Best Lat Exercises To Fill Out Your Frame

The lats are an unfortunately overlooked set of muscles that make up the majority of your back’s musculature. If your goal in working out is a larger and more muscular looking physique, it’ll pay dividends to make working the lats a priority!

Working the lats is not only important for a well-rounded physique. A stronger back affords you more functional strength to go about your daily life!

Let’s not waste any more time though. To help fill out your frame and build the biggest back, in as little time as possible, you need to try adding some of these exercises to your routine. They really are the best lat exercises you can do!

Best Lat Exercises For Strength and Hypertrophy

Man Doing A Pull-up

Barbell Deadlift

This exercises shouldn’t need any introduction. No lift is capable of loading the whole posterior chain quite like a heavy deadlift. And if you’re looking to grow some monster lats, the deadlift needs to be a part of your routine!

To minimize injury risk, you want to avoid rounding your lower back when doing this lift. The form is simple enough, though nailing down the perfect technique for your own specific anatomy can take some trial and error. Once you get it though, you’ll be lifting some massive weights. Monster lat gains are sure to follow!

How to Do Barbell Deadlifts

  1. Stand over a loaded barbell. Looking down, the bar should be at about mid-foot, and your feet should be around hip-width distance apart.
  2. Bend down at the hips, with your back kept straight. Grab hold of the bar with your hands shoulder-width distance apart.
  3. Set your grip, pull the slack out of the bar, and then lower your hips down while bending your knees, until the bar is in contact with your shins.
  4. Keep your head looking forward, your chest up, and your back arched. Drive through your heels and pull the weight up.
  5. Once the bar has passed knee level, pull the bar back while pushing forward with your hips until you are standing tall.
  6. Keeping your back arched, bend with your hips first and lower the bar towards the floor. Once the bar has reached knee level you can bend your knees to bring it to the bottom.

Bent-Over Barbell Row

There are seemingly countless row variations to choose from. The king of them all is the bent-over barbell row. Whether you do these with strict form, or load up stupid weight and throw in a bit of body-English, the barbell row is guaranteed to show results.

If you’re trying to really overload the weight I recommend using lifting straps so you can work your lats to exhaustion. No need to let your grip strength get in the way of a good back workout.

How to Do Barbell Rows

  1. Holding a barbell in your hands, lower your torso down by bending at the hips, with a slight bend in your knees. Be sure to keep your back straight.
  2. Pull the barbell up with your elbows, being sure to keep your arms up against of your body and your torso stationary.
  3. Slowly and under control, lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.


Pull-ups, whether they’re assisted, body-weight, or plate-loaded are an amazing exercise for your lats. Pull-ups aren’t just great for your lats though. They work nearly your whole upper-body! I like to think of them as the upper-body equivalent of the squat. If you aren’t doing these, you’re really missing out!

Pull-ups are great in that you can vary your grip in so many different ways, to target different areas of your back. My personal favorite variation for lat hypertrophy is using a thumbless wide-grip. Doing pull-ups in this fashion allows me to really feel the contraction in my lats while minimizing any bicep involvement.

With pull-ups, try to limit any cheating by rocking forward and back, or kipping. Also, be sure to work through the full range of motion, if you can. If you’re doing half reps, you’re leaving gains on the table!

How to Do Pull-Ups

  1. Reach overhead and grab a hold of a pull-up bar with a wide grip.
  2. Using your lats, pull yourself up, bending your arms at the elbows as you rise up. Try to avoid swinging or “kipping” yourself up and stop once your chin has made it over the bar.
  3. Pause for a second or two at the top, and then slowly lower yourself back down in a controlled manner
  4. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.

Lat Pull-Downs

If pull-ups aren’t in the cards for you yet, you can still get a great lat workout in by doing lat pull-downs. They work basically the same muscles! Also, research has shown that they’re as effective as pull-ups in triggering growth and strength adaptions in the back.

Similar to pull-ups, you can vary your grip while doing these to target different areas of your back. If you have trouble feeling your lats working while doing these, try widening the grip a bit. You’ll definitely be feeling the burn after a set or two of these!

Try to minimize any upper-body movement while doing these. It’s not uncommon to see people throwing back their torso while pulling the weight down, which ends up taking the emphasis off your lats and onto other muscles.

