It’s a back day, and you’re wondering what exercises you can do to maximize your lats gain and build a superior back with a barbell. You don’t need to wonder anymore because I’ve shared the best barbell workouts for lats that will help you boost your back gains at home or the gym.
Latissimus dorsi (lat) is thicker, larger, and v-shaped muscles on the back that runs down from shoulder to waist. It primarily works when you pull and adduct something. Pull-up, chin-up, lat pulldown, and barbell row are the best examples of a lats workout because they highly engage latissimus dorsi muscles.
Doing pull-ups and pulldowns can be challenging at home, but you can do various other workouts to beef up your back muscles with barbells and weight plates.
Related: Download the most downloaded gym workout program
Benefits of Doing Lat Exercises with Barbell
The barbell exercises are essential for strengthening and widening your latissimus dorsi (lats).
The barbells help you lift more weight compared to dumbbells and provide a better range of motion than machines.
Moreover, they allow you to do compound lats workouts, such as the deadlift, bent-over row, and T-row, and help promote strength and muscle growth.
The Best Barbell Workouts for Lats
Here’s a quick list of barbell lat exercises that you can do at home without a bench. These workouts will help you develop your overall back and a good posture.
- Barbell Standard Deadlift
- Barbell Bent-over Row
- Barbell Meadows Row
- Barbell T Row
- Barbell Pendlay Row
- Landmine One-arm Barbell Row
Let’s see how to do these exercises with step-by-step instructions.
1. Barbell Standard Deadlift
Although the deadlift has several variations, such as the stiff-leg deadlift, conventional deadlift, and the sumo deadlift, the standard deadlift engages the lats more efficiently. It hits the entire posterior chain muscles, primarily lats, hamstrings, and glutes.
The technique is super important for performing deadlifts efficiently as it helps lift monster weights and recruit maximum muscle.
Below are the step-by-step instructions on how to perform the deadlift to activate your lats highly.
- Place a loaded barbell on the floor and stand upright with your feet beneath the bar, and shin close to it.
- Pushing your hips back, bend your knees enough to grab the bar. Maintain a neutral spine position.
- Grip the bar with an alternate or overhand grip, hands just outside your knees, and keep your arms straight.
- Brace your core, inhale deeply, and lift the bar with your full strength, engaging your lats.
- Lift the bar until your hips are entirely extended. That’s one rep!
- Aim for three to four sets of four to six reps and lift at 70-90 percent of your one-rep max.
2. Barbell Bent-over Row
You can do plenty of fancier exercises to build a sizeable back, but they can’t be as effective as standard workouts like deadlift and bent-over row. The bent-over row is an isolation workout that hammers the entire back muscles, such as lats, traps, erector spinae, and infraspinatus, and helps build solid lats and a broader back.
A study published by the American Council of Exercise (ACE) has shown that the barbell bent-over rows elicit the higher muscle contraction in latissimus dorsi after pull-ups and is recommended as one of the best back exercises.
You can use both overhand and underhand grip to do bent-over rows for maximum growth.
Here are steps to perform a barbell bent-over row:
- Put the appropriate weight into the barbell and grab with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than your hip-width.
- Slightly lean forward and keep your arms straight downward.
- Hold your head high, back straight, chest up, and core tight. That’s the setup.
- Pull the bar toward your stomach until you feel a good contraction in your lats.
- You can pause for a couple of seconds before returning the bar to the start.
- Shoot for three to five sets of 6 to 12 reps with moderate to heavyweights.
- Make sure your back remains flat throughout the movement.
3. Barbell Meadows Row
The meadows row is a unilateral movement that helps build solid lats. It can be an excellent addition to your barbell lat exercises as it enables you to train both sides of the lats individually.
How to do a Meadows row:
- Put the suitable weight into the bar and place the other end in the corner of the wall.
- Stand in a staggered stance with the front foot perpendicular to the bar.
- Hinge forward at your hips and grab the end of the barbell in your right hand.
- Place your left elbow on your knees or thigh for balance. That’s the beginning.
- Pull the weight up until you feel the good work in your lats.
- Pause and lower the bar to the start.
- Make sure you maintain proper form during the entire movement.
- Do a couple of sets of eight to 12 reps on each side.
4. Barbell T Row
Having wider lat gives your physique a solid look, from top to bottom. That’s why it is essential to do the best exercises to beef up your lats, and barbell T rowing is one of them.
The barbell T rowing is an excellent muscle-building workout as it engages multiple muscles, such as the back, biceps, and core, and improves strength and muscle coordination.
How to do T rowing with a barbell:
- Insert the desired weight into the bar and place the other end in the appropriate place.
- Stand between the barbell with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Hinge forward at your hips, use a V-handle and place it under the bar so you can pull the weight.
- Keep your head high, chest up, and core tight. Maintain a neutral spine position. That’s the setup.
- Pull the weight toward your torso until your lats are entirely engaged.
- Aim for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps.
5. Pendlay Barbell Row
The Pendlay row is one of the variations of the bent-over row. The only difference between them is that you lower the bar on the ground at the end of each rep during the Pendlay row instead of holding it off the floor.
It can be a great addition to barbell lat exercises as it helps develop overall back muscles as well as posterior delt.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Grab a loaded bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Hinge forward at your hips until your torso is parallel to the floor.
- Now, pull the weight toward your body until it touches your stomach.
- Pause for a moment and lower the bar on the floor.
- Perform each rep with a controlled range of motion.
6. Landmine One-arm Barbell Row
The barbell one-arm row is an alternative to the single-arm dumbbell row and landmine row. It allows you to focus on each side of your lats alternatively and helps develop a bigger back.
How to do it:
- Put the suitable weight into the bar and set it at an appropriate place.
- Stand upright to the right side of the barbell and keep your feet together.
- Lean your torso forward and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip.
- Slightly lift your shoulder blades and row the bar at your side until you feel the full contraction in your back muscles.
- Do an equal number of sets and reps on each side.
If you think the one-arm barbell is similar to the meadows row, then you’re only partially correct because it works differently from the meadows row and has a different stance and torso position.
Barbell Lats Workout Routine
|Barbell Deadlift||4||8, 6, 4, 2|
|Barbell Bent Over Row||3||12, 8, 6|
|Barbell T Row||3||12, 10, 8|
|Barbell Meadows Row||3||8-12|
You can lift as heavy as you want as long as you maintain the proper form.
Related: Barbell Home Workout Routine
All the above exercises are good for developing the latissimus dorsi. You can add more workouts, such as chest-supported incline row, barbell upright row, and reverse fly to hit your upper back and posterior delt for building a defined back.
Additionally, you can do pull-ups, chin-ups, seated cable row, and dumbbell lats workouts to maximize your results.
You can also wear a gym waist belt to reduce stress on the lower back, especially during the deadlifts.