I have almost NO Rhomboid or Lower trapezius development inspite of working out my back with Pullups, Seated Rows. Barbell Rows and Standing shrugs.

It seems that with these exercises I should have some middle back development probably my technique is not correct.

Are there any isolation exercises for this muscle group ? How do I feel this muscle group while working out ?

I also do Kelso's Shrugs on an incline :-(

Any help is welcome.


1 Answer 1


By development, I assume you mean size? Your back muscles are very resilient, and there are a couple possibilities:

  • You aren't working them heavy enough
  • You aren't working them with enough volume

Barbell rows and dumbbell rows are excellent options, but don't forget dead lifts. The shrugs and pullups, while awesome exercises, do the least for the muscles you are wanting to hit. If you are doing barbell rows and/or dumbbell rows, the seated rows don't add anything. Instead, focus on volume.

You'll want to go as heavy as you can. If you are more concerned with size than using a lift in competition (like deadlifts), then I recommend getting some weightlifting straps. They will let you lift heavier without your grip limiting your back work. To get some size it needs to be worked hard with a lot of volume.

  • You should be able to row at least as much as you bench
  • You should be able to deadlift more than just about any other lift (save shrugs).

A good high volume program to run that will definitely build size is Smolov Jr. It's a volume based approach designed to improve your strength on just about any major exercise. You start by knowing your 1RM (absolute heaviest weight you can lift one time) for that exercise. Then you do your first week like this:

  • 70% 6x6 (6 sets x 6 reps)
  • 75% 7x5 (7 sets x 5 reps)
  • 80% 8x4
  • 85% 10x3

Week 2:

  • 70% + 10-20lbs, 6x6
  • 75% + 10-20lbs, 7x5
  • 80% + 10-20lbs, 8x4
  • 85% + 10-20lbs, 10x3

Week 3:

  • 70% + 15-25lbs, 6x6
  • 75% + 15-25lbs, 7x5
  • 80% + 15-25lbs, 8x4
  • 85% + 15-25lbs, 10x3

In short, week 3 is 5 lbs heavier than week 2. Week 2 is 10-20lbs heavier than week 1. On Week four you rest and then test your new max on Friday.

I've been running this for bench and rows, and while I'm not aiming for size it is increasing. The back can handle being hammered, and in some cases it needs it.

  • Thanks for the answer it was indeed very informative. I will try the Smolov program. I have some questions, how many exercises to do per body part ( Back in this case ) ? How often should I train my back ? I am right now following Reg Park’s beginners routine which involves 3 Full body workouts a week. I do 5 sets of each exercise with 5 reps/set. I do Pullups in one workout followed by Barbell Rows in the next work out. Also doing shrugs on alternate workouts.
    – Geek
    Jul 10, 2012 at 9:46
  • I will also like to add that I am not a beginner to weight training, I have been working out close to 10 years now. However, I was never into building size until recently the reason being I was never very diet conscious.
    – Geek
    Jul 10, 2012 at 9:46
  • Smolov and Smolov Jr. are advanced routines. However, in general the consensus I've read is that having two pulling movements for every push movement keeps everything healthy. You can train your back just about every session, but you might limit deadlifts to only once a week. Jul 10, 2012 at 12:47
  • Rows and deadlifts are pulling movements, squats and bench press are pushing movements. Cleans and snatches are also pulling movements. Jul 10, 2012 at 12:50
  • Also what barbell rowing position do you suggest, back parallel to the floor or inclined at 45 degrees like Yates rows ?
    – Geek
    Jul 10, 2012 at 16:24

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