Lower Lats And High Lats Explained

The terms ‘lower lats’ and ‘high lats’ are often used in bodybuilding to describe the latissimus dorsi muscle according to its insertions.

The so-called ‘lower lats’ insert very low and close to the lower back. The bodybuilders who are blessed to have them usually have really good development in  the area and a wide back.

Larry Scott had low lats.

Larry Scott had low lats.

Lee Haney insane lower lats.

Lee Haney’s insane lower lats.

As you can see the lats of Larry Scott and Lee haney insert really low into the lower back and create that ‘cobra’ look.


Besides being ‘aesthetically pleasing’ having lower lats makes it easier to build them up. When the tendons are short and the muscle bellies are long there is more potential for growth.

So, are guys with higher lats screwed?

Having high lats means that your lats insert higher and further away from the lower back. That usually gives the illusion that your back is wider than it actually is but also takes away from your back thickness and many bodybuilders with low lats actually lose points for having weaker lower back area.

dennis-wolf-high-lats

As you can see the lats of Dennis Wolf insert quite higher and the lower back has to cover the thickness of the area on its own. That’s why people with high lats usually have to work their lower back quite hard in order to balance things out.

I want to have low lats, can I ?

Once again, the insertion of your lats is genetically predetermined. You cannot change it safely and it’s not recommended to even try. You have understand that everybody has weaknesses and nobody is perfect, not even Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had blocky waist and weaker legs.

Of course, there are people who actually have low to medium lat insertions but their lats look high because of underdevelopment. In other words, there’s a need to work your lats harder.

What exercises specifically target the lower lats/lower lat tie-ins?

While all back exercises target the lower lats there are some specific exercises that will help you feel the area a little more.

– close grip neutral grip pull-ups;
– chin-ups;
– ring pull-ups;
– Kroc rows (one arm dumbbell rows for high reps);
– close grip neutral grip T-bar rows;
– one arm rows on a Hammer Strength Machine;

Note: In general, you will feel your lower lats working harder if you use the so-called underhand grip – palms pointing towards you or the neutral grip. However, don’t use underhand grip when you do exercises like rows in order to avoid biceps tears.

Don’t forget to arch your back and push your chest out during those exercises. Also imagine that your arms are just hooks and focus on pulling with your back. If you do it correctly, you will feel a pump in the lat region close to the lower back.

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