Top 7 Rhomboid Exercises To Build Back Strength And Muscle

These are some of the best rhomboid exercises to strengthen your shoulders and upper back muscles for a better posture. Add them to your upper body and shoulder training regime to help reduce back pain and shoulder injury.

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Weak neck, shoulder, and back muscles can lead to poor posture. They will reflect in the way you sit or stand. Rhomboid Exercises can target and strengthen the back muscles and help improve your posture.

Strengthening your back muscles with a training regimen that includes rhomboid exercises can help reduce back pain, especially as you grow older.

The Rhomboid Muscle

rhomboid muscle
OpenStax College, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The back contains a few muscles, including the rhomboid muscles.

The rhomboid muscles lie underneath the trapezius muscle in your upper back. It plays a part in your posture. Its importance becomes more prominent for those with rounded shoulders or overdeveloped chest muscles.

The rhomboids, which are rhombus-shaped, comprise the rhomboid minor and the rhomboid major. The major sits directly below the minor.

They are responsible for pulling the scapulas or shoulder blades together. They make the shoulders stable as well as control the downward rotation of your scapula.

Why Rhomboid Exercises

The rhomboid muscles are thin and small. But they play a vital role in your posture and health. It is necessary to ensure they are in a strong and healthy condition. Including rhomboid strengthening exercises in your training can help you achieve that.

rhomboid exercises for a strong back

Without regular rhomboid exercises, you may find it difficult to control your scapular properly. In other words, your shoulder blades won’t function well if you don’t take steps to strengthen your rhomboid muscles.

Rhomboid exercises can help reduce shoulder injuries and upper back and neck pain.

Best Rhomboid Exercises For Building strength in upper back muscles

Here are some of the best rhomboid exercises to strengthen your shoulders and upper back muscles for a better posture. Incorporate these into your upper body training to help reduce back pain and shoulder injury.

The rhomboid muscles work with other muscles to help your body function. Thus, you will find that many of the rhomboid exercises we are recommending will target other muscles as well.

Rear Delt Flys

Reverse Fly aka rear delt fly - best rhomboid exercises

The reverse fly, or the rear delt fly, is a resistance exercise that targets the rhomboid and other major muscles of your upper back. It can also target your rear shoulders.

You will need a pair of dumbbells for the exercise. Thus you can do the rear delt fly rhomboid exercises at home if you have some dumbbells.

Dumbbells are a must-have home gym equipment. Check out these Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells if you are yet to acquire one. They are some of the best on the market and would serve you well for many years.

The primary focus of the rear delt flys is your rhomboids. But you get your rear delts engaged as well. The rear delt fly is one of the best rhomboid exercises with dumbbells to include in your training.

Equipment Required: Dumbbells

Steps to follow

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells. We recommend a lighter weight to start with if it is your first time.
  • Stand, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold dumbbells by your sides.
  • Hinge at your hips by pressing your hips back.,
  • Push your chest forward to make it almost parallel to the floor.
  • Keep the weights hanging straight down and ensure your palms face each other.
  • Keep your core tight, your back straight, and bend your knees slightly.
  • Exhale, and lift the dumbbells out in a wide arch sideways. Maintain a soft bend in your elbows. Pull your shoulder blades toward your spine while squeezing them.
  • Pause for a second at the top of the movement
  • Inhale and slowly return the weights to your starting position, following the same arch path.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps for a set and 3 sets to complete a set

Face Pulls

The cable face pulls is one of the best rhomboid exercises that can target your shoulder muscles and rear deltoids.

It is one of the best shoulder exercises for those looking to improve their posture. Add the cable face pulls rhomboid exercises for posture to your upper day workouts.

You will need a cable machine with a rope attachment for the exercises. But you can also do the exercises with resistance bands if you don’t have a cable machine in your home gym.

While they are not a must for a home gym, a cable machine can come in handy for many upper body exercises. Check out our recommended lat pulldown machines or resistance bands if you plan to get any of them.

Required equipment: cable machine

Steps to follow

  • With a pronated grip, grab the cable handles.
  • Take a split stance in front of the cable machine.
  • If necessary, take a few steps back to extend your arms in front of you and put tension on the rope. Bend your knees slightly to keep you stable
  • Activate your back muscles and bend your elbows.
  • With your elbows high, breath in and pull the cable towards your face.
  • Pause for a few seconds while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Then, exhale and slowly return the cable to your starting position
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps

Seated Cable Row

seated cable row - rhomboid exercises

The seated cable row is a comprehensive compound exercise that can work your back, especially your middle back and your forearms.

Being seated while doing the exercises can help improve your throwing capabilities.

Thus, the seated cable row rhomboid exercises can benefit those involved in sports that include overhead motion, such as basketball, baseball, tennis, and volleyball.

You will need a weighted cable machine with a bench for the exercise. Don’t have access to a cable machine with a weight bench? You can sit on the floor in front of the cable machine.

Required equipment: cable machine

Steps to follow

  • Load the cable machine with the appropriate weight and attach a V-bar or a close-grip bar to the rowing machine
  • Sit on the bench and grab the cable handles. Ensure your palms are facing in.
  • Bend your knees slightly and position yourself on the bench with outstretched hands. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back.
  • Engage your abs and pull the handle to lift the weights off the stack slightly.
  • Without shifting from your position, start pulling the handle towards your stomach.
  • Ensure you keep your back straight and your chest out. But keep squeezing your shoulders as you pull the cable in and out.
  • Return the cable handles to your starting point while maintaining the tension in the cable.
  • Repeat for the number of reps.

