The 5 Best Lat Exercises For Building A Bigger, Wider Back

The 5 Best Lat Exercises For Building A Bigger, Wider Back

clock-circular-outlinePosted 19 Jul 2023

Chasing those stringer-popping lats? Or maybe you want to build up your strength across your back?

You're probably looking for the best exercises for lats, to add to your list of favourite back exercises, and we've got them for you.

Training your lats, one of the biggest muscles in your back can be one of the most rewarding areas to train, but it requires consistency in your approach.

Increasing strength in your lats will help across many lifts in the gym, and if aesthetics are your goal, a wider back doesn't just look impressive, it also creates that classic physique illusion of a tapered torso and narrow waist.

You've likely seen images of bodybuilders, strongmen, and fitness models sporting wide, commanding back muscles that give the illusion of a narrower waist and broader shoulders.

But getting those coveted, V-shaped backs requires dedication to your back workouts. 

Here are 5 of the best lat exercises top exercises to target and grow bigger lat muscles.

  1. Pull Ups

  2. Chin-Ups

  3. Lat Pulldown

  4. Single Arm Lat Pull Down

  5. Pullover

If building bigger lats is your goal, then these five lat exercises should be a staple within your back workouts.


Arguably the most effective exercise to build bigger lats is the pull-up. A compound lift that directly targets your lat muscles.

The beauty of this exercise lies in its simplicity - all you need is a pull-up bar to get started making it a great exercise for both beginners and advanced lifters. 

To target the lats best when doing a pull-up, opt for a wide, overhand grip, pulling yourself up until your chin clears the bar, then slowly lower yourself back down. 

This exercise hits the lats from multiple angles and requires them to work through a full range of motion.

Want to make it more difficult? Use a weight belt to attach a small kettlebell or plate, or hold a light dumbbell between your feet.

Lat Pulldown

The Lat pulldown is another fundamental back exercise, and one that directly targets the lat muscles. 

It's also great for those who find pull-ups too challenging as it allows them to use less than their body weight, building up strength before attempting a bodyweight pull-up.

The other advantage of the lat pulldown is the ability to increase volume. By having an adjustable weight, different approaches can be taken toward your training, including higher rep sets and drop sets.

The Lat pulldown consists of pulling a weighted bar towards your chest while keeping your back straight and squeezing your shoulder blades together.


Very similar to pull-ups, chin-ups differ by the position and orientation of the grip. 

In a chin-up, you use an underhand grip with your arms narrower, about shoulder width. Although this places more emphasis on the biceps, the key muscle group being targeted is still the lats, just from a slightly different angle to that of the pull-ups.

If higher reps are your thing, use a light resistance band to give a little assistance so you can increase your training volume.

So if you want bigger lats with a side of bicep pumps, switch out your pull-ups for chin-ups!

Single Arm Lat Pulldown

The importance of including unilateral exercises in your back workouts shouldn't be overlooked, and that's why the single-arm lat pulldown should be part of any back workout routine.

Although similar to the conventional pulldown, the single-arm lat pulldown allows you to focus on one side of the back at a time. This helps rectify any imbalances across your lats, resulting in less chance of injury and stronger muscles.

This exercise also allows for a greater range of movement through each rep, perfect for lower-weight prehab exercises or feeling the stretch with heavier weights.


Although often overlooked, the pullover is a great exercise for building your lats. While it does target your pecs, the pullover places your lats into a fully stretched position allowing them to work through a full range of motion.

This lat exercise can be done with a barbell, cable, dumbbell or kettlebell making it extremely versatile and suitable for most training environments.

While lying on your back, hold the weight with a narrow grip before lowering the weight behind your head and pull it back over to the initial position. Keeping your elbows slightly bent at all times.

This movement provides a fantastic stretch and contraction of the lats, and is definitely a lat exercise worth adding to your rotation!

The Takeaways:

Now, we know when you train back that it doesn't all revolve around your lats, there are many other muscles to target with other back exercises too. And your workout isn't just what will determine whether you achieve your goals, but your lifestyle and diet too.

After a vigorous workout, your muscles need to recover phase allowing them to repair and grow. Adequate protein intake is essential to fuel these processes.

Growing the latissimus dorsi is not just about aesthetics; it's also crucial for overall back health and strength. 

Give these exercises a try when you next want to target your lats, and be sure to mix up reps and repetitions for a well-rounded workout. Remember, results take time, and consistency is key. Through consistent, challenging workouts, ample rest, and nutrition, you'll achieve your goals.

. . .


Chris Beck is Senior Editor at Gymshark, with a passion for curating informative conditioning and health content. Chris is an experienced Personal Trainer, and also holds qualifications in Nutrition, Sports Performance and is a certified Crossfit Level 1 Trainer.

. . .

Chris BeckBy Chris Beck

Editors Picks