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Strong lats have a crucial role in supporting your delts and chest muscles to maintain good posture without low back pain.
These seven lat exercises with bands consist of pulldown and row variations to effectively target those dominant posterior chain muscles in your home gym.
Some will require a door anchor, a pull-up bar, or a post, while others can be done by connecting the band to your feet.
Table of Contents
Banded Lat Pulldown Variations
The first four are variations of the resistance band lat pulldown to activate them via shoulder adduction or extension, depending on which exercise you perform.
1. Straight Arm Pulldown
Straight arm pulldowns are a single joint shoulder extension and flexion movement.
They recruit the lower lats without relying on the biceps, which is splendid for isolation.
- Anchor your band above the top hinge of a door.
- Grasp the handles with your arms extended and your palms facing the floor.
- Step back a few feet and angle your torso to 70 degrees with the floor.
- Your arms should be nearly overhead.
Execute the straight-arm pulldown by:
- Pulling the handles toward your waist while raising your chest and slightly bending your elbows.
- Stop when your hands are over your thighs.
- Re-raise your arms and relax your shoulder blades as you return to the starting position.
You don’t want your elbows to bend too much during the downward phase or hyperextend during the upward phase.
Otherwise, it becomes more of an arm exercise.
There should be slight, natural elbow movement as you pull and release the resistance.
2. Iliac Lat Pulldown
Iliac pulldowns are another one for the lower lats.
Although you won’t get as good of a stretch, these engage them unilaterally to help develop proportional musculature.
- Secure your band above the highest door hinge.
- Loop one end of the band through the other to create one long handle.
- Grasp the handle in either hand with a neutral grip and step back.
- Take a half-kneeling stance with the opposing leg in front and your arm reaching upward, in line with the band cord.
- Lean your upper body slightly forward while keeping your chest tall.
Execute the iliac pulldown by:
- Driving your elbow toward your hip while crunching your core muscles to that side.
- Go until your upper arm is even with the side of your waist.
There’s a tendency to pull the elbow behind your waist.
This causes the shoulder blades to over-retract, shifting the focus to the upper and middle back.
3. Lat Pulldown (Multi-Grip)
Lat pulldowns are one of those back exercises that, even if you’ve never been to a gym before, you could probably identify this contraption.
The primary muscle groups targeted will vary depending on your hand position.
A semi-wide pronated grip works the lats and traps through adduction.
A closer supinated grip allows for deeper concentric lat contractions with added bicep involvement through extension.
However, differences in muscle activation are minor, so test both to see which one is more comfortable for you.
- Attach your band to a door or overhead beam.
- Step a few feet back and sit on your ankles.
- Puff your chest and lean forward so the top of your head is pointed at the anchor.
Execute the supinated close grip lat pulldown by:
- Grabbing the handles with your palms facing you, spread shoulder width apart.
- Tuck your elbows and pull them to the sides of your waist while squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Slowly return to full elbow extension once your hands reach your chest.
Execute the pronated semi-wide grip lat pulldown by:
- Grabbing the handles with your palms facing away from you, spread 1.5x shoulder width.
- Drive your elbows down and in toward your hips while tucking your scapula downward.
- Stop once your hands are just above your shoulder blades and reverse under control until your lats are fully lengthened at the top.
A constant mistake I see trainees make is pulling down too far, causing the shoulders to rotate internally and the elbows to travel behind the body excessively.
This is a great way to disengage your lats and torcher your rotator cuffs (sarcasm alert).
To prevent this, extend your thoracic spine by retracting/depressing your scapula and pulling towards your chest with the elbows pointing slightly forward.
4. Banded Pullover
Banded pullovers are a great exercise for eccentric (stretched) contractions and won’t demand much resistance.
They provide plenty of challenge to pull from shoulder flexion into extension.
- Attach your band to the bottom door hinge or a low post.
- Lay on your back with your scapula retracted and core engaged.
