7 Best Lower Lat Exercises

Most bodybuilders have thick and wide upper lats. But the lower lats are often overlooked and underdeveloped. I’ll admit this was one of my weak points, too!

One reason for this problem is not knowing which exercises to use and how to perform them. However, when I figured this out, I was able to add some significant thickness to my lower lats.

So I will teach you how to target your lower lats with some simple techniques. And show you the seven best lower lat exercises for building a thicker back.

Lower Lat Exercises

Lower Lat Anatomy

Before we get to the exercises, it’s vital to recognize the anatomy of your back muscles. This basic knowledge is critical to exercise selection and form.

First, the largest muscle group on your back is the latissimus dorsi or lats. These muscles attach to the back of your upper arms. And they run along the length of your spine from your mid to lower back.

Due to the size of the muscle, it’s hard to hit all the fibers with any single exercise. Therefore, dividing your lats into an upper and lower half can be helpful.

The lower half of your lats increases your power on exercises like squats and deadlifts. Plus, they add thickness to your back and give you an aesthetic lat sweep.

Lower Lat Anatomy

How To Target Your Lower Lats

Now that you understand lat muscle anatomy, I can teach you some techniques for targeting your lower lats.

Generally, there are three ways to activate the lower part of your lats on specific exercises. These include using an underhand grip, keeping your elbows in, and pulling toward your hips.

Underhand Grip

Most back exercises use an overhand grip. This pronated hand position is when your palms face down during an exercise.

However, using an underhand grip can make it easier to engage your lower lats for a couple of reasons.

First, the reverse grip forces you to keep your elbows closer to your sides. And second, an underhand grip generally has you pull the weight more towards your hips.

Elbows In

Now, let me explain why keeping your elbows closer to your body helps you target your lower lats. It all has to do with arm rotation.

On exercises like wide grip lat pulldowns, your elbows flare out, and your arm rotates externally. This external rotation involves the muscles of the upper back and shoulders.

Lower Lat Exercises Form

By comparison, exercises like a narrow grip row keep your elbows close to your body and rotate your arms inward. This internal rotation reduces upper back involvement, so more load goes to the lower lat.

You can confirm this by feeling your back with one hand while imitating the movement of each of these exercises with the other arm.

Pull To Hips

The final way to target your lower lats on back exercises is by pulling the weight towards your hips instead of your stomach or chest. This advice is especially applicable to rowing movements with cables or free weights.

Lower Lat Exercises

Anatomy – check. Technique – check. Now for the fun part!

Let’s get to the seven best exercises for lower lats. Here are my recommendations in order from good to best.

7. Machine High Row

The machine high row is like a hybrid between a lat pulldown and a traditional rowing exercise. You pull your arms down and back with handles located high in front.

This unique movement path helps you target your upper and lower lats in one exercise. However, the machine high row isn’t the best exercise for isolating the lower lats.

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6. Bent Over Barbell Row

Next, the bent over barbell row is a fundamental back exercise for building size and strength. Of course, there are multiple variations, including the Pendlay row and Smith machine row.

However, I recommend using the traditional barbell variation with an underhand grip and hands about shoulder-width. Then focus on pulling the bar towards your belly button to target lower lats.

5. Machine Low Row

The machine low row utilizes a low angle rowing motion. And most machines require an underhand grip, so your elbows stay closer to your body.

Also, you can adjust the seat height to pull low across your hips. All this makes the machine low row an excellent exercise for lower lats.

4. Low Pulley Row

The low pulley row is another good lower lat exercise. Plus, you can pull some heavier weights to overload your back muscles.

Use a neutral or underhand grip with hands shoulder-width or closer for maximum lower lat activation. In addition, keep your torso relatively upright and pull towards your navel.

3. Deadlift

The barbell deadlift is the king of back exercises for building size and strength. And that goes for building your lower lats as well.

However, avoid the hex bar (trap bar) deadlift and sumo deadlift variations when targeting lower lats because the conventional deadlift is better for developing your posterior chain.

2. Bent Over Dumbbell Row

Another excellent back exercise is the bent over dumbbell row. The single dumbbell allows you to focus on one side at a time while giving you freedom in the movement path.

As with the other lower lat exercises, focus on keeping your elbow tucked in close while pulling the dumbbell up and back towards your hip.

1. Rack Pulls

Last (but actually first) are rack pulls. This exercise is like a deadlift where you start with the bar elevated on a rack. With the bar off the floor, you reduce the involvement of the hamstrings and glutes while maximizing back activation.

In addition, you can pull some profound weights due to the shorter range of motion. So, rack pulls combine the power of the deadlift with more precision targeting of the lower lats.

If you don’t have a power rack for this exercise, you can also place blocks under the weight plates to raise the bar. This variation is called block pulls.

Lower Lats Workout

Alright, now you have seven awesome lower lat exercises that you can add to your back day workouts. But what might a lower lat focused workout look like?

Here’s an example of a workout I do for targeting lower lats.

  • Rack pulls or block pulls
  • Bent over barbell row (underhand)
  • Machine low row or low pulley row
  • Bent over dumbbell row (to hip)
  • Hyperextensions

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As you can see, I included most of the lower lat exercises you just learned. And I gave you the option to substitute exercises if you don’t have a specific piece of equipment. Or you can choose alternate exercises each week to mix things up.

The first exercise is rack pulls to take advantage of your strength being the highest at the start of the workout. In addition, I have you target 5-8 reps to increase hypertrophy and strength.

Next, you move to bent over barbell rows with the underhand grip. But now, you switch to 8-12 reps to maximize muscle growth.

After that, it’s either the machine low row or a low pulley row. Then I have you do the dumbbell row to your hip before finishing your lower back with hyperextensions.

Lower Lat Workout

Upper Lat Exercises

The techniques and lower lat exercises you just learned will help you build a beefy lower back. But you still don’t want to neglect your upper back and lats.

Arguably the best upper lat exercise is the wide grip lat pulldown. Unfortunately, most people I see at the gym are doing this exercise all wrong!

Click here to see the three most common wide grip lat pulldown mistakes and how to correct them.

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown Blog Cover 2
Fix These 3 Mistakes

With this information, you’re well on your way to building a beastly lower back. If you liked this article, be sure to check out some of my other helpful fitness content below!

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