A strong and healthy back is essential for everyday movements and activities, and the latissimus dorsi muscles, commonly known as the “lats,” play a crucial role in supporting and stabilizing the spine.
However, due to our sedentary lifestyles and poor posture, many of us struggle with weak lats and a lack of upper back strength.
To combat this problem, it’s important to include exercises that specifically target the lats in your workout routine.
In this article, we will be discussing the how to build bigger lats and 12 best lats exercises that you can add to your workout routine to build a stronger back.
- Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Anatomy
- The Benefits of Strengthening Your Lats
- 1. Give V- Shape
- 2. Improved overall strength:
- 3. Improved posture
- 4. Reduced risk of injury
- 5. Enhanced athletic performance
- Best Lats Exercises to Build a Stronger Back
- 1. Pull Ups
- 2. Renegade Row
- 3. Inverted Rows
- 4. One Arm Dumbbell Rows
- 5. Incline Dumbbell Row
- 6. Dumbbell Pullover
- 7. Lat Pulldowns
- 8. Seated Cable Rows
- 9. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown
- 10. T-Bar Rows
- 11. Bent-Over Barbell Rows
- 12. Meadows Row
- Bonus For Beginner
- Pull-Ups with Resistance Bands
- How to build bigger lats (V-Taper)
- 1. Progressive Overload
- 2. Varying the Exercises
- 3. Change The Training Volume
- 4. Focus on Form and Mind-Muscle Connection
- 5. Utilize Supersets and Dropsets
- 6. Development of Other Muscle Groups
- 7. Proper Nutrition
- 8. Adequate Rest
- Lats Workout Training Techniques
- Training Volume (Sets And Reps)
- Training Plan As Per Your Goal
- Workout Samples For Beginner, Intermediate & Advance
- Lat Workout Routine For Beginner
- Lat Workout Routine For Intermediate
- Workout Routine For Advance
- Can You Get Bigger Lats At Home?
- How do I make my lats bigger?
- What are the best lat exercises with dumbbells?
- Bottom Line
- Related Posts
- 10 Best Barbell Back Exercises For Mass And Stronger
Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Anatomy
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.
The Benefits of Strengthening Your Lats
1. Give V- Shape
Having strong, well-defined lats can contribute to a V-shaped torso, which is often sought after as a sign of physical fitness.
2. Improved overall strength:
The lats also play a role in various functional movements, such as pulling, pushing, and lifting, making them important for everyday activities.
3. Improved posture
Strengthening the lats can help improve posture by balancing the muscles in the upper back and shoulders.
4. Reduced risk of injury
Strong lats can help to support and stabilize the shoulder joint, reducing the risk of injury, particularly in overhead movements.
5. Enhanced athletic performance
The lats play a role in movements such as swimming, rowing, and climbing, making them important for athletes in these sports.
Additionally, strong Lats can help to improve overall upper body strength, power, and stability.
Best Lats Exercises to Build a Stronger Back
Here are 12 of the best lats exercises to add to your workout routine to build bigger and V-Taper Back.
The pull-up is an upper-body strength movement that targets your lats, chest, shoulders, and arms.
Performing a pull-up is often a challenge for beginners and even experienced athletes.
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.
To increase the variety of your pull-ups, you could try:
- Machine Assisted Chin-Ups And Pull-Ups
- Isometric Holds Pull-Ups And Chin-Ups
- Wide-Grip Pull-Ups
- Chin Ups
Related Post: Pull Ups Vs Chin Ups: The Ultimate Comparison
How To Do
- Start by grabbing a pull-up bar with a wide grip, with your palms facing away from you.
- Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended, and engage your core.
- Slowly pull your body up towards the bar, keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Once your chin is above the bar, hold for a moment and squeeze your lats.
- Lower your body back to the starting position, and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
- Keep a controlled motion and avoid swinging or kicking your legs to generate momentum.
- If you cannot perform a full pull-up, try using an assisted pull-up machine or band for added support.
- You can also try different grip variations such as a close grip, reverse grip, or neutral grip to target different muscle fibers in your lats.