- Grab the ends of the band with an overhand grip.
- Straighten your arms overhead, maintaining a slight bend, and scoot out to create tension.
Execute the pullover by:
- Tucking your elbows and inhaling before pulling your hands over your chest.
- Squeeze your lats to move the resistance while exhaling.
- Return your hands over your head.
The triceps will take over if you begin straightening or bending your arms, so maintain a constant slight elbow bend throughout the movement.
Banded Lat-Focused Rowing Variations
Here are three rowing exercises concentrated on shoulder extension.
You won’t need an external anchor, just a set of resistance bands and your feet.
5. Lumbar Lat Row
Lumbar lat rows are lat-biased rows meant to isolate these large muscles without heavy reliance on the spinal erectors and upper back.
- Sit with your legs straight and back flat.
- Wrap the middle of the band around the midline of your feet (see demo above).
- Grasp the handles using a neutral grip with your arms extended.
- Tilt your trunk over your legs.
Execute the lumbar lat row by:
- Pulling your upper arms to the sides of your waist while keeping your elbows pointed downward and tucked.
- Re-extend your arms without fully straightening them.
Sitting with your torso perpendicular to the floor will engage more of the traps and rhomboids.
You want to adjust your body positioning forward by about 15-30 degrees to isolate the latissimus dorsi muscles.
6. Dual Bent-Over Row (Heavy Pants)
During heavy pants rows, the spinal erectors (lumbar spine muscles) isometrically contract more than usual to support the horizontal torso angle.
- Lay the band on the floor.
- Step in the middle with your feet hip-width apart (take a wider stance if you’re short).
- Hold the handles with your palms facing each other.
- Reposition to the standing position to reset your posture.
- Lean your torso to parallel with the floor.
Execute the heavy pants row by:
- Pulling your hands up and back toward your pockets.
- Stop once your upper arms are parallel with your torso.
- Lower your arms down and slightly forward.
Rounding the lower back when leaning the upper body forward happens more than I prefer to see.
Tilting from the hips, not the waist, and tightening your shoulder blades, glutes, and core helps neutralize your spine.
7. Lawn Mower Row (Single Arm)
Lawn mower or single-arm rows allow you to focus on your lats single-sided.
This helps mitigate imbalances and improve mind-muscle connection.
- Step your left foot onto the middle of your band and plant the right leg back.
- Grasp the left end in your right hand.
- Angle yourself 45 degrees to the floor, keeping your back flat.
Execute the lawn mower row by:
- Pulling your right hand toward your thigh.
- Stop before your upper arm travels behind your waist.
- Lower your arm toward your opposite foot.
Excessive hip and shoulder rotation prevents the lats from fully engaging while rowing.
Keep your body squared the entire time while facing the floor.
Tips To Emphasize the Lats
- Use a suicide grip:
A suicide grip removes your thumb from wrapping around the handles, which helps prevent these from turning into forearm exercises caused by gripping too tight.
- Pull your upper arm to the side of your waist:
Pulling further than this requires more scapular retraction, putting the concentric emphasis on the traps and rhomboids.
- Use your elbows as guides:
Elbow positioning mixed with a suicide grip is so effective for preventing secondary muscles from taking over.
A great thing to remember is that the hands are hooks, and the elbows are your controller.
A Look at the Lat Muscles
The lats are the largest muscle in your back, spanning from the mid back down to the hips.
This makes them responsible for several upper arm and trunk movements, such as adduction, extension, and tilting.
Other Muscles Involved During These Exercises
- Middle-Upper back muscles
- Trapezius: controls the scapula to assist in holding the chest high while exercising.
- Teres major: assists the latissimus dorsi in stabilizing and moving the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint.
- Rhomboids: assists the trapezius in scapular movement.
- Lower back muscles
- Erector spinae: statically flexes to hold your upper body weight when leaning over.
- Arm muscles
- Brachioradialis: bends the elbow and activates during pronated and supinated forearm movements.
