Your latissimus dorsi (lats) are the widest muscle in the human body, fanning across your mid-to-lower back. The lat muscles’ essential functions include stabilizing your spine and shoulders and supporting better core strength. Your lats also assist with several shoulder movement patterns, such as internal rotation, extension, abduction, and adduction. Building your lat muscles creates a thicker, wider back and helps achieve a “V” shaped torso.
Unfortunately, many popular lat exercises focus on the upper lats. Lifters also often fail to move through a full range of motion, leaving potential lower lat gains on the gym floor. Some tweaks to popular back exercises improve their ability to train your lower lats, making you a stronger and more functional athlete at a reduced risk of injury.
We’ll focus on the best dumbbell lower lat exercises. While we all would prefer to have constant access to a broader range of equipment, in reality, there are times you can’t access a lat pulldown machine or lack the time needed to set up barbells and bumper plates. If you have a pair of dumbbells at your gym or home, you can do these fantastic lower lat exercises to build bigger, stronger lower lats.
Table of Contents
- 1 The 7 Best Lower Lat Dumbbell Exercises
- 1.1 1. Dumbbell Row to Hips
- 1.2 2. Supinated Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
- 1.3 3. Seated Dumbbell Rows
- 1.4 4. Dumbbell Pullovers
- 1.5 5. Dumbbell Gentlemen’s Rows
- 1.6 6. Dumbbell Deadlifts
- 1.7 7. Renegade Rows
- 2 Best Lower Lat Dumbbell Exercises FAQ
- 3 Other Muscle Groups Exercises
- 3.1 The 9 Best Rear Delt Dumbbell Exercises [Tested]
- 3.2 The 6 Best Cable Rear Delt Exercises (2023)
- 3.3 8 Best Long Head Bicep Exercises
- 3.4 The 7 Best Lower Trap Exercises
- 3.5 The 8 Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises
- 3.6 The 8 Best Short Head Bicep Exercises
- 3.7 The 7 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises
- 3.8 The 7 Best Cable Glute Exercises
- 3.9 The 7 Best Long Head Bicep Dumbbell Exercises
- 3.10 The 8 Best Rear Delt Bodyweight Exercises
- 3.11 The 9 Best Side Delt Exercises for Broader Shoulders
- 3.12 The 9 Best Short Head Bicep Dumbbell Exercises
- 3.13 The 7 Best Middle Trap Exercises
- 3.14 The 7 Best Outer Quad Exercises (2023)
- 3.15 The 6 Best Cable Hamstring Exercises
The 7 Best Lower Lat Dumbbell Exercises
- Dumbbell Row to Hips
- Supinated Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
- Seated Dumbbell Rows
- Dumbbell Pullovers
- Dumbbell Gentlemen’s Rows
- Dumbbell Deadlifts
- Renegade Rows
1. Dumbbell Row to Hips
Benefits of Dumbbell Row to Hips
The single-arm dumbbell row addresses muscular imbalances in your left and right upper body. The traditional dumbbell row targets your upper lats, but you can recruit your lower lats by lifting the dumbbell back towards your hip rather than straight up towards your shoulder. Dumbbell row to the hips is a fantastic exercise for building a strong back and wider lower lat muscles.
How to Perform Dumbbell Row to Hips
- Starting with your weaker or non-dominant arm, place a dumbbell on the ground next to your front foot.
- Take a staggered stance while keeping your feet hip-width distance. Support your non-working arm on a bench or sturdy anchor.
- Bend into your front knee and grab the dumbbell with a neutral grip. Your palm should face inward.
- Brace your abdominals and tuck your chin to protect your upper spine. Without rocking your hips or torso, squeeze your shoulder blade and row the dumbbell to your outer hip. The dumbbell should move in an arc rather than a straight line.
- Pause when your lats are fully contracted.
- Slowly extend your elbow to return the dumbbell to its starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps before switching arms. Perform an even number of reps and sets per side.
For a visual demonstration, check out this video from Ben Carpenter.
2. Supinated Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
Benefits of Supinated Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
Bent-over rows are an excellent back-building exercise for your upper body. You can do bent-over rows with barbells, kettlebells, and cable machines, but this variation only requires a set of dumbbells. A supinated grip recruits more of your lower lats because it keeps your elbows tucked in tighter and encourages you to pull the weight towards your hips. This slight change in grip helps to shift the emphasis from your upper lats and traps to your lower lats.