2. Renegade Row
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.
How To Do
- Start by positioning yourself in a plank position with a pair of dumbbells placed on the floor underneath your shoulders.
- Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine by squeezing your glutes and keeping your hips level.
- Begin the exercise by row one dumbbell up to the side of your chest.
- Keep your elbow close to your body. And try to squeeze your shoulder blade toward your spine as you lift the weight.
- Lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
- Perform the row with your other arm, this completes one repetition.
- 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.
3. Inverted Rows
The inverted row also known as bodyweight rows. The inverted row is easier to perform because it puts your body in a horizontal position.
It is a compound exercise that primarily targets the back muscles, specifically the lats, as well as the biceps and rear deltoids.
Related Post: 15 Best Bodyweight Back Workout: Beginner To Advanced
How To Do
- Start by setting up a barbell in a squat rack or Smith machine at a height that allows you to fully extend your arms at the bottom position of the movement.
- Lie underneath the barbell with your feet flat on the floor and your body in a straight line.
- Grasp the barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing away from you) and engage your core.
- Pull your chest towards the bar by bending at the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Pause for a moment at the top before lowering yourself back to the starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
- Keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement to avoid swinging or using momentum.
- Engage your core to maintain proper form and stability.
4. One Arm Dumbbell Rows
This exercise can be done with a single dumbbell that helps to work on each side independently, thereby provide better muscle isolation and a longer range of motion.
It’s an excellent alternative to barbell rows.
Read More: 10 Best Dumbbell Back Exercises And Workout
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.
5. 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.
How To Do
- Adjust an incline bench and set it below 45 degrees.
- Your chest should be supported by the bench, with your chin above the top. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand.
- Let the dumbbells hang directly below your shoulders. With your palms facing each other and your elbows close to your body.
- Now, pull the weights as high as possible, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
- 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.
6. Dumbbell Pullover
Barbell pullover is the best exercise to build a strong rib cage, outer lat and build serratus anterior muscle to build a complete chest and back.
How To Do
- Lie on a flat bench with your head and upper back hanging off the end of the bench.
- Hold a dumbbell with both hands, keeping your arms straight, and the weight over your chest.
- Lower the weight back over your head, keeping your arms straight, until you feel a stretch in your chest and Lats.
- Return to the starting position, focusing on contracting the Lats.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
- Start with a light weight and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the movement
7. Lat Pulldowns
Lat Pulldowns are a great exercise for targeting the lats, as well as other upper back muscles.
This exercise can be done using a variety of equipment and resistance levels, making it a versatile option for all fitness levels.
You can also use this bench max calculator to track your one rep max and progress.
To increase the variety of your lat pulldown, you could try:
- Close grip Lat pulldown
- One-Arm Lat Pulldown
- V-Grip Lat Pulldown
How To Do
- Sit down at a pulldown machine and grab the bar with a wide grip, your palms facing away from you.
- Pull the bar down towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom, then slowly release the bar back to the starting position.
- Avoid using momentum to pull the bar down.
- Make sure to use a grip that is comfortable for you, as well as a weight that you can comfortably control.
8. Seated Cable Rows
Seated cable rows is a strength exercise that works your lats, rhomboids, and lower back muscles.
It is a great exercise for building a stronger, more defined back.
Try Different variations of seated cable row:
- Seated One Arm Cable Row
- Wide Grip Seated Row
- Close Grip Seated Row
- Reverse grip seated cable row
How To Do
- Start by sitting at a cable machine with a straight bar or v-bar attached to the low pulley.
- Grasp the bar, sit up straight, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Pull the bar towards your lower chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Once you reach the final position, hold for a count and squeeze your muscles.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
- Avoid using too much weight, as this can cause you to use momentum instead of your back muscles.
- Maintain a good posture throughout the exercise and avoid leaning back too far.
- Keep your shoulders down and back, and avoid shrugging your shoulders during the exercise.
9. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown
The straight arm lat pulldown is one of the best cable exercises to strengthen your lats (back). This isolation exercise can also help to improve your posture and build a bigger back.
