Big Lats Workout
A big lats workout is what you need if you want a “V” shaped torso. Of course, you’ll also have to work out your entire body to build a dro-worthy super-ripped look. When one pictures a superhero physique, mountains for biceps, mile-wide lats and a rippling back are the first features that leap to mind. In this article we’re breaking down how you can achieve that powerful look without overstraining yourself or causing wear and tear on your health. Let’s dive right in! Generally, exercises that engage the lats involve vertical and horizontal pulling movements with your arms. To benefit from such training, you first need to learn about the precautions one should take before jumping into the big lats workout.
What You Need To Know About Bodybuilding Lat Exercises
Since you’ll use weights when bodybuilding, you’ll need to pay attention to your personal safety. This is especially relevant for lat exercises. According to physical therapists, lat exercises – if performed poorly – are more prone to cause injuries (1).
As you aim at getting a super-ripped body, you’ll probably exert yourself to the maximum capacity. Therefore, you should know at what point to pause so you don’t end up in a hospital.
When performing an exercise like a lat pull-down (6), you should stop when you feel like there’s something wrong with your shoulder. Alternatively, you can vary the workout by doing the lat pull-down in a safer way, in front of your head.
When doing bent-over rows (5), pay special attention to posture. This workout involves lumbar spine flexion that can displace a spinal disc, due to poor posture and too much weight. If you need to exert yourself more without endangering your spine, exercise while lying face down on a bench.
If you want to push yourself further when doing a pull-up (3), have a certified trainer nearby to watch your form. That’s because, when you exert yourself too much, you can end up losing proper form and getting injuries.
In case you overexert yourself in a pull up, you’ll end up engaging your upper traps and chest instead of your lats.
The Romanian deadlift (10) is another workout that you should perform properly to avoid injuring your back. While doing this exercise, always remember not to round your back. And keep the weights close to your body to avoid low back spasms.
3 Best Lat Exercises For Big Lats
In order to figure out the best workouts for big lats, consider exercises that exert the widest range of motion on your lats.
A wide range of motion on your lats means every part of the muscle is engaged.
Additionally, workouts that specifically target the lats would produce the best results. This can be achieved using exercise machines which may help you perform certain workouts that are not possible with free weights.
However, you may also get a particularly excellent workout on your lats using free weights. An exercise like a bent-over row helps position your body in a way that fully engages your lats.
Based on those guidelines, these 3 workouts may be the best big lats workouts out there:
Straight-Arm Pulldown – Best Big Lats Workout
This workout is a variation of the classic lat-pulldown. Here, you do it standing and keep your elbows locked throughout the movement. One benefit of this variation is training your lats through a much longer range of motion.
It’s particularly good if you feel your lats aren’t getting as much workout as you need in the conventional pulldown exercise.
Even if you don’t have a lat pulldown machine, you can do this workout at home using resistance bands (2):
- Attach the resistance band to a sturdy object above your head.
- Hold the ends of the band while standing.
- Keep your arms straight in front of you.
- Make sure your elbows are straight.
- Keep your hands level with your chest.
- Slowly lower your arms, while keeping them straight.
- Pull your arms down and back all the way to your sides.
- Hold that pose for a few seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
Depending on your level of fitness, repeat this workout for 8-12 reps and 4-6 sets.
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Bent-Over Row – 2nd Best Big Lats Workout
The bent-over row is one of the 3 best lat workouts because it not only gives you the superhero–ripped look, but also improves your posture.
This workout directly stimulates your traps, lats, rhomboids and rotator cuffs. That serves to give you a stronger back and better posture. If you find yourself slumping a lot, this could help you relieve that posture problem.
Proper form is particularly vital in this workout. You might easily cause injury to your back, especially if you put on too much weight.
Therefore, the first priority when doing a bent-over row shouldn’t be to push harder. Your personal safety should always be in the front of your mind.
You can make the workout challenging for greater effect through slight variations, like a bent-over row & side lunge (4):
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Move your right foot to the right and bend your right knee.
- Keep your left leg straight as you push your right glute back.
- Now, bend over at your waist, while engaging your core.
- Dangle your arms down.
- Hug your elbows on your sides while pulling them towards the sky.
- Keep your head in line with your spine while looking down.
- Don’t strain your neck by looking up or hunching your shoulders.
- Perform 4-6 bent over rows, and then press back to center.
- Do a side lunge to your left, and perform 4-6 bent over rows.
- Do 4-6 sets of this exercise to complete the workout.
Seated Cable Row – 3rd Best Big Lats Workout
The seated cable row primarily targets your lats and rhomboids (muscles between your shoulder blades).
Therefore, this workout is particularly effective in fast-tracking that V-cut look you’re shooting for.
What makes it even more valuable is the fact that it uses a cable machine. Such machines provide constant tension throughout the entire workout and some level of safety (9). They are different from free weights which provide varied tension based on the range of motion.
That’s why you’re likely to feel fatigue much faster when using a cable machine compared to free weights.
Besides, the seated row also exerts your trapezius (muscles on your neck, upper back, and shoulders), and biceps brachii (front of your upper arm). Having this wide range of muscles engaged helps produce a well-rounded muscular development.
Here’s how to do it (11):
- Sit at the cable station.
- Place your feet on the platform and slightly bend your knees.
- Grasp the V-bar (make sure your palms are facing each other).
- Keep your back flat as you pull the bar toward your torso.
- Pull until your hands are right in front of your chest.
- Slowly extend your arms back to the starting point.
- During the exercise, pull your shoulder blades together to properly engage your back.
You can do this workout using high-weight reps once a week (3-4 sets of 5 reps each) or medium-weight reps once a week (2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each).
Other Big Lats Workouts
Having a wide range of lats workouts can help you vary your training sessions so you don’t get stuck in a workout rut.
