6 Ways To Build Bigger, Wider Lats – Garage Strength

6 Ways To Build Bigger, Wider Lats

6 Back Strength Exercise For A Bigger Back

Developing those shark fins for lats makes a person look ginormous. Having wings sprouting from one’s back speaks to hard work, tireless effort, and countless hours of grinding. More importantly, it helps fill out the t-shirt without having to buy a size too small for one’s frame. Big lats are where it’s at.

All the exercises in this article can be found in the Peak Strength training app. So before you hop in and start adding them to your routine, let's learn a little more about how to get big lats! 

Old man strength

One of the best things a person can do to stimulate a lot of growth in their lats is to get a nice little warm-up. Using bands that will allow for a nice short range of motion while chasing those wide lats helps. 

Strap some resistance bands to a stationary pole. Bend at the hips and utilize a straight arm to perform the movement. At the top range, get a nice stretch and, as the muscles warm up, go from the stretch at the top end and pull the bands to just before the legs. There is no need to go through the full range of motion at this time by pulling all the way through and past the glutes. Go and perform two sets of forty to fifty reps.

This will really loosen up the lats and get the lifter feeling nice and strong.

Let’s take a look at some exercise movements ripe to enlarge the lats!

1. Neutral Grip Pull-Ups With ...

2. Reclining Rows

We love pull-ups. We love all types of pulls ups. But at Garage Strength, we will hammer neutral grip pull-ups because they tend to be easier on the shoulders. In the beginning, we recommend just hanging for a little bit to lengthen the lats. Once the lats are niced and lengthened, perform the pull-up and squeeze at the top.

As fatigue sets in, go ahead and perform some shorter range of the movement descending only three-quarters of the way. We like to think about getting the traps to touch the bar or getting the sternum to hit the bar. Do five or six sets of heavier neutral grips for four to six reps weighted. Have a kettlebell hanging from the waist or a dumbbell grip between the feet.

Typically, while resting for about ninety seconds, we will do weird exercises to keep stimulated the lats. For instance, we will use rings. This movement helps finish the pump, we want to drop the butt and lengthen the lats doing the reclining rows. If the reclining rings are not an option, lay on a bench with dumbbells and perform what is almost a reverse fly with a row.

Training the upper back with the lats together leads to some serious lat growth.

3. W-Handle Lat Pull-Downs With ...

4. Meadow Rows

The next level for the lats requires thinking about getting that V and targeting the upper lats. We like to use a W handle with lat pull-downs for sets of twenty-five to thirty reps. We do such large sets because the lat muscles tend to be slower twitch. Having already done the strength work with the neutral grip pull-ups, we can start to target more hypertrophy work.

We want to grab the W handle where the pinkies are higher on the bar than the index fingers. We want to pull just below the chin and hold a little pause. Also, make sure to get a nice stretch at the top. We have learned with the pinky higher, that by pulling with the pinky to the outside of the handle that the lats get activated a little bit more, and helping to squeeze at the bottom. This movement doesn’t require a lot of weight when performing, just hammer through.

From there, head on over to a T-bar and perform Meadow Rows. The movement will be a little bit more rear-delt but will get the lat as well. We recommend grabbing the end of the barbell, the thicker area of the bar to perform this movement. We like to go a little slower descending to the bottom range of the movement to really engage the feeling through the lats.

We know some old-timers don’t like to use just their grip, that they like to use straps. At Garage Strength, we are in no way against straps, but we also have a belief that one’s grip should never be the limiting factor. We deal with a lot of high-performance athletes with strong grips. We also believe gripping the fatter area of the T-bar stimulates more growth and recruitment of high motor threshold units from the lats. 

5. Unilateral Lat Pull-Downs With ...

6. Dumbbell Incline Lat Swings

We are going to talk about finishing off with the building that upper lat is by working from a unilateral position. We want to perform single-arm lat pulldowns with a focus on rotating and contracting. As fatigue sets in, start firing rapidly and hammering out reps. 

The reason we like unilateral lat pull-downs is for the upper lat. A lot of guys like the seated row, we do too, but that is more for middle back and lower lats. It’s a great exercise, but talking about that big wing, we want to utilize that unilateral position to get a big stretch.

From there we like to superset the unilateral lat pull-downs with incline dumbbell lat swings. At the top, to get a little bit more contraction, flex the wrist back. The movement should be felt right at the top where the lat goes into the armpit. This is a nice easy movement that doesn’t need to be too heavy. It is a nice exercise to get forty to fifty reps. Go ahead and turn the index finger out at the top to feel greater lat activation.


Finishing off the workout nice and strong is exactly what will give the lifter wings. When we want those wings, we have to train into a pretty serious stretch. We need to train using a heavier load, especially when performing pull-ups. But we also need to use bodybuilding exercises to get the wings to fill out, feel larger and thicker at the top where the insertion point is and learn how to fly.

If you're looking for a program that will help you build your whole back with better muscle, Peak Strength has programs specifically for hypertrophy. Sign up to get 5 free programs and try out the Athletic Fitness path to get big lats ASAP! 


Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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