T Nation

Mid Back Struggling


Hello guys,
wondering what you all would suggest to make my upper back really pop out. I want to develop a certain kind of look like this mans Traps in this picture. My Mid/Upper Traps are a lagging body part for me and looking for different ways to sort it out. Oh and i'm looking for ways other than Shrugging because they don't work for me, and Deadlifting (deadlifts have been a great Trap builder for me but looking for something new)
Many thanks.


Lots of heavy rowing. Post a pic of yourself.


You aren't going to hit the middle back with shrugs. Deadlifts and heavy rows are the ticket. I like seated rows.


full range of motion on rows. that means head tucked down and touching chest, chest concave and arms outstretched as far as possible (keep a slight bend in elbows to protect joint) at the beginning of your rep and back fully arched, scapula retracted, head pulled back as far as possible looking at ceiling, and bar touching sternum below chest at the end of the rep. Obviously once you develop the technique with a medium weight and can feel your back muscles doing the majority of the work through their full range of motion take spar4tees advice and work up to as heavy of a poundage as possible


Not such a good idea.

OP: For your mid traps. This isn't conventional wisdom, but it might work for you. Once you get a good connection with your back try some HEAVY dumbbell rows for low reps. Be sure you're retracting your shoulder blades. Do a bunch of sets.

I have no advice on upper traps. Mine suck too. How come shrugs don't work for you?


power cleans gave me good upper traps. never have to isolate traps 'cause of them


I have no idea why shrugs don't work, i've tried all variations. Im gonna try doing dumbbell shrugs but for really high reps (30+) still with a moderate weight but gonna hold at the top for 3 seconds each rep. That might work. Just looking for other ways othre than Deadlifts to grow traps.


I've always done front barbell raises while laying prone on an incline bench to hit my lower traps. Worked like a charm, as they're always nice n toasty, and definitely pop when I hit a rear double bicep shot.

My back sessions have always included their share of heavy rowing (always to my waist, not to my stomach or chest) and scpular retractions on cables to nail that mid back area as well.



Post a pic for evaluation, so we can see the degree of development.


Before you come to the conclusion that shrugs don't work for you, how much are you actually shrugging? I'd say until you can shrug at least 450+ (roughly) for good reps you shouldn't assume they don't work.

If you want to try another exercise, give yates-style deadlifts a try. They are similar to a romanian deadlift but hit your upper back very well. Nothing works my upper traps more than these.


If you are already deadlifting and shrugging, then main element to hitting the mid-back would be rows and pullups/chinups.

Make sure you can actually feel it on the mid-back (i.e. be able to hold the contraction for 1 second at the top of a row or chinup).


vertical shrug standing straight hits mostly upper trap which is small portion of trap muscles. mid/low trap make up most of it and regular shrugs wont hit it all. you can try shrugging bent over about 10 degrees forward and you should feel 2 balls of muscle(mid trap) squeezing into each other. another few that I found effective are heavy upright row pulling to my forehead and heavy bent over laterals with elbows 90 degrees.


what is a mid back?
life would be easier if you named the muscle or part of the muscle.

imo according to the pic you posted your traps are your dominant back feature from the top to the bottom.

even you lower back is somewhat visable.

It could be because of how you look like you are flexing your traps or rolling shoulders forward that make your lats appear smaller but IMO this is your least dominant back muscle from the pic you posted.

I suggest lat pulldowns, weighted pullups and variation of rows (db,bb,cable and so on)
as far as grip width do whatever you feel most in the lats.
when i try to build my lats i like wide grip pull downs and i like to do db/cable rows high and far too the side bringing the handle close to the outside of my chest. this is just me though.
Dorian Yates suggest more of a narrow grip for various reasons like putting the biceps in a stronger position or increasing range of motion atleast that's what i got out of the article posted about his method recently.


Sorry for the confusion but the pic I posted wasn't of me, that is the look that I am aiming for.


Well to be honest I don't use a barbell for shrugs, always dumbbells I feel the contraction is better. And thats for the suggestion. Will have to give that a try.


ahhhh i misread.

my bad.

shrugs and deads. and do try a few sets of barbell shrugs first either that or the hs machine for bigger loads then finish with a few sets of the db shrugs for good measure.

and when your strength begins to give out because the load is too heavy and your forearms can't take it,

this is where you have to figure out what matters more to you, grip strength or trap size. and if its trap size you need to get you some straps.
don't worry though your grip will still get stronger with straps anyways. blah.

i only mention deadlifts because sometimes i feel them in the lower/mid trap region.


Overhead Shrugs,Deadlifts and Rows.....go Heavy


What does everybody think of Olympic Lifts for Mid Trap growth? Someone suggested it to me but to me it looks like it would just grow the Upper traps.


Just row man...


Have you tried Face Pull's ? just asking out of curiosity. This site has a good video if you need it.