Strengthen your upper back with 7 lat exercises with dumbbells

It’s easy to forget to train your back muscles. Sure, it might not be as fun as glutes exercises, but it’s still important to your overall fitness game. Several movements that target this area can be incorporated into his workout routine with just a set of dumbbells. No need to go to the gym.

“The lats, the largest upper body muscle that spans most of the back, are very important for stabilizing posture and the posterior chain from the neck to the hips,” says Vitruvian personal trainer Nikka Saadat. increase. The latissimus dorsi, formally the muscle below the shoulder blades, runs across the width of the back from the spine to the pelvis. It deserves to give this area a little extra love.

NASM-certified personal trainer Rob Wagener adds that the lats also play an important role in strength training programs. It also helps improve,” he tells Bustle.

Gyms have specific lat-focused machines, such as lat pulldowns, but you can always reach this area with a set of dumbbells, says Lalitha McSorley, PT, physiotherapist and personal trainer at Brentwood Physio. . “With dumbbells, weights allow her to move through a wider range of motion than a machine, so she can do a better muscle-strengthening workout,” she tells Bustle. “It’s also great for working the surrounding stabilizing muscles.”

Read below for a list of lat exercises with dumbbells to try.


bent over row

This is one of the most basic dumbbell exercises for your lats, says certified personal trainer TJ Mentas. “The lats work to pull the elbows sideways and keep the shoulders back,” he tells Bustle.

– Hold a dumbbell in each hand.

– Bend your hips forward so your chest is facing the ground.

– Let your arms hang toward the ground.

– Keep your shoulder blades pulled back.

– Raise your elbows and pull them to the sides to lift the dumbbells.

– Tighten your lats and open your chest.

– Pull your shoulders back.

– Extend your arms and lower the dumbbells.

– Do 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.


standing around the world

“Standing around the world exercises are great compound exercises that focus on the lats,” says Wagner. Method is as follows.

– Stand up straight.

– Grab a light dumbbell in each hand and slowly raise each arm outward as if you were doing a side lat raise.

– Keep your elbows slightly bent.

– Instead of stopping when your arms are horizontal, continue to rotate and lift both arms above your head.

– When you reach the top, reverse the same circular motion and go back down.

– To challenge, count slowly to 5 on the way up, then count again on the way back down.

– Do 3 sets of 6-8 repetitions each.


reverse fly

Another option is reverse fly. This is a targeted movement by exercising the lat muscles in eccentric contractions, he says McSorley. “This means that as the muscle works, it lengthens.”

– Grab a pair of dumbbells.

– Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent.

– Hold a dumbbell in front of your thigh with your palms facing each other.

– Lean forward so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the ground.

– Engage your core.

– Inhale and slowly raise your arms until they are in line with your shoulders.

– Exhale and lower the weight back to the starting position.

– Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.


Pendley Row

Want a challenge? “The Pendley He Row allows you to use heavier dumbbells compared to other back exercises,” he says McSorley. As a bonus, this move also targets your rhomboids, biceps, glutes, hamstrings, and posterior deltoids.

– Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

– Bend your knees and push your hips forward.

– Keep your torso parallel to the floor.

– Grab a dumbbell with an overhand grip.

– Pull your elbows in, bend your core, and slowly pull your elbows back.

– Bring the dumbbells to your lower chest.

– When the dumbbell touches your chest, focus on squeezing your back muscles for a few seconds.

– Slowly lower the dumbbells.

– Do 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.


single arm dumbbell row

You can also focus on one side of your body at a time. Pro tip: “Rather than splaying with your elbows out and your sides out, bring your elbows closer to your sides to target your lats,” he says.

– Start by holding a dumbbell in one hand with a neutral grip, palm facing inward.

– Keep your arms outstretched to your sides.

– Lean forward so your torso is parallel to the floor.

– Gently lean your other arm on the bench for support.

– Strengthen your core and stabilize your torso.

– Keeping your upper arms close to your sides, lower your elbows back to your hips until your upper arms are in line with your torso.

– Lower your shoulder blades and pull them back. (Imagine putting it in your back pocket.)

– Bring your arms closer to your sides.

– Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

– Do 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on each side with moderate weight.


Renegade Row

FlexIt trainer Julie Bobek recommends this exercise to strengthen your lats. She also says it adds some core work to the mix.

– Start in a high plank position with your shoulders over your wrists.

– Hold a medium weight dumbbell in one hand.

– Place your feet hip-width apart.

– Exhale and work your core.

– Bring the dumbbells back to your waist.

– Keep your shoulders and hips horizontal.

– Return your weight to the floor.

– Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions on each side.


rat pullover

To work your biceps, triceps, pectorals, and even your lats, try the lat pullover. This is Mussourie’s favorite move for strengthening the upper body.

– Sit on the bench.

– Hold a dumbbell at one end.

– Lean back on a bench and straighten your arms overhead.

– Lower the dumbbells behind your head.

– Use your lats to pull the dumbbell back up.

– Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Referenced studies:

Aerenhouts, D. (2020). Are You Using Machines or Free Weights for Resistance Training in Beginner Men? Randomized Parallel Trials. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(twenty one).

Fenwick, CM. (2009). Comparison of different rowing exercises: core muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load and stiffness. J strength condo dress. Doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942019.

Geno, SH. (2022). Anatomy, back, latissimus dorsi. To: StatPearls [Internet]Treasure Island, Florida: StatPearls Publishing. January 2022 – PMID: 28846224.

Lehman, GJ (2003). Variation in muscle activation levels during conventional latissimus dorsi weight training exercise: an experimental study. Dynamic Medicine: DM, 34.

Vishwakarma, V. (2019). Effect of latissimus dorsi muscle strengthening on mechanical low back pain.


Vitruvian Personal Trainer Nikka Saadat

Rob Wagner, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Lalitha McSorley, PT, Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer at Brentwood Physio

TJ Mentus, Certified Personal Trainer

Julie Bobek, Trainer at FlexIt

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