7 Intense Bodyweight Lat Exercises | Build Bigger Lats From Home!

By
Mike Kenler
October 7, 2021

What Is The Latissimus Dorsi?

Originating in the mid-low back, the latissimus dorsi is the broadest muscle in your back. 

Your lats play a significant role in most “pulling” exercises such as the lat pulldown, all pull up variations, and other rowing exercises.

They activate to stabilize your back, as well as to depress, extend, and rotate your shoulders.

Benefits Of Bodyweight Lat Exercises

If you haven’t been focusing on your lats in your upper body training, now is the time to start! 

Specifically training your lats can bring about the following benefits:

1. Stronger And Bigger Lats 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need any weights to build stronger and bigger lats.

Consistent training with the following bodyweight lat exercises will absolutely improve your back strength.

Upper body stability is essential for day-to-day activities, athletic performance, and a variety of compound exercises such as the barbell deadlift and the back squat. 

2. Improved Posture

Poor posture almost always results from underused upper back muscles. Sitting for long periods of time is the most common activity that leads to a weak back and a slouched posture.

These bodyweight lat exercises can help you build strength in your back and bolster these important postural muscles. 

With consistent exercise, you will be standing upright with proper posture in no time.

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3. Improved Aesthetics

Most people tend to emphasize the muscles they can see in the mirror—their biceps, abs, chest, etc. 

While there is nothing wrong with training these muscles, a balanced approach to building muscle is safer and arguably more aesthetically pleasing. 

In other words, make it a point to train your back too! These bodyweight lat exercises are a great place to start:

7 Intense Bodyweight Lat Exercises

1. Alternating Bring Backs

This bodyweight lat exercise is the perfect at home back exercise to feel a strong contraction of your lats every time.

Setup:

a) Lie on your stomach with your hands above your head, your arms bent, and your palms facing down.

Action:

a) Contract your right lat to bring your right elbow up and back.

b) Pause for a moment and squeeze your lat at the top.

c) Slowly return to the starting position and switch arms.

d) Keep alternating sides for your desired number of reps.

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2. Supinated Pull Up Hold

The underhanded pull up hold is the perfect exercise to monitor your back strength progression. 

Setup: 

a) Grab the pull up bar with your hands roughly shoulder width apart and your palms facing towards you.

b) Make sure your back is straight and your feet are slightly in front of your body as you hang from the bar.

Action:

a) Bring your shoulder blades down and contract your lats to pull up until your chin rises above the bar. 

b) Hold in this position for at least three seconds and squeeze your lats and biceps hard.

c) Slowly return to the starting position and repeat!

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3. Belly Penguins

Belly penguins can be used to target each side of your back individually to correct any muscle imbalances you may have. 

Setup:

a) Lie on your stomach with your hands by your sides and your palms facing up.

Action:

a) Lift your chest up and contract your right lat as your reach down your right side as far as you can.

b) Then, return to the starting position and repeat this motion on the left side.

c) Keep alternating sides and repeat for your desired number of reps.

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4. Reverse Snow Angels

Be sure to lift your arms as high as possible during each reverse snow angel to maximize the engagement of your lats.

Setup:

a) Lie on your stomach with your hands above your head and your palms facing down.

Action:

a) Pick your shoulders up to lift your arms up and then down to the side of your body with your palms now facing up.

b) Then, lift your shoulders up again and bring your arms back to the starting position following the same rotation of hand positioning. 

c) Keep squeezing your lats hard and repeat for your desired number of reps.

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5. Pulse Row 

This bodyweight lat exercise works your lats as well as your rhomboids and other important back muscles.

Setup:

a) Lie on your stomach with your hands by your sides and your palms facing up.

Action:

a) Retract your shoulder blades and squeeze your lats to lift your shoulders off the ground,bringing your arms up and back.

b) Hold in this position for 1-2 seconds and return to the starting position. 

c) Repeat this motion for your desired number of reps.

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6. Wide Grip Pull Up

The wide grip pull up targets the outer portion of your lats more than the supinated grip variation.

Setup:

a) Grab the pull up bar with your hands wider than shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you.

b) Make sure your back is straight and your feet are slightly in front of your body as you hang from the bar.

Action:

a) Bring your shoulder blades down and contract your lats to pull up until your chin rises above the bar. 

b) Pause briefly, squeeze your lats hard, and return to the starting position.

c) Repeat this motion for your desired number of reps.

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7. Seal Push Up

This bodyweight lat exercise maximizes tension in your lats and erectors. 

Setup:

a) Begin with your lower body on the ground and your hands underneath your shoulders.

Action:

a) With your hips staying planted, push your upper body backward and upward forming the upright position of a seal stretch.

b) While keeping tension in your lats, slowly come back down to the starting position.

c) Repeat this motion for your desired number of reps.

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Looking For A Full Bodyweight Back Workout?

Follow along to this intense 5-minute bodyweight back workout:

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Mike Kenler
Director of Writing | Certified in Plant Based Nutrition at T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies