Best Lower Lat Exercises: 7 Workouts For Muscle Development

Out of all the muscles in the body, the lower lats are the one area you cannot afford to neglect. Not only does performing lower lat exercises help develop an incredible “V-shaped” physique, but it also helps improve your overall athleticism.  

Not forgetting that by working the lower lats, you’re bringing stability to your spine and shoulder joints, helping you prevent those annoying niggles you might get as you get older. 

In this article, I’ll show you all of the best exercises for lower lat development and discuss the benefits of training this muscle group in more detail.  

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the lower lats are one of the most important muscle groups in the body. They’re often overlooked by many gym enthusiasts. 

Believe it or not, the lats are a significant part of your body’s core, bringing stability to your body during major lifts like squats, deadlifts, military press, and bench press. 

World-famous bodybuilder Dorian Yates once stated that "most bodybuilders have wide upper lats, but inadequate lower lat width," and he was correct.  

If you want full back development, then you’ll want to work your lats using a selection of different grips and movements including close and wide grip pulldowns.

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to want a strong back; developing the lower lats is something everyone should aim to do, even if its part of an injury prevention measure.  

The best part about training your back is that you don’t need an excessive amount of gym equipment; you’ll be able to perform the majority of lower lat exercises at home. So if you’ve got dumbbells, a barbell, resistance bands, or even a multi-gym, you’ll have no trouble doing these lower lat exercises.  

man doing a pullup

7 Best Lower Lat Exercises (Home Workouts For Muscle Development)

1. Dumbbell Row To Hips 

No lower lat workout would be complete without including a dumbbell row; they’re among the best exercises for developing lower lat thickness. Dumbbell rows are also a great alternative to a standard rowing machine.

I’m a massive fan of this movement as it allows you to work each arm individually, evening out any strength imbalances that can occur between the two sides of the back.  

This exercise is a variation on the traditional single-arm dumbbell row, the tweak I’m about to show you will slightly shift the range of motion to increase lower lat activation.  

woman doing dumbbell row to hips
Performing The Dumbbell Row To Hips 
  • Find a stable bench or rack to lean on and place your dumbbell onto the floor between your feet.  
  • Place your right hand onto the bench or rack and pick up the dumbbell with your left hand. Then place your left leg slightly back. 
  • From here, instead of pulling the dumbbell directly upwards, you want to aim to move in an arc-like manner, pulling the dumbbell toward your hip. If you’re struggling to create an arc movement, lower the weight and focus first on getting the exercise right.  
  • Then reverse the arc-like movement back down toward the starting position, stretching the lats in at the bottom of the rep. 
  • After you’ve completed your reps, switch arms and repeat.  

2. Seated Band Row 

When it comes to using resistance bands, they’re incredibly versatile and can produce some excellent results if you implement them into your lower lat muscle workout. Resistance bands are also one of the most affordable pieces of gym equipment.

One thing I love about performing the seated band row is that due to the nature of the band itself, your body can move freely, allowing you to get the maximum range of motion for your body. This is something that barbells and dumbbells can’t do.  

By using a resistance band, the load pattern will be completely different from using a uniform resistance like a dumbbell (resistance stays the same). With a band, the resistance is constant, and it increases as you pull the band towards your body.  

Performing The Seated Band Row
  • Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you.  
  • Take a resistance band (I recommend a looped 3ft band) and place your feet at the center of the band.  
  • Take hold of both ends, and it up nice and tall.  
  • Next, externally rotate the shoulders (put your shoulder blades in your pocket) and slightly retract your shoulder blades. 
  • Draw the band toward your lower ribs slowly, contracting your lat muscles, and then take your hands back to the start position.  

3. Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 

Taking your grip wider than the traditional grip (which is usually a lot closer) helps you target the outer and lower lats. It was a main component in the Arnold lower lat workout. 

At the top of the wide grip lat pulldown position, your arms are slightly angled outwards, giving you maximum lower lat stretch, and as you pull the bar towards your body, it causes your arms to close inwards, contracting the lower lat muscles.  

Performing The Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
  • Set up a wide grip bar using a lat pulldown machine and sit onto the machine’s seat.  
  • Reach up and hold the bar in the widest position that’s comfortable. This is usually around 1.5-2x shoulder width.  
  • Slightly lean back and draw the shoulder blades back and down as you pull the bar towards your clavicle (collar bone).  
  • Pause at the bottom, squeeze the lower lat muscle together, then slowly take the bar back up to the starting position, breathing in as the lower lat stretches.  
woman performing a lat pulldown

4. Underhanded Bent Over Row 

It can be argued that the bent-over row is the king of the back building exercises. It’s a great compound exercise that not only develops back thickness but will help build your biceps too. A barbell offers uniform resistance compared to dumbbells.

The traditional bent-over row is performed by using an overhand grip. However, by simply taking an underhand grip, you'll be optimizing the movement for targeting the lower lats. This is due to an increase in scapular depression (drawing the shoulder blades downward). 

Performing The Underhanded Bent Over Row
  • Place a barbell with your desired weight in front of you on the floor.  
  • Move your feet under the bar and assume a deadlift position (neutral back).  

