Dear Dr. Bell, What are the best exercises for gaining thickness in the Lower Lats? Thank you for the advice, Justin.
Many experienced bodybuilders are “spring loaded” to replying “Short-Bar-Close-Grip-Seated Rows pulling to the waist.” Many advanced bodybuilders recommend: Barbell Rows, safer and equally effective to the 90 degree BENT-over row is “70” degree Bent over barbell row with an underhand grip, keeping the barbell close to your legs as perfected by Dorian Yates. It requires discipline and focus to maintain 70 degrees, but it is effective and much safer on the lower back. Keep your knees bent 5-15 degrees.
Also recommended for back thickness: T-Bar Rows, One –Armed dumbbell rows (both feet on the floor is more targeted than one knee on a bench) Wide-Grip Chin-Ups and T-Bar Row Benches(safer then the Traditional T-Bar Row).
Be advised that variety is still important for any muscle development.
EMG Analysis has also provided some insight into which exercises provide specific levels of muscle activation. Though there is some variation among EMG studies, Doctors Bompa & Cornacchia provided data on drug-free-experienced weightlifters with a minimum of 2 years training experience. The percent EMG Maximum Muscle Activations begins with the highest activation:
Percent of EMG Max
Bent-over Barbell Row: 93%
One-Arm Dumbbell Row (Alternate): 91%
T-Bar Row: 89%
Lat Pull Down to Front: 86%
Seated Pulley Row: 83%