Strong lats don’t just look good, they help support the spine as you lift weights, keeping it safe during deadlifts, bench presses, and squats.
Despite their importance, a lot of people find it difficult to activate their lats as they aren’t active during daily tasks.
The lower lats, in particular, regularly lack development, as it takes a conscious effort to activate these muscles.
If you’re interested in developing your lower lats, we’ve listed the 6 best lower lat movements for strength below.
You’ll also find out more about the lower lat muscles and advice on how to target them efficiently.
Lower Lat Muscles
It’s important to understand what the muscles in your back look like before you perform the exercises.
Your back’s largest muscle group is called the latissimus dorsi, known as the lats.
The muscles here link to the back of the upper arms, then run across the middle and lower back, along the spine.
As the lats are so large, it’s difficult to target all of their fibers with just one movement. This is why it’s a good idea to separate the muscle into lower and upper sections.
Your lat’s lower portion affects your power during movements like deadlifts and squats. They also make your back look wider, giving you an aesthetically pleasing shape.
Advice On Working Lower Lats
Now that we’ve covered what the lats look like, here are some tips to help you work out this muscle.
There are three methods of targeting the lower lats during particular movements. These involve your grip, elbow position, and pulling motion.
A lot of back exercises involve an overhand grip, which is when the palms face downwards in a pronated position.
Despite this, an underhand grip can help you engage the lower lats for two reasons.
The first is that the grip means your elbows stay nearer your sides. The second is that the reverse grip ensures you pull the weight closer toward your hips.
Keeping your elbows in, nearer to the body, can help you work your lower lats. This is because of arm rotation.
The elbows can flare outwards during certain movements, such as wide grip lat pulldowns, so the arm pivots externally. This rotation affects the muscles in your shoulders and upper back.
On the other hand, movements like a narrow grip row keep the elbows nearer the body, so the arms pivot inwards.
This inner movement lessens the upper back’s participation, allowing the lower lat to handle more load.
Pull Towards Hips
Lastly, pulling the weight towards your hips, rather than your chest or stomach, helps target the lower lats. This is also the case with rowing exercises with free weights or cables.
The Best Exercises To Strengthen Lower Lats
Now that we’ve covered lower lat anatomy and technique, here are the best exercises to work out the lower lats.
1. Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
The wide-grip lat pulldown targets the lower and outer lats more compared to the classic close-grip movement.
The wide grip form lessens the load on the forearms and biceps. The elbows flex less, so your lats will have to work harder to pull the weight.
The wide grip also lets you change your arm’s angle, so you pull the elbows closer to the body. This will lead to a contraction from the lower lat muscles.
Here’s how to perform the Wide Grip Lat Pulldown:
- Sit facing the lat pulldown machine, then place your thighs beneath the pad.
- Grip the bar with a wide overhand grip, hold it securely, then lean your upper body backward slightly.
- Take a deep breath, then pull the bar towards your chest, maintaining a tight core. Breathe out and pause for a beat.
- Carefully move back to the beginning position, then repeat for the desired rep range.
2. Rack Pulls
Rack pulls are one of the best exercises for targeting the lower lats. The movement is similar to a deadlift, except the barbell is raised on a rack.
As the bar is off of the ground, the hamstrings and glutes aren’t involved in the movement as much as the back is.
There is also less range of motion, allowing you to handle some impressive weights. You essentially mix the force of a deadlift with extra precision, focusing on the lower lats.
If you don’t have access to a power rack for the movement, you can position blocks beneath the weight plates to keep the bar off of the floor. This version is known as block pulls.
Here’s how to perform Rack Pulls:
- Position the barbell on a rack, then add the plates.
- Come up to the bar so your toes are present beneath it, looking straight ahead with your feet shoulder distance apart.
- Keep your chest up, core engaged, and shoulders down and back.
- Bend your knees a little, then lean forward with your upper body. Hold the barbell with the hands positioned slightly outside of the knees.
- Take a breath, then raise the bar. Extend through your knees and hips, pushing through your heels as you perform the movement.
- Pull the bar up and back, moving your shoulders back until you lock out.
- Keep the bar at the top for a second, then slowly return the barbell to the rack. Keep a straight back and maintain a forward gaze, breathing out as you do so.
- Repeat for the desired rep range.
3. Seated Band Row
Seated rows with bands keep the lat muscles under continuous tension. They also keep the body in a good position without any bar path restrictions from barbells or dumbbells.
The secret to seated band rows is to ensure the shoulders are outwardly rotated with a gentle scapular depression. Concentrate on using the lat muscles instead of the traps.
Here’s how to perform the Seated Band Row:
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Coil a resistance band around the center of the feet, gripping each end in each hand.
- With your back straight, extend the arms fully, then row the elbows behind your upper body.
- Remember to keep the elbows tucked near your sides to target the lower lats. Repeat for the desired repetition range.
4. Dumbbell Row To Hips
Single arm rows are ideal for working out strength imbalances on your sides, as well as building the upper back muscles. You can change this movement a little to work out your lower lats.
As you begin the movement, rather than rowing upwards, concentrate on pulling behind you.
This will create an arc-like movement, so the weight begins underneath the shoulder, then concludes at the hips. You’ll notice the difference as your lower lats contract.
Here’s how to perform the Dumbbell Row to Hips:
- Use a bench or dumbbell rack to support your non-active hand, then take a large step backward with your other leg.
- The dumbbell should be on the inside of your forward foot. Grip the weight securely, then while keeping your chest up and shoulders down, row the weight towards your outer hip.
- Pause for a beat, then carefully lower to the beginning position. Repeat for the desired repetition range.
5. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown
You can carry out this exercise with a resistance band or a cable machine, but the movement is essentially the same.
You’ll be holding the attachment with your arms extended straight, then contract the lats to move them to your sides.
The straight arm lat pulldown is ideal if you struggle to feel the lats working during pull exercises.
Here’s how to perform the Straight Arm Lat Pulldown:
- Select either the cable machine or bands, then choose your desired attachment: rope, handles, or straight bar.
- Hold the attachment, step backward, and lean the upper body forwards. Your hand should remain above shoulder level.
- Pull the weight with the arms straight till they reach the hips.
- Pause for one second, then move back to the beginning position. Repeat for the desired rep range.
6. Underhanded Bent Over Row
A lot of pulling movements work out the lats to a given level. If you want to focus on the lower lats, you’ll have to change the technique slightly.
For instance, changing to an underhanded hand position for a bent-over row leads to greater scapular depression, helping to target the lower lat muscles.
This movement will help strengthen and add mass to the biceps, erector spine, upper back, and lower lats.
Here’s how to perform the Underhanded Bent Over Row:
- Set up a loaded barbell, then pivot at the hips, using an underhanded grip to hold the bar. Keep your hands a little wider than shoulder distance apart.
- Press the shoulder blades together, then row the bar till it touches your torso.
- The elbows should remain at 45° during the exercise.
- Maintain the row for a second, then carefully return to the starting position.
Now you know some of the best exercises to strengthen the lower lats!
Remember to keep a mind-muscle connection throughout each exercise and use the technique tips outlined above.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the best lower lat muscle exercises!