How to Get Huge Lats

If you think this article will include some bubblegum workouts or sissy techniques then you are highly mistaken. This article is about how to TRULY build a powerful, wide looking back. And not only the back as a whole, but more specifically, how to get huge lats (latissimus dorsi). The lats, as I’m sure most of you know, are those two very large muscles on each side of the back that resemble wings.

So, in this article, I’m going to do my best to provide you with enough information that you can perhaps once day soar with the likes of the best of the best in bodybuilding whom have built scary looking wide lats.

Guys like, oh I don’t know, Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, and Jay Cutler just to name a few.

But of course, if you’re like me, and want to stay natural and not take a ton of drugs, then you’ll be happy to know that this article is for you as well.

Because let’s be honest here, I don’t care how many drugs you take or how high your levels of testosterone are, no one can take away one’s motivation, heart, and work ethic.

With that being said, let’s get it started!

how to get huge lats
how to get huge lats

How to get huge lats first starts with developing Mind-Muscle Connection

Building huge lats can be a very difficult task to accomplish due to one simple fact: You can’t see the muscle being trained.

Unlike with the biceps, shoulders, traps, chest, triceps, … ok virtually every muscle on the body, the back muscles are unfortunately left unseen. This makes it even that much more difficult to develop a good mind-muscle connection.

Nevertheless, with each pull-up you perform, consciously feel the contractions in your latissimus dorsi muscle. And believe me, within time you will be able to have an incredibly profound amount of control over your lats. 

I hate to repeat myself, but becoming informed on how to get huge lats must first start off with developing that incredibly important mind-muscle connection. It’s vital.

Besides training itself, one way that you can try and tap into this connection is to practice bodybuilding poses. In fact, the title picture of this article is a perfect example of the lats being flexed (spread). It may be, and probably will be difficult to control at first, especially if you’ve never tried it before, but like the cliche goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

To row or not to row? That’s the question…

This is where things get complicated.

Okay, there is absolutely no way to COMPLETELY isolate one particular area of the back (ex: lower traps, lats, rhomboids, lower back, etc.) However, you CAN emphasize particular areas of the back in order to stimulate more growth in that region.

So, in the case for this article on how to get huge lats, we’ll go over whether or not rowing is a good exercise for the lats or not.

I know that most of you are probably already moving the arrow to the “X” button thinking that I have no idea what I’m talking about. But rest assured, I do.

how to get huge lats
how to get huge lats

I think it’s safe to say that the blanket statement that rowing builds thickness, while pull ups build width is just that: an empty blanket statement. I mean, it’s true to a certain extent. But to limit yourself to these exercises limits your bodies capacity to optimally reach its true potential.

Now let me explain to you what I’m talking about. See, I can’t stress the importance of grip variation enough on the topic of how to get huge lats.

See, if you perform bent over barbell rows with an over-hand grip, then you will be putting EXTRA emphasis and stress on the middle back, which will add thickness to your back’s overall musculature.

However, if you perform the exact same exercise with an under-hand grip, then you’ll actually be emphasizing the lats more. Much more, in fact. This is so because of your elbow’s position as you follow through with the movement.

Think about it…

When bent over, if your elbows are (near parallell) flared outward like when doing an overhand barbell row, you can actually feel, as well as see, your upper and mid back muscles contract. On the contrary, when doing the same thing, but with a reverse grip, (having the barbell nearly touching your quads during each repetition) you can easily feel and see your lats pop out and contract more.

A similar case can be made for chin ups…

Pull ups or Chin ups? Or both?!

Pull ups AND chin ups are both incredible exercises for building a wider back. However, one variation does outshine the other. And this exercise happens to be the chin up.

This is so due to the fact that using the reverse-gripped version allows for optimal lat contractions and pulls deep into the muscle’s fibers.

See, the only problem with the pull up or over-hand version is that it puts extra stress on the biceps brachialis muscle, as well as putting much more emphasis on the mid-back and lower traps. Once again, it has to do with where the elbows are aligned. And in this case, when performing a pull up, they are positioned in a way that promotes more stress on the mid-back and less on the lats.

This is obviously not to say that pull ups are not a lat or width exercise, because they obviously are. I’m just saying that as far as the under-hand vs. over-hand variations debate goes, the under-hand wins undoubtedly in my opinion.

Summary of how to get huge lats…

Well, there you have it. These are some of the most effective ways for how to get huge lats. Note that genetics obviously will play a role in how impressive your “v-taper” will be. Granted, not everyone has a tiny 28″ waist with flaring lats. Nevertheless, knowing how to get huge lats is just the start for you, and regardless of genetics, you can still build an incredible back! Just remember that chin ups are key to building a wide back (either body weight or on a machine) and when rowing, use a reverse grip to pull deep on the lat muscles. Using these techniques will ensure you success on your goal of getting a powerful looking, wider back.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Huge Lats

  1. So if you had to do a back work out would you include lat pull downs? With a set of over hand and set of under hand? Narrow grip? Or wide grip?

  2. That’s a great question Heather! Well, it all depends on what you want the end result to be. If you want more width in your back, then doing reverse-grip lat pull downs or body weight chin ups with a relatively wide grip would be optimal. This isn’t to say that you cannot include both types of pull up variations (over and under hand), because you definitely can do so. I hope this helps!

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