Using Rows to Target Lats/Delts

I’m really working on building my lagging lats and rear delts right now and I am having some trouble hitting them when I am doing my rows it seems that because my upper back is so dominant I have trouble feeling any back exercise in these muscles.

My 3rm for Dealift is 425lbs double overhand no straps, I do my bent over rows with 185lbs+ for 8-10 reps so I dont feel a lack of weight is the problem. Im thinking mabey some grip variations will help also any tips on ways to really feel it in these areas when working back would be appreciated.

Wide grip bent over rows torch my rear delts pretty well.

To be honest I’ve always hit them both well tucking my elbows and bringing the weight to the bottom of the ribcage. With a cable row, you can angle your torso forward (keep it set that way) and get a good stretch in between reps to emphasize the lats. If rows aren’t hitting your rear delts, do a separate exercise…face pull, external rotation, rear delt fly, what have you.

I’ve only recently begun training rear delts as I’m cutting, but to be honest, I always figured that if you’re doing any respectable weight for rows, that they will have no option but to receive some stimulation.

If you’ve been consistent with the BB rows, maybe you should try something different… T-Bars with a close grip, bent over Db rows (2 hands at once), Reverse grip BB rows…?

You could also try positioning yourself face down on an incline bench and rowing 2 dumbells at once. You won’t move anything really heavy at first, but you should feel a hell of a contraction.


I had the same problem for a while like i couldn’t see my lats too well from the front until i started doing parallel grip pull-ups religiously in my workout. I would say give those a try if you haven’t already.

cybex 1 arm rows. set the chest piece all the way back and angle yourself that you get a really good lat stretch, you may not even be able to put your whole hand on the grip but just focus on the stretch.

those and hammer strength iso-high rows are teh only things that really hit my lats.

You’re not going to build lats much if any unless you have the mid-muscle connection there. one arm pulldowns done PROPERLY will help you develop this connection. YOu will know you have the conn when you can flare your lats at will without rotating humerus.

Once you can recruit your lats almost nay pulling/rowing movement will build them up. HEavy pulldowns/weighted pullups will develop back width if you focus on the stretch (the top 3/4 of the rep is what counts imo - or bottom 3/4 for pullups)

The other movement is doing pulldowns where you first DEPRESS the shoulder blades and stay perfectly upright and pull down to your chin level thereabouts.

The last one I use is a LOW row (to lower abs/gut) focusing on contraction. YOu got to pull with your lats and try to flare them out at least at contraction.

You can try scapula retractions, that’s the closest thing to an isolation excercise for the back that you’ll find, but it can take a lot of weight to really feel it.

Have you tried face-pulls, lying flyes, wide out DB rows, variety of pullups/chinups, etc? Don Alessi, Charles Poliquin & Christian Thibodeau had some really good articles & examples for these exercises…

You are pulling some serious weight already so it might help to lower the weight (sacrilege!) & get some more reps in there to build the mind muscle connection (If you can do the weight stack on one arm pulldowns on the lat pulldown I’ll bow out now)-

Experiment - combine that with some hand/grip variations for all the exercises you are already doing, through in some tempo variation, etc. & I can’t see how your lagging areas would NOT grow or respond to such stimulation.

Search their articles on this site, it’s well worth the read(s)

Good luck!

Reverse pec dec really hits my rear delts. Another thing you could do with rows is bring them back further than you typically do. I’ve never really had a difficult time hitting rear delts, as I think I was rowing incorrectly for a period of time.

For lats, I’d just go with pulldowns or pullups. I know I had to train myself on the pulldowns to get the mind-muscle connection in the lats.

Try bent over dumbbell rows.

Get into position over the bench, now pull the weight to your hip bone.

You’ll feel it in your lats.