Upright Rows

rhomboid exercises - upright row with ez bar

It is one of the most popular exercises for building shoulders and upper traps.

You will usually perform the exercise with a barbell, but you can use dumbbells if you don’t have a bar.

You need good form to do the exercise to avoid injury to your shoulders. But get it right, and you will find the upright row one of the best rhomboid exercises. Aside from the rhomboids, it can also help you build your trapezius and biceps.

You can use an EZ curl bar instead of a straight barbell to help reduce the strain on your shoulders.

The upright row can help develop and improve your pulling and pushing capabilities, as well.

Required equipment: EZ curl bar, barbell, or weighted bar

Steps to follow

  • Load the barbell with the appropriate weight
  • Stand upright with feet at shoulder width facing the barbell.
  • With an overhand grip, that is, with palms facing down, grab the barbell. Keep your gips at less than shoulder width.
  • Bend at the knees, pick up the bar and stand upright, hands stretched with the bar hanging in front of you. Ensure you keep your back straight and your eyes looking straight ahead. Your palms must face your body, and your hands and thighs must be in line.
  • Exhale, engage your abs, and lift the bar towards your chin, keeping it as close as possible to your body. Your elbows must point outwards as you do this.
  • Lift the bar as close as you can to your chin. Pause at the top of the movement.
  • Inhale while lowering the bar to your starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired reps

Lat Pull Down

lat pulldown teres major exercises

Lat pulldowns are another popular exercise for many lifters and trainers, especially those who want to increase mass in their back muscles for a V-shaped upper body.

You can adjust the exercises to help you target different muscles, including those in your upper and middle back, shoulders, and biceps.

Lat Pull Downs is among the best rhomboid exercises if you do it with proper form. Get the movement wrong, and you could pick up an injury.

You can include the lat pulldown rhomboid exercises in your back and upper body workouts or as part of your total body workouts.

You will need a lat pulldown machine for the exercise.

Required equipment: cable machine

Steps to follow

  • Attach a handle with a wide grip to the lat pulldown machine and sit facing the machine
  • With a pronated or double overhand grip, grasp the handle. Keep your grips more than shoulder-width apart and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Depress your shoulder blades, flex your elbows and engage your abs.
  • Then, pull the handle towards your body. Try not to move your torso and exhale while you pull the bar.
  • Keep pulling until your elbows and torso are in line.
  • Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together and return the bar slowly to your starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 reps to complete a set.

T-Bar Row

rhomboid exercises with T-bar row

T-bar row, a variation of the bent-over row, is another good exercise to help you target your upper back muscles.

Using a neutral grip when doing the exercises can help reduce stress on your shoulder joints.

They are some of the best exercises to strengthen your rhomboid muscles.

You can also target other back muscles like the latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, and posterior deltoids, as well as your biceps brachii and forearms with the T-bar row rhomboid exercises.

You will need a T-bar or a machine T-bar for the exercises.

Steps to follow

  • Position the bar between your legs and assume a standing position. Keep your feet at about a hip-width to about shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and slightly bend your knees.
  • Hinge at your hips by pressing your hips back. Ensure your torso is parallel to the floor.
  • Grab the handle with both hands, and with your arms straight, lift the bar. Continue raising the bar until the plates touch your chest.
  • Then, lower the bar slowly to your starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for your desired number of reps

Pendlay Row

pendlay row t bar row alternative exercises

The Pendlay row rhomboid exercises are a variation of the barbell row. They are some of the best exercises for building strength in your upper body muscles.

The Pendlay row involves stopping dead during the movement. That allows the lifter to bring weight to the body, building up power and explosiveness. That is a unique feature not found in other row exercises.

You will need a barbell for the exercises.

Required equipment: barbell or weighted bar

Steps to follow

  • Load the barbell with the appropriate weight and position it on the floor.
  • Bend your knees and grab the bar with a double overhand grip, keeping your grips at more than shoulder width.
  • Hinge forwards and bring your torso about parallel to the floor
  • Engage your core, retract your shoulder blades and push your elbows explosively behind your body.
  • Then, pull the bar in the direction of your belly button. Keep pulling until the bar touches your body.
  • Then, lower the bar slowly to your starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for your desired number of reps

Final words from LiveLIfe

You can improve your posture and avoid back and shoulder injuries by taking steps to strengthen your back muscles. Incorporating rhomboid exercises into your upper body building regimen is one of the best ways to build a strong back for a better posture.

While many may ignore building the rhomboid muscles, you do so at your own peril.

We are confident the rhomboid exercises we’ve discussed here will find a place in your upper body and shoulder muscle-building training regimen to help you achieve your fitness goals.

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  3. McAllister M, Schilling B, Hammond K, Weiss L, Farney T. Effect of grip width on electromyographic activity during the upright rowJ Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(1):181-7. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824f23ad
  4. Lee DE, Seo SM, Woo HS, Won SY. Analysis of body imbalance in various writing sitting postures using sitting pressure measurementJ Phys Ther Sci. 2018;30(2):343-346. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.343

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