The Best Exercises To Build Big Lats

The Lats are the biggest muscles on your back, and are one of the most important parts to develop when it comes to bodybuilding. Having wide lats brings out your v-taper and actually gives the illusion of a small waist, and without lats, the back just does not look right. In order to have complete lats, variations of different pull downs, grips, and rows must be used to hit the lats from different angles. I’m going to provide a complete workout that will target your entire lats and make them grow!

Wide Lat Pulldown

Even though this is the most popular back exercise, most of the time it is not performed with right form. Before the workout is even started, the back needs to be arched so that your chest is nearly pointing up towards the ceiling. What this does is it opens up the lats, providing more range of movement and allowing for more of a squeeze at the end of the rep to really get the muscle fibers activated. Find a grip that is right for you, don’t go too wide or too narrow. Also, keep the upper body completely stationary and just move the shoulder blades and arms and REALLY focus on the squeeze and hold it for a second before returning the bar to the top.


Reverse Close Grip Lat Pulldown

This is a very good workout to target the inner part of the lats, and is just a variation on the original lat pulldown with the same equipment being used. The grip is adjusted so that your palms are facing towards you and just slightly wider than shoulder width. This workout really puts an emphasis on the “squeeze” at the end of the rep. Again, keep that back arched throughout the entire movement and perform slow reps while holding that squeeze at the end for at least a second.

Bent Over DB Row

Another popular back workout, but I add a slight different stance to this workout. Instead of being completely perpendicular to the floor, I always put the hand that isn’t holding the dumbbell on the back of a bench that is at a 45 degree angle, and knees slightly bent, so your body is also at about a 45 degree angle. This allows for greater lower lat movement compared to the standard parallel to the floor position. When bringing the dumbbell back, focus on using your back bringing the weight back instead of your arms and shoulders.


Reverse Grip Bent Over Barbell Row

When performed correctly, this is a staple in every bodybuilder’s back workout because it puts a lot of stress on the lat muscles with more weight. Using the reverse grip allows for more squeeze and activates more muscle tissue compared to the standard normal grip. Bend the knees slightly and use a close grip. The closer the grip, the more squeeze you get out of the lats. Bring the weight back with your back and not your shoulders and arms. The more bent over you are, the lower it hits your lats. By just slightly bending over, you target the higher part of your lats, and also your lower traps.

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Close Grip V-Bar Pulldown

Always save this workout for last, because it requires the least weight. You are targeting your lower lats in this workout by changing one simple thing. Instead of bringing the weight down to your chest area, you are actually going to bring the v-bar down to your abdomen region, while arching your back as much as possible. This will not fully hit your lower lats unless you really put an emphasis on the back arching. Hold the bottom of the rep and squeeze for a second or two before returning to the starting position, and aim for higher reps usually 15-20 for this exercise using light weight.


Take Home Message

Perform these exercises right, and you will notice a difference in the build of your lats. Always focus on squeezing your back, because the back is one of the hardest muscles to get that mind to muscle connections and focusing on the squeeze will really help you out in that department. If no straps are available, pretend your hands are meat hooks when gripping the bar or dumbbell, that will also help with getting more squeeze out of the rep.



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