How to Perform Supinated Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang in your arms with a supinated grip (palms facing outward).
- Hinge at your waist and push your hips back until you feel your hamstrings stretch. Keep your back neutral, your abdominals braced, and your chin tucked throughout your set.
- Keeping your torso stationary and your elbows tucked, squeeze your shoulder blades together to row the dumbbells toward your hips. Squeeze your lats at the top of the exercise for 1-2 seconds.
- Slowly release and extend your elbows to return the dumbbells to their starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps without rocking your back to create momentum.
For a visual demonstration, here’s Sweeney Fitness.
3. Seated Dumbbell Rows
Benefits of Seated Dumbbell Rows
Seated row variations isolate your upper body pulling muscles, including your lower lats. Sitting on a bench eliminates your ability to use your legs to create momentum, straining your lats and back muscles more effectively. Seated dumbbell rows are great for targeting the lower lats because they allow you to keep your elbows tucked and encourage you to lift the dumbbells back towards your hips, emphasizing the mid- and lower-back muscles.
How to Perform Seated Dumbbell Rows
- Sit on the edge of a flat bench with your feet planted at a hip-width distance. Tilt your torso forward about 45 degrees to allow your elbows to travel behind your body as you row.
- Brace your abdominals and tuck your chin to keep a straight spine throughout the exercise.
- Pull your shoulders down and back. Externally rotate your shoulders slightly to engage your lower lats.
- Squeeze your shoulders together and drive your elbows behind your torso. Pull the dumbbells up towards your hips rather than straight up.
- Pause at the point of maximum lat contraction for a few seconds. Slowly extend your elbows to return the dumbbells to their starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.
Here’s a helpful video from FITASTIC demonstrating the seated dumbbell row.
4. Dumbbell Pullovers
Benefits of Dumbbell Pullovers
Dumbbell pullovers are often considered a chest exercise but also target your lower lats if performed correctly. They stretch the muscles in your upper posterior chain, giving the muscle fibers an excellent stimulus for strength and mass gains. This dumbbell exercise is a great free weight alternative to lower lat exercises like the wide grip lat pulldown and the straight arm lat pulldown. Dumbbell pullovers improve your shoulder girdle mobility and joint health.
How to Perform Dumbbell Pullovers
- Lie on a bench with your feet firmly planted for stability with your hips lower than your shoulders. Let your hips hang off the edge of the bench or set the bench at an incline, allowing you to stretch the lats more and recruit more muscle fibers.
- Hold a single dumbbell above your with both hands close together and form a diamond shape. Keep your elbows close to your body and slightly bent throughout the movement.
- Take a deep inhale and start to lift the dumbbell overhead with your arms straight. Drop your hips slightly as you lift the dumbbell to get a better stretch in your lats.
- Pause when the dumbbell aligns with the top of your head and you feel a deep stretch in your lats.
- Squeeze your lats to lift the dumbbell to the starting position while squeezing your glutes to lift your hips back to a neutral position.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.
This video from Damien Patrick provides a great visual demonstration of correctly targeting your lower lats using the dumbbell pullover.
5. Dumbbell Gentlemen’s Rows
Benefits of Dumbbell Gentlemen’s Rows
The gentlemen’s row is a variation of a single-arm row in which your head rests on your forearms, supported by an incline bench, with your opposite foot crossed over at the ankle. Coach Eugene Teo created this exercise by accident and noticed that the torso support and leg position enabled him to feel his lower lats working harder. This exercise uses a supinated grip and keeps the elbows tucked, which both help to emphasize the lower lats.
How to Perform Dumbbell Gentlemen’s Rows
- Stand in front of an incline bench and a dumbbell on the ground by your feet. Hinge at your hips and lean forward until you can rest your forearm along the upright edge of the bench. Rest your forehead on your forearm to prevent any swinging of your torso.
- Keeping your hips pointing forward, cross the foot opposite your working arm over your ankle. Adjust your stance if necessary to ensure your body is in proper alignment.
