Decent-looking arms are a dime a dozen. Mile-wide lats separate the "bros" from the real silverbacks of the gym. Do you want to know how to get that amazing V shape? Build lats that blot the sun with one of the ten top-rated exercises below, listed in descending order!
Exercise 10. Leverage Iso Row
Quick Tip: Depending on how you grip the implement and position your upper arm, you can target your middle back or your lats. A neutral grip with your elbow close to the body will harness more lat involvement, while a pronated grip with your elbow out involves more rear delt and middle back. Let it rip with either grip!
Exercise 9. Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Down
Quick Tip: If you can pull the bar all the way down to your belly button, you're doing it wrong! Aim for a weight you can pull below your chin but no farther.
Exercise 8. Underhand Cable Pull-Down
Quick Tip: Theoretically, this should put the latissimus dorsi in the strongest position for shoulder extension, but you have to mentally focus on pulling with your back-not your biceps. Don't turn this into an elaborate curl.
Exercise 7. Straight-Arm Pull-Down
Quick Tip: This movement also works the deltoids and pectoralis major, but the lattismus dorsi is the prime mover. Hit this exercise after your rows and pull-downs to work your lats without elbow flexion.
Exercise 6. V-Bar Pull-Down
Quick Tip: Gripping a V-bar internally rotates the shoulder during extension. If you aren't focused on what you're doing, your lats could miss some work. The lats may get a little less stimulation, but the range of motion in this exercise more than makes up for it. Make sure you squeeze your lats at the bottom!
Exercise 5. Close-Grip Front Lat Pull-Down
Quick Tip: Focus on pulling with your back. To increase the range of motion, lean back at the bottom of the movement. Squeeze your lats!
Exercise 4. V-Bar Pull-Up
Quick Tip: Focus, focus, focus! It's easy to disengage your lats and rely on your biceps for this exercise. Visualize the target muscles and squeeze at the top.
Exercise 3. "Rocky" Pull-Up
Quick Tip: Skip this one if you have shoulder problems or feel tightness around your spine. This is a cool old-school exercise, but it requires decent mobility.
Exercise 2. Chin-Up
Quick Tip: Come to a dead hang between reps. Do not cheat! You want to maximize your range of motion on this movement.
Exercise 1. Pull-Up
Quick Tip: If you are not strong enough to do a pull-up, use a band to help you hit the top. Machines are a decent alternative, but they won't work your upper body or abs as well. If you are on the other end of the spectrum and can do pull-ups all day, add some resistance by hanging a few pounds off a belt!
Our users definitely got it right: Pull-ups and chin-ups are the best exercises you can do for your lats. Which one should you do? I recommend both. One focuses on gleno-humeral extension and the other on adduction, so they will complement each other.
Do you disagree with our ratings? Log in and rate your favorites to make your vote count.