This first one you probably don’t know, and that’s the meadows row. With this one you’ll set up like a T-bar row by sliding a barbell into a landmine or pinning it against the corner of two walls, and then loading the other end with weight.
Step 1: stand in a staggered stance and position the front foot of your outside leg a few inches from the bar.
Step 2: bend down and grip the barbell with an overhand grip using your hand that’s closest to the barbell (squeeze your abs and lift your chest up to prevent your lower back from rounding).
Step 3: row the bar by pulling your elbow back towards the ceiling and aim for your lower chest.
Step 4: Squeeze at the top for a second before lowering back down slowly and repeating for reps.
#2 Single arm kneeling reverse lat pulldown
The single arm kneeling reverse lat pulldown is a variation of the lat pulldown that you probably haven’t tried, but it’s really effective at hitting your lats so definitely give it a shot.
Step 1: to begin, bring the pulley up to the top of the cable cross and attach a D handle.
Step 2: grab the D handle with a pronated or an overhand grip.
Step 3: kneel down and get on both knees with your arm relaxed straight up above your head.
If you’re really tall and the stack of weights isn’t elevated after you kneel down, you’ll end up with slack in the cable; to fix this you can slide back a little further away from the cable cross to create space and get rid of the slack, though ideally you want to do your best to be as close as possible to the cable cross.
Step 4: stick your chest out, pack your shoulder blades together and squeeze your core.
Step 5: pull the cable down by concentrating on leading with your elbow just like in other rowing movements. As you do this, turn your hand over in the middle of the contraction so that it will go from an overhand grip to an under hand grip.
Step 6: complete the movement by squeezing your back and lat at the bottom before repeating for reps.
Remember to do both sides for each set.
#3 Standing cable pullover
This is another great exercise for isolating the lats. You will still be using muscles like your triceps, and the back of your shoulder, but it’ll isolate a lot more than something like a lat pulldown.
Here you’ll want to set the pulley high on your cable cross, attach a straight bar, and then take a grip a few inches wider than shoulder width.
Step 1: keep your arms straight but not locked out, so maintain a slight bend in your elbows and bend forward to get your hips out of the way so you can create a longer range of motion.
Step 2: take a step back so that the weight is hovering above the rest of the stack.
Step 3: while keeping your shoulder blades back and your arms straight, bring the bar down aiming for the front of your hips.
Step 4: control the bar on the way back up and repeat for reps.
I like keeping my hands open throughout this exercise because it helps me take the tension out of my arms and forearms and instead concentrate more on my lats. Try this out and see if it works for you, otherwise there’s nothing wrong with closing your hands.
Next is one of the most common and effective lat exercises – the regular lat pulldown. It’s a great alternative to develop your lats if you can’t perform pullups with your body weight yet, and even if you can do pullups, lat pulldowns are still a great addition to your back training routine.
Step 1: stand in front of the lat pulldown machine and grab the bar with a wide overhand grip. You can wrap your thumbs around the bar underneath or overtop, whatever feels best for you.
Step 2: take a seat, and slide your thighs under the pads, while your arms stay straight overhead.
Step 3: arch your back and stick your chest out.
Step 4: pull the bar down towards your upper chest concentrating on pulling your elbows backwards and down towards the ground to help activate your lats more.
Step 5: Squeeze for a second at the bottom and slowly return the bar back to the top to repeat for reps.
Keep in mind that with lat pulldowns you can take all kinds of different grips like under hand grips, close grips, and you can even use the D handle for a close neutral grip.
Pullups are definitely one of the best exercises to build up your lats, while also helping to strengthen your biceps, the back of your shoulders, and your core.
Step 1: To begin you’re going to stand under a pullup bar, and just like with the lat pulldown you want to grab the bar with an overhand grip a little wider than shoulder width.
Step 2: lift your feet up off the ground and relax your arms as you hang straight down.
