T Nation

Lat Dominant


Every back exercise I do I feel my lats burning like hell and my mid traps/rhomboids don't feel anything. This includes all types of horizontal rows. What can I do to increase the mind to muscle connection with the upper mid back area?


If I row with my shoulders elevated I feel it in my traps/rhomboids a lot. Try doing seated cable rows with a pretty close grip.. light at first... shrug up your shoulders and concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the max contraction. This should help take your lats out and help you build the mind muscle connection. Then you can work on other exercises.


I did john meadows heavy chest supported rear delt swings for 25 reps + 10 full reps and never felt my back more in the following exercises


I always felt that close grip work (Ie. cable rows etc) will actually stress the lats MORE. Toss a wide handle (typically found on the pulldown machines) on there, place your hands fairly wide (where the bar starts to curve), and then while remaining upright, row into your waist.

Also, you could try more isolation work for the midback muscles, Pullovers (machine, rope attachment on a cable, whatever), scapular retractions in a cable station, bent rows with straight arms (more of an angled 'shrugging' movement).



Two things affect what muscle predominates when you row;

  1. where you pull the bar to: bar to chest is more traps, bar to abdomen more lats
  2. where your elbows end up: flared more traps, tucked more lats

...and what several other have said about grip.


even if you don't feel it, it could still be firing...

i don't feel my lats on certain exercises...but, i filmed myself and saw that they were contracting regardless...same could be applied to your upper back


You want your lats to dominate in rows.

For those upper back muscles try Face Pulls, Reverse Flys on a Pec-Deck, External Rotations with a Shoulder Horn, Cuban Press, Muscle Snatches, Shrugs, and Overhead Pressing.


No... Just... No... You can't be serious.


Oh. Shit. I'm sorry. What I just said was so goddamn stupid that dismissing it apparently requires no argument at all, nor does it require you to offer any corrective advice.

YOU Can't be serious. What the fuck is YOUR problem?


OP: how is your back development? Are your lats developing at a rate exceeding that of your upper trapezius/rhomboids? While I am not discounting 'mind-muscle' connections, is what you are describing actually a problem that is holding back your growth?

p.s. I don't want my lats to dominate during rowing movements


Check out Thibs training lab livespill. A great upper back exercise in there.

P.S. I have the same problem as you regarding upper/mid back development. I can list some things that have helped balance it out if it's worth anything to you:

  1. The wide grip cable row as described by Stu (only difference for me is I row it to my pecs rather than waist with a 2 sec pause at contraction) You will use a pathetic amount of weight on the stack with this but don't let that discourage you.

  2. Thibs triangle lat pull down to the forehead w/ pause.

  3. Mike wolfe facepulls as advocated on these forums by many of the big guys.

  4. Long holds at the top of my last deadlift set (20-30 sec)

  5. Lastly, I would say that a 1-2 sec pause at the contracted portion of the lift has helped me feel my back the most on every exercise.


It was pretty stupid and actually I don't have a problem. You're the one with the problem if you think external rotations, cuban press, muscle snatches, shrugs and overhead pressing are going to lead to good middle trap and rhomboid development while doing rows in such a way that your lats dominate. Yes the other 2 exercises you listed will work the mid traps and rhomboids but no where near as well as barbell rows, t bar rows, wider grip seated rows... etc. Let's see a picture of your back since you seem to know so much about back training.


No one seems to have addressed angle, so I'll throw that out there.

At least in my experience, having your torso at about a 45 degree angle to the ground on rowing movements tends to recruit a lot more upper back musclature, whereas torso parallel or near parallel tends to lead to more lat recruitment.


I know they aren't textbook trap/rhomboid exercises, but I get excellent rhomboid recruitment from both heavy facepulls and rear delt flies depending on the height at which you perform the exercise relative to your shoulders.



Yeah that pulldown that Thib recommended is good for the rear delts/mid-traps/rhomboids. Angle yourself to 45 degrees on lat pulldown, and with close-grip triangle attachment, pull to your chin with wide elbows.


deadlift 6 plates


Pretty sure I mentioned in my post that those exercises work the mid traps and rhomboids. LOVE the facepull variation in the lat pulldown with the wide grip neutral bar, the seated rope variation I don't care much for. My main point was that it's stupid to tell someone not to row to build their upper back when heavy rowing should be the cornerstone of building a big upper back. (Yes I know that some variations of rowing work lats and are good for that purpose)


A lot of good advice thanks guys. Just in relation to the John Meadows heavy chest supported rear delt swings and the wolfe face pulls/other face pulls. I normally rotate the weight at my shoulder joint while not really pulling my shoulder blades together as I always thought these were rear delt movements.

Are you guys pulling your shoulder blades back for the above exercises on each rep? or rotating at the shoulder joint if you know what I mean.

It seems like every back exercise I do my rear delts take over up top if I row to chest and lats take over if I row to bottom. I have been holding my contractions for a 2 sec count on every rep but it just fires up my lats more. My lats are more developed then my mid/lower trap area and I think my thickness is lacking because of it. The only real exercise where I feel my upper back contracting hard is after a set of deadlifts.

I will try the above exercises and see if they help.


try incline db rows.


may also try Kelso shrugs (there are UT clips), bent-over shrugs.
more shrug variations: