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Gone are the days of needing to invest in an expensive home gym or go to a public gym that’s always busy.
Because today, I will give you a muscle-building lats workout at home without equipment.
Your only requisites are to have a floor, mental focus, body weight, and excitement.
Are you ready to go?
Let’s do this!
Table of Contents
Home Lat Workout Overview
The bulk of the exercises within this workout is going to be performed while lying on the ground.
There will be 15 moderate to high rep sets split between 5 lat-focused movements.
Don’t be fooled though, you’re entire back will be worked with them, along with some other posterior chain muscles.
You should do this once per week in terms of frequency as part of a larger workout routine that includes a leg, chest, shoulder, and maybe even an arm day.
Warming up is a critical component for lubricating the joints and muscles involved with the main exercises.
- Jumping Jacks: 2 x 15
- External shoulder rotation: 1 x 10 each side
- Forward/backward arm circles: 1 x 10 in both directions
- Trunk twists: 1 x 8 full rotations
|Renegade rows||4||8-10 ea||60|
|Bring backs||3||8-12 ea||60|
|Bodyweight lat pullovers||2||4-10||90|
Note: You’ll notice this workout becoming less and less challenging if you do it consistently.
This means your muscles are adapting and hopefully growing.
Once this happens you can increase the number of reps and/or sets you perform for any one exercise.
Only do so if you’ve been consistently hitting the high end of the rep ranges for every set with that given movement.
After 4 weeks of doing this workout for example, if I was able to get 15 reps for all three sets on Superman pulls (using proper form), I could either increase the rep range to 3 x 13-16 or add another set to make it 4 x 12-15.
Now it’s time to stretch out the lats, shoulders, and glutes, which were all being fired throughout the session.
This’ll ensure that you’re not walking around feeling like a stiff board.
Stretching mitigates post-workout muscle tension and improves flexibility in relevant terms.
- Child’s pose: 2 x 30 seconds
- Cross arm stretch: 2 x 30 seconds each
- Knee hugs: 2 x 30 seconds
Explaining These Bodyweight Lat Exercises
The following bodyweight lat exercises are all included in the workout video above.
I’m going to give a brief explanation of each one, along with the written steps to perform it.
So scroll up if you want to see me demonstrate them visually.
The Superman exercise has multiple identities like Clark Kent.
The one we’re using for this workout mimics a lat pulldown but from a prone (downward-faced lying) position.
So we certainly know these are gonna isolate the heck out of our latissimus dorsi.
There’s also an additional lower body component to target the glutes and lower back muscles.
To do Superman pulls:
- Lie prone with the legs straight.
- Straighten your arms forward.
- Flex the glutes and lift your arms, head, upper chest, and legs off the floor simultaneously.
- Bend your elbows to retract and depress the shoulder blades until your hands are aligned next to your shoulders.
- Reverse to the starting position and go again.
This rowing variation demands a lot of core stabilization while training the back muscles unilaterally.
It’s also readily scaleable since you can row with just your arm or utilize dumbbells.
To do the renegade row:
- Assume a high plank position with the hands aligned underneath the shoulders and legs extended back with the feet shoulder-width apart.
- Maintain a neutral position between the upper and lower body with your core tight.
- Slightly favor your weight onto the right arm.
- Drive your left elbow toward the ceiling until the upper arm is above your rear torso.
- Return the palm to the start.
- Continue alternating sides, following steps 3-5.
The spinal erectors (low back muscles) are gonna be isometrically involved during the concentric with these.
There’s gonna be an emphasis on external rotation as well to fire up those rear delts.
More importantly, you’ll feel the lats working in the contracted phase by going slow and holding for a few seconds.
To do pulse rows:
- Lay flat on your stomach with arms at your sides and palms facing up.
- Squeeze your glutes and shoulder blades to elevate your upper body and legs.
- At the same time, externally rotate your shoulders so the palms face down.
- Hold this position for 2-3 seconds before lowering.
Bring-backs target one side at a time to emphasize deeper contractions.
You can also perform them by alternating between sides to reduce the total amount of time to finish.
These can help fix a lat or upper back imbalance if you have one.
To do bring-backs:
- Lie prone with your palms and forehead against the floor.
- The hands should be positioned just above the head with a slight bend in the elbows.
- Pull your shoulder blades down.
- Rotate your torso and lift your right elbow to shoot it over the butt cheeks. Engage the back muscles as you do so.
- Lower to the starting position and continue for reps on that same side.
- Switch to the left.
Bodyweight Lat Pullover
The concept with these is very similar to a dumbbell pullover.
However, we’re gonna hold our chest above our hands and stretch into a lying position instead of holding one dumbbell over the chest and stretching it above our head.
These are the top dog (but hard AF) compared to the other exercises in this workout for working the lats while they’re lengthened.
Execute these on a smooth surface while wearing sweatpants or jeans for comfort purposes.
To do the bodyweight lat pullover:
- Lay prone with your hands extended above your head and the ankles flexed towards the floor. Have the knees slightly bent.
- Tighten your lats and apply pressure to your fingers and hands to drag your upper body over your arms.
- The end position should look similar to the start of a push-up (elbows extended), but the chest should be leaned slightly further forward, above the fingertips.
- Push yourself back down into lying.
Keep the knees bent more and thighs dug into the floor to modify these, rather than having the legs straight and the feet on the floor.
What Are the Lats?
The lats (latissimus dorsi) are a superficial muscle covering the L-spine and the bottom portion of the T-spine.
