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10 Best Lat Exercises For Building A Stronger Back

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Siti Amirah
July 9, 2024 July 9, 2024
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Having a strong back is essential for many of our bodily functions. For instance, our back muscles provide essential support to our spine, reducing the likelihood of getting sprains, strains or any injuries that involve the use of the back. Good body mechanics is important for our daily life functions. Therefore, in this article, we will delve into the 10 best lat exercises to help you get a strong back!

Key Takeaways

  • Lat muscles are important muscles that contribute to shoulder and arm motion. It is also responsible for spine stability.
  • Doing lat exercises can help you to build upper body strength which is essential for daily activities.
  • Doing lat exercises can also help to improve spine stability and grip strength.
  • The 10 best lat exercises listed below include pull-ups, rows, lat pulldowns, and push-ups, along with some other variations.
  • Incorporate a mix of exercises that target the lats from different angles for a well-rounded lats workout routine.

What Are Your Lat Muscles?

The lat muscles, or more properly known as the latissimus dorsi muscles, is a broad and flat muscle that occupies the lower posterior thorax. It is an important muscle that contributes to shoulder and arm motion and responsible for stabilizing the spine [1].

Not to mention, the lat muscles are also the primary muscles that give you a wide, v-shaped back.

Importance and Benefits of Lat Exercises

Doing lat exercises is important for improving your posture, aesthetics and the overall functionality of your body. As previously mentioned, the lats contributes to spine stability, shoulder and arm motion. This also means that your lats are crucial for everyday activities, pulling and lifting movements.

Benefits of Lats Exercises

Some of the key benefits of doing lat exercises includes:

  1. Building upper body strength: Lat exercises are essential for developing overall upper body strength, targeting muscles in the back, shoulders, and arms.
  2. Improving spine stability: Doing lat exercises can lead to stronger lats. This is important for improving spine stability and reducing the risk of injury.
  3. Improving grip strength: Doing lat exercises regularly can help you to improve your grip strength which is useful for other exercises and daily activities.
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10 Best Lat Exercises

Since we have covered what lat muscles are and some of the benefits of doing lat exercises, let us go on to the 10 best lat exercises that you can do!

1. Pull-ups

pull up lat exercises

Pull-ups is a classic bodybuilding exercise that is effective for building back muscles. It is also one of the hardest exercises to master as it requires a good amount of upper-body strength. There are no external weights used in this, relying only on your body weight as a form of resistance.

To do a pull-up:

  1. Get into starting position by standing directly underneath the pull-up bar.
  2. Place your hands on the bar in an overhand grip position, making sure that it is shoulder width apart.
  3. Take a deep breath. Use your arms to bend and pull yourself up, off the ground. Ensure that your shoulders are pulled back and down.
  4. Raise your upper body as high as you can. Extend your elbows as you lower yourself back down.

2. Chin-ups

chin ups

Similar to pull-ups is the chin-ups variation. The difference between this and a regular pull-up is that you should aim to lift your body up until your chin is over the bar. This is a much harder variation compared to the regular pull-ups.

To do a chin-up:

  1. Get into the starting position by standing directly underneath the pull-up bar.
  2. Place your hands on the bar in an overhand grip position, making sure that it is shoulder-width apart.
  3. Take a deep breath. Use your arms to bend and pull yourself up, off the ground. Ensure that your shoulders are pulled back and down.
  4. Raise your upper body until your chin is over the bar. Hold in this position for a few seconds.
  5. Extend your elbows as you lower yourself back down to the starting position.

3. Lat Pulldowns

lat pulldown
lat exercises

Lat pulldowns are usually performed with a cable pulley machine, typically seen at conventional gyms. This lat exercise works the back muscle and it’s part of a upper body strength workout routine.

To do a lat pulldown:

  1. Sit comfortably on the seat below the bar, with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Ensure that the bar and your seat height is adjusted properly. It shouldn’t be too high or too low. Your arm should be able to grasp the bar comfortably without having to stand entirely.
  3. With a wide grip, grasp onto the bar. Ensure that your hands are in an overhand grip.
  4. Pull the bar down until it is level with your chin. Engage your abs as you pull down. You want to make sure that you exhale each time as you pull down. Your arms are pulling downwards and not backward.
  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together while still maintaining squared shoulders.
  6. From here, return the bar to the starting position in a slow and controlled movement.

4. Close-Grip Lat Pulldown

close grip lat pulldown

The close-grip lat pulldown is an effective exercise that targets the lats, biceps, forearms, and middle back muscles. It helps you to build upper body strength and improve posture. It is similar to a regular lat pulldown with the difference being that it is using a close grip.

How to do a close-grip lat pulldown:

  1. Sit down at a lat pulldown machine with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Ensure that the bar is adjusted properly. Also ensure that the thigh pad fits snugly against your thighs to prevent your body from lifting throughout the exercise.
  3. If you are using a normal wide grip bar, you want to make sure that your hands are placed closer to the middle of the bar, in an overhand grip.
  4. Otherwise, attach the close grip v-bar handle to the pulldown cable. Your palms should be facing each other with this handle.
  5. Bend your elbows as you pull the handle down towards your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull the weight down.
  6. Pause for a moment at chin level and slowly release back to the starting position. Ensure that your elbows are fully extended and your arms straight.

5. Landmine Row

landmine row
lat exercises

The landmine row is a compound exercise that targets the upper back, middle back, lats, and biceps. It is performed with a barbell where one end is placed on the ground and the other hand is used for lifting or rowing.