Step 3: pull yourself up, while concentrating on tracking those elbows back and down.
Step 4: once you bring your chin up over the bar, slowly lower yourself back down and repeat for reps.
If you can’t do pullups yet, an easy solution is to use the assisted pullup machine, or if you don’t have that you can also use resistance bands to assist you on the way up. Just do your best to slowly but surely lighten the amount of assistance you need until you can do pullups on your own.
#6 Reverse grip barbell row
Even though the barbell row is typically considered an exercise that’s more so for your rhomboids and your traps, it’s still excellent for your lats as well, especially when performed with an underhand grip.
Step 1: to begin bend down and grab a loaded barbell with a supinated grip (top left image below). Make sure you maintain the natural arch in your lower back by concentrating on keeping your chest out (top right image below).
Step 2: lift the bar up until you’re bent at about a 60 to 70 degree angle (bottom left image below).
You can also hit the lats with high rows where you would be at about a 90 degree angle, but for this demonstration we’ll be sticking to regular barbell rows.
Step 3: from the 70 degree angle, simply row the barbell by pulling your elbows straight back towards the ceiling, and aim to bring the barbell up to around your belly button (bottom right image above).
Step 4: lower back down and repeat for reps.
The pullover is primarily known as a chest exercise but it will definitely target your lats substantially as well. These can be done lying alongside a bench or lying across the bench. The more weight you lift the more likely you will have to lay across the bench and drop your hips as a counterbalance.
Step 1: place a dumbbell up on the side of a flat bench. Sit perpendicular to the bench and slide down until your shoulder blades are on the bench and your head is slightly hanging off.
Step 2: lift the dumbbell up with one hand stacked on top of the other in a diamond shape (top left image below).
Step 3: Raise it over your chest and bring it down over your head in an arch like fashion (top right image below). As you’re doing this, keep your elbows bent (bottom left image below).
Step 4: Once you get to the bottom, start bringing the dumbbell back to the starting point over your chest, but stop when the dumbbell is directly over your forehead – by doing this you’ll keep the tension on your lats (bottom right image above).
Step 5: From there, just lower back down and repeat for reps within that range of motion.
While this exercise doesn’t isolate your lats, it’s probably by far one of the best exercises to develop a thicker, wider, and stronger back. And since your lats are your largest back muscles, they’ll definitely benefit from some heavy deadlifts.
Step 1: step up to a loaded barbell, with your shins close to the bar and plant your feet a little wider than hip width apart.
Step 2: hinge your hips and bend down to the bar.
Step 3: Grip the bar slightly wider than where your shins meet the bar.
Step 4: stick your chest out and drop your hips down, while squeezing your shoulder blades together to pull all the slack out of the bar. Don’t lean too far forward – you want your shoulders in line with your hands.
Step 5: Then take a deep breath, hold it, and lift the weight up. When lifting the weight, don’t pull with your lower back. Instead, lift the weight by squeezing your abs, pushing your feet into the ground, and hinging your hips by driving them forward until you’re standing upright.
Step 6: lower the weight back down while still hinging at the hips, then repeat for reps.
#9 Long angle dumbbell row
This is one of my favorites, for the posterior deltoid and the lats.
Step 1: start by leaning with one hand against something lower than waist level so you can bend your back until it’s almost parallel with the ground.
Step 2: grab a dumbbell with your other hand in a neutral position and let it hang straight down.
Step 3: Pull your shoulder blades back and stick your chest out to maintain a neutral spine.
Step 4: now, instead of pulling the dumbbell in towards your belly button like you would in a regular row, aim to pull the dumbbell further back towards your hips, and then bring it back down to the hanging position and repeat for reps.
So those are some of my favorite lat-building exercises that you can start using right away to develop a nicer back. If you want to combine these into a workout, I would select three to five of these exercises and perform each for 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps with a heavy weight load.
That about wraps it up. I really hope this helped you pick up some new exercise for your lats.
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