How to Get Wider Lats A Comprehensive Guide to Building a V-Taper Back


 How to Get Wider Lats: A Comprehensive Guide to Building a V-Taper Back

When it comes to building a strong and impressive physique, the back plays a crucial role. Not only does a well-developed back enhance your overall aesthetics, but it also provides stability and support for heavy weightlifting exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. One area of the back that often goes overlooked and underdeveloped is the lower lats. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various techniques and exercises that can help you target and build wider lats, creating that coveted V-taper back.

Understanding the Anatomy of the Lats

Before diving into the specifics of building wider lats, it's important to understand the anatomy of the latissimus dorsi muscles, commonly known as the lats. The lats are the largest muscles in the back and play a significant role in stabilizing the spine, as well as extending, rotating, and adducting the shoulder. They originate from the scapula and the spine and insert into the upper arm bone, making them a key player in various upper body movements.

To effectively target the lower lats, it's crucial to employ techniques that engage this specific area of the muscle. This can be achieved by using an underhand grip, keeping the elbows close to the body, and pulling the weight towards the hips. These techniques will help isolate and activate the lower lats, leading to increased strength and size in this region.

Programming Your Lower Lats Workouts

When it comes to programming your lower lats workouts, the number of sets, reps, and weight selection will depend on your specific goals. If strength is your primary focus, aim to perform 2-6 sets of 3-5 reps using a weight that is at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM). For hypertrophy, strive for three sets of each exercise using loads that are 70 to 85% of your 1RM for 8 to 12 reps.

Now that we have covered the basics, let's explore some of the best exercises for targeting and building wider lats.

Exercise 1: Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns

One of the most popular exercises for targeting the lats is the lat pulldown. To specifically engage the lower lats, opt for the wide-grip variation. This variation reduces the degree of elbow flexion, minimizing the involvement of the biceps and forearms and isolating the workload to the lats. The wide grip also allows for a greater range of motion, activating the lower lats to a greater extent.

To perform the wide-grip lat pulldown:

  1. Sit down with an upright posture at the lat pulldown station, securing your thighs under the pads and keeping your feet on the floor.
  2. Grasp the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and palms facing away from your body.
  3. Engage your core as you pull the bar down towards your collarbones, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
  4. Slowly return the weight to the starting position, maintaining tension in your muscles throughout the exercise.

Exercise 2: Seated Resistance Band Rows

Using resistance bands for seated rows is an excellent way to target the lower lats. Unlike cable machines, resistance bands allow for a greater range of motion and provide constant tension throughout the exercise. To focus on the lower lats, externally rotate your shoulders, depress or lower your scapula, and keep your chest up. This will help you engage the lats rather than relying on your traps.

To perform seated resistance band rows:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Grab a resistance band with handles and place it around the bottoms of your feet, holding a handle in each hand.
  3. Externally rotate your shoulders, press your shoulder blades down, and push your chest out, up, and forward to target the lower lats.
  4. Keeping your back straight, row the band back towards your body, flexing your elbows and bringing them behind your torso.
  5. Maintain tension in your lats by keeping your elbows tucked into your sides as much as possible.

Exercise 3: Straight-Arm Pulldowns

Straight-arm pulldowns are another effective exercise for targeting the lower lats. This exercise can be performed using a cable machine or resistance bands. The key is to maintain straight arms throughout the movement and focus on pulling the bar or bands down towards your thighs. This exercise places minimal stress on the biceps and emphasizes the engagement of the lats.

To perform straight-arm pulldowns:

  1. Set the pulley at the highest setting and secure the rope or straight bar attachment.
  2. Step back away from the machine, creating enough distance to hinge at your hips and lean your torso at a 45° angle relative to the floor.
  3. Keep your arms straight as you pull the bar or bands down towards the top of your thighs.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position, maintaining tension in your lats throughout the exercise.

Exercise 4: Underhanded Bent-Over Rows

Bent-over rows are a classic exercise for strengthening the back, and by switching to an underhand grip, you can better target the lower lats and biceps. The underhand grip requires scapular depression, which shifts the workload to the lower lats. This exercise also reinforces good hip hinge mechanics, which can carry over to other movements like the deadlift.

To perform underhanded bent-over rows:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hinge at your hips, keeping your core and glutes engaged to maintain a flat and neutral spine.
  3. Reach down and grab the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart, 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.
  5. Pause at the top position, focusing on the contraction in your lower lats.
  6. Slowly lower the weight back down until your elbows are fully extended.

Exercise 5: Dumbbell Row to Hips

The dumbbell row to hips is an excellent exercise for targeting the lower lats. This variation changes the movement path, allowing you to better engage the lower lats. Instead of rowing the dumbbell straight up, you will adjust the direction of your pull to create an arc-like motion that finishes at your hip. This increased shoulder extension and emphasis on pulling your elbow backward activates the lower lats to a greater extent.

To perform the dumbbell row to hips:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place your opposite hand on a bench or other support for stability.
  2. Stagger your stance, stepping your opposite leg back and bending your knees slightly.
  3. Hinge at your hips, maintaining a flat and neutral spine.
  4. Allow the dumbbell to hang straight down from your shoulder, creating a starting position.
  5. Row the dumbbell up and backward, bringing it to the top of your hip at the end of the movement.
  6. Keep your chest up and hold the contraction for a few seconds before slowly lowering the weight back down.
  7. Complete the desired number of reps and then switch sides.


Building wider lats and achieving a V-taper back requires a combination of targeted exercises and proper programming. By incorporating exercises like wide-grip lat pulldowns, seated resistance band rows, straight-arm pulldowns, underhanded bent-over rows, and dumbbell rows to hips into your workouts, you can effectively engage and strengthen the lower lats. Remember to adjust the weight, sets, and reps based on your individual goals and fitness level. With consistency and proper form, you'll be well on your way to a wider and more defined back.


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