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Best Exercises For Lats

Elevate your upper body workout with the best exercises for latissimus dorsi, essential for the coveted V-taper physique. Strengthen, stabilize, and sculpt your lats with precision, unlocking the key to a powerful and aesthetic upper body.

  • 24 Nov 2023
  • 3 min read

Fitness enthusiasts perform countless exercises for various muscle groups to achieve their ideal physique. Among these muscle groups, let us concentrate on the latissimus dorsi, or lats, today. The lats often take precedence for their role in attaining a "V-taper" shape. They are considered essential for enhancing the function, stability and appearance of the upper body.

List of the best exercises for lats


Listed below are some of the best exercises for lats:


  • Wide-grip pull-up


  • Pendlay row


  • Straight-arm lat pushdown


  • V-bar sternum pull-up


  • One-arm lat pulldown


1.      Wide-grip pull-up


Wide-grip pull-ups are a superior exercise for targeting the lats, primarily because they emphasise scapular depression, humeral adduction, and retraction. Grab the pull-up bar with hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage your core, pull your body up until your chin clears the bar, and then lower yourself, maintaining control. Avoid swinging or using momentum.


This exercise predominantly involves the latissimus dorsi, which serves as the primary mover, enabling powerful arm extension and shoulder adduction. The wide grip directs tension towards the laterally positioned lats fibres, optimising muscle activation. Additionally, wide-grip pull-ups activate synergistic muscle groups like the rhomboids, teres major, biceps brachii, and infraspinatus, making it a potent comprehensive exercise for overall upper body development. 

2.      Pendlay row


One of the most effective exercises for lats is the pendlay row, which requires significant recruitment of the scapular retractors, particularly the latissimus dorsi. Get into a bent-over position with a strict horizontal back angle and keep your torso parallel to the floor. Engage the latissimus dorsi to the maximum extent during each repetition. The Pendlay Row stimulates the lats through a combination of eccentric loading and concentric contraction during the pulling phase, offering balanced stimulus for muscle growth. It’s important to emphasise that maintaining proper form and executing the right techniques are crucial for fully reaping the benefits of this exercise.

3.      Straight-arm lat pushdown


Incorporate the straight-arm lat pushdown into your workout routine to isolate the lats. Holding a cable attachment overhead and extending your arms straight down while maintaining a slight backward lean keeps the lats under tension throughout the movement. The straight-arm position in this exercise eliminates the involvement of the biceps brachii, transferring the workload primarily to the lats, which enables a stronger mind-muscle connection.


4.      V-bar sternum pull-up 

Often, most of us underestimate the effectiveness of the V-bar sternum pull-up as an exercise that significantly targets the lats. When you use a V-bar attachment and pull towards the sternum, this exercise places a heightened emphasis on scapular depression and humeral adduction, resulting in greater activation of the latissimus dorsi. The V-bar sternum pull-up’s unique movement pattern and grip width allow the lats to contract through a wider range of motion, leading to increased muscle stimulation and growth.

5.      One-arm lat pull down 

Completing our list of the best exercises for lats is the one-arm lat pull down. This unilateral movement presents an excellent opportunity to boost lat activation while reducing any muscular imbalances between the left and right sides of your body. When you perform this exercise, you can concentrate on attaining the ideal lat contraction and involve your core to stabilise the body throughout the motion.

The one-arm lat pull down permits a more controlled and deliberate execution, ensuring maximum tension on the lats to attain the desired muscle growth.

Also read:


Effective exercises for lats, such as the wide-grip pull-up, pendlay row, straight-arm lat pushdown, V-bar sternum pull-up, and one-arm lat pull down, target and develop the latissimus dorsi muscles. Each of these exercises provides a unique stimulus, emphasising different aspects of the lats’ functionality and promoting their growth.

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