How to Strengthen Rhomboids: 4 Dead Easy Rhomboid Exercises

back muscles man in-content

Your back muscles are essential for overall body health. They provide stabilization, are necessary for good posture, and give an aesthetic look to your body.

When we think of training our backs, our minds tend to wander to the bigger muscle groups, the lats, and traps. These muscles are important to keep strong and healthy; however, our backs are full of smaller muscles necessary for back performance.

In comes the rhomboids. Not a big and flashy muscle group but an important one. Consisting of the rhomboid major and minor, they sit behind your trap and lat muscles, which is why they’re usually neglected.

These muscles play a big role in posture, shoulder health, and assistance in bigger lifts.

What are the Rhomboid Muscles, and Why are They Important to Keep Strong?

The rhomboids are smaller muscles. The smaller rhomboid minor sits right above the bigger rhomboid major. They run diagonally from your spine to your scapula.

Rhomboideus major and minor

Your rhomboid muscles are upper to middle back muscles connecting your scapula (shoulder blades) to your spine. Their role is moving and retracting your scapula. What this really means is that underdeveloped rhomboids will result in faulty scapula movement. This can cause issues with your shoulders down the road.

The rhomboids will get worked with most back exercises, but it’s still important to spend some additional time on them.

Scapular control is crucial for shoulder and back health. Without proper movement, we wouldn’t be able to do everyday tasks like lifting our arm overhead.

So, let’s see some great & easy rhomboid exercises you can do with or without a machine.

The 4 Best Rhomboid Strengthening Exercises!

Prone Y’s and T’s 

The prone Y’s and T’s are an excellent exercise to strengthen the rhomboid major and minor. You’ll start by lying face down on the floor. I recommend a towel or mat to rest your forehead on.

Bring your arms above your head from this position, so your body is in the letter Y’s shape. Now all you need to do is lift your hands off the ground as high as possible while pinching your shoulder blades.

To do the T, start in the same position, but your arms will be retched to your sides, and you’ll raise them from there while still pinching your shoulder blades.

This extra squeeze of the shoulder blades works on the retraction of your scapulars, which is one of your rhomboids’ main functions.

This exercise has the dual benefit of creating extra shoulder mobility as well as correcting posture. This is a great exercise to perform if you have been sitting for the majority of the day.

A few things to remember

  • Make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades every rep. This isn’t an exercise that is supposed to be completed as quickly as possible. Feel the burn in your upper back!
  • You can add weight as needed, but your arm weight will be fine for a while, don’t rush into adding extra resistance.

Cable Face Pull

The cable face pull is an exercise that will target most of your upper back but will definitely strengthen your rhomboids.

For this, you’ll need a cable machine and a rope connection. People will perform this move with a resistance band, but I don’t recommend that because of the added tension bands supply.

You’ll grab the rope connection with your palms facing the ground. Take a few steps back and sit in a secure quarter squat.

You’re going to bring the middle of the rope connected to your forehead. While doing this, retract or pinch your shoulder blades and keep your elbows high and wide.

You’ll feel some tension behind your shoulders, as you should. Let the weight bring your arms all the way forward and feel your shoulder blades protract.

You won’t need much weight to start on this exercise. The form is important to get the full benefits, so start low and ensure good form. Once you feel more comfortable, you can increase the weight.

A few things to remember

  • You’ll want to keep your hands high for this! It’s called a face pull for a reason. If you feel your hands coming below your chin, either decrease the weight or readjust.
  • Keep your elbows high and really pinch your shoulder blades. Keeping your elbows low will turn this more into a row and not be as effective in targeting your rhomboids.

Suspension Trainer Y’s

This exercise closely resembles the prone Y’s but uses your entire body weight as resistance. This is a great exercise to work up to, but it may be more comfortable for some people to perform versus the prone Y’s.

Find a suspension trainer like a TRX or hanging rings. You’re going to start as you would a bodyweight row, but your arms will extend into a Y shape as you raise yourself.

As always, we want to ensure we are inching our shoulder blades and lowering ourselves back to the starting position in a controlled way.

As you get stronger, you can make this exercise more difficult by keeping your body parallel to the floor!

A few things to remember

  • To get the most out of this exercise, try to keep your traps relaxed. You won’t get the full effect if your traps are tense.
  • Keep your hips forward and your body rigid. This ensures good form while performing the exercise.

Rear Delt Flys

Rear delt flys can be performed standing or sitting. You’ll need a resistance band or a light pair of dumbbells. As this exercise targets the back of the shoulders, it’s better to start light and work your way up.

If you’re standing, start with a nice bend in the knees and push your hips back. This will keep your back flat. Let your arms hang down with the weight.

Bend your elbows and attempt to wrap them around your back while pinching your shoulder blades. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

This is a great exercise to add some weight and keep your shoulders healthy.

A few things to remember

  • Keep your back flat. This will limit injuries and allow full range of motion.
  • Start with a lightweight. This is a different movement than most, so it’s important to work your way up and build muscle.

Conclusion 

With these 4 exercises, I’m certain you will build strong and healthy rhomboids. Usually, a forgotten muscle group provides plenty of benefits such as posture and scapular movement.

They won’t give you the most aesthetically pleasing back; however, they will benefit your life.

Add these exercises to your weekly workouts, and don’t forget to pinch your shoulder blades!

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Nick, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA and a Pn L1 Nutrition Coach. He has over 10 years in the fitness world including training, coaching athletes, and working 1 on 1 with clients in the gym.

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