- Biceps brachii: supports the brachioradialis and brachialis when using an underhand grip and bending the arm.
- Triceps brachii: mainly felt when the elbows are locked into an extended position and the hands are pulled towards your waist during straight arm pulldowns or pullovers.
How Bands Benefit Your Lats
- Gives your joints a break from free weights:
You can spark muscle growth in your lats without overtaxing your joints and central nervous.
This is useful during deload phases after an intense exercise program.
- Accommodates both muscle fibers:
The latissimus dorsi is composed of type I and II muscle fibers.
So, combining explosive and slow pulling movements in low to high rep ranges is effective.
- Allows you to train your lats through various pulling angles:
You can adjust the line of pull by simply adjusting the anchor point to train your lats in a horizontal or vertical plane.
- Progressively harder as you pull from the eccentric into the concentric phase:
Bands provide constant variable resistance throughout the full range of motion that increases as you pull the tension closer to your body.
- Increases shoulder joint mobility:
These exercises inadvertently strengthen the rear deltoids to improve shoulder health and increase pulling power.
Resistance Band Lat Workout
- Straight-arm pulldown
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 8-12
- Lumbar row
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 11-15
- Lawn mower row
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 8-12
- Banded biceps curl
- Sets: 2
- Reps: 16-20
Building Your Own Banded Back Workouts
Choose three of these exercises to practice for at least four weeks, no matter your fitness level.
If you haven’t followed a workout routine before, include one pulldown, one row, and one single arm variation of either or, and do three sets of 8-15 reps each.
After you’ve been working out for a while, switch to 4 sets per exercise.
Recommended Band Types for These Exercises
I recommend tube or loop bands for these lat exercises, but I prefer tubes to manipulate grip and arm positioning comfortably.
Tube bands typically include removable handles and an anchor that you can attach to a door frame when purchased online or in-store.
They don’t provide as much resistance as loop bands, but you can clip multiple together as you get stronger if your handles are removable.
Hand position is also easy to manipulate to provide a natural feel.
Loop bands are one big heavy-duty rubber circle that attaches securely to pull-up bars, beams, and posts.
You can even add them to free-weight exercises to experience accommodating resistance under heavy loads.
I find them to be less comfortable when doing band-only rowing or pulldown exercises since they don’t have actual handles.
FAQ Related to Banded Lat Exercises
Can I Build Lats With Resistance Bands?
The good news is you can build your lats with resistance bands since tension is being placed on the muscle.
This causes the fibers to break down, adapt, and grow as long as you perform enough weekly sets and reps with heavy enough tension combined with recovery.
How Do You Stretch Your Lats With a Band?
To stretch your lats with a band, do this single-arm band lat stretch:
– Wrap your band to a secure point at shoulder level.
– Grasp the handles in one hand with your palm facing the floor and your arm straight.
– Step back and lean your upper body forward to move your upper arm to the side of your head.
– Hold for at least 30 seconds, taking exhales to deepen the stretch.
What Is a Great Lat Exercise?
The overhand grip lat pulldown is a great lat exercise.
The biomechanics align with the lats, requiring this muscle to be significantly involved in the pulling motion.
Do Lats Need High Reps?
The lats do not need high reps to grow, as rep ranges of 3-8 or 8-11 are efficient for the large type II fibers.
You could do 12-15 reps to practice proper form and achieve more type I muscle activation for endurance.
Is It Okay To Train Lats Every Day?
It is not okay to train lats daily because they’ll become chronically tense, reducing upper limb and trunk mobility.
This will impede athletic performance and make everyday activities seem strenuous.
Big Lats Equals Strong Back
Cable machines are a luxury for home workouts if you’re broke like me.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a juicy lat pump with an elastic band instead.
These allow you to target the lats in a different way via accommodating resistance to challenge your fast and slow twitch muscles and spice up your fitness routine.