- Grab the dumbbell with a supinated grip and let it hang toward the ground. Brace your abdominals and tuck your chin to keep your spine neutral throughout.
- Let the shoulder of your working arm drop a little to get a longer range of motion.
- Initiate the exercise by squeezing your lats to row the dumbbell up and back toward your hip, moving in an arc to engage the lower lat muscle fibers.
- Squeeze at the top of the lift to engage the lats for 1-2 seconds.
- Slowly extend your elbow to return the dumbbell to its starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite arm and perform an even number of reps and sets per side.
This exercise requires attention to detail and some trial and error to get it right. For a visual aid, here’s the video from Eugene Teo.
6. Dumbbell Deadlifts
Benefits of Dumbbell Deadlifts
Deadlifts aren’t just for leg day. Properly performed conventional style deadlifts work your entire posterior chain, including your lower lats. Conventional deadlifts can be performed with dumbbells to give your legs, glutes, spinal erectors, and lower lats an effective workout.
How to Perform Dumbbell Deadlifts
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a pair of dumbbells by the outer edges of your feet.
- Bend your knees and hips to reach down and grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip. Your thighs and spine should be parallel to the floor.
- Brace your abdominals and pull your shoulder blades down and back to retract your scapula and engage your lower lats.
- Pre-tense your legs, glutes, and back muscles until there is no slack in your arms.
- Push through your feet and pull the dumbbells towards you as you straighten your hips and knees to stand upright.
- Carefully return the dumbbells to the ground, following the same movement path by simultaneously bending your hips and knees.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps, bracing and resetting your form and starting position for each rep.
Check out this video from Crossfit for a visual guide to performing conventional dumbbell deadlifts with proper form.
7. Renegade Rows
Benefits of Renegade Rows
Renegade rows are a full-body strengthening exercise for your core, shoulders, traps, and lats. You can use renegade rows to target your lower lats by rowing the dumbbells toward your hip in a “J” shaped arc rather than lifting them straight up. Keeping your elbows tucked and pulling the dumbbell toward your hip shifts the emphasis away from your upper traps and deltoids and into your lower lats. Adding a push-up also engages your lats, moving them through a fuller range of motion due to being elevated on the dumbbells. This exercise is a great exercise for hitting multiple muscle groups at once while giving your lower lats a great workout.
How to Perform Renegade Rows
- Assume a high plank position with your hands grasping a pair of dumbbells directly beneath your shoulders with your arms straight. Hexagonal-shaped dumbbells will be easier to balance than dumbbells with rounded edges.
- Tuck your pelvis and brace your core so that your body forms one straight line. Your hips shouldn’t drop below or rise above your shoulders. Tuck your chin and look straight down between your hands to keep a neutral upper spine.
- If struggling with balance, plant your feet a little wider than hip-width for a wider and more stable base.
- Do a full push-up, keeping your elbows tucked close to the body so that they travel behind your torso to create a V-shape.
- Squeeze your lower lat on the ascent from the push-up until you are back in a high plank position.
- Starting on your weaker or less dominant arm, row one dumbbell to your outer hip in an arc. Press your toes and non-working arm into the ground for stability and to avoid rotating your hips.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Repeat steps 4 – 7 until you have completed the desired number of reps and sets. Perform an even amount of work per arm.
This video from Coach Jamie Lee shows the proper renegade row technique targeting your lower lats. Note that Jamie does not perform a push-up in this variation. The push-up is optional if you want more of a challenge. Doing this renegade row variation without a push-up will still be a great lower lat-strengthener.
Best Lower Lat Dumbbell Exercises FAQ
What Exercises Target Your Lower Lats?
Your lats form part of your posterior chain, improving your power output for upper-body and lower-body exercises. Some of the best lower lat exercises are pulling exercises like rows. Form adjustments like using an underhand (supinated) grip, keeping your elbows tucked, or rowing in an arc towards your hips make rowing exercises more effective at targeting your lower lats. Keep a neutral spine without arching your back, and slow down your reps to activate the correct muscles. Include some of the lower lat exercises detailed above for a killer lower lat workout.
Other Muscle Groups Exercises
If you enjoyed this post, check out our other collections of the best exercises for each muscle group below.