MUTANT’s Definitive Best Lat Workouts

Bodybuilder's Wingspan

A bodybuilder is only as beastly as their back. Developing a strong posterior chain is crucial for physical prowess, and that means training your latissimus dorsi until you collapse from the strain. But what are the best lat workouts? Once you know how to work out your lats, you’ll see your wings spread quite literally, growing your back until you have to walk through doorways sideways…and having the strength to back it up.

How to Workout Lats

It’s best to hit the lats with different grip variations to target the outer and inner portions of the muscle. In addition, vertical pulldowns are critical to hitting the lats effectively. You also want to ensure you’re going through various rep ranges to ensure an optimal mix of strength and hypertrophy. 

Good Lat Workouts

  • Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns – 3 sets x 6 reps
  • Close-Grip Lat Pulldowns – 2 sets x 15-20 reps
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows – 2 sets x 10 reps on each side
  • Landmine Rows – 1 set x Failure

What Does Lat Pulldown Workout? 

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns

Starting with lat pulldowns is a downright classic move for a lat workout. Kicking things off with a wide-grip variation, go to the lat pulldown machine and make sure your shoulders are spread out and pulled down from your neck once you’ve grabbed the bar. This flares your back out and ensures the tension goes through your lats throughout the movement. Because this is three sets of six repetitions, we recommend going explosive with the concentric portion – pulling the bar down – and slow (4-5 seconds) on the eccentric portion – letting the bar rise. This exercise has a low rep range, so you’ll want to lift heavy here. Progressive overload should allow you to increase the weight regularly, and the six-repetition threshold lets you scroll down the weight plates with the pin. 

Close-Grip Lat Pulldowns

After the wide grip, stick around the lat pulldown machine and switch the grip to close and underhand. This exercise works double time, offering more lat work and bicep attention. Because you can utilize your arms and other areas of the back during this movement, the rep range is increased to 15-20 reps. 

The cadence here can be slightly looser than the first pulldown variation. The concentric should still be explosive, and MUTANT suggests pausing at the bottom of the pulldown, where you flex everything: back, biceps, and shoulders. Doing two sets of higher reps and pausing at the bottom of each will lead to an insane pump in your back and biceps.

Dumbell Row

Lat Workout with Dumbbells 

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Moving on to unilateral work, we introduce dumbbells into the equation. Lat workouts with dumbbells allow you to correct any imbalances in your back. For dumbbell rows, the key is to drive the dumbbell up and back towards your belly button. You don’t want the dumbbell up near your chest; that makes it more of an arm workout. You can target the lower portion of your lats by keeping the dumbbell on a lower arc near your navel and hips.

Again, going slow on the negative and explosive with the pull will increase strength, power, and muscle simultaneously. This style of lifting will make you a better overall athlete while looking like an animal, too.

Landmine Rows

To finish off the back workout, we go with landmine rows. This is where you use a barbell on the ground, one end secured into an apparatus and the other free-floating. Load the open end with plates, grab a close-grip cable handle attachment, and secure the attachment around the barbell near where the plates are. Straddle the bar, bend at the hips, and perform rows where you squeeze your back and let gravity do all the work.

Here, we go one set to absolute failure. You should be gassed from the earlier sets and exercises by this point. This failure set shouldn’t take long, but you squeeze the barbell and plates to your chest every time you row. That squeeze and pause is what builds the back like crazy. Time under tension is the name of the game, and these reps, sets, and cadences set up the perfect storm for getting as much tension in your back as possible. Follow this lat workout routine to the letter, increase the weight or reps every time you work out, and your back will be as big as a brick wall.

Article by Terry Ramos