Top 3 Exercises For Wide Lats


The classic V shape. Every serious lifter wants lats that spread like a pair of wings. Of course, you need thickness, but it’s a wide V taper that tells the world you’re hardcore. We’ll help you get there with the Top 3 Exercises For Lat Width - and we’ll tell you exactly what 5% Nutrition supplements you need to help you get there. 

Latissimus Dorsi Anatomy & Function

The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle of the back. The lats are triangular shaped and give the body that much-desired V shape. They are located on each side of the lower and middle back, extending up to the armpit. The primary function of this muscle is to pull the arm downward. In addition, they extend the arms backward. Plus, because of the muscle's origin below its insertion point, the lats can pull the shoulders downward. Understanding the function of this muscle allows you to know how it should feel when you’re performing these exercises. (1, 2)

Exercise # 1 - Pull-Ups

Not to be confused with Chin-Ups, Pull-ups are a compound bodyweight exercise. They target the back, biceps, and forearms. They also involve the deltoids and upper chest. While your body weight acts as resistance, you can add weight by using a weighted belt. You can also use a machine that provides assistance. How does that work? You kneel on a pad, and as you pull up, the pad comes up with you. Some machines use a weight stack, effectively changing this from a body weight exercise to a weight stack exercise. This is well suited to lifters that may not have enough upper body strength to do several sets of regular pull-ups. 

What’s The Difference Between Pull-Ups And Chin Ups?

The main difference is the standard grip used for each exercise. Pull-Ups use a pronated grip and target the back more directly. Chins use a supinated grip and target the biceps more. That’s more pronounced when you use a close grip. 

Exercise # 2 - Lat Pulldowns

The Lat Pulldown is very similar to pull-ups except you’re in a fixed seated position and pulling the bar down to you.

Feel The Right Muscles Working

We talked about understanding muscle function above. That’s important because many lifters have trouble feeling the lats work. Here’s how to mentally connect with the lats:

  • Put one hand on your lat and hold your arm straight above your head. 
  • Pull your arm down slowly as if you’re doing a pulldown. 

You should feel your lat working.

Now, before you perform the exercise, imagine your hands and arms are hooks. To work on  mentally connecting with your lats, use a light weight. Always begin the pull in the lats, not your arms. Do this by focusing your mental attention on your lats, flexing them hard and slowly pulling the bar down, letting your arms follow. 

Grip Variations 

There are quite a few grip variations you can use. They are:

  • Overhand (Pronated) - The most common grip is a wide overhand grip. On a typical lat bar, this would be at the point where the bar begins to angle down. 
  • Underhand (Supinated) - This activates the biceps more, especially when you’re using a close grip. 
  • Parallel (Neutral) - With this grip, the hands are facing each other. While most lat bars are straight with angled ends, some are designed to emphasize a specific grip. The V-Bar forces your hand into a very close parallel position. There are also parallel bars that allow a wider grip. Finally, there are Multi-Angle bars that allow several grip positions and widths. 

Exercise # 3 - Wide Grip Cable Rows

Since this is a rowing movement, you might think it’s for thickness. However, using a wide grip also targets lat width. This exercise is done using a low-row cable on a lat machine or using a specific row machine. Regardless, a bench is available for this exercise. The bar and grip you use are optional, as long as it’s a wide grip. The keys are to keep your back slightly arched, your shoulders back, and your chest pushed out. Just like Pull-Ups and Pulldowns, begin the pull with the lats, never with the biceps. 

Rep Performance

So far, we’ve covered some good ground. Yet it will all be for nothing if you aren’t wrenching every last bit of effectiveness from your reps. When you pull the bar toward you, keep it under control. Don’t pull so fast that momentum takes over. Return it slowly, taking about 4-6 seconds. On the last couple of reps of your working sets, stop just shy of the start position, when your lats are fully stretched. Hold for a 6-10 count. Finally, use a weight that makes you work. If you stop your set when you could have done another 3-4 reps, you aren’t working hard enough!

Remember Your 5% Supplements!

The ultimate goal here is targeted mass. There is a wide range of 5% products you can choose to help you achieve your goal. Your arsenal should begin with your favorite 5% protein source, such as Shake Time or Egg White Crystals. Add Kill It Reloaded pre-workout, or if you’re really hardcore, 5150. Don’t forget to stack it with Full As F*ck for ultimate pumps!

From there, you’ve got to have Crea-TEN, All Day You May, and your choice of 5% natural muscle builders. There’s Bigger By The Day, now with Turkesterone. Stack it with TEST and Freak Show - now you’ve got the exercises and supplements you need to get wings so wide you’ll have to walk through doorways sideways!


  1. Latissimus Dorsi Origin, Insertion & Function | What are Lats? (
  2. Latissimus Dorsi
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