Originally Posted by Emily Mattes
My programming is a bit different these days, but in the past on top of deadlifts, etc I'd be doing rows once a week on a three week cycle, working up to a heavy double one week, doing ten sets of one or two with little rest another, and then a 3x5 the third. For accessory work, I'd do Kroc rows once a week, or regular dumbbell rows, and I'd do body rows or pull-up work as well. Prior to this, I was doing Olympic lifting with no specific back work other than trying to keep it tight during training.
My back definitely has gotten stronger over the course of my training, I just seem to have trouble doing maximal effort work with it when I try to train it directly. I don't know if I'm not using the muscles properly or what when I do the exercises.
Here is the thing... Most rowing/chinning movements are exercises where the last few inches are the hardest to complete. These types of movements are, in general, not given to training with the max effort style or with low reps. This is different than something like a bench press or a squat, where in general the hardest portion of the lift is in the middle, and it gets easier towards the end. Try rows or chins 2-3 times a week with the reps in the 5-10 range, and I bet you get better results.