T Nation

What Exercises Will Make My Lats Wider and Give Them The Best Engagement?

I was doing bent over rows previously but I heard they only contribute to thickness rather than width, Is this true?

Narrow grip chins. Full hang, pause at the bottom. I personally do neutral grip due to shoulder issues.

1 Like

Chins all the way matey. Chin to win.

Every grip works. Work your way through them all.

1 Like

Chins with all different grips.
Pulldowns with all different grips.
Rows with all different grips. Use barbells, machines, and dumbbells.


no, it is not. that sounds like something a bunch of bros came together and decided.

when you develop any given muscle. it grows in size. It doesn’t grow in a particular direction. so anything that helps to grow the lats will grow them in the same manner. they just get bigger.

I feel like doing things that engage the entire back, including rhomboids, traps, lats, all those muscles you can see in a back double biceps pose… the more you develop ALL of that, the better your back will look, both from a width and thickness standpoint. I personally think both rows and chins can help with that development. I know some people who only do 1 or the other, and have backs that are both thick and wide.

I agree with pwnisher as to how you implement this in training. Using a lot of different grips, and using different implements with rows, is how you go from having a small back to a big one. varying rep and set ranges is also very useful, however for back work, I mostly stay in higher rep ranges (8+)


Same here. Also, try different tempos, really squeezing reps at the point of contraction with a slow descent help as well. I do a lot of pull downs, and start each set with a 5-10 second stretch at the top. Let the weight pull you up and stretch out your chest and back, then begin your set.

1 Like

I should also add: carries. heavy carries. Competitive strongmen ALWAYS have big, strong backs. Almost everything we do engages our back muscles. Deadlifts, cleans and presses, carrying all sorts of implements, stone lifts, tire flips. It’s all back work.

Along with this, I’ve learned, and remember CT saying a long time ago, that the back can handle a much higher volume of work than other muscle groups, and should be trained as such. I finish most of my training sessions, no matter what else I was working on, with either face pulls, pull ups, or both.


Indeed. I used to train back with low volume. Never again. Last summer I gained 4cm of chest measurement while losing 3 kilos (was on a deficit) because I trained my back A LOT. 6x a week 100 band pull-appart, 30 face-pulls, 30 pull-ups or inverted row, and then cleans or snatch and snatch-deadlift.

And I can definitely vouch for the carries and all. Damn I wish there was a strongman gym here

Any advice on how to feel greater contraction in the lats when doing pull-ups?

Pull with your elbows, not your hands.


Since I bought my sandbag a couple weeks ago and starting doing some “front lifts” (basically simulating a stone load, without a platform though) and front carries, this has become even more abundantly clear. My deadlift has built a fair amount of back size, but man, do I feel it when I try to wrestle with a heavy sandbag.


CT’s kayak rows are a pump like none other!


Heavy sandbags are great, man. Such an underrated piece of equipment, particularly for developing stabilizer muscles, and being ‘functionally’ strong. I’ve only had sandbag in one show, it was a carry medley, the bag was 225 for like 60 feet. Loved that event. Learning an efficient pick was the biggest part of training for that. So many people struggled with getting it off the ground and in a good carry position. I practiced the pick a lot more than the actual carry.

Any carry where you have to hug an implement against you is great for upper back development. Sandbags, keg carries, the various stone carries.

1 Like

It’s only been two weeks (I think I’ve used the sandbag in four workouts) but yeah, this is a major issue if you’re new to the sandbag. I’ll admit that I thought it would be a bit easier to just hoist up and into a decent carry position than it actually has been.

I’m moving slowly in the direction of more strongman-ish stuff.

1 Like

Dammit, I really want a friggin sand bag now.

1 Like

Remember this comment half way through your first sandbag session lol

Get a military (canvas) laundry bag… theyre 10 bucks.

1 Like

Nice I’ll take a look at where I can pick one up, and then curse myself over and over while being blinded by sweat.

1 Like

Just going to continue to echo that sandbags are awesome. Lose a lot of energy on the pick. It’s why I like running it with tabata timing. A lot of times, towards the later rounds, I spend the full 20 seconds just trying to pick up the damn thing.

1 Like

yea man, when it comes to bang for the buck, there are actually few things that could beat a sandbag. Bags are cheap, sand is cheap. It’s loadable to whatever weight you want. It’s versatile. Pretty sweet training tool.

1 Like

how heavy do you train with, generally?