While the exercise will primarily target the lats, you will also notice a fair amount of bicep and middle back activation.
This is a great exercise that can really help you widen your upper back.
How To Do
- Take an overhand grip that is wider than shoulder-width on a lat bar attached to the pulley on the lat pulldown bar.
- Position yourself with your feet flat on the floor, chest up, and low-back arch exaggerated.
- Pull your shoulder blades together as you squeeze your back to initiate the movement, pulling the bar down in a smooth motion to your midsection.
- Hold the contraction for a moment, then slowly return the bar all the way back to the starting position.
- Don’t allow the head to jut forward as you pull.
- Keep your elbows slightly flexed and your body still
10. T-Bar Rows
T-Bar Rows are a strength exercise that specifically targets your lats and rhomboids.
It is a great compound move that helps to build a stronger, wider back.
How To Do
- Start by positioning yourself with your feet on the footplate of the T-bar row machine.
- Grasp the bar with an overhand grip and pull it towards your lower chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Slowly release the bar back to the starting position, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
- Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
- Keep your back straight and avoid hunching over during the exercise.
- Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
11. Bent-Over Barbell Rows
Bent-Over barbell rows are a great exercise for targeting your lats, as well as your middle and lower back muscles.
This exercise is a compound movement that works for multiple muscle groups at once, making it an efficient and effective exercise for building a stronger back.
Related Post: Barbell Lat Workouts For Bigger And Stronger Back
How To Do
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Bend over at the hips and grab the barbell with a wide overhand grip.
- Keeping your back straight, pull the barbell up towards your stomach, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
- Lower the barbell back to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
- Keep your back straight and avoid rounding your shoulders.
- Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the movement.
- Control the movement, and avoid using momentum to lift the weight.
12. Meadows Row
When doing a lat workout with a barbell, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.
The meadows row is a unilateral landmine exercise used to target the muscles of the back. This exercise is designed to target your latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rear deltoid muscles.
If done properly, it will create small tears in your muscles, which will heal and cause your muscles to grow stronger and larger.
How To Do
- Place a barbell in a landmine attachment or against the wall.
- Hinge forward with a staggered stance and grab the barbell with an overhand grip.
- Start the movement by driving the elbow behind the body while retracting the shoulder blade.
- Pull the barbell towards your hip until the elbow is at or near the midline.
- The barbell should be slowly lowered back to its starting position.
- Do the exercise for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.
- Don’t allow momentum to carry the barbell through the movement. Keep control of the bar throughout each rep.
- Make sure to allow your arm to hang down for a greater stretch and improved range of motion.
- Make sure you keep your core tight and don’t forget to breathe as you lift up and lower back down.
Bonus For Beginner
Pull-Ups with Resistance Bands
Pull-ups with Resistance Bands are a variation of the traditional pull-up exercise that uses resistance bands to provide added tension to the movement.
This exercise is a great way to build strength and muscle in the lats, as well as other upper body muscles like the biceps and shoulders.
How To Do
- Attach a resistance band to a pull-up bar and place one foot inside the band.
- Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Pull your body up towards the bar while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Pause at the top of the movement and then lower your body back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
- Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout the movement to help maintain proper form.
- Use a band with the right level of resistance for your fitness level, and progress to a more challenging band as you get stronger.
As a finishing note, it’s important to keep in mind that pull-ups are a challenging exercise and can be difficult to perform, especially if you’re new to strength training.
If you’re having trouble doing pull-ups, consider using an assisted pull-up machine or using a band to help support some of your body weight.
How to build bigger lats (V-Taper)
Here are some tips for building bigger lats:
1. Progressive Overload
Gradually increasing the weight used for Lat exercises over time will help to stimulate muscle growth and improve overall strength.
Doing higher sets and reps for Lat exercises can help to increase overall volume and stimulate muscle growth.
2. Varying the Exercises
It is beneficial to include a variety of Lat exercises in your workout routine to help target the lats from each angles.
