How to Do the Lat Spread Pose Like a Pro Bodybuilder

How to Do the Lat Spread Pose Like a Pro Bodybuilder

Nov 14, 2023

Body Builder Posing - Rear Lat Spread  lat spread bodybuilder stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

How to Do the Lat Spread Like a Pro Bodybuilder

The lat spread is one of the most iconic bodybuilding poses, allowing competitors to really show off their back muscles on stage.

When done correctly, the lat spread gives the illusion of having a super wide, v-tapered set of lats that flare out dramatically.

Mastering the lat spread pose takes practice but is essential for any aspiring bodybuilder to nail.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn proper form, get tips to maximize the pose, and find out how to take your lat spread to the next level.

An Overview of the Lat Spread Pose

The lat spread, also known as the rear lat spread, is a mandatory pose in bodybuilding competitions.

It's designed specifically to show off the latissimus dorsi muscles of the upper back as well as the definition along the sides of the back.

This pose requires competitors to flex their lats and spread them as wide as possible.

The goal is to make the upper body appear as wide and dramatic as possible when viewed from behind.

When done correctly, this pose will make the lats flare out and sweep widely to give the upper body a very wide, v-taper look.

The lats will appear much wider than the waist and hips to create a powerful inverted triangle shape.

The lat spread pose first emerged in the 1940s and was made famous by bodybuilder Chris Dickerson in the 1970s.

It remains one of the best ways for bodybuilders to show off the results of all their hard work on their lats and back.

Body Builder Posing - Front Lat Spread Body building - a shirtless healthy man flexing his lateral back muscle. Black background. lat spread bodybuilder stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

How to Hit the Lat Spread Pose

Here is a step-by-step guide to properly performing the rear lat spread:

1. Spread Your Feet About 6 Inches Apart

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, positioning one foot slightly in front of the other. Point the toes of your back foot out at a 45Β° angle.

Having one foot slightly staggered in front of the other will allow you to shift more body weight over the front leg when arching your back.

2. Bring Your Arms Above Your Head

Raise both arms straight above your head with the arms slightly angled out, not directly overhead.

Bend the elbows slightly while keeping them extended.

3. Make Fists

Make fists with your hands and have your thumbs hooked underneath pointing down with your knuckles facing forward.

This hand position will allow you to better spread the lats.

4. Arch Your Back and Push Your Hips Back

While keeping your arms raised, arch your back dramatically by sticking your chest out and pushing your hips back.

Maintain a slight bend in your rear knee.

Be sure to stick your chest up and out as far as possible to maximize the arch in your back. Keep your core tight.

5. Pull Your Shoulder Blades Down and Together

While holding the arch position, pull your shoulder blades down and pinch them together as hard as possible.

Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together and down away from your ears. This will flare your lat muscles out to the sides.

6. Relax Your Lats

Allow your lats to relax fully as you pull the shoulder blades down. Avoid actively flexing the lats. Let them hang naturally.

7. Squeeze Your Lats Out to Your Sides

After relaxing your lats fully, powerfully spread your lats out to the sides without moving your hands. Your lats should sweep out and around your torso.

Imagine spreading your lats as wide as possible like a cobra flaring out its hood. Focus on keeping the sweep very wide.

8. Look Strong and Confident

Maintain a strong expression on your face. Gaze confidently forward or slightly upwards. Hold the pose for several seconds.

Do not look down or crunch your neck forward. Keep your chin parallel to the ground.

Japanese bald head bodybuilder posing the back lat spread at the river Japanese bald head bodybuilder posing the back lat spread at the river in summer lat spread bodybuilder stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Tips for Maximizing Your Lat Spread

Here are some helpful tips for making your lat spread look as massive as possible:

πŸ‘ŠπŸ‘Š - Lead with your elbows to maximize shoulder range of motion. Do not just raise hands overhead.

πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ - Create a deep arch in your lower back to allow lats to hang freely before spreading them.

😌 - Relax your lats fully before spreading them outward. Avoid flexing or cramping them.

🦢🦡 - Widen your stance and stagger your feet to allow greater range of motion.

πŸ‘―β€β™‚οΈ - Push your hips far back while sticking your chest way out for a dramatic arch.

πŸ’ͺπŸ‘‰πŸ‘ˆ - Raise arms slightly outward, not directly overhead, to better activate lats.

πŸ’₯ - Move only your lats when spreading them outward. Keep arms and hands still.

πŸ‘‹πŸ‘Ž - Rotate pinky fingers down and thumb fingers up when spreading to engage lats.

⏱ - Hold the peak contraction for 2 seconds before relaxing out slowly and smoothly.

