Skip to content

7 Best Dumbbell Lat Exercises

dumbbell lat exercises

There are many exercises that can target your lats. Some of them like deadlifts or lat pulldowns may require heavy equipment which is usually not accessible to people who train at home. So today we wanted to present to you the best dumbbell exercises for lats.

Here are the best dumbbell lat exercises:

  • Weighted Pull-up
  • Dumbbell Bent Over Row
  • Dumbbell Pullover
  • Dumbbell Dead Row
  • Renegade Row
  • Kroc Row
  • Chest Supported Row

1. Weighted Pull-ups

While regular pull-ups are a great back-building exercise as they work most of the muscles in your back, weighted pullups are even better. They’re a natural progression from regular pullups. Ideally, you’d want to start doing this exercise once you can do at least 12-15 bodyweight pull-ups.

How to do a weighted pull-up:

  • Get under the bar with a dumbbell
  • Place the dumbbell between your legs under your knees and hold it by bringing your legs close together
  • Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip at about shoulder-width apart
  • Engage your abs and quads to prevent you from swinging
  • Pull yourself up to the bar until your chin is over the bar
  • Pause for a brief second and lower yourself down in a controlled manner

2. Dumbbell Bent Over Row

The dumbbell bent over row is one of the most classic and one of the best back exercises there is. It’s a great way to train your lower lats and mid-back muscles. To perform this exercise you will need a set of dumbbells. If you only have one dumbbell, you can do a single-arm version and alternate between the sides. Just make sure that you do an equal amount of sets and reps on each side.

How to do a bent-over dumbbell row:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells. Hinge your hips back and lean forward while keeping your back straight. You should be almost parallel to the ground
  • Pull the dumbbells to the side of your body while maintaining your body still. Keep your elbows tucked into your body
  • Pause for a second and return the weight to the starting position

3. Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell pullovers are another old-school back exercise that is often overlooked yet can be very effective. Depending on how you perform the exercise it can be a great back or chest exercise. In order to do it, you will need a dumbbell and bench that is about knee height

How to do a dumbbell pullover:

  • Put a dumbbell on a bench
  • Lay down next to the dumbbell. Your upper back should be touching the bench while your neck and the rest of your body should be “hanging” from the bench
  • Do a bodyweight bridge by squeezing your glutes and your quads
  • Grab the dumbbell with your hands under one side of the dumbbell. Pull the dumbbell over your head. Go as low as you can while keeping your elbows almost straight. Allow your elbows to flare out a bit
  • Breath out and start pulling the weight to the top with your lats

4. Dumbbell Dead Row

The dumbbell dead row is a similar exercise to a dumbbell row that allows you to build more power and strength. It’s a great exercise for athletes as they care more about performance rather than aesthetics.

The reason it’s called a “dead” row is that you start the movement from a “dead” position with the dumbbells being on the ground. It means that there will be absolutely no momentum involved in helping you with lifting the weight of the floor.

In order to do this exercise, you’ll need 2 heavy dumbbells.

How to do a dumbbell dead row:

  • Put the dumbbells on the floor in front of you
  • Bend your knees slightly and lean forward until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor. Keep your lower back straight
  • Grab the dumbbells and pull them from the floor in a fast and explosive manner until they reach the sides of your lower back
  • Allow the dumbbells to go back down until they touch the floor
  • Make a short pause and repeat the movement

5. Renegade Row

The renegade rows are another great athletic exercise for your back. The benefit of this exercise is that it’s very versatile and it works on your back and lats as well as your core stability and anti-rotation.

This is one of the reasons why this exercise is popular among athletes. To do this exercise, you’ll need a pair of hex dumbbells or power blocks. Dumbbells with round plates on the ends won’t work well as are likely to roll underneath you when you do the exercise which can cause serious injuries.

How to do renegade rows:

  • Get a pair of dumbbells and place them about shoulder-width apart in front of you
  • Get down to a pushup position placing your hands on the dumbbells
  • Squeeze your core and your quads and make sure that your lower back is flat
  • Pull a dumbbell on one side to the side of your body while keeping your torso straight
  • Let the weight go down and do the same motion with the opposite arm

6. Kroc Row

A Kroc row is a unilateral dumbbell exercise that is great for your lats and your mid-back muscles. It was invented by the world-class powerlifter Matt Kroc in the early 2000s.

This exercise is essentially a version of a single-arm dumbbell. The difference is that a Kroc row is more of an “all-in” type exercise where you will load the weight more, you may use straps to hold the weight. You may also have a slightly larger range of motion during the exercise by letting your shoulder and scapula drop lower in the middle portion of the exercise.

To do this exercise you’ll need a heavy dumbbell and an object you can hold on to that is slightly higher than hip height.

How to do a Kroc row:

  • Find something that is steady enough that you can lean on. It can be a hyper-extension machine or an incline bench. For simplicity, let’s call it your anchor
  • While resting one arm on your anchor, lean forward until your body is almost parallel to the ground and grab the dumbbell
  • Row the dumbbell up towards the side of your body while keeping your elbows close to your torso
  • Lower the weight down and let your shoulder drop a bit when you’re in the lower position of the exercise for better stretch
  • Repeat the movement for a desired number of reps

7. Chest Supported Row

Chest Supported Rows are one of the best dumbbell lat exercises that is great for building your lats and back muscles. The main advantage of the exercise is that it excludes any momentum from the movement which means that your muscles will have to work harder.

Another great benefit is that people who don’t have strong lower back muscles or issues with a lower back will be able to perform this exercise. That’s because the support that is provided by the bench you lean on will remove the need for your lower back to work during this exercise.

In order to do this exercise, you will need a set of dumbbells and an incline bench.

How to do a chest supported row:

  • Set up an incline bench at about a 30 or 45-degree angle
  • Put one dumbbell on each side of the bench
  • Lean on the bench while making sure that your feet keep in contact with the ground
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand a pull them towards your lower back. Make sure that your elbows stay close to your torso
  • Pause for a second and slowly lower the weight down


How do you work your lats with dumbbells?

There are many great dumbbell lat exercises that you can add to your routine: weighted pullups, dumbbell rows, dumbbell pullovers, renegade rows, dead rows, and Kroc rows. All these exercises will target your lats as well as your other back muscles.

Do dumbbell rows work lats?

The dumbbell bent-over rows are a great exercise that will work not only your lats, but also your mid and upper back muscles like your traps, rear delts, and rhomboids.

How do you activate lats with dumbbell rows?

In order to activate your lats with dumbbell rows make sure that you’re pulling the weight towards your lower abs region. When doing the exercise, try to use a full range of motion: the weight goes all the way down, and pull it until your elbow passes the level of your lower back. This will make sure that your lats are fully contracted in the upper portion of the exercise.


While working on your lats is often associated with vertical pulling movements, dumbbells can be a great complementary piece of equipment to train your lats. Try adding the exercises above to your routine and see the results for yourself.

Additional Resources