Different grips for lat exercises, such as narrow, wide, and neutral grip, can help to target the lats from different angles and provide a more well-rounded workout.
3. Change The Training Volume
Training frequency can affect the growth of your lats. For some individuals, training the lats once or twice a week may be enough, while others may need to train three times a week.
If growth is not seen, increasing training frequency from 1-2 times a week to 2-3 times a week may help.
4. Focus on Form and Mind-Muscle Connection
It is important to maintain proper form and focus on contracting and engaging the lats during exercises to maximize the effectiveness of each exercise.
Take the time to learn and practice correct form for each exercise.
5. Utilize Supersets and Dropsets
Incorporating supersets and drop sets into your workout routine can help to increase overall volume and intensity, providing a greater stimulus for muscle growth.
6. Development of Other Muscle Groups
Building bigger shoulders and traps will contribute to a wider upper body appearance.
7. Proper Nutrition
Eating a well-balanced diet that includes adequate protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats is essential for building muscle.
8. Adequate Rest
Rest is important for allowing the muscles to recover and grow.
Be sure to get enough sleep and allow for adequate rest between workout sessions.
Lats Workout Training Techniques
Training Volume (Sets And Reps)
Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:
- Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
- Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
- Advanced: ~20 sets per week.
When a certain amount of volume stops being effective and your progress stalls, you can add sets to increase volume and use that as a driver of renewed progress.
The best rep ranges and loads to work with.
- 6-8 reps with heavy load
- 8-15 reps with moderate load
- 15-20+ with light load
The load should bring you to or near failure within the given rep ranges to be effective.
Training Plan As Per Your Goal
- For muscle endurance: Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps, with a moderate amount of resistance.
- For muscle strength: Aim for 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps, with a heavier amount of resistance.
- For muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size): Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, with a moderate to heavy amount of resistance.
It is always best to start with a lower number of reps and sets, and then gradually increase as your strength improves.
Furthermore, it is important to allow for adequate rest between sets, typically 60-90 seconds
Workout Samples For Beginner, Intermediate & Advance
The number of sets and reps can be gradually increased as the individual becomes more comfortable with the exercises and their form improves.
It is also recommended to vary the exercises and use different equipment to target the Lats from different angles.
Lat Workout Routine For Beginner
Here is a beginner-friendly lat workout routine that can be done at the anywhere:
Lat Workout Routine For Intermediate
Here is an intermediate workout routine:
|Seated Cable Rows||4||8-12|
Workout Routine For Advance
Here’s a sample lat workout plan for advanced individuals:
|Reverse Grip Lat Pulldowns||4||10-12|
|Incline Dumbbell Row||4||10-12|
|Wide Grip Seated Cable Rows||3||8-12|
Can You Get Bigger Lats At Home?
Yes, it is possible to get bigger lats at home with proper exercise selection, training intensity, and progressive overload.
Bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups and chin-ups, resistance band exercises, and free weight exercises with dumbbells or kettlebells can be used to target the lats.
How do I make my lats bigger?
To make your lats bigger, you should incorporate lat-specific exercises like pull-ups and rows into your workout routine, increase the intensity and volume of your training over time.
Also maintain a caloric surplus in your diet, and allow adequate rest and recovery time between workouts.
What are the best lat exercises with dumbbells?
Some of the best lat exercises with dumbbells are:
- Dumbbell Rows
- Dumbbell Pullovers
- One Arm Dumbbell Row
- Dumbbell Deadlifts.
These exercises allow you to target the lats with the added resistance of dumbbells, which can help increase strength and muscle growth.
Building a stronger back is crucial for overall fitness and health.
Exercises like pull-ups, lat pulldowns, barbell rows, and dumbbell pullovers are good ways to work on the lats and improve upper body strength.
From pull-ups to bent-over barbell rows, each exercise offers unique benefits and challenges.
Additionally, it’s recommended to integrate Lat exercises into a balanced workout routine that includes other exercises for the upper body, lower body, and core.
Thanks for reading, enjoy working your workout!
Stay Fit, Live a Happy and Healthy Life
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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.