πŸ”’ - Keep your abs drawn in tight. Do not push stomach out when arching back.

performing front lat spread pose ripl fitness

Common Lat Spread Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some mistakes that will compromise your lat spread:

πŸ™…β€β™‚οΈ - Not creating enough arch in your lower back. This limits range of motion.

‼️ - Flexing your lats before spreading them outward. Allow them to relax first.

πŸ‘ - Flaring the elbows too far out. Keep a slight bend in the elbows.

πŸ₯· - Allowing the shoulders to hunch forward. Keep shoulder blades pinched back.

πŸš«πŸ€– - Moving your entire arms when spreading lats. Hold arms still and just move the lats.

☝️ - Overhead pressing the arms. Lead with the elbows instead for better range.

πŸ‘€ - Looking down instead of straight ahead. Keep your gaze confident.

πŸ•Ί - Forgetting to push the hips back. Allow your torso to tilt back further.

🦢🦡 - Staggering your feet evenly instead of putting one foot further back.

⏱ - Not holding the fully flexed pose long enough. Hold for 1-2 seconds.

Bodybuilder Flexing Rear Lat Spread Pose Portrait Of A Young Physically Fit Man Showing His Well Trained Body - Muscular Athletic Bodybuilder Fitness Model Posing After Exercises lat spread bodybuilder stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Exercise to Build Bigger Lats for Your Spread

While genetics play a role in lat size, you can build thicker, wider lats through targeted exercises like:

1. Wide Grip Pull Ups

Using an extra wide pronated grip engages the lats through their fullest range of motion. Aim for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps.

2. Straight Arm Pulldowns

Keeping the arms straight targets the lats thoroughly. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps while squeezing the lats.

3. Barbell or Dumbbell Rows

Rows build lats thickness. Use good form and squeeze your shoulder blades on each rep.

4. Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns enable you to overload the lats with weight. Control each rep and squeeze your lats.

5. Deadlifts

Deadlifts hit the lats isometrically as you drive through your legs. Shoot for 6-8 reps if deadlifting for lats.

Muscular Body Builder Showing His Front Lat Spread ripl fitness

Take Your Lat Spread up a Notch

Once you've mastered the basics, try these advanced tactics:

πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈ Lat Spread Tips and Tricks πŸ‹οΈβ€β™‚οΈ

🎐 - Use an exercise band overhead to practice feeling the shoulder rotation and pinch.

🩰 - Raise up onto the toes of your front foot to further arch your back.

πŸ€œπŸ€› - Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart to activate lats more.

πŸ’ƒ - Lean back as you push your chest out as far as flexibility will allow.

πŸ’ͺβž‘οΈπŸ”™ - From front double bicep, rotate straight into back lat spread to practice transition.

⏫ - Perform 1-2 warm up sets of dumbbell pullovers before hitting your lat spread.

πŸ‘ŠπŸ‘Š - Lead with your elbows to maximize shoulder range of motion.

πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ - Create a deep arch in your lower back to allow lats to hang freely.

😌 - Relax your lats fully before spreading them outward.

🦢🦡 - Widen stance and stagger feet for greater range of motion.

Hitting Your Lat Spread at a Competition ripl fitness

Hitting Your Lat Spread at a Competition

Bringing your best lat spread to a bodybuilding competition requires practicing your posing routine religiously.

Be sure to:

🌟 Lat Spread Tips for Competition 🌟

⏱ - Hold the peak contraction for a full 2 seconds. Judges are looking for control and quality.

πŸšΆβ€β™‚οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ - Transition smoothly between poses while maintaining your confidence.

πŸ’₯ - Spread your lats as wide as possible to show the judges your back width.

😌 - Relax into the pose to allow your lats to flare outward fully. Avoid cramping.

πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ - Arch your back deeply and pin your shoulders back. This creates separation.

πŸ‘‘ - Keep your chest lifted, abs drawn in tight, and gaze focused confidently ahead.

🎐 - Use an exercise band overhead to feel the shoulder rotation and pinch.

🩰 - Raise onto the toes of your front foot to further arch your back.

πŸ€œπŸ€› - Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width to activate lats more.

πŸ’ƒ - Lean back as you push your chest out as far as flexibility allows.

lat spread personal trainer ripl fitness

From A Trainer's Perspective Rear Lat Spread

Alright, let's talk about the rear lat spread pose - the money maker for any serious bodybuilder looking to flex those wings! This is where you really get to show off your lats and make 'em pop.

The lat spread pose is one you'll see in every bodybuilding competition. Front and rear lat spread variations let the judges see those lower lats from all angles.

