Rhomboid – Put Your Back Into It!

muscular back

Hey everyone!

Welcome back or welcome to the page.

Today I would like to talk about the rhomboid muscles of the back. We are almost to the end of the back muscles, with just the posterior serratus and erector spinae to get to in the next post.

For today, we will talk about the rhomboid muscles: where they attach at both ends, what they do for us, and how to exercise them properly.

Let’s get started!

The Rhomboid Musclesrhomboid

The rhomboid is one of the group of muscles in the back. It is shaped like a parallelogram or rhombus, hence its name. The back muscles include the trapezius, the latissimus dorsi, the posterior serratus, the erector spinae, and the rhomboids. The rhomboids are divided into two sections, the minor and the major. The major is generally twice the size of the minor but not as thick. They both lie beneath the trapezius, attach at the spine and run down to the scapula, where they are inserted. There is generally a space between the two sections, but not always.

What They Do

Since the rhomboid is inserted into the scapula, its main function is to assist in movement of the scapula. Rhomboid major elevates the scapula, adducts the scapula (moves it back), and medially rotates the scapula downward. All of these movements are also connected to the movement of the upper limbs. Since the rhomboid is responsible for moving the scapula back to its original position, after it has been moved forward, when exercising the back, concentration needs to be given to the portion of the reps where you are pulling the weight toward your body, as this is the function of rhomboid major.

So, what are the exercises?

I’m glad you asked!

Exercising the Rhomboid

Please keep in mind that the rhomboids are just one of the muscles in your back and they are a muscle that is behind other muscle. The rhomboids are not a muscle you will see grow bigger, and any exercise you do for the other back muscles will work the rhomboids as well.

I listed a few back exercise to do for your latissimus dorsi muscles here, and some exercises for the trapezius muscles here.

All of those exercises will do a great job of working the rhomboids as well. I will add a few new exercises so you can have a bunch of exercises to choose from for your back workout. My suggestion is to choose 3 or 4 exercises and do one warm-up set of 15 – 20 reps and then 3 or 4 sets of 8 – 10 reps with a weight that you will just be able to finish the set.

One exercise that is really good for your entire upper back, and one I did today, is a super-set of seated cable rows. I began with a close grip and then switched to a wide grip, doing 10 reps of each with no rest between. The close grip rows will really work the rhomboids and trapezius, and the wide grip will really work the lats. I did three sets with pretty heavy weight, and I really felt it!

seated cable rowAfter this exercise, I did a modified version of the dumbbell row. I set my bench at a bit of an angle (about 30 degrees) and grabbed a couple of heavy dumbbells. I laid chest down on the bench, making sure my chest was over the top of the bench. Then I rolled my shoulders forward, and rowed the dumbbells back and up, trying to wrap my elbows around my torso. The use of heavy weight really stretched the muscles at the bottom, and really forced me to work hard on the way up.

dumbbell rows

I finished my back work out today with one arm dumbbell rows. I stood at the end of the bench feet a little wider than shoulder width. I started with the weight under my torso and then lifted it out and up, again trying to force my elbow around my torso. This diagram shows the almost ideal starting position. I started the weight even further under my torso, stretching the back muscles even further.

one arm standing row

Back Thoughts…

Just a few thoughts on working the back muscles. First, form is vitally important. The back is a fickle set of muscles, and one of their main jobs is to protect the spine from injury. If your form is only off a little bit, you can really hurt yourself.

Please make sure that you are focused on your training at all times. If you are distracted, stop, re-focus, and then start again. Try all the exercises with a light enough weight to work on the proper form before going heavy.

Back injuries are not fun, and can sideline your training for weeks at a time. Play safe.

Secondly, you do not need to do three or four exercises for each separate back muscle. They all work together, so just choose a few exercises and perform then with good form and you will be good to go. It is the mind-muscle connection that is important.


Finally, remember to rest between back workouts. It is during the workout that we break down the muscle tissue and it is during rest that the new connections are formed and the muscles grow stronger and larger. Rest and sleep are two very important aspects of any training schedule. As always, proper nutrition is also important.

Last Words

So there you have it. back

Installment three of four on the back muscles. Just one more post on erector spinae and posterior serratus to go. So many back muscles! By building a solid back, you will look stronger and wider from every angle. It is the latissimus dorsi and trapezius that give us our wide look, and make our waists look narrower.

Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Also, if you are a father (or mother) (or anyone for that matter) who would like an easy to follow program that includes a menu and work out information, check out this article from a few months ago.

See you in the next post.

Have a great day!


Tom Fitzsimmons

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