trx lower lat exercise

8 Lower Lat Exercises for a Bigger & Stronger Back

If you're looking to build a bigger and stronger back, incorporating lower lat exercises into your routine is a must. While the upper back often takes the spotlight, neglecting the development of the lower lat muscles can lead to an imbalanced physique and limited overall strength.
Reading 8 Lower Lat Exercises for a Bigger & Stronger Back 19 minutes

If you're looking to build a bigger and stronger back, incorporating lower lat exercises into your routine is a must. While the upper back often takes the spotlight, neglecting the development of the lower lat muscles can lead to an imbalanced physique and limited overall strength. 

Not only will these exercises help you achieve that enviable V-shape aesthetic, but they'll also contribute to improved posture, increased pulling power, and enhanced overall athleticism. In this article, we'll delve into the importance of training your lower lats and explore effective exercises to help you achieve a well-rounded, formidable back.

Lower Lat Anatomy

The latissimus dorsi, commonly referred to as the lats, are large muscles located on the sides of the back and play a significant role in various pulling movements. It's important to understand the function of each muscle in this region in order to optimize your workouts and achieve your fitness goals. 

Let's start by breaking down the anatomy of the lats. The lats have an origin point from the lower spine and iliac crest and are inserts into the upper arm bone. Then, there are the upper and lower lats. We’ll be focusing on the latter. 

The primary function of the lower lats is to adduct and extend the arm, as well as rotate it inward. Additionally, these muscles play a key role in stabilizing the shoulder joint during upper-body movements such as pull-ups, rows, and lat pulldowns. By understanding the anatomy and function of your lower lats, you can effectively target this muscle group during your workouts to see improvements in your overall fitness and physique.

Keys for Targeting Your Lower Lats

Because you're not targeting your whole lat area, you'll need to keep in mind several pointers. Here are two key tips to targeting your lower lats. 

Tuck Elbows In

Tucking your elbows in during exercises that target the lats, such as rows or pull-ups, can be a beneficial technique to engage and target the latissimus dorsi muscles more effectively. When you tuck your elbows in, you bring them closer to your torso, which changes the biomechanics of the exercise and places more emphasis on the lats as you reduce the involvement of other muscles, such as the biceps or upper traps. 

The lats are responsible for shoulder extension, adduction, and medial rotation. By aligning the elbows closer to the body, you optimize the movement pattern to primarily engage these muscles. Tucking your elbows in encourages proper scapular retraction, which is an essential component of targeting the lats effectively. When you retract your shoulder blades, you create a stable base and position for the lats to engage and pull efficiently. This positioning allows for a more controlled and focused contraction of the lats. 

You’ll also enhance the range of motion during exercises. When you flare your elbows out to the sides, it limits the distance you can pull or row. On the other hand, by tucking the elbows in closer to your sides, you allow for a greater stretch and contraction of the lats throughout the exercise's full range of motion. This increased range of motion can lead to greater muscle activation and development over time.

Use an Underhand Grip

Using an underhand grip, also known as a supinated grip, can indeed help target the latissimus dorsi muscles during certain exercises. When you perform exercises with an underhand grip, the grip position changes the mechanics of the movement and places additional emphasis on the lats. 

An underhand grip allows for greater activation of the biceps muscles, which are synergists to the lats. As you pull or row with an underhand grip, the biceps are recruited to a higher degree, assisting the lats in the movement. 

This can result in a more focused contraction of the lats and a greater overall training stimulus. With an underhand grip, the humerus (upper arm bone) tends to rotate inwardly, which can enhance the engagement of the lats. This inward rotation brings the lats into a more advantageous position, allowing them to contribute more effectively to the pulling motion. It also reduces the involvement of other muscles, such as the rear deltoids, which may be more active in exercises with a pronated (overhand) grip.

The Best Lower Lat Exercises

8. Seated Resistance Band Rows

This exercise specifically targets the lower lats, which helps improve posture, enhance back strength, and promote overall upper body stability. Additionally, the use of resistance bands allows for variable resistance, meaning the resistance increases as the band is stretched. This provides a challenging load throughout the entire range of motion, allowing for progressive overload and continuous muscle growth.

  1. Attach a resistance band to a sturdy anchor point at waist height. Sit on the floor or a bench with your legs extended in front of you, and loop the band around your feet.
  2. Grab the resistance band handles with an overhand grip, keeping your arms fully extended and shoulders relaxed.
  3. Begin the exercise by retracting your shoulder blades and pulling the resistance band towards your torso. Aim to bring your elbows back as far as possible.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the peak of the movement, and then slowly release back to the starting position, maintaining control and tension in the band throughout.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging the lower lats throughout the entire exercise.

If you want to try this exercise, but don’t have any bands to do this with, try our resistance bands today

7. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

This exercise requires a strong grip to hold onto the bar, regularly performing this exercise can help improve grip strength, which can have a positive impact on other exercises and daily activities that involve gripping and lifting. Here’s how to do a wide-grip lat pulldown: 

  1. Set up the machine by adjusting the thigh pad and seat height so that your thighs are secured and your feet are flat on the floor. 
  2. Grab the wide bar with an overhand grip, with your hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Sit with your back straight, chest lifted, and shoulders down. Maintain a slight backward lean while keeping your feet grounded.
  4. Initiate the movement by squeezing your shoulder blades together and depressing your shoulders. This engages the lats and prepares them for the exercise.
  5. Pull the bar down towards your upper chest, keeping your elbows pointed out to the sides. Focus on using your back muscles rather than relying solely on your arms. Aim to bring the bar as close to your chest as possible without touching it.
  6. Once the bar reaches the lowest position, pause, and squeeze your back muscles to maximize the contraction.
  7. With control, return to the start position, and slowly allow the bar to rise back up, extending your arms fully but avoiding complete relaxation of the shoulder muscles.

6. Dumbbell Row to Hips

The Dumbbell Row to Hips mimics natural pulling movements, instead of simply rowing upwards. The focus of this exercise is pulling back to create an arch motion. By engaging multiple muscle groups including the lower lats, it enhances functional strength, making everyday activities easier and reducing the risk of injuries.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips while keeping your back straight, maintaining a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Engage your core to create and maintain a stable base throughout the exercise.
  4. Begin the movement by pulling the dumbbells back in a rowing motion, leading with your elbows, and bringing the weights towards your hips. 
  5. Pause and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  6. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control and resisting any swinging or momentum.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps

5. Bent Over Barbell Row

This compound movement not only helps to build a strong and well-developed back, but it also enhances posture, increases pulling strength, and promotes overall muscle balance. This exercise mimics real-life pulling movements, making it highly functional. By strengthening the lower lats, you improve your ability to perform tasks such as lifting objects or pulling yourself up.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the barbell directly in front of your shins.
  2. Bend your knees slightly, and hinge at the hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Maintain a neutral spine position throughout the exercise.
  3. With an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, grab the barbell. Your arms should be fully extended.
  4. Engage your core, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull the barbell up towards your lower chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Focus on using your back muscles to initiate the movement, rather than relying on your arms.
  5. Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, squeezing your back muscles, and then slowly lowering the barbell back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, ensuring proper form and maintaining control throughout.

4. Deadlift

The deadlift exercise is a powerhouse movement that offers a multitude of benefits for strength training enthusiasts. The lower lats play a crucial role in maintaining a strong and stable spine during heavy lifting, making deadlifts an excellent choice for developing functional strength. If you want to maximize your workout routine, incorporating deadlifts can be a game-changer. 

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and place a barbell on the floor in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and hinge at the hips, lowering your torso to grip the bar with an overhand or mixed grip (one palm facing towards you and the other facing away).
  3. Engage your core, keep your back straight, and ensure your shoulders are slightly in front of the barbell.
  4. Push through your heels, extend your knees and hips, and lift the barbell off the ground.
  5. As you stand upright, keep the barbell close to your body, maintaining a neutral spine and a proud chest.
  6. Reverse the movement by hinging at your hips and bending the knees to lower the barbell back down to the ground.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps

3. Low Pulley Row

The Low Pulley Row exercise is a highly effective workout that targets the lower lat muscles, offering numerous benefits for individuals looking to strengthen their back and improve their overall physique.

