Lats Workout & Lats Exercises for Better Width, Thickness & Shape 

Hailed as the mighty "wings", the lattissimus dorsi, known as the Lats, are a large muscle group that enhance the V-Taper on a man's physique, while adding shape to a woman's physique as well.

Many lifters make the mistake of largely ignoring this muscle group, because the back is not what you typically see when you stare in front of the mirror. However, people often see you from side & rear angles, so not having proper back development can make a person look flat and weak.

In order to be truly strong at any pulling motion, the lats need to be strong since they're heavily recruited during those motions. In many pulling exercises, the lats are recruited in conjunction with the biceps, and many lifters report that working on the lats is enough to make their biceps big & strong! To fully develop the lats, they need to be trained for both width & thickness, which we'll cover in more detail later on...

Keep in mind that really focusing & specializing on the Lats should only be done after you've reached a certain strength level and only after you've been training consistently for a good period of time...

Quick Tip: The best approach to training your Lats is to include them in a well-structured, total body workout program that scientifically plans all of these things for you: 1) volume, 2) intensity, 3) frequency, 4) progression, 5) exercise selection, 6) periodization & MUCH more...

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)

Here's an outline of the rest of this page:

1) Introduction of the Lats muscle
2) Lats exercises
3) Quick training tips
4) Sample Lats workout

Introduction & Basic Anatomy

Being huge, fan-shaped(or triangular) muscles, the lattissimus dorsi sure pack a strong punch in a variety of body positions, from leaning back to vertical, and in a variety of body movements, from pulling a weight down or backwards to lifting your body up while your arm is fixed. They also serve as a stabilizing presense for the torso during many intense activities. Knowing the basic functions & movements of this mammoth muscle is very important for choosing the right exercises to ensure complete development.

Lattissimus Dorsi: main function is to pull the arm downwards to the pelvic region, and to pull the body upwards when the arm is fixed, and to stabilize the torso when needed.

Lats Exercises

Dumbbell Prone Hyperextension

- Lie face down, arms at side, elbows straight.
- Hold weights in hands.
- Raise arms up, past back.
- Lower and repeat.

 Close Grip Pulldown

- Sit at pulley system with Lat bar.
- Grasp bar with hands about 6 inches apart, palms facing to chest.
- Pull bar down to chest.
- Return to start position and repeat

Dumbbell Pullover

- Lie on back on bench.
- Hold weight in hands with arms over head.
- Keep elbows slightly bent.
- Pull weight over head to chest.
- Raise back over head and repeat

Machine Rows

- Sit at rowing machine holding handles with hands.
- Place feet on foot plates.
- Push and straighten knees while pulling with arms like rowing a boat.

Lat Pulldown

- Sit at pulley system with lat bar.
- Grasp bar, hands shoulder distance apart, palms facing away from chest.
- Pull bar down to chest,
- Return to start position and repeat

Side Pulldown

- Attach pulley to secure object at waist level.
- Grasp handle in hand.
- Pull arm inward, keeping elbow straight.
- Return to start position and repeat

Pulley Back Extension

- Secure cable/pulley at waist level as shown.
- Grasp pulley and pull arm backwards keeping elbow straight.
- Slowly return to start position.


- Place hands on pull-up bar, palms out.
- Slowly pull chin up to bar and lower back down.
- Repeat

See More Lats Exercises, Videos & Training Tutorials

Quick Training Tips

  • The lats need to be trained for both thickness and width. Thickness is primarily achieved through horizontal rowing movements while width is achieved through vertical pulling movements.
  • For Pullups and Chinups, vary the grip from wide to narrow, working through the full range of motion and squeezing your lats at the peak of your movement.
  • For Pulldowns, vary your grips from wide to narrow, use different attachments including the V-bar, and always pull down as far as you can and squeeze.
  • In rowing movements, pull the weight so that your hands and elbows end up below your chest. This will make sure that you're recruiting more of the lats rather than traps & rhomboids.
  • Focus on pulling with your back rather than your arms. Think of your arms as hooks. Start with lighter weights and slow tempos to develop this "feel" in your back before going heavy.
  • Deadlifts are an effective way to target the Lats as long as your pulling technique is good. Make sure you receive proper, in-person instruction on how to perform deadlifts.
  • Remember, pullups are hailed as the "king" of Lat exercises, so even if you can't do a bodyweight pullup, use an assisted machine to pump out some reps.

Sample Lats Workout

As we mentioned on the top of this page, its better to train your lats with a well-structured, total body workout program...

But, if you feel that you've been training long enough and have decent strength in the major upper body compound lifts, then you can try the sample lats workout below to further specialize on that region:

Normal Grip Pullups: after warming up, 2 sets to failure (aim for a minimum of 6 reps)
Machine Rows: 2 sets of 12-15 reps
Close Grip Pulldowns: 2 sets of 10-12 reps
Dumbbell Pullover: 2 sets of 8-10 reps (focus on the lats by not bending your elbows too much)

Depending on your full weekly routine and how frequently you train, this Lats workout can be done once a week and no more than twice. Rest times should be between 90-120 seconds between sets if your goal is to maximize growth.

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)


Upper: Abs | ArmsBack | Chest | Shoulders | Forearms | Biceps | Triceps | Lats | Full Upper
Lower: Quadriceps | Hamstring | Glutes | Calves | Full Lower