Best Lat Exercises – How To Build Bigger Lats

best lat exercises

The back is a problem area for most gym goers.

So today I’m going to show you the best lat exercises and reveal how to train your back using a few of my favourite exercises.

Because when it comes to developing muscle groups, few look as impressive as a well-sculpted set of lats.

Make no mistake about it.

When you have put the time in to build your “wings” it can completely transform your physique. But herein lies the problem. Few people know how to stimulate the lats enough to promote significant enough muscle growth to create that awesome, tapered look.

Today you’re going to learn how to build bigger lats.

best lat exercises

How To Build Bigger Lats – Variety Is Key

I find that back muscles are often neglected.

Allow me to explain.

If you were to ask somebody what exercises they do for chest, you would usually hear a big list of moves including “barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell flyes, cable flyes, incline bench press, incline dumbbell press, push ups,” and so on.

But if you were to ask what exercises they used to hit their lats, you’d usually hear one lone move – “Oh, I do lat pulldowns and seated rows.”

best lat exercises

Now the lat pulldown is great, and so is the seated row.

Two of my favourite moves.

And you could do lat pulldowns until the cows come home, but the real key to success in the gym is variety.

That means variety in your rep ranges, grip placements, techniques (dropsets, etc) and the actual exercises you perform.

So today I’m going to give you a five-step combo of exercises which will stimulate maximum growth in your lats. Feel free to try them out in your routine. Members of my website site will recognize these as staples of back workouts I regularly publish.

Let’s get stuck in.

Russ’ Best Lat Exercises

  • Wide-grip Lat Pulldown

The old classic – with a twist.

When done right, this is one of the best lat exercises in the book.

The commonly made mistake here is piling too much weight on the machine, and in doing so, we lose the ability to properly target our lats.

Instead, we find ourselves muscling the bar down with our biceps.

To avoid this, and to correctly stimulate our lats as our primary muscle, it’s worth lowering the resistance and trying the following two techniques:

  1. Use a thumbless-grip of the bar (wrap your fingers but not your thumb). This inhibits the biceps, preventing them from becoming a major player in the move.
  2. Focus on pulling your elbows down, to your hips, and keep your chest upright. This allows you to “feel” the lats much more during each rep.
  • Reverse-grip Pulldown

This criminally overlooked exercise is fantastic for targeting the lower portion of the lats.

Here are a couple of tips to get it right every time:

  1. Take an underhand-grip of the bar at around shoulder-width.
  2. Again focus on pulling your elbows down, and keep your chest upright. You’ll feel an extra “squeeze” at the bottom of each rep when done right.
  • Dumbbell Pullover

Primarily an exercise used to develop the chest, the dumbbell pullover uses the lats as a secondary muscle.

Why is a chest exercise on my list of the best lat exercises?

Because it still hits the muscle fibers in the lats with enough force to promote some serious advantages as a back exercise in it’s own right.

Here are a couple of pointers to get it right:

  1. Keep a slight bend in your arms.
  2. Get a stretch in the bottom position of the rep.
  3. When in the top position – i.e. holding the weight over your lower chest – squeeze your pecs & lats like they owe you money.
  • Straight-arm Pulldown

This is an awesome isolation exercise to place towards the end of a well-structured back workout.

The straight-arm pulldown is particularly useful for isolating the lower lats and taking the muscle to failure with high rep sets.

  1. Keep a slight bend in the arms but don’t let your triceps become a player in pushing the weight.
  2. Add a slight pause at the mid-point of each rep, so you can squeeze your lats while they are have the most tension being placed on them.
  • Pull Ups

I’ve saved the best for last.

Pull ups are the oldest and (still) the best move for developing wider lats.

The reason most people avoid them is because, well, pull ups are one of the most difficult exercises to perform.

If you struggle with performing pull ups, you are not alone.

The key is simply consistent work. The more you try them, the better your get.

But you’ll also find supplementary exercises to the pull up – such as bodyweight inverted rows, shown below – to be a great way of bolstering your pull up ability.

You should also check out this article showing 5 tips to improve pull ups ability.

And there you have it!

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how to build bigger lats
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