How to do a landmine row:

  1. Secure one end of a barbell in a landmine attachment or wedge it into a corner.
  2. Load a suitable weight onto the free end and stand with your feet on each side of the barbell. Ensure that your feet is slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  3. Bend forward and place both your hands on the barbell.
  4. Hinge at your waist and ensure that your upper body is in a comfortable position where you can do a normal row.
  5. Engage your core and pull with your elbows in as you draw the barbell towards your chest.
  6. Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top before slowly returning to the starting position.

6. Barbell Row

barbell row
lat exercises

Barbell row is a great exercise that works your shoulders and back muscles. It is similar to rows using a cable machine or with dumbbells.

How to do a barbell row:

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure that you have a barbell with weight plates set up in front of you.
  2. Grasp the barbell by positioning your hands shoulder-width apart and lifting it up to about your kneecap level.
  3. Hinge your hips back to make sure that you are in a proper position similar to how you would do a row.
  4. Keep your knees only slightly bent, keep your back flat and brace your core as you pull the barbell towards your lower core. Ensure that your arms are close to the sides of your body and not flared out.
  • Hold a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart
  • Keep your back straight and your core engaged, and lift the barbell to your chest

7. Seated Cable Row

seated cable row

The seated cable row is a popular exercise that targets the muscles of the back, including the latissimus dorsi. This exercise is performed using a cable machine with a seated-row attachment. It helps in building upper body strength.

How to perform seated cable row:

  1. Sit down on the bench or seat of the cable row machine.
  2. Place your feet onto the footrest and ensure that your knees are slightly bent.
  3. Grasp onto the handle attachment with both hands.
  4. Sit upright with your chest up and ensure that your arms are extended forward.
  5. Pull the handle towards your torso by retracting your shoulder blades and bending your elbows.
  6. Keep your arms close to the sides of your body as you pull the bar towards your midsection.
  7. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
  8. Slowly extend your arms as you move back towards the starting position.

See also:

Pendlay Row: Exercise Guide

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8. Dumbbell Pullover

dumbbell pullover exercise

This versatile exercise works not only the lat muscles but also the chest, upper back and core. This exercise helps you to enhance upper body strength and improve flexibility in the shoulders for a more defined upper body.

How to do dumbbell pullover:

  1. Lie on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground, knees bent at a 90 degrees angle.
  2. Hold a dumbbell with both hands, palms pressing against the underside of one end of the dumbbell.
  3. Extend your arms straight above your chest. Keep your elbows bent slightly.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, allowing your arms to extend as far as comfortable while maintaining control.
  5. Feel the stretch in your chest and lats as you lower the dumbbell.
  6. Stop once you feel a comfortable stretch.
  7. Bring the dumbbell back up over your chest in a controlled motion.

9. Wide Grip Pull-Ups

wide grip pull ups

Wide grip pull-ups are a variation of the normal pull-ups using a wide grip. A wide grip is essentially one that is further than shoulder-width apart. This exercise is great for targeting the lats, biceps, shoulders and upper back muscles. It works the outer portion of the lat muscles for a broader and defined back.

How to do wide grip pull-ups:

  1. Get into the starting position by standing directly underneath the pull-up bar.
  2. Place your hands on the bar in an overhand grip position, making sure that it is slightly further than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Take a deep breath. Use your arms to bend and pull yourself up, off the ground. Ensure that your shoulders are pulled back and down.
  4. Raise your upper body until your chin is over the bar. Hold in this position for a few seconds.
  5. Extend your elbows as you lower yourself back down to the starting position.

10. Push-Ups

push ups 
lat exercises

This is a classic bodyweight exercise that can be done even from home. Push-ups are great for building upper body strength even if you are a beginner.

How to do a push up:

  1. Start by coming into a plank position with your hands placed on the ground. Ensure that your hands are shoulder-width apart.
  2. From here, you want to bend your elbows as you lower yourself down until your chest is almost touching the ground.
  3. You should feel your abs engaged for stability and your shoulder muscles activated as you lower yourself.
  4. Hold this position for a brief pause. Push yourself back up to the plank position by pushing your hands into the ground and extending your elbows.

Creating a Lat Workout Routine

Building a Well-Rounded Lat Workout

When it comes to building a well-rounded lat workout, you want to incorporate a mix of exercises that target the lats from different angles. So this means having exercises that will work the upper lats and the lower lats.

How to Do Lat Workouts at Home

If you are unable to find time to head to the gym or you are a little more self-conscious of the way that you look, it’s perfectly fine! You can also opt to do lat exercises at home.

Focus on doing bodyweight exercises such as push-ups. If you have dumbbells lying around somewhere, you can do dumbbell lat exercises such as dumbbell rows and dumbbell pullovers.

For inspiration on bodyweight exercises that you can do:

The Ultimate 4 Week Bodyweight Workout Plan PDF

5 Day Dumbbell Workout Plan For Muscle Growth

Conclusion

Thus, if you want to build a stronger back, improve your posture or work on your spine stability, it is highly recommended that you incorporate back exercises into your workout routine. If you are training your upper body for that day, make sure that you include some lat exercises in between.

If you need more ideas on the type of workout routines or workout plans to follow, feel free to check out JustFit app! JustFit offers a variety of workout plans and routines, fully customized to suit an individual’s fitness level. The best part is that you can also do these workouts from home! Try it now free for 7 days.

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References  

Jeno SH, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Back, Latissimus Dorsi. [Updated 2023 Mar 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448120/

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