By engaging the lower lats, this exercise helps enhance back stability, posture, and pulling strength. Additionally, the Low Pulley Row promotes muscle balance, targeting multiple muscle groups simultaneously, and can be easily adjusted to accommodate various fitness levels and goals.

This exercise places minimal stress on the joints, making it suitable for individuals with joint issues or those who want to avoid heavy loads on their spine. It allows for controlled and smooth movements, reducing the risk of injury. This is a versatile exercise that can be modified by adjusting the weight, hand position, and attachments, allowing for variations that target different areas of the back.

  1. Attach a straight or angled bar to the low pulley of a cable machine. Sit on the floor facing the machine, with your knees slightly bent and feet placed against the footrests.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and arms extended. Maintain a straight back and slightly hinge forward from the hips.
  3. Pull the bar towards your abdomen by retracting your shoulder blades. Keep your elbows close to your body and focus on using your back muscles to perform the movement.
  4. When the bar reaches your abdomen, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a moment to maximize muscle activation.
  5. Return to the starting position by slowly extending your arms until they are fully stretched while maintaining control throughout the movement. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

2. Straight-Arm Pulldowns

The Straight-Arm Pulldown effectively targets the lower lat muscles, allowing for specific development and enhanced overall back aesthetics. Your lower and middle traps assist this movement and as you contract to lower the arms, the shoulders retract and depress. It’s important to resist rotation and focus on the squeeze between your shoulder blades. This keeps your torso rigid and prevents other muscle groups from compensating during the exercise. 

Here’s how to do a straight-arm pulldown:

  1. Attach a straight bar or rope to the high pulley of a cable machine. Stand facing the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the bar or rope with an overhand grip, ensuring that your hands are shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Keep your arms fully extended and your core engaged throughout the exercise.
  3. Take a step back from the machine to create tension on the cable. Maintain a slight forward lean from the hips while keeping your chest up and shoulders back. This will be your starting position.
  4. Keeping your arms straight and your core tight, pull the bar down toward your thighs by contracting your lats. Focus on using your back muscles to perform the movement rather than relying on your arms.
  5. At the bottom of the movement, pause for a moment and squeeze your lats. Feel the contraction in your lower lat muscles before slowly returning the bar to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

1. Under-Handed Bent Over Rows

Under-Handed Bent Over Rows engage multiple muscle groups in the back, including the lats, rhomboids, and rear deltoids. By strengthening these muscles, this exercise improves overall back strength, posture, and stability.

The under-handed grip places more emphasis on the biceps, making it an excellent exercise for individuals looking to develop both their back and arm muscles simultaneously. This is a versatile exercise that can be performed using different equipment, such as barbells, dumbbells, or resistance bands, making it accessible for individuals with varying fitness levels and equipment availability.

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a barbell or dumbbell with an underhand grip, palms facing up.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and parallel to the floor.
  3. Engage your core and ensure your shoulders are pulled back and down.
  4. With your arms fully extended, pull the weight toward your lower chest by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Keep your elbows close to your body.
  5. Pause for a brief moment at the top, feeling the contraction in your lats, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.

Bonus Exercise: TRX Low Row

TRX (Total Resistance Exercise) is a versatile training system that uses suspension straps to leverage body weight for a full-body workout. When it comes to lower lat exercises, there are a few effective options you can consider.

My favorite would be the TRX Low Row. One of the key benefits of training with a suspension trainer is how easy it is to adjust the resistance, so you won’t need any weights at all. 

With the TRX low row,  you can make the exercise heavier by walking the feet closer to the anchor point. Then, when you start to fail and need to make it easier, simply walk back away from the anchor point and continue to crank out your reps!

