There's a small yet very important back muscle that can be overlooked when training upper body. The rhomboid muscles play a crucial role in physique, performance, and posture.

Strengthening this muscle will create better overall balance in your back, and while it isn't a muscle that's going to get huge, training it will have a profound effect on your overall back size.

Not to mention the positive effects to your posture and overall structural health of your upper body!

Build a stronger, more robust back with these 25 best rhomboid exercises.

The rhomboid muscle consists of two muscles - major and minor and are found in the upper back.

Together they form one muscle with the rhomboid minor sitting on top of rhomboid major, which is the larger of the two. These muscles run diagonally from the cervical and thoracic vertebrae down to the scapula (shoulder blades) on each side of the body.

These small muscles are dominated by the trapezius muscle and the latissimus dorsi that lay over them.

The rhomboid muscle can also be referred to as the middle back or mid-back. You cannot see the rhomboid muscles as they are positioned immediately deep to the trapezius muscles.

The rhomboids are an important part of upper limb movement and provide stability of the shoulder joint and the scapular. The rhomboid, along with many other upper back muscles, forms the shoulder girdle.

Rhomboids assist with the function of the shoulder blades, which includes scapular retraction, scapular downward rotation, and scapular control by anchoring the scapular. 

Rhomboid muscles are also key to pulling, throwing, and overhead arm movement.[1]

Rhomboid Muscles Defined

How To Target Your Rhomboids (5 Tips When Exercising)

If you're already doing any sort of pulling or rowing exercises, you're already working your rhomboids. But many people miss out on targeting them optimally due to a few things that can easily be avoided.

  • Don't go too heavy. Lightening the load can be beneficial for contracting the rhomboids properly.
  • Make sure you contract the muscle by squeezing the shoulder blades together when doing rows.
  • Try to limit trap engagement by keeping the shoulders away from your ears.
  • When doing a single arm row, try to rotate the torso at the top of the row to try and get more scapular retraction and, therefore, more rhomboid contraction.
  • When completing exercises that enable scapular downward retraction, such as a lat pulldown or pull-ups, think about your shoulder blades pulling downwards.

25 Best Exercises For Rhomboid Muscles

The rhomboids are important for both performance and upper body structural health and need to be strengthened and mobilized regularly.

Weak rhomboids can limit shoulder range of motion, create stiffness through the neck and upper back, and create both shoulder pain and rhomboid pain.

Not only will weak and tight rhomboids create negative effects in the gym, they can affect your daily life.

1. Barbell Bent Over Rows

barbell Bent Over Rows

The barbell bent over row is one of the most effective exercises for building complete back strength and activation of the upper and lower back muscles.


  • Works on grip and forearm strength.
  • Improves deadlifts and other compound exercises.
  • One of the most effective exercises for increasing upper body and core strength. 

How To Do It:

  1. Load a barbell and hold it in a pronated (overhand) grip roughly shoulder-width or slightly wider.
  2. Bend your knees and keep your back flat and bring the weight to standing; this is the starting position.
  3. From here, hinge forward at the hips and lower the weight slightly, allowing it to come away from your body.
  4. Keeping your core engaged, pull the elbows back and row the bar to your chest, squeezing the shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  5. Lower with control back to the start position and repeat for 6-8 reps, 3-5 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

The barbell bent over row can also be performed with an underhand (or supinated grip). Choosing this grip rather than overhand will recruit more biceps. 

2. Landmine Rows

Landmine Rows

The landmine row (also called the T-Bar row) builds some serious upper back strength.

It's a great way to go heavier without compromising your lower back as much as a bent-over row. This is one of the best row variations for optimal muscle growth.


  • Places less strain on the shoulders and spine than a bent over row.
  • Different grips and attachments can vary the stimulus and targeted muscles.
  • Very effective for strengthening the upper back and shoulders.  

How To Do It:

  1. Put the barbell into the landmine attachment or into the corner of a room if you don't have the attachment, and load weight onto the end.
  2. Standing with your feet on either side, use a triangle handle and place it under the bar.
  3. Bending your knees slightly, keep your back straight, and stand upright.
  4. Hinge the hips back and lower the weight.
  5. Row the bar up to your chest and squeeze the shoulder blades together at the top of the row, keeping your elbows in tight.
  6. Lower with control and repeat for 5-12 reps and 3-5 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you don't have a triangle handle attachment, you can use your hands to grip around the bar, but your grip is likely to fatigue quicker this way. The landmine row can also be performed as a unilateral exercise by standing on one side and is used to work on reducing imbalances. 

3. Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows

Chest-Supported Dumbbell Rows

Pulling exercises that are supported allow you to be more strict with the movement, as the added stability serves as a reminder that the back muscles need to drive the motion rather than allowing momentum to swing up the weight.


  • Limits movements through the torso, ideal for isolating the upper back and lats. 
  • Reduces strain on the spine, good for those who are injured or building strength.
  • Ideal exercise for hypertrophy and higher rep ranges.