Moreover, different types of workouts engage your muscles in a plethora of ways, and exert a wider range of muscles. All that helps you crank up the results
Here are a few more lats workouts to add to your training sessions.
Big Lats And Traps Workout
Understandably, you may want to work out all your back muscles – not just the lats. One workout that can exert both your lats and traps (the muscles that elevate depress, rotate, and retract your shoulder blade) is the deadlift.
The deadlift is a full-body exercise that uses nearly all your muscles at the same time. Although the primary target muscles are your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, the deadlift can exert more muscles. Just by making slight variations to the workout (8), your lats will have a significant isometric (stationary) function.
Your lats help you maintain the correct position by keeping the barbell close to your body.
For an even more effective workout on your lats, activate your lats before the deadlift, using resistance bands:
- Wrap the band around a sturdy object at about shin level.
- Hinge at your hips.
- Pull the band into your shins.
- Engage your hamstrings while squeezing your glutes by bringing your hips forward.
Once you’re ready, flow these steps to do the deadlifts:
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Make sure the bar is close enough.
- Push your hips back.
- Grasp the bar and brace your core.
- Maintain soft tension in your lats and knees while pushing your heels into the floor.
- Extend your hips until you stand tall while clenching your glutes.
- Lower the bar in a controlled motion back to the start.
Based on your capacity, perform 8-12 reps and 4-6 sets.
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Big Back Workout For Wider Lats
To get wider lats, you need to engage your back muscles fully. A workout that can help you to specifically target the lats is the dumbbell pullover.
The dumbbell pullover is particularly suited to engaging your lats in way that’s not possible with a lat pulldown.
How Dumbbell Pullovers Target Your Lats
As you evaluate the range of muscles that this workout engages, you can understand how different it is from lat pulldowns. Apart from exerting your lats, the dumbbell pulldown also stimulates your triceps (muscles at the back of your upper arm) and pecs (chest muscles).
Additionally, as you perform the exercise, your middle trapezius and rhomboids (muscles between your shoulder blades) stabilize your shoulder girdle. Meanwhile, your posterior deltoids (rear shoulder muscles) help push your elbows down and back.
Based on the range of muscles exerted, this workout lets you engage your lats without unduly engaging your arms.
That’s unlike most lat exercises which exert your arms along with your upper back. They make your biceps the weak spot during the workouts. Therefore, the dumbbell pullover helps you focus on your lats by removing your biceps from the workout.
You’ll also benefit from a wide range of movement in the workout.
However, good shoulder flexibility and mobility are necessary. Therefore, to prevent injuries, avoid this workout if you have stiff or weak shoulders.
How To Do Dumbbell Pullovers Properly
In order to get the most benefit from dumbbell pullovers, observe these critical aspects:
- Proper grip:
To hold the dumbbell, place your palms against the inside of one of the weight plates. Your index fingers and thumbs should make a diamond shape around the bar.
- A stable body position:
Throughout the workout, keep your torso still and parallel to the floor. Your upper back should rest on the bench and feet firmly planted on the floor.
Don’t use a heavy weight. This workout makes your shoulder joint vulnerable to injury.
Once you have the proper posture in mind, flow these steps (7):
- While lying on a flat bench, hold the dumbbell with extended arms above your chest.
- Lower the dumbbell down and back, through a 90-degree arc.
- Remember to inhale while lowering the weight until it reaches bench level.
- Stretch your rib cage fully as you lower the dumbbell.
- Pull the weight back up as you exhale.
Dumbbell Pullover Variations
In some cases, a weight bench may not be available. Fortunately, you can still perform dumbbell pullovers while lying on the floor.
However, you may not have the same stability on the floor as on a bench, and your range may be slightly limited.
In case you’re having a hard time getting your arms to move together, try using one dumbbell instead of two. Simply alternate the workout from one hand to the other, with equal sets on each hand.
Another variation involves a stability ball.
Performing dumbbell pullovers on a stability ball can further reinforce your core and glutes. The stability ball helps overcome excessive extension by lifters who cannot adequately flex their shoulders to place the weight behind their heads.
Exercise Variation is Vital
As you try out the various exercise options available, you might find one that works best for you. Although you may be inclined to stick to only that exercise, you’ll gain far more by varying your workouts.
When you vary your workouts, you’ll not only enhance your own motivation, but also get more muscular development.
This was tested and proven in a 2019 study involving twenty-one resistance-trained men. The study compared their performance as they went through an 8-week resistance training program using either a fixed exercise or varied exercises (12).
Therefore, aspire to be more adventurous in your workouts. Try out different variations and different forms of lat exercises.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 dangerous exercises that lead to injuries (2017, edition.cnn.com)
- 5 surprising ways to use a resistance band to boost your health (2020, nbcnews.com)
- 6 Core Exercises for Wrestlers (2019, teamusa.org)
- A 15-minute morning workout routine you can do anywhere (2019, nbcnews.com)
- Arm Exercises – Bent-over Row (acefitness.org)
- Back Exercises – Seated Lat Pulldown (acefitness.org)
- Bodybuilding Anatomy-2nd Edition.pdf (2015, academia.edu)
- COMPARISON OF MUSCLE ACTIVATION AND KINEMATICS DURING THE DEADLIFT USING A DOUBLE‐PRONATED AND OVERHAND/UNDERHAND GRIP (2011, uknowledge.uky.edu)
- For weight training, is it better to use free weights or machine weights? (2018, mayoclinic.org)
- Romanian Deadlift vs Deadlift: Which Is Best for Your Goals? (2017, teamusa.org)
- The 5 Muscle Groups Guys Neglect Most (2017, huffpost.com)
- The effects of exercise variation in muscle thickness, maximal strength and motivation in resistance trained men (2019, journals.plos.org)