by simply changing the position of your hands.
According to a 2018 study by the Journal of Physical Fitness, the lat muscle is the primary and the bicep muscle is the second most active muscle during pull-ups.
How To Do
- Using an overhand grip, grab a pull-up bar with your hands positioned at shoulder-width apart.
- Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your chest high, while exaggerating the arch in your lower back.
- Pull yourself up by squeezing your shoulder blades together and contracting your lats until your chin passes the bar.
- Hold the contraction at the top for a second before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position.
- To reduce biceps involvement, use a thumbless grip.
- Go full range of motion and keep form correct.
- Avoid making sudden, uncontrolled movements.
2. Inverted Row
In the gym, most people utilize the Smith machine for this exercise. You can also do the inverted row at home by lying under a chair and pulling yourself up.
How To Do
- Adjust the height of the chair and bar so that it’s a little higher than arm’s length from the floor.
- Lie under the bar with your legs and body straight. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip that’s a little wider than shoulder width.
- Keeping your legs and body straight, exhale as you pull your chest up to the bar.
- Hold for a count of two and squeeze your back muscles.
- Breathe in as you lower your body until your arms and shoulders are fully extended. Repeat.
- Do not allow your butt to sag.
- Keep your elbows tucked in.
- Lower your body until the arms are fully extended, and then raise your body until the chest touches the bar.
It’s a popular exercise in many fitness routines due to its simplicity and effectiveness, named for the way the position emulates the iconic superhero in flight.
It is accessible and easy to incorporate into any workout because it requires no equipment and little space.
How To Do
- Lie face down on the floor or a mat with your arms extended in front of you and legs straight behind you.
- Simultaneously lift your arms, chest, and legs off the ground as high as comfortably possible.
- Think of lengthening and reaching out as you lift, emulating Superman in flight.
- Keep your neck neutral and gaze downwards. Hold the ‘up’ position for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
- Don’t overextend your back.
- Breathe out as you lift and breathe in as you lower.
4. Side Plank Rotation
This exercise builds tremendous abdominal and oblique strength. The rotation engages your core muscles while forcing them to stabilize your hips and spine.
How To Do
- Start in a side plank with one forearm on the floor, legs stacked, and hips lifted.
- Engage your core and lift your top arm straight up overhead.
- Start the movement by rotating your torso down and sweeping your arm under your body.
- Keep your hips stable and stacked while you touch your hand to the floor.
- Rotate back up to the side plank position.
- Complete reps on one side before switching.
- Keep your hips facing forward. Don’t let them sag or twist.
- Move slowly and with control.
- Start with 3-5 reps per side until you build stability and strength.
5. Scapular Push-Ups
The Scapular Push-Up is a focused exercise designed to strengthen and improve the mobility of the scapula (shoulder blades).
Unlike a traditional push-up that emphasizes the chest and triceps, the Scapular Push-Up targets the muscles around the shoulder blades, particularly the serratus anterior and upper back muscles.
Incorporating Scap Pushups into your exercise routine can help to build additional strength, muscle mass and improve weak areas in your shoulders and lats.
How to Do
- Start in a high plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your toes touching the floor.
- Keep a neutral spine, tuck your chin, and put your elbows under your shoulders.
- Keep your abs tight and let your chest sink towards the ground.
- Keep your arms straight and retract your shoulder blades by pulling them back and together.
- Keep your arms straight and protract your shoulder blades by pushing them away from each other. Pause again.
- Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Do not allow your neck to shoot forward or your lower back to cave in.
- Since the range of motion is small, concentrate on the scapular movement.
- You can also do these off an incline surface to decrease resistance.
Lat Exercises at Home – Minimal Equipment Needed
You don’t need a fully decked-out home gym to sculpt strong, defined lats. With just a few simple pieces of equipment, you can work your lats from all angles right from your living room.
In this workout, we’ll use resistance bands and dumbbells to hit every part of lat muscles. These exercises will help you build a V-taper and a wide, muscular back.
6. Resistance Band Pull-Aparts
Resistance Band Pull-Aparts are a straightforward yet highly effective exercise designed to target the muscles in the upper back, especially the lats, rhomboids and rear deltoids.
It’s easily done anywhere without any setup, making it a great addition to both gym and home workouts.
The study has demonstrated that resistance training using elastic devices offers strength gains comparable to conventional equipment. The cost-effective, easy-to-handle elastic devices for strength maintenance and enhancement are suitable for various settings.
How to Do
- Stand tall with a neutral spine. Hold a resistance band with both hands in front of you, arms extended.
- The hands should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, depending on the resistance level you want.
- To separate the band, move your hands away from each other and squeeze your shoulders together.
- Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
- Avoid letting the band snap back quickly.
- Think of pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades as you pull the band apart.
- Start with a small range of motion and gradually increase it as you get stronger.
7. Bands Lats Pulldowns
It is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups of the back, specifically the latissimus dorsi (lats) and teres major.