They’re crucial for breathing, pulling exercises (single-arm row, pull-ups, etc.), and back stability during movement.
This includes scapular motions such as those involving shoulder adduction, extension, and rotation.
Pros and Cons of These Bodyweight Exercises
Overall the pros out weight the cons, because doing any type of exercise is always better than doing nothing at all.
I still want you to be aware of what you may run into (good and bad) when relying on body weight alone for an extended period, however.
- Promotes proper posture:
These exercises improve posture by strengthening the back and shoulder muscles to avoid a hunched forward appearance.
This saves your spine from injury.
- Strengthens multiple muscle groups:
This workout is not reserved for the latissimus dorsi as it works additional upper and lower back muscles (traps, rhomboids, erector spinae) too.
The shoulders, buttocks, triceps, chest, and core muscles are activated inferiorly as well.
- Burns calories:
Physical activities require the body to use more energy, in turn, burning more calories.
Plus, as you build muscle your body’s basal metabolic rate will naturally increase, leading to more calories burned just to function.
This makes periods of weight loss more tolerable since you’ll be able to eat more food.
- Low risk/great reward:
Bodyweight exercises, at least the ones here, aren’t usually gonna put a cumbersome strain on your joints.
This is great for long-term sustainability in and out of the gym, or in this case, the living room.
- Practice feeling the lats:
It can be hard to properly engage the lats during complex free weight and machine movements like the bent-over row or lat pulldown for novices.
Especially since there’s resistance from an external load to worry about.
Piggybacking on the previous point, equipment-less exercises allow wiggle room for errors.
This makes them suitable for using a slow and controlled tempo to practice form and achieve a solid mind-muscle connection.
- Not ideal for long-term overload:
Bodyweight lat exercises won’t provide the necessary volume/intensity to continue to efficiently build muscle at a certain point.
Trainers will just tell you to do as many reps as possible in many cases.
This strategy works to an extent, but what happens when you need to do absurd amounts (30-40+) just to continue increasing adaptations?
Workouts will take significantly longer.
One systematic review even shows the 6-20 rep range being ideal when training to or near failure.
So, this is when you’d start weight training to continue sparking progressive overload.
The weights wouldn’t have to be insanely heavy as you first transition, for example, in the Superman pulls you could hold 2.5 LB weights in your hands and shoot for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Once you’re able to do 15 with all three sets after some time (with proper form), you’d increase the load to 5 LBs then rinse and repeat the process.
Don’t be alarmed though, for many enthusiasts, this equipment-less training style will breed results for a while.
These will be fine for slow growth or for maintaining satisfactory physical health long-term if your goal isn’t to accumulate tons of muscle mass.
- Resistance is restricted by the weight of your body:
You carry the entirety of yourself nearly everywhere you go.
This means your muscles may potentially adapt quicker to exercising with body weight compared to using supplemental weight.
- Hard to track progress (in specific scenarios):
Oftentimes, the suggestions for progressive overload without ever adding external weight to the mix are flawed.
A common strategy is to perform reps at a slower pace.
This has two notable issues:
One: slowing tempo as a sole factor (without adding external resistance) is sub-optimal for hypertrophy.
Two: if you’re tracking tempo per rep and total reps per set it might be difficult to accurately track the progress being made to properly increase the volume as needed.
- Fails to work the lats through their full range of motion:
There’s not going to be very much eccentric tension on the lats during these movements with the acceptance of pullovers.
Though, there will be adequate concentric tension, as long as you focus on flexing those back muscles during this portion of the reps.
FAQ About Lats Exercises
How Can I Work Out My Lats at Home Without Equipment?
You can work out your lats at home without equipment by doing Superman pulls.
Lay flat on your stomach with the upper arms straight by your ears. Raise them 3 inches off the floor.
Drive your elbows toward your hips while simultaneously lifting your chest and legs off the ground and retracting your scapula.
Re-extend your arms. Return your chest and limbs to the floor and repeat.
How Can I Build My Lats at Home?
You can build your lats at home with the Pulse Row exercise.
– Lay prone with your palms facing upwards.
– Raise your legs, arms, and upper body off the ground while externally rotating and retracting your shoulder blades.
– Pause for 3 seconds, lower, and repeat.
How Do You Work Your Lats Without Dumbbells?
You can do resistance band lat pulldowns to work your lats without dumbbells.
Start by anchoring a band overhead and grabbing it with your arms extended.
Kneel to sit your butt on your ankles.
Pull your elbows toward your hips until the arms are fully bent.
Extend to the starting position and repeat.
What Exercise Works the Lats?
A good exercise that works the lats is pull-ups (or chin-ups) as they’re an agonist during the movement.
Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip shoulder width apart with the arms straight.
Pull yourself in a straight line until your chin reaches your hands, then lower under control.
Do Push-Ups Work the Lats?
Regular push-ups work the lats to an extent for shoulder stability, however, they are not very effective at building muscle in this area.
How Can I Get Big Lats Fast?
You can get big lats fast by mixing a few of these seven exercises with plenty of protein, sleep, and water:
1. Semi-wide grip lat pulldowns
3. Bent-over rows
4. Inverted rows
5. Single-arm rows
6. Helms rows
7. Incline bench-supported rows
That’s a Wrap on This Bodyweight Lat Workout!
Welp, that was the bodyweight lat workout.
Take advantage of it so you can prevent poor posture, strengthen and grow your back muscles, and save time/money!
Be sure to mix this with a couple of additional home workouts to adequately hit the remainder of your muscles also.