13 Easy Lat Stretches

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: March 21, 2022

The latissimus dorsi or “lats” are the largest muscles of your upper body. So they get used for a range of exercises like pulldowns, rows, and deadlifts.

For this reason, the lat muscles often become overworked, tight, and sore. What’s worse is lat tightness can decrease mobility and diminish strength.

Consequently, it’s vital to know how to stretch your lats. And I am about to show you 13 lat stretches to restore mobility and strength.

Easy Lat Stretches

How To Stretch Lats

The latissimus dorsi are large posterior muscles. Originating at the spine, the lats span across your back to insert on the back of your upper arms.

In terms of function, the lats pull your arms down and inward around your shoulder joint. So stretching your lats requires the opposite motion.

Lat Stretches

The best ways to stretch your lats involve extending your arms overhead or pulling them across your body. However, there are several ways to do this.

Now let’s get into the different types of lat stretches.

Types Of Lat Stretches

You can stretch your lats using a variety of methods. Which one you choose depends on your current mobility and what tools and equipment you have available.

Generally, most lat stretches fit into one of the following categories:

  • Static
  • Dynamic
  • Banded
  • Myofascial
  • Yoga

Static Lat Stretches

A static stretch is where your body doesn’t move during the stretch. Instead, you stretch the muscle as far as possible and hold for 10-15 seconds.

Here are some examples of static lat stretches.

1. Classic Shoulder Stretch

The classic shoulder stretch is one you’ve probably done before or at least seen it done. It involves using one hand to pull the opposite arm across your chest.

Pull your arm up over your shoulder and not down across your chest for the best stretch.

2. Overhead Lat Stretch

One of the best lat stretches involves hanging from your arm overhead. And you can do this in a doorframe at home or on a rack at the gym.

To really feel the stretch, work one arm at a time and arch it overhead.

3. Kneeling Lat Stretch

Another versatile option is the kneeling lat stretch. To execute, start by kneeling on the floor in front of a bench or chair.

With your elbows resting on the bench, lean forward so your chest and head move towards the floor. Hold for about 10 seconds, then repeat.

You can also perform this stretch with a Swiss ball.

Dynamic Lat Stretches

Dynamic stretches involve controlled, low resistance movements to stretch and warm up a particular muscle group. An example of a dynamic stretch is arm circles.

Dynamic stretches for the lats could be any exercise that works the arms through overhead extension. But the key is using very light weights and focusing on the stretched part of the range of motion.

4. Light Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pullover exercise involves laying on a bench and lowering a dumbbell overhead. One benefit of this exercise is that you feel an intense stretch through the lats as you lower the weight.

Use a 5-10 lb dumbbell for a warm-up stretch or even just your arms. Also, keep your arms slightly bent and focus on the overhead portion of the movement to target your lats.

5. Light Lat Pulldown

Like the overhead stretch, you can use the lat pulldown exercise to stretch your back. However, you don’t have to perform the whole movement.

To execute the lat pulldown stretch, grab the bar and drop to the seat with your arms fully extended overhead. Then hold this pose for 10-15 seconds.

Also, I recommend a close grip lat pulldown handle to feel the most stretch.

Dynamic Lat Stretches

Banded Lat Stretches

Another way to stretch your lats involves the use of power bands. These versatile bands can be anchored to any solid object on one end while using the free end to stretch your lats.

6. Overhead Band Lat Stretch

To do an overhead band stretch, first anchor one end of the band at or slightly above head level. Then hook your wrist through the other end of the band.

Next, step back, lean forward, and push your hips back until your arm extends overhead. Repeat for the other arm.

7. Bent Arm Band Lat Stretch

For the bent arm banded lat stretch, start by securing one end of the band above head level. Then put your arm through the band and hook the end around your elbow.

Next, bend your arm and step forward until your upper arm is near the side of your head. Then, repeat for the other arm.

Myofascial Release Lat Stretches

Myofascial release involves working muscle tissue with massage or foam rolling. While this may be slightly different from traditional stretching, it accomplishes the same goals.

8. Side Foam Roller Lat Stretch

The most common way to stretch your lats on a foam roller is by laying on your side. Then roll up and down the cylinder from your armpit to your waist.

This technique works the lateral (side) part of your lats but doesn’t hit the posterior (back) part.

9. Back Foam Roller Lat Stretch

Another way to stretch your lats on the foam roller is by laying on your back. This variation hits the posterior portion of the lats.

Crossing your arms in front of your body helps target your lats more. Also, this stretch is great for correcting back posture and alleviating symptoms of upper cross syndrome.

Foam Roller Lat Stretches

10. Lacrosse Ball Lat Stretch

Alternatively, you can use a lacrosse ball instead of a foam roller to put more pressure on specific parts of the lats.

Start by laying on your back with the lacrosse ball near your armpit. Then slowly roll onto your side, so the ball presses into your lat.

You can also slowly oscillate around to loosen up the entire armpit area.

Yoga Lat Stretches

Yoga is a great way to increase flexibility and mobility. And you can also use some yoga poses to stretch your lats.

11. Eagle Pose

The eagle pose (Garudasana) is a body position that opens your shoulders and stretches your back.

To begin, cross one arm under the other in front of your chest until your elbows touch. Then rotate you’re your forearms vertically.

If you can, clasp your hands together, then lift your arms toward the ceiling. As an alternative for those with limited mobility, simply bring your forearms and palms together in front of you.

12. Downward Dog Lat Stretch

Another option is the downward dog yoga pose. You can get a good lat stretch even if you have less upper body flexibility.

Begin on your hands and knees with your hands just in front of your shoulders. Then lift your knees off the floor and push your hips up while lowering your head.

You should end up forming a triangle shape with your feet, hips, and hands at each corner.

13. Child’s Pose Lat Stretch

You can move straight into the child’s pose from the downward dog pose to further stretch your lats.

Put your knees back on the floor and lower your hips as far as possible. Then lean forward with your arms stretched out in front of you until your forehead touches the floor.

When To Use Lat Stretches

It’s important to realize that you can use lat stretches anytime you feel tightness in your back. But the most common times are before, during, or after a workout.

A. Before Workout

Stretching your lats before a workout is ideal for loosening the muscle while increasing blood flow. Moreover, stretching is a good way to prevent injury before intense exercise.

B. During Workout

During a resistance training workout, you spend a good amount of time resting. Therefore, stretching between sets is a great idea to make more efficient use of your time while keeping your muscles loose and limber.

C. After Workout

After a hard workout, you may feel like immediately hitting the shower. But stretching at the end of your workout is a nice way to cool down and get your heart rate back to normal before moving on with your day.

Related: 15 Hip Adductor Stretches to Loosen a Tight Groin

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Bicep Stretches

The bicep is another muscle that gets used extensively during pulling exercises. So it’s crucial to know how to stretch your biceps before a back workout.

That’s why I put together a list of 13 simple bicep stretches to loosen and strengthen your arms.

Bicep Stretches

More Benefits of Stretching

The lat stretches you just learned will help you warm up for workouts and improve flexibility. But if you’re after maximum mobility, you should dive deeper into fascia release.

Studies show that fascia release combined with static stretching can increase mobility 50% more than stretching alone. Click below to learn more about the benefits of stretching.

With this information, you’re well on your way to building a better body. And if you found this article helpful, make sure you check out my other great content below!

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By |March 21, 2022|Workouts|0 Comments
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