Skip to Content

Do Push-Ups Work Lats? (Why Push-Ups Cause Sore Lats!)

If you’re wondering whether push-ups work lats, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we look at why your lats are sore after push ups and different push-up variations to see which are best for lats.

We also look at how you can target your lats more effectively during push-ups.

Woman doing a push up in a crossfit gym

Do Push-Ups Work Lats?

Push-ups do not directly target your lats.

As their name suggests, push-ups are a pushing exercise while your lats are a pulling muscle.

This means that they tend to work during pulling movements, so push-ups aren’t particularly good at activating your lats.

That being said, your lats do play a role in push-ups in the form of a stabilizing muscle.

There are many stabilizing muscles working during push-ups to help keep your body in the right position, to help support the working muscles, and to help keep your body moving in the way it needs to in order to make the movement happen.

Your lats activate to some extent to stabilize your hips and your torso during push-ups, so they certainly do some work.

However, as they’re only acting as stabilizing muscles, your lats won’t be working hard enough for them to get any real benefit from the exercise.

If you’re looking to build and develop your lats, regular push-ups aren’t the best exercise for you.

How To Engage Your Lats More During Push-Ups

As push-ups aren’t great at targeting your lats, you’ll have to move away from the standard version of the exercise if you want to activate your lats more.

A simple way of moving the focus away from your chest and onto other muscles is by bringing your hands closer together during push-ups.

While doing this won’t directly target your lats, by taking your dominant chest muscles out of the equation a little bit, the other working muscles (including your lats) have to work a bit harder to make the movement happen.

Another way to bring your back muscles into play more is to perform renegade row push-ups.

These involve doing push-ups with your hands on dumbbells and then doing a single arm row at the highest point of each rep.

Not only does this variation give you all the benefits of regular push-ups, but the row element also does a great job of developing strong back muscles too.

Dive bomber push-ups are also good for your lats.

These involve some big movements that need good amounts of flexibility, mobility, and strength in many muscle groups including your lats.

This push-up variation isn’t suitable for beginners but it can be great if you want to target your lats more.

[Watch below to see how to execute this push-up variation!]

Are Wide Push-Ups Good For Your Lats?

As a general rule, wide push-ups will bring your chest and shoulders into play more than any other muscle group.

That isn’t to say other muscles like your triceps and lats don’t have any work to do, it’s just that the work they do is much less as your chest and shoulders are the focus.

As your lats are already needed little in regular push-ups, switching to wider push-ups will likely give them even less work to do.

With that in mind, it would be fair to say that wide push-ups aren’t good for your lats (but they’re good for your chest and shoulders).

Are Hindu Push-Ups Good For Your Lats?

Hindu push-ups will put more focus on your lats than regular push-ups.

Although your lats will activate a bit more during this push-up variation, this exercise alone still won’t be enough to build and develop your lats. 

While Hindu push-ups are probably better for your lats than standard push-ups, they still aren’t the best lat-building exercise out there.

Are Push-Ups Good For Your Lower Lats?

Not particularly.

Your lower lats activate during fairly large pulling movements such as wide grip lat pulldown, straight arm pulldown, and underhand bent over row.

None of these have many similarities to push-ups.

Targeting your lower lats through push-ups is not a good idea as there are much better lower lat exercises out there.

Push-ups are usually better suited to a chest, shoulders, or arm day workout.

Why Are Your Lats Sore After Push-Ups?

They Are Working Hard As Stabilizing Muscles

Sore lats after push-ups could simply be due to the fact that your lats have been working hard to keep you stabilized during the movement.

This tends to be particularly true if you have weaker lats compared to other working muscles.

Even though stabilizing muscles don’t work as hard as the primary muscle groups during push-ups, they still have to be strong enough to handle the stress placed on them.

Any weakness or fatigue in your lats can lead to soreness after push-ups.

Other Nearby Muscle Groups Are Actually Sore

It can be hard to know for sure exactly where you’re feeling soreness as there are many places in your body where multiple muscle groups are close together.

For example, pain in your serratus anterior (muscle on your rib cage) or teres major & teres minor (below your shoulder), can easily be confused with soreness in your lats.

As these muscles play a bigger role in push-ups, it could actually be in these areas where you’re feeling soreness.

You should focus on any soreness and try to work out exactly where it’s coming from to see if it definitely is your lats or if other surrounding muscles are actually the cause.


In summary:

  • Your lats engage in push-ups, but mainly as secondary muscles.
  • Renegade row push-ups are a great push-up variation for working your lats more.

That’s all for this article, but how many push-ups can a 13 year old do? Or you may be wondering what are the benefits of Mike Tyson push-ups?

Hope this helped!


Push-Ups Muscles Worked

Muscle Soreness After Exercise