5 Awesome Lower Lat Exercises For A Stronger Back

Building and strengthening your lats will not only give you a nice, chiseled, broad back but will also help you have a stable spine when performing heavy weightlifting exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

Although most back workouts work the lats as a whole, doing lower lat workouts with specific lower lat exercises will help you develop muscular lats with better definition and improved functional strength.

In this article, we will discuss how to program workouts for lower lats and then provide step-by-step instructions for the following awesome lower lat exercises.

Let’s dive in! 

5 Awesome Lower Lat Exercises For A Stronger Back 1

How to Structure Lower Lats Workouts

The lats, which is the colloquial term for the latissimus dorsi muscles, are the largest muscles in your back.

The lats help stabilize the spine, as well as extend, rotate, and adduct the shoulder. 

When programming your lower lats workouts to increase strength, build up to performing 2-6 sets, 3-5 reps per set, using a weight that is at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) for the load. The fewer reps you perform, the closer to 100% of your 1RM you should aim for with your weights.

If your goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth), strive to perform three sets of each exercise, using loads that are 70 to 85% of your 1RM for 8 to 12 reps.

The Ultimate Lower Lats Workout

Here are some of the best lower lat exercises to add to your lower lat workouts:

#1: Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns

Aside from pull-ups, lat pulldowns are arguably the most common exercise for the lats.

You can perform lat pulldowns with various hand spacing or grip types, depending on the specific muscle fibers that you want to target and the relative reliance on the muscle groups working during the exercise (lats vs. triceps/biceps vs. deltoids and rotator cuff muscles).

When you perform wide-grip lat pulldown, you will better activate the outer and lower portions of your lats, making this pulldown variation ideal for lower lats workouts.

The reason that this is one of the best lower lat exercises is that the wide spacing of your hands reduces the degree of elbow flexion achieved. This, in turn, reduces the reliance on the biceps, triceps, and forearms and isolates the workload to the lats (and the lower lats and outer lats in particular).

Moreover, because of the wide grip, the angle of pull from high to low as you perform the exercise concentrates the work onto your lower lats.

Wide grip lat pulldown.

Here are the steps for how to perform this one of our lower lat exercises:

  1. Sit down with an upright posture at the lat pulldown station with your thighs secured under the pads and feet on the floor.
  2. Reach up and grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (or use a different hand placement as described above) and your palms facing away from your body.
  3. Keep your core tight as you pull the bar down towards your collarbones, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end range of motion. 
  4. Slowly return the weight to the starting position, resisting the momentum of the weight stack so that you maintain tension in your muscles throughout the duration of the movement.

#2: Seated Resistance Band Rows

Seated cable rows are a popular back exercise for the lats, but the predetermined path of the cable can be restrictive in terms of the range of motion and resultant muscle fibers you can target.

Performing seated rows with a resistance band is one of the best lower lat exercises.

The resistance band, like the cable machine, allows you to work your lats under constant tension throughout the exercise. 

Plus, because the resistance band is not anchored in the way that the cable is to the pulley, you can angle your shoulder in a way that best targets your lower lats.

Basically, to transform this into a lower lats exercise, you will want to externally rotate your shoulders, depress or lower your scapula, and keep your chest up. 

As you row back with the resistance band, think about contracting your lats rather than relying on your traps.

Here are the steps for how to perform this back exercise for your lower lats:

  1. Sit down on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you.
  2. Grab a resistance band with handles and place the band around the bottoms of your feet, gripping a handle in each hand. 
  3. Externally rotate your shoulders somewhat and think about pressing your shoulder blades down in the back and pushing your chest out, up, and forward. This will help set up your body for the proper position to really target your lower lats.
  4. Keeping your back straight, row the band back towards your body, moving your arms from the fully extended position until your elbows are flexed and behind your torso. 
  5. Make sure to keep your elbows tucked into your sides as much as possible to better target the lower lats.

#3: Straight-Arm Pulldowns

This is another great lower lats exercise.

Here are the steps to perform this back exercise:

  1. Set the pulley at the highest setting and secure the rope or straight bar attachment.
  2. Step back away from the machine several feet. You need to be far enough away so that there is enough room to hinge at your hips and lean your torso at a 45° angle relative to the floor and straighten your arms up without having any slack in the cable. There should be tension on the cable so that the weight stack is lifted for the entire duration of your set.
  3. Keep your arms straight as you pull the bar straight down towards the top of your thighs.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position, beginning the next rep before the weight stack can completely touch down.

#4: Underhanded Bent-Over Rows

The bent-over row exercise is a classic back-strengthening exercise for the lats.

By changing your grip to an underhand pattern, you can better target your lower lats and biceps, making this a good variation to include in workouts for lower lats.

This is due to the fact that turning your hand over requires scapular depression, which helps you shift the workload to the lower lats.

Here are the steps for performing this back exercise for your lower lats:

  1. Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hinge at your hips, keeping your core and glutes tight to maintain a flat and neutral spine.
  3. Reach down and grab the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart and palms facing up.
  4. Pull the weight up to your stomach by bending your elbows and retracting and dropping your shoulder blades, maintaining the hinge at your hips throughout the exercise.
  5. Pause at the top position for a full breath.
  6. Slowly lower the weight back down until your elbows are fully extended.

#5: Dumbbell Row to Hips

This is one of the best lower lat exercises because the change in the movement path and mechanics from a standard single-arm dumbbell row helps target the lower lats.

Instead of rowing the dumbbell straight up, you will adjust the direction of your upward pull back into more of an arc-like path.

This results in the dumbbell beginning under your shoulder as with a normal single-arm dumbbell row and finishing back at your hip rather than alongside your torso.

Here are the steps for how to perform this back exercise for lower lats:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and place your left hand at the end of a weight bench for support.
  2. Stagger your stance so that you step your left leg back and allow a bend in your knees as necessary based on the height of the bench.
  3. Keep your core tight as you hinge from your hips to lean your torso to a 45° angle relative to the floor. Make sure that you are keeping your back straight and are only leaning from your hips.
  4. Allow the dumbbell to hang straight down from your shoulder when your arm is fully extended. This is your starting position.
  5. Then, row the dumbbell up and backward so that it raises the top of your hip at the end range of motion. This will involve much more shoulder extension and pulling your elbow backward compared to a standard dumbbell row exercise.
  6. Keep your chest up, and when you have reached the top position, hold the contraction for 2 to 3 seconds before slowly lowering the weight back down to the starting position.
  7. Complete 6 to 12 reps and then switch sides.

Now that you have your exercises ready to go for some muscular lats, what about your back in general? Check out our cable machine back workout here!

Bent over row exercise.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.