To build a topographic back, you need more than lat exercises. Here’s what you’re missing plus two exercises to target those muscles.
by Calvin Huynh T-Nation
The Key to a Chiseled Upper Back
The lats get a lot of attention, but what’s often missing in back training is hitting the mid-back musculature like the rhomboids and mid/lower traps.
Training these muscles will beef up your upper back, making you look impressive with or without a shirt. Having strong mid-back muscles is also crucial for maximizing performance since they’re often a limiting factor when it comes to overhead presses, rows, and vertical pulling.
Here are two exercises that’ll fire up your mid back:
Wide-Grip Double Pulley Row
- Set two cables up high and about a foot outside of shoulder width. Ideally, it would line up with how wide your elbows are when flared.
- Pull the cables from high to low as you bring your elbows down and back.
- Keep your elbows flared out to engage the mid back.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together in the shortened position. Think about pulling the handles back and apart simultaneously.
Dumbbell Rhomboid Hold
- To set up, hold two moderately heavy dumbbells at your side and hinge forward about 30 degrees.
- Keep your shoulder blades depressed and retract them together.
- Hold this position and squeeze for as long as you can.
- Really focus on the mind-muscle connection with this one.
Do these at the end of an upper-body day as a superset for 3-4 sets each. You’ll get both static and dynamic contractions to trigger hypertrophy and strength gains. Your rhomboids and traps will get thicker and fuller as a result.