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The 6 Best Lower Lat Exercises To Strengthen Your Shoulders And Back

 Written by 

Mauro Castillo

 Last updated on 

The lats are a crucial component for maintaining shoulder and back health. It’s one of the most trained muscles in the gym and no wonder. 

Some of the best lower lat exercises for shoulder and back health include:

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– Dumbbell Row

– DB Pullover 

– Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 

– Bent Over Barbell Row

– Banded Seated Row

– Straight Arm Pulldown 

I’ll cover each of them in detail, along with the lat anatomy & function, the benefits of training the lower lats, and a lower lat workout you can do right after going through the article. 

Let’s jump right into it!

Lat Anatomy & Function

The lat (latissimus dorsi) is one of the broadest muscles in the body. It runs horizontally from the spine to the arm bone (humerus), and it’s involved in both thoracic and brachial motion. (1)

Some of the main actions in the upper body are done in conjunction with the teres major and pectoralis major (chest muscle). They adduct, medially rotate, and extend the arm at the shoulder joint. (1)

The lat is more active in climbing, rowing, and pull-ups. Although, new research suggests activation during deep inspiration (auxiliary breathing muscle), sneezing, and coughing.

A woman doing lower lat exercises with a machine at the gym
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The Benefits Of Training Your Lower Lats

Improved Pressing Strength

Another function of the lats is scapular depression. They keep your shoulder blades down when doing overhead movements, which helps with stabilization

The more stable your joints are for any given exercise, the more strength and force they can exert. That is one benefit of training your lower lats. 

They will help you remain stable during overhead pressing movements, progressively improving your pressing strength.

Body Symmetry

Our bodies are full of strength imbalances and aesthetic asymmetries. This isn’t good or bad; it’s just how our bodies are designed. 

However, working the lower lats is a terrific strategy for improving the overall lat width of your back. Which is an area of attention for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. 

A man doing lower lat exercises with a machine at the gym
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How To Target Your Lower Lats

Most of the lower lats exercises are relatively easy to master. However, there are some variables to consider if you want to push your muscle growth to the max. 

Torso Position

Your torso position will dictate which muscle fibers (and to what extent) will get the most peak contraction and lat activation. 

For instance, the best torso position to target your lower lats is where your torso ultimately faces the ground, with your hips hinged and knees slightly bent.

From that position, the higher you set your torso, the less muscle activation you get from the latissimus dorsi, and the more it will bias other muscles, such as the rear delts, traps, and biceps.


The ideal grip to bias your lower lats is the underhand grip (forearms supination.) This action drives humeral (upper arm bone) external rotation, which stretches the lower fibers of the lat muscles.

Although using an overhand grip will also hit the lower lats, the underhand seems advantageous.

If you feel your grip is not strong enough to withstand at least 8-12 reps at a moderate weight, consider using straps or hook grips. That way, you can get into the underhand position without worrying about your grip giving out.

Arm Path

The arm movement plays a crucial role in dictating which muscles are biased. To focus on the lower lats, drive your arms towards your hips. However, pull the bar towards your chest to target the biceps, rear delts, or traps. 

Best Lower Lat Exercises

Although there are milliard exercises for the lats, not all can effectively target the lower lat fibers. Below is a list of six exercises to accomplish this, plus a workout you can do today! 

1. Dumbbell Row

A man doing dumbbell rows
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The dumbbell row is one of the most common exercises for developing the strength and mass of your lats. It’s one of the first exercises you learn when starting your fitness journey, perhaps one you’ll do forever. 

How To Do It

  1. Set up a flat bench and make sure it’s stable. 
  2. Pick a dumbbell or kettlebell at a moderate-heavy weight.
  3. Place one hand on the bench and both feet flat on the ground at hip width.
  4. Grab the dumbbell/kettlebell with the free hand and pull it towards your hip, keeping your neck and spine neutral. 
  5. Slowly bring it down to the bottom position. That’s one rep.


Dumbbell rows are one of the easiest and most effective exercises to develop the lower fibers of your lats. It only requires a flat surface (often a bench) and a dumbbell or a kettlebell. 

This makes it an excellent option for those beginners and inexperienced. Although more advanced lifters also include this exercise in most of their back routine due to its effectiveness. 

The dumbbell row is one of those movements where you can go heavy without worrying about injury risk. You should be good to go as long as you keep a neutral spine and neck.

2. Bent Over Barbell Row

A man doing bent over barbell rows
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The bent-over barbell row is a legendary exercise for targeting your lat muscles. The starting position requires your core muscles to step up and stabilize your lumbar spine while your arms drive the bar toward your hip.

This is a terrific row variation for everyone looking to get a high lower lat contraction while also working on other secondary muscles like posterior delts, core, and biceps.

How To Do It

  1. Set up a barbell with your desired weight (it can be an empty bar.)
  2. Get close to the bar until your shins are making contact with it. 
  3. Set your feet at hip width.
  4. Hinge your hips, bend your knees, and hold the bar with each hand on the sides of your legs.
  5. Use an underhand grip and pull the bar towards your hips while keeping a neutral spine and neck. 
  6. Slowly descend the bar until your elbows reach full extension. At this point, the bar should be hovering over the floor. 
  7. Repeat for the desirable reps.


The bent-over barbell row is a fantastic exercise to push your lat muscles to the max. It targets the lower section of the lats and works your biceps, posterior delts, and core muscles. 

Although this exercise requires some effort to stabilize your spine, most beginner lifters should be able to do them without a problem. The underhand grip and range of motion make this movement necessary for your upper body routine and lat workout.

3. Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

A man doing wide grip lat pulldown
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The wide-grip lat pulldown is a terrific lat exercise anybody can do. It has a big range of motion, and the starting position has your lats in the stretched position. The cable pulley machine is designed to make lat workouts easy and accessible.