How to Do Lat Pull-Downs

  1. Attach a v-bar or standard bar to the high pulley of a lat pull-down machine. Adjust the knee pads so that you are held down securely.
  2. Grab hold of the v-bar or bar.
  3. Keeping your arms extended out in front of you while holding the bar, bend your torso back to around 30 degrees at the hips, creating a slight curve in your lower back and maintaining an upright chest.
  4. Pull the bar down until it reaches your upper chest. Squeeze your back muscles once the bar has reached your chest.
  5. Pause for a second or two at the bottom, and then slowly raise the bar back up in a controlled manner until your arms are fully extended and you feel a stretch in your back.
  6. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.

Decline Dumbbell Pullovers

In doing my research for this article, this was consistently mentioned as a great isolation exercise for the lats. After adding them to my routine, I can see why!

I had been doing these in a slightly different fashion for the past year as a tricep isolation exercise. Once I modified my form so that they worked the lats, I saw the light. These really are the best lat isolation exercise you can add to your routine!

If decline pullovers are too difficult for you, you can start out on a flat bench and work up to doing these at a decline. Either way, you’re sure to see some growth in your lats once you adopt these to your regiment.

As with any isolation exercise, I prefer doing these in higher rep ranges. From 8 to 12, or 15 to 20 reps per set is perfect.

How to Do Decline Dumbbell Pullovers

  1. Place a dumbbell at the base of the declined portion of a declined bench.
  2. Lay down on a decline bench, ensuring your legs are secured.
  3. Reaching back behind your head with your palms facing out. Grab hold of the dumbbell and slowly lift it up until it is perpendicular to the floor.
  4. With your arms extended, lower the weight back down towards the floor, stopping when your arms are parallel with the floor.
  5. Lift the weight back up until it is again perpendicular to the floor. That is 1 rep.
  6. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.
  7. Once complete, carefully lower the weight back down to the floor before letting go of it.

T-Bar Row

All you need is a barbell, some weight, and a corner to do this great lat exercise. What I like about these is that I can do them without my grip impeding my ability to load up heavy weights. Also, I can do these with one hand at a time, making them a great unilateral lat exercise!

T-Bar rows work wonders for building the lats, whether you choose to pile on the weights and do these super-heavy, or keep it modest and do them for high reps.

It’s easier to cheat with these than other row variations, such as dumbbell or barbell bent over rows. Be sure to focus on lifting with your back as much as possible. You don’t want to end up squatting the weight up!

How to Do T-Bar Rows

  1. Place a barbell up against a corner, or into a landmine in order to secure it. Add the desired amount of weight.
  2. Standing over the bar, reach down and grab hold of the bar directly below the weights. While keeping your back straight, rise up with your legs and hips until you are standing.
  3. Keep your back and chest held high and stand with a wide stance.
  4. Pull the weight with your elbows, back and into your upper abdomen, by retracting your shoulders.
  5. Pause for a second or two at the top, and then slowly lower the bar back down in a controlled manner.

Seated Cable Row

The last exercise on our list of best lat exercises for you today is the seated cable row. When I first started lifting, I always had a hard time activating my back while lifting, and never felt like I was getting a good workout in.

Once I added these to my routine I developed a great mind-muscle connection with my lats. Since then, I’ve had no issues activating and feeling my back doing the work during any row variation I try.

While these can be done heavy, I prefer to keep them on the lighter side. Usually, I super-set these with a tricep isolation exercise such as overhead tricep extensions. This saves me some gym time, while still allowing me to work out as many muscles in my upper-body as possible.

As with most of the exercises on this list, varying up your grip allows you to target different areas of your back. No matter my grip width, I choose to always do these thumbless. This ensures that my biceps are worked as minimally as possible.

How to Do Seated Cable Rows

  1. Sit down in front of a cable machine with a bar attached to the low pulley.
  2. Place your feet on the foot brace or crossbar, ensuring there is a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Keeping your back straight, bend at the hips to reach for and grab hold of the bar.
  4. With your arms extended out in front of you, bend your torso back at the hips until it is at a 90-degree angle with your legs.
  5. Keeping your upper body stationary at all times, pull the bar back towards your lower chest, with your elbows up against your sides. Be sure to squeeze your back muscles as hard as you can while completing and holding the movement.
  6. Slowly, and in a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat the above for your chosen amount of reps.

Wrapping Up

There are so many different exercises to choose from to target and strengthen your lats. There’s absolutely no reason to neglect them!

Giving your lats some attention will benefit you in surprising ways, both in the gym and outside of it. Bigger lats give you a larger and more solid base to bench from. They also make menial tasks such as bringing in the groceries from the car or installing an air conditioner that much easier!

Add some of these to your routine today, and reap all the gains only the best lat exercises can provide!

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