How To Do It:

  1. Set the bench at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Taking two dumbbells of the same weight, position your body, so your torso and chest are supported by the bench.
  3. The arms hang on either side of the bench; from here, row the dumbbells up and pull the elbows back and close to your body.
  4. Lower the weights until the arms are straight and repeat. Aim for 8-12 reps for 3 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

A common mistake I see people make is they start shrugging their shoulders upwards before initiating the row. This shrugging reduces the amount of work the lats are doing. Always make sure you keep shoulders back and down.  

4. Face Pull With Rope

Face Pull With Rope

Face pulls are one of my favorite rhomboid exercises and overall upper back strengthening exercise.

Face pulls will strengthen the rhomboids, train scapular retraction and downward scapular rotation, and improve posture.

This exercise is done on the cable machine, and you only need light weight to have a big effect.

If you don't have a cable machine at home, read our guide to the best face pull alternative exercises.


  • One of the best exercises for improving posture.
  • Strengthen and stabalizes muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.
  • Ideal exercise to assist in injury prevention. 

How To Do It:

  1. Set the cable pulley to head height and attach the rope.
  2. Hold the rope with two hands using a palms-down grip and step away from the cable machine to bring tension. Your body should be square and knees slightly bent with arms extended.
  3. Initiate the movement by contracting upper back muscles and pull the elbows out high and wide, squeezing the shoulder blades at the end of the movement.
  4. Return to the start position and repeat for 8-12 reps, 3-4 sets. I like to do this exercise at the end of a session after any heavy work.

Tips From A Trainer!

You can also perform face pulls using a resistance band if you do not have access to the cable machine. 

5. Rear Delt Flys

Rear Delt Fly

Rear delt flys will not only target the shoulder muscles, but they will also get the rhomboids fired up and working hard.


  • Develops strong, well-rounded shoulders.
  • Improves aesthetics of the shoulders.
  • Helps decrease risk of injury due to muscular imbalances.

How To Do It:

  1. Sit on a bench with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
  2. Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, hinge forward at the hips until your torso is almost touching your thighs.
  3. The starting position is your arms hanging at either side.
  4. Do a reverse fly by raising your arms out to the sides to create a T shape.
  5. Lower the weight to the starting position with control and complete 10-12 reps for 3 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

Remember, don't lock out your elbows but don't bend your arms too much either. The elbows should have a slight bend in them.  

6. Side Lying Reverse Dumbbell Fly

Side Lying Reverse Dumbbell Fly

This dumbbell exercise is used to grow the rear deltoid, but it will also work the rhomboid minor and lower rhomboid.


  • Improves muscular imbalances by working on one side at a time.
  • The side lying position keeps your body stable and eliminates movement through the torso.
  • Keeps the shoulders balanced and strong.

How To Do It:

  1. Lying on the floor on one side, prop yourself onto one elbow and hold a light dumbbell in the other hand.
  2. Hold the dumbbell in an overhand grip and keep your elbow slightly bent.
  3. Holding this position with your body, with control, raise your arm upwards until the dumbbell is in a vertical position.
  4. Slowly reverse the movement and take the dumbbell back to the start position without it touching the floor for optimal muscle tension.
  5. Complete for 8-12 reps on each side for 3 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep the muscle under tension by keeping the weight elevated throughout the exercise, don't allow the dumbbell to touch the floor at the bottom position. 

7. Wide Grip Seated Row

Wide Grip Seated Cable Rows

Seated cable rows are a really safe exercise to build upper back strength and improve poor posture due to the supported position your body is in to complete the rowing movement.

If you don't have a seated row or low pulley at home, head on over to our article on the seated row substitute exercises.


  • Excellent exercise for beginners to build upper back strength in a safe position.
  • Complete time under tension builds bigger and stronger muscles. 
  • Carry's over to other pulling movements like deadlifts and pull-ups. 

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the long straight handle to the seated row cable machine.
  2. Sitting on the bench, hold onto the handle with a shoulder width or slightly wider grip with palms facing down.
  3. Row the handle towards your torso and squeeze shoulder blades together, ensuring your back is straight.
  4. Return the handle with control to the starting position and complete 8-15 reps for 3-4 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

Feel the shoulder blades stretching by allowing the shoulder joint to move forwards at the end of the row when the arms are fully extended. 

8. Standing Cable Row

Standing Cable Rows

The standing cable row is a great choice for building a well-defined back with the added benefit of working your shoulders, arms, and core.


  • Increases core activation. 
  • Targets multiple key muscles in the upper body making it an efficient exercise.
  • It's versatile and can be done with the rope attachment, the v-shaped handle or straight bar.

How To Do It:

  1. Set the cable pulleys at just above waist height with the handles attached.
  2. Holding the handles with arms straight, step back with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  3. Row the elbows close to the body keeping your shoulders away from your ears and pulling the shoulder blades together.
  4. Return the handles back to the start position with control and repeat for 8-10 reps, 3-4 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

You can also do this targeting one arm at a time. You'll need to use less weight and keep your core engaged throughout the movement to resist twisting. 