Here’s how to do a TRX low row: 

  1. Facing your anchor point, hold the rubber handles with your palms towards each other.
  2. Lean back, and keep the weight in your heels with your tailbone tucked and core engaged.
  3. Walk forward to make your rows heavier and backward to make it lighter.
  4. Pull your chest through your hands and squeeze your shoulder blades together, keep your neck long and shoulders low.
  5. Lower with control to return to the starting position.

How to Structure Your Lower Lat Workout

When structuring your lower lat workout, it's essential to consider the order of exercises, reps, sets, and rest times. Here's a suggested structure for your workout:

Warm-up: Before starting your workout, spend 5-10 minutes mobilizing  to prime your joints and muscles for the work ahead 

Seated Resistance Band Rows:

    - Sets: 2-3 sets

    - Reps: 12-15 reps

    - Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

TRX Low Row:

   - Sets: 2-3 sets

   - Reps: 12-15 reps

   - Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Deadlift:

   - Sets: 3-4 sets

   - Reps: 6-8 reps

   - Rest: 2-3 minutes between sets

Under-Handed Bent Over Rows:

   - Sets: 3 sets

   - Reps: 10-12 reps

   - Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown:

   - Sets: 3 sets

   - Reps: 10-12 reps

   - Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Single Arm Dumbbell Row to Hips:

   - Sets: 3 sets

   - Reps: 10-12 reps

   - Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Low Pulley Row:

   - Sets: 3 sets

   - Reps: 10-12 reps

   - Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets

Straight-Arm Pulldowns:

   - Sets: 2-3 sets

   - Reps: 12-15 reps

   - Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets 

Recover: spend at least 5 minutes stretching post-workout.

Remember, these guidelines are not set in stone and can be adjusted based on your fitness level and personal preferences. It's important to maintain proper form throughout each exercise and listen to your body to avoid overexertion or injury. Additionally, consult with a fitness professional or trainer to ensure these exercises are suitable for your specific needs and goals.

P.S. If you don't have time to structure your lower lat workout, then try one of our hundreds of free workout classes at the TRX Training Club. 

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Lower Lat Training Tips

We’ve gone over the eight best lower lat exercises and have provided a sample workout for you to try today. Here are some lower-lat training tips, so that you get the most from your workout: 

  1. Focus on proper form: When performing back exercises, ensure that you maintain proper form throughout each movement. This includes keeping your back straight, engaging your core, and avoiding excessive swinging or jerking motions. Proper form helps to target the muscles effectively and reduces the risk of injury.
  2. Engage the mind-muscle connection: Concentrate on feeling the muscles in your back working during each exercise. Visualize and mentally connect with the targeted muscles to enhance their activation and engagement.
  3. Control the eccentric (lowering) phase: Pay attention to the eccentric or lowering phase of each exercise. Slowly and under control, resist the weight as you lengthen the muscles. This controlled eccentric phase helps to build strength and muscle control.
  4. Gradually increase weight and intensity: To develop strength, progressively overload your muscles by gradually increasing the weight or resistance you use. Start with a weight that challenges you but still allows you to maintain proper form. As you become stronger, gradually increase the load to continue progressing.
  5. Train with compound exercises: Incorporate compound exercises into your routine that engage multiple muscles simultaneously. Compound exercises like deadlifts, rows, and pull-ups not only target the lower back and lats but also involve other muscle groups, leading to overall strength development.
  6. Add variety and progression: Continually challenge your muscles by introducing variations and progression in your workouts. This can include using different grips, angles, or equipment to target your lower back and lats from various angles and intensities. Progression can involve increasing weights, sets, and reps, or decreasing rest times.
  7. Allow for proper recovery: Rest and recovery are crucial for muscle growth and strength development. Ensure you give your back muscles enough time to recover between workouts. This might mean incorporating rest days into your training program or alternating between different muscle groups on different days.
By incorporating these lower-lat training tips into your workout, you’ll be set for your next back day. Next time you hit your lower lats, let us know how the exercises feel! And if you have any other muscle groups you want to target, go to TTC Training App for access to hundreds of workouts targeting every muscle group.