Lat Exercises With Free Weights

You can work your lats with free weights.
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When pulling something toward you or pulling yourself toward something, you will use your latissimus dorsi, or lats. The most powerful muscles in the upper body, they assist with rotation and adduction, and you can build them up by performing free weight lat exercises.


Read more: 5 Exercises for Capped Shoulders — No Upright Rows Required

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Lat Workout with Free Weights

There are two latissimus dorsi muscles — or lats as they are commonly called — large fan-shaped muscles that span most of your back, according to a November 2015 case report from Sports Health.


Although lat pulldowns are one of the most popular movements for such a big muscle group, you can't do a lat pulldown with dumbbells. These movements could help you build up your lats instead:

Move 1: Pullover with a Dumbbell

  1. Grasp the dumbbell (you can also use a barbell if easier) overhand and lie down, face up, on a weight bench.
  2. Hold the barbell straight over your chest, arms slightly bent.
  3. Keep your elbows bent at the same angle as you lower the bar behind your head until your elbows are level with your head.
  4. Reverse the motion and repeat.
  5. Complete 12 to 15 reps.



If you don’t have a weight bench or solid, flat bench, an exercise ball can serve as a base for this exercise.

Move 2: Bent-Over Row

  1. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip (the palms away from your body) and bend forward from the hips, back straight, knees slightly bent.
  2. Lift the bar straight up toward the middle of your torso.
  3. Lower the bar until your arms are straight but not locked.
  4. Complete 12 to 15 reps.


The American Council on Exercise (ACE) says that the bent-over row tested relatively well in an April 2018 ACE-sponsored study on the best back exercises.

Move 3: Dumbbell Row


  1. Bend forward from the hips, supporting yourself on a weight bench with your opposite knee and arm.
  2. Extend your left arm, holding the dumbbell directly beneath your shoulder, palm facing in.
  3. Bring the dumbbell up and back, bending your arm at the elbow.
  4. Lower the weight.
  5. Complete 12 to 15 reps.

Move 4: Renegade Row

  1. Lie down face forward.
  2. Come up into plank position, keeping your shoulders directly over wrists and forming a straight line from shoulders to heels.
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other.
  4. Hold the plank position while bending one arm at a time and moving it to your chest (like a row).
  5. Alternate arms.
  6. Keep alternating for a total of 30 reps, 15 on each side.




If you find this move too difficult, you can lower to your knees instead of staying in plank position.

Read more: Why Triceps Kickbacks Are Better for Your Arms (and Back) Than Overhead Triceps Extensions

Resistance Training Tips

For the above lat exercises, the Mayo Clinic suggests completing 12 to 15 repetitions for 1 set, which can build muscles efficiently in the majority of people and be as effective as 3 sets of the same movement.


In addition, try to incorporate a total-body strength training workout into your fitness routine at least twice per week, per the recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

You should follow proper muscle-strengthening guidelines. Harvard Health Publishing offers resistance-training protocol:

  • Always warm up and cool down.
  • Breathe out when you lift or push.
  • Breathe in as you release the load.
  • If you were ill, use lighter weights when you first resume exercising.
  • Cut back if you can't talk, feel faint or tired while exercising.
  • Always leave a slight bend in your knees and elbows to avoid locking your joints.
  • Work within your ability. Don't choose too much weight or exercise for too long.
  • If you feel any pain, stop doing the movement immediately.

Read more: 3 Lower-Body Supersets to Pump Up Your Legs, Butt and Calves




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