how to build big wide thick lats
Strength Training

How To Build Big Wide Thick Lats? 7 Exercises You Should Do

To build big, wide thick lats you need to do a combination of pulling (like pull-ups)and rowing (like barbell rows) exercises. 

Big thick lats are the ultimate indication of power. Yet, developing them is easier said than done. A lot of guys really struggle to develop their lats, with the result that their body lacks width and fullness.

In this article, I will lay out the ideal workout plan to build barn door lats that will make you look absolutely massive.

The Ideal Back Workout

Your back workout should involve compound exercises, such as pull-ups, pull-ins, and rows. By changing your grip, your hand spacing, or the angle of pull, you can target different regions of the upper back muscles. Wide grip pulldowns and lat pull-ins work the outer latissimus flare. Rowing exercises tend to add thickness to the inner portion of the latissimus muscle.

The Exercises

1. Lat Pull-In

  • Place a back supported bench in the central position of a double pulley machine and set the pulleys at their highest position. Adjust so that when you are sitting on the bench and holding a cable, your extended arm angle is a 45-degree angle. 
  • Sit on the bench and grab hold of the right side pulley with your right hand in an underhand grip, arms extended position. 
  • Pull in and down to touch your right hip. Turn your body toward that aide as you pull down.
  • Reverse under control.
  • Perform all reps on the right-hand side before repeating with the left arm, being sure to move through a full range of motion.

2. Wide Grip Pull-Ups

  • Take a hold of a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and wrap your thumbs around the bar. Fully extend your arms, slightly bend your knees and bring your feet together. Keep your shoulders rotated back and down.
  • From a dead hang, take a deep breath, engage your lats, keep your core tight and pull yourself up until your chin reaches the bar.
  • Pause and then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
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3. Bent-Over Barbell Row

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a loaded barbell held, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, using an overhand grip.
  • Keeping your back flat and your knees soft, bend at the waist until your torso is at a 40-degree angle to the ground. Extend your arms fully, letting gravity guide the bar down.
  • With your shoulders square and your elbows pulled in, pull the bar toward your chest. Pause just before the bar touches your chest.
  • Lower the bar back down to the starting position in a controlled manner. 

4. T-Bar Row

  • Secure an Olympic in a corner (or use a t-bar station) and load your weights onto the end of the bar. Facing away from the bar, straddle the bar with your feet positioned shoulder-width apart, and place a v-bar attachment underneath and near the far end of the bar, with Olympic bar positioned in the center of the ‘v’. Grasp the v-bar handle with a neutral grip.
  • Keeping your back flat and your core tight, use only your legs to pull the bar off the floor, while keeping your arms fully extended, your knees bent, hips hinged and your upper body positioned at a 45-degree angle.
  • Keeping your elbows pulled in slowly pull the bar toward your chest until the plates nearly touch your chest, and then slowly control the weight back down until your arms are once again fully extended. 

5. Supine Dumbbell Row

  • Set an adjustable bench to a 45-degree angle. Lie face down on the bench with a pair of heavy dumbbells held in a neutral firm medium grip and your feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Pull the weights directly up, holding the contracted position for a second before returning to the start position. 
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6. Cable Row

  • Sit on a seated cable machine bench and grasp the double D handle using a neutral grip, and place your feet flat on the platform.
  • Push away from the machine by pressing your knees toward the ground until your legs are extended, with a slight bend in your knees.
  • Sit tall and engage your core. Extend your shoulders forward slightly and pull the handle back until it reaches your chest, rotating your shoulders back as you pull through a comfortable, full range of motion in toward your belly button.

7. Rack Pull

  • Set the safety on a power rack to about knee height. If you are taller, you can bring it up so that it is slightly above the knee.
  • Place a heavy barbell on the rack and grasp the bar using an overhand grip that is 50 percent wider than shoulder-width, keeping your shoulders square, your knees slightly bent and your arms extended.
  • Unrack the bar and pull it upward while simultaneously extending your hips forward until your legs are fully extended.
  • Pause momentarily, then slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position. Be sure to get a full range of movement. Do not round your shoulders or push through your legs on this exercise. 


You now have a toolbox of lat exercises to develop a thick, wide set of lats. Choose three or four exercises and perform 4 sets of 8-12 reps with heavy weight. Every workout strives to add resistance while maintaining proper form. After 12 weeks you’ll be well on your way to building back to be proud of. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do push-ups work the lats?

No, push-ups do not work the lats. The function of the lats is to pull the arm down toward the hip. The push-up, however, is a pushing exercise that mainly works the chest muscles. It also hits the shoulders and triceps.

How do I build huge traps?

To build huge traps you need to exercise them through their complete range of motion. The traps do two things; they move the shoulders up and down as when you bring them toward your ears and they bring the shoulder blades together. The best exercise to perform the first function is to do a cable shrug where you simply shrug your straightened arms up and down. 

How do I get wider lats fast?

The best exercise to develop wider lats is the lat pull-in, which is described above. If you were to only do a single exercise for wide lats, this is it!

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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