A cross-over study found that elastic resistance bands are a viable option to conventional resistance training equipment for lateral pull-downs and unilateral rows
How To Do
- Attach the resistance band to a sturdy anchor point above your head, such as a door frame.
- Stand facing the anchor point and grasp the resistance band with an overhand grip.
- Step back to create tension in the band. Engage your core, slightly lean back.
- Pull the band down towards your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
- Slowly release the tension and return to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions of resistance band lat pulldowns.
- Focus on pulling with your back muscles rather than relying on your arms.
- Make sure you control the movement both on the way down and up.
8. Face Pulls with Resistance Band
If you find the traditional face pulls to be too challenging, you may consider modifying the exercise by utilizing a lighter resistance band or performing the exercise with your knees bent.
How To Do Band Face Pulls
- Anchor the band at shoulder height and stand holding the handles.
- Pull the handles toward your face with elbows flared out.
- Squeeze shoulder blades together as you pull.
- Slowly return to the start position.
- Complete 10-15 reps.
- Maintain upright posture – don’t lean back.
- Avoid shrugging or raising your shoulders.
- Control the motion – no momentum or swinging.
9. Renegade Row
Renegade rows increase hypertrophy, enhance muscular control, and help build a stronger muscle and mind connection.
How To Do
- Start in a high plank position with a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, positioned directly below the shoulders.
- Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine by squeezing your glutes and keeping your hips level.
- Raise one dumbbell from the ground, rowing it towards your hip by bending the elbow and squeezing the shoulder blade.
- Pause at the top of the row for a second to ensure full muscle activation.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the ground.
- Repeat on the other side, alternating back and forth.
- Move slowly and focus on stability over speed.
- Keep your elbows close to your body.
- Keep your back flat and head aligned with the spine.
10. Single-arm Dumbbell Rows
The single-arm dumbbell row is a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups at the same time, including the lats, rhomboids, teres major, and biceps. It is a great exercise for building strength and muscle mass in the upper back and shoulders.
As it’s performed one arm at a time, it helps identify and rectify muscle imbalances between the two sides of the body.
It can be done anywhere, from a gym to at home with household items.
How To Do
- Start by positioning a bench horizontally in front of you.
- Place one knee and the hand of the same side on the bench. Your back should form a tabletop position parallel to the ground. The opposite foot remains firmly on the ground, slightly staggered back.
- Hold a dumbbell in your free hand with the palm facing your body. Let the arm holding the dumbbell hang naturally.
- Pull the dumbbell upwards by driving your elbow towards the ceiling. Make sure the movement comes from the muscles of the back, especially the lats and traps.
- At the peak of the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10-12 repetitions, then switch sides.
- As you pull, the elbow should be kept close to your body and directed backward, not flaring out to the side.
- Ensure your spine is in a neutral position, neck aligned with the spine, and the back flat.
- It is important to use a weight that is challenging but not so heavy that it causes you to lose your form.
Tips for Effective Lat Training at Home
1. Incorporate a variety of exercises
There are many different exercises that target the lats, so it’s important to mix things up to keep your workouts challenging and engaging. Some great exercises to try to include pull-ups, resistance band lat pull-downs, and dumbbell pullovers.
2. Consistent Training
For noticeable improvements, consistency is crucial. Aim to target your lats at least 1-3 times a week.
|Trainee Level||Frequency (per week)||No. of Exercises||Sets||Reps|
3. Mind-Muscle Connection
Focus on the lats when performing exercises. Think about the muscles you’re targeting and mentally contract them during each rep. This can help ensure that you’re engaging the lats effectively.
4. Progressive Overload
Over time, increase the resistance or number of repetitions to continually challenge your muscles. This principle ensures that the muscles adapt and grow stronger.
5. Rest and Recovery
Give your lats adequate time to recover between workouts. Overtraining can hinder progress and lead to injuries.
At Home Lats Workout Plan Without Equipment
Adjust the sets and reps based on your fitness level. If it’s too challenging, reduce the reps or sets. If it’s too easy, increase them or slow down the repetitions for increased time under tension.
|Pull-ups (or towel pull-ups)||4||8-10|
Note: If you don’t have access to a pull-up bar, you can substitute towel pull-ups or inverted rows.
Lat Workout At Home With Resistance Band
|Single-arm dumbbell rows||4||10-12|
|Resistance band lat pull-downs||3-4||10-15|
|Bands Lats Pulldowns||3-4||10-15|
Working your lats is critical for building an impressive, v-shaped upper body. A wide, muscular back contributes to overall strength and a sculpted physique.
As we’ve talked about, you can effectively train your lats at home with just your bodyweight and minimal equipment. If you try these workouts, you will find that you can make your lats bigger even if you don’t have a gym.
Just remember that consistency over time and dedication to proper form are key. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks
- 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.
- Lopes, J. S. S., Machado, A. F., Micheletti, J. K., Almeida, A. C., Cavina, A. P., & Pastre, C. M. (2019). Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. SAGE Open Medicine, 7, 2050312119831116. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050312119831116
- 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.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.