Just look at legends like Dorian Yates or Ronnie Coleman - their lat spreads were insane! The goal is to make your lats appear wider than your whole torso.

Lat Spread Step-by-Step ripl fitness

Lat Spread Step-by-Step

Here's how we're going to nail this pose. First, we'll start with the wide lat spread basics, then I'll share some pro tips to take it over the top.

For the rear lat spread, you want to stand with your feet about 6 inches apart, one foot in front slightly.

This staggered stance helps you really push your shoulders back and bend that torso.

Place your fists overhead with thumbs hooked behind - this hand position is crucial for engaging those lats.

Next, push your shoulders back as far as possible while arching that back. Imagine you're trying to show off your front muscles from behind - that's the kind of dramatic curve we need. See how my lats are already starting to flare out to the sides?

Now here's the key - pull your shoulder blades apart like you're trying to rip them off your back. This separates the lats and makes them pop. At the same time, push out with your lats to really spread them wide. Think of a cobra hood flaring out.

Hold that peak contraction for 2 seconds, then slowly relax and repeat. The more you practice, the bigger that lat spread will get.

Improve Your Lat Spread ripl fitness

Improve Your Lat Spread

To really bring up those lat spreads, we need to attack it from all angles with specialized training. Heavy rowing movements like bent-over rows and seated cable rows will build up that upper back thickness.

For direct lat work, nothing beats weighted pull-ups and pull-downs. These let you really isolate and stretch those lats through the full range of motion. Go heavy and focus on squeezing at the bottom.

Deadlifts are another great overall back builder that will make those lats pop. Just look at the all-time great deadlifters like Eddie Hall - their lats are wide enough to land planes on!

We can also use some bodybuilding tricks to enhance the lat spread illusion. Widening your hand spacing slightly on pull-downs can help increase the peak contraction. Doing pullovers right before hitting the lat spread pose will pre-stretch the lats.

And if you really want to go pro, learn to control the lower lat and rib area. Being able to pull that area down tight gives you better separation between the lats and obliques for crazy definition.

At the end of the day, the lat spread is similar to posing for the zyzz pose or a front double bicep - it's about finding ways to accentuate those muscle lines. By working the angles and mastering the mind-muscle connection, you can make any part of your physique look 10x bigger.

So let's get spreading! With some hard work in the gym and diligent practice, that lat spread is going to be the envy of the whole IFBB lineup. Remeber, attitude is everything - sell it like the champion you're about to become!

Bodybuilder Performing Front Lat Spread Pose ripl fitness

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the front lat spread pose?

For the front lat spread, you face the front with your hands overhead and palms facing forward.

Spread your lats while pushing your hips forward and chest back.

How wide should feet be for lat spread?

About shoulder-width apart is ideal, with one foot staggered slightly ahead of the rear foot.

Widening your stance can help increase range of motion.

Why can't I spread my lats wide?

This usually occurs from underdeveloped lats or lack of shoulder flexibility.

Work to strengthen your upper back and improve overhead shoulder mobility.

What muscles do lat pulldowns work?

Lat pulldowns heavily target the latissimus dorsi muscles of the back.

They also activate the biceps, forearms, rear delts, middle traps, and teres muscles.

How was the lat spread pose invented?

Pioneering bodybuilder Chris Dickerson developed the pose in the 1970s to show off his wide, sweeping lats and dramatic V-taper.

It soon became a mandatory pose.

hitting a lat spread


Mastering the iconic lat spread pose is a right of passage for bodybuilders.

With focused practice on nailing proper form, maximizing your arch and contraction, and avoiding common mistakes, you can develop a competition-ready lat spread even the judges can't ignore.

Remember to lead with your elbows, create a deep arch, relax your lats fully, and isolate the movement to just your lats.

Built your upper back with heavy compound and isolation lifts, use advanced training tactics, and pose your lats confidently.

Flaring your lats wide to showcase your back width and V-taper for the judges is critical. With the tips provided here, you can take your lat spread to the next level.

For More Training Advice + Diet and Lifestyle visit us RIPL Fitness

PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Back Training Guides:

10 Best Kettlebell Back Exercises & Back Workout

5 Best Calisthenics Back Exercises + Calisthenics Back Workout

5 Best Lower Back Exercises + Best Back Exercises Machines

Top 10 TRX Exercises To Build A Stronger Back

10 Best Resistance Band Back Exercises + Back Workout

11 Best Landmine Exercises For Back & Upper Body

15 Best Smith Machine Back Exercises

10 Best Cable Back Workout Exercises

The Complete Helms Row Guide