How To Do It

  1. Attach the bar handle to the cable machine and ensure it’s locked.
  2. Sit on the cable machine and adjust the leg pads to help you keep tight during the movement.
  3. Set up a weight you can do 8-10 reps with moderate-high effort.
  4. Grab the handle with a wide grip and keep your rib cage from flaring out.
  5. To begin the exercise, drive your elbows down until the bar gets around your chin-neck level, and always keep the elbows in front of your torso.
  6. Slowly return the bar to the top and ensure your lats get that full stretch at the starting position.
lower lat exercises how to grip
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The lat pulldown machine allows a simple movement trajectory. This works phenomenally for lifters because the proper form becomes easier to master, and you’ll feel the constant tension on your lats.

This classic exercise should always be a part of your upper body training because it targets not only the lower lats but also your posterior muscle chain and arm muscles.

The wide-grip lat pulldown uses a variety of grips which are all effective at recruiting the entire muscle, including the lower fibers of the lat.

4. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

A man doing straight arm lat pulldown
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The straight arm lat pulldown is one of my favorite exercises to hit the lower lats. On top of being effective at giving you a lat pump, it’s easy to learn.

How To Do It

  1. Attach the bar handle to the cable machine and ensure it’s locked.
  2. Use an overhand grip and grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. 
  3. Take a few steps back while holding the bar to create a range of motion and proper arm path.
  4. Hinge your hips at a 45-degree angle, bend your knees, and keep your neck neutral. 
  5. Drive the bar towards your hip while keeping your elbows slightly bent. Avoid hyperextending your spine.
  6. Slowly return the bar to the initial position. That’s one rep.


The wide grip lat pulldown is a great variation to target the lower lats. It’s easy to do, and like the wide-grip pulldown, it only requires a cable machine.

Although this variation is slightly more challenging than the wide-grip pulldown, it’s still a solid option for anybody starting their fitness journey. 

Besides targeting one of your body’s largest muscles (lats), it will also activate fibers from your minor pecs and triceps. 

5. Seated Band Row

A woman doing seated band rows
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The seated band row is a terrific exercise for those without gym access or short in time. With only an elastic loop band, you can crush the lower section of your lats in a few minutes.

How To Do It

  1. Have in hand an elastic resistance band. I recommend a 1/2″ wide x 41″ long (13mm x 1m) and 15-35 lbs (7-16 kg) resistance loop band. 
  2. Seat on the ground with your legs fully extended, feet together, and an upright torso. 
  3. Wrap one extreme of the band around the middle section of your feet. Hold the other extreme with both hands.
  4. Pull the band towards your hips.
  5. Slowly return to the initial position. That’s one rep. 


One of the main benefits of the seated band row is how accessible and effective it is. That allows you to remain consistent with your training even if you can’t attend the gym. 

Because it only needs an elastic band, it’s also ideal for beginners or those with no experience in fitness. Wrap the band around your feet and crush your lats. 

6. Dumbbell Pullover

A woman doing dumbbell pullovers
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The dumbbell pullover is a fantastic movement to target the lower lats. Although it requires more shoulder mobility than most lat exercises, it hits the nail on the head when recruiting the lower fibers of the lat.

How To Do It

  1. Grab a flat bench and make sure it’s stable and comfortable. 
  2. Pick a medium weight for the dumbbell. 
  3. Rest your upper back on the bench and set your feet flat on the ground. 
  4. Hold one head of the dumbbell with both hands underneath.
  5. Start with the dumbbell at eye level, your elbows locked, and your hips extended at the top.
  6. Bring the dumbbell up to eye level. Slowly bring the dumbbell down and back until it reaches the top of your head. 
  7. Elbows slightly bend. That’s one rep.


The lats are responsible for shoulder extension, which means taking the dumbbell to the initial position (eye level) on the pullover. This exercise is not only terrific for lower lat growth but also for lat stretch.

The dumbbell pullover also targets your lower pecs since they’re also involved in shoulder extension. 

Some people may feel some discomfort on the head of their shoulders, and if that’s the case, you can either lower the weight or try a different variation, such as the straight arm pulldown.

I wouldn’t recommend going heavy on this movement since the shoulder joint is relatively weak at the overhead position. 

Lower Lats Workout

Now that you’re familiar with the theory behind training your lower lats, it’s time to put it all into practice. Below you’ll find a workout focusing on pushing the lower fibers of your latissimus dorsi to the max.


A1: Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 

A2: Straight Arm Pulldown

A3: Dumbbell Pullover 

3 sets, 8-12 reps at the moderate-high effort. Rest for 2 min between sets. 

B1: Bent Over Barbell Row

B2: Dumbbell Row

3 sets, 8-12 reps at a moderate effort. Rest for 2 min between sets.

C1: Wide Grip Pull-Ups

C2: Chest Supported DB Row

1-2 sets, reps to failure. Rest as necessary.

A strong woman doing the best lower lat exercises at the gym
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Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Work Your Lower Lat?

The best way to work your lower lats is by doing the following exercises with a moderate-high effort: dumbbell row, wide grip lat pulldown, straight arm pulldown, seated band row, dumbbell pullover, and bent over barbell row.

What Is The Best Pull-up For Lower Lats?

The best pull-up you can do for lower lats is the wide-grip pull-up. The wide grip allows the lat fibers to stretch more, especially the fibers from the lower lats, creating more tension in return. 

How Do I Train My Lower Lat And Upper Lat?

The best way to simultaneously train your lower and upper lat is by doing lat pulldowns on the cable apparatus. This will allow your lats to keep a constant tension throughout the range of motion.

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