  • Pick the bar up using an underhand grip and straighten your body. Then maintain a straight back, hip hinge, and bring your head toward the ground until youre bent over.  
  • Draw the barbell toward your belly button, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement and then slowly bringing the weight back to its starting position.   

5. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown 

One of the most underrated, the best exercise for lower lat development is the straight arm lat pulldown. While this exercise is classed as a shoulder extension movement, it significantly affects lower lat development.  

If you’ve ever finished your back session and thought, "I didn't feel anything in my back," then I can assure you that the straight arm lat pulldown will cure this problem for you. Always remember to make sure you are lifting the appropriate lat pulldown weight.

Due to the minimal involvement of the biceps, most of the tension is placed on the lats, plus you can do this at home easily using most cable systems or resistance bands.  

Performing The Straight Arm Lat Pulldown 
  • Set up a rope or a bar onto your lat pulldown or pulley system machine.  
  • Stand under the bar or rope and grab hold of it with an overhand grip.
  • Step back slightly to create space and tension in the cable. Then hinge from the hips somewhat so your arms are on an angle and your elbows align with your ears. 

  • Keeping your arms straight, draw them down toward your hips, squeezing the shoulder blades together as you reach the bottom part of the movement.  
  • Then reverse the movement back to the beginning ensuring the lower lat stretches. 

6. Single Arm Lat Pulldown 

This little known variation of the lat pulldown is one of my favorites from the best lower lat exercises.

Due to the fact you’re using a single handle attachment on the lat pull down, it allows you to work the lats iso-laterally (one side at a time), ironing out any weaknesses that one side might have. 

Performing The Single-Arm Lat Pulldown 
  • Set up the lat pulldown machine you are using with a single stirrup-style handle.  
  • Sit under the lat pulldown and grab the handle.  

  • Retract the shoulder blade and draw the handle toward your shoulder, squeezing the lats at the bottom. Then ensure you get maximum lat stretch between each rep. 
  • Switch arms and repeat. 

7. Dumbbell Pullover 

This old-school low lat builder will provide you with significant lower lat development. It stretches the muscle fibers and works the back muscles and shoulder girdle in a similar fashion to the straight arm pulldown.  

Performing The Dumbbell Pullover 
  • Select a dumbbell and lie down on a flat bench.  
  • Hold the dumbbell in an upright position using both hands and lift it directly upwards.  

  • Keeping the arms straight, move the dumbbell toward your head in an arcing motion until the weight passes your head and stretches your lower lat muscle.  
  • Bring the dumbbell back to the starting position above your chest and repeat.  

What Causes Pain In Your Lower Lats? (Stretches For Release)

If you’re unfortunate enough to feel lower lat pain while working out, then you’ll know it’s not a pleasant experience.  

Usually, the pain is often caused by one or several factors such as overuse of the lat muscles, poor technique leading to a pulled lower lat muscle, or not warming up properly before you start exercising.  

Occasionally the cause of the lower lat strain might be a postural problem, so if you tend to slouch...stop it.  

To treat lower lat pain, the recommendation is RICE. But, there are some lower lat stretches and exercises that you can do to loosen a tight lat muscle. 

These are: 

  • Y, T, I, W, O prone formations - This helps activate the lat muscles and also helps strengthen them without applying external load. 
  • Resistance band press - Place a small band around the wrists and apply outward tension. Then slowly move the arms up and down (in a shoulder press motion), retracting and squeezing the shoulder blades. 
  • Any scapular stability drills to help strengthen the shoulder girdle and lower lat muscles.  

Combining the above exercises and stretches is ideal for warming the lower lats up before a workout.  

woman doing a wide grip lat pulldown

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are doing pull-ups daily enough to build lower lats? 

While pull-ups are a great back builder, the likelihood is you won’t be able to get enough volume to work your lats to their fullest. Plus, lower lat development requires you to work the back from multiple angles using a variety of exercises. The low volume of pull-ups may not be as effective compared to lat pulldowns.

Are my lats supposed to be sore during/after doing pull-ups? 

If you’re feeling your muscles burning, this is normal; it’s a build-up of lactic acid as the muscles fatigue. However, if it’s a pain you’re feeling, it could be an injury or impingement. Try another exercise that doesn’t cause this pain and strengthen any weaknesses.  

Do pushups work your lower lats? 

Pushups will work all of your core muscles, including the lats (lattisimus dorsi), as they’ll be needed to create stability during the exercise. While they’re great to incorporate into a workout, I’d focus on the exercises listed in this article for maximum lower lat development. 

Can I build lower lat muscles at home? 

100% you can. Each exercise I listed in this article can be performed from home using minimal equipment, even if you don’t have a home gym. All you need is a resistance band, dumbbells, or bar, and you’re good to go.  


Conclusion

Developing the lower lats is essential for anyone looking to improve their physique and to build up strength. Not only will they make you look awesome in a T-shirt, but a robust set of lats will help you perform other lifts, too, such as deadlifts, squats, and more.  

Out of all the exercises in this list, the best exercise for lower lat development has to be the underhanded bent over row. It allows you to lift heavy weight to build lower lat thickness.   

Paul J