9. High Angle One Arm Cable Row

High Angle One Arm Cable Row

This rhomboid exercise puts constant tension on the rhomboids due to the high angle creating a diagonal pull.

It’s optimal for creating downward scapular rotation, getting the most out of effectively working the rhomboids.


  • Improves strength and symmetry between the two sides. 
  • Easy for beginners to learn.
  • Increased time under tension, effectively strengthening.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the handle to the cable machine and set the pulley above head height to create a downward pull.
  2. With an extended arm, step back to create tension and assume a split stance with the opposite leg forward and the knees soft.
  3. With your palm facing in, initiate the pull by engaging the back muscles and row the handle to your waist, rotating your torso slightly to open the shoulder.
  4. Return the handle to the start position and extend the arm and allow the shoulder to move forward to feel a stretch.
  5. Repeat for 8-12 reps per side. Aim for 3-4 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

This exercise could also be done with a resistance band if you don’t have access to the cable machine. 

10. Standing Rear Delt Rows With Rope

Standing Cable Rear Delt Row

The setup for standing rear delt rows is very similar to the standing cable row, but the cable pulley is set higher in order to target the rear delts. 

However, this exercise is still going to effectively strengthen the rhomboids.


  • Improves shoulder movement and overall balance.
  • Reduces risk of injury.
  • Provides good improvements to posture.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the rope to the cable pulley and set it to shoulder height.
  2. Holding the rope with palms facing down, step back, and stand tall with a soft bend in the knees.
  3. Initiate the pull with the elbows and keep them high.
  4. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold for a moment, then return to the start position
  5. Repeat for 8-12 reps, 3-4 sets

Tips From A Trainer!

This exercise can also be performed using a resistance band or a light set of dumbbells.  

11. Lat Pulldown

Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown is obviously a key exercise in growing your lats, but this is also a great overall back exercise and will target the rhomboids too.


  • Lat strength helps improve posture and spine stability and can help reduce back pain.
  • Ideal for muscle hypertrophy.
  • Great exercise for building strength to do pull-ups.

Related Article - Lat Pulldown Benefits

How To Do It:

  1. Sitting at the lat pulldown, adjust the height of the thigh pads to hold you in place and choose desired weight.
  2. Using the long straight handle, position your hands out wide and pull the bar down and sit on the bench.
  3. Lean back and pull the handle down to the top of the chest, squeezing the shoulder blades together.
  4. Slowly return the weight back to the start until the arms are straight and repeat.
  5. Perform 8-12 reps for 3-5 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

You can make this exercise more challenging by adding a tempo, pauses, or completing it as a 1 ¼ rep. 

12. Cable Pulldown

Cable Rope Straight Pulldown

Similar to the Lat Pulldown, the cable straight arm pulldown will primarily target the lats, but it's also going to effectively target the rhomboids.


  • Constant time under tension will improve muscle size and strength.
  • Safe exercise to perform with low risk of injury.
  • Engages the core muscles. 

How To Do It:

  1. Set the cable pulley to the highest height and attach the small straight handle.
  2. Holding with both hands at shoulder width, straighten the arms and step back from the machine. Hinge slightly forwards at the hips and keep your back straight.
  3. Keeping your core engaged, engage through the back muscles and pull the handle down to your waist, keeping elbows straight throughout the whole movement.
  4. Slowly release the handle back to the start position.
  5. Repeat for 8-12 reps, 3-4 sets, keeping the weight light to keep the movement strict.

Tips From A Trainer!

Focus on depressing your shoulders first, then bringing your arms down and back. 

13. Inverted Rows

Inverted Row

Inverted rows are a great exercise to build strength for a pull-up. This pull movement will build strength and size to your back without being as demanding as the pull-up.

Even if you can do pull-ups, it's a great exercise to include to get lots of volume in.

This exercise is an easier alternative to bent over barbell rows since you do not need to master the hip hinge movement, which can be challenging for some.


  • Great for beginners to improve pulling strength using their own body weight.
  • The exercise can easily be regressed or progressed by changing the height of the bar and angle of the body.
  • Improves range in the shoulder joint.

How To Do It:

  1. Position a barbell on the rack at waist height or below. The lower the bar, the harder it will be.
  2. Lie flat underneath the bar, facing upwards, and grab the bar just outside of shoulder width with an overhand grip.
  3. Keeping your core tight, bend the elbows back and pull your chest up to the bar, squeezing the shoulder blades at the top.
  4. Lower with control until the arms are straight and repeat for 6-8 reps and 3-4 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

To make this exercise easier, you can have your knees bent and closer to your body, so the bodyweight demand isn't as high. You can also set the bar higher if you struggle with this exercise. Do this 2-3 times per week if you're trying to get a pull-up. 

14. Pull Ups

Man with Black Cap Doing Pull Ups

The pull-up is the king of upper body exercises. It will target every muscle in your back, including those rhomboids.


  • One of the best upper body strengthening exercises.
  • Improves overall body strength and fitness.
  • Improves grip strength.

How To Do It:

  1. Place your hands on the pull-up bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Start with your arms extended, lean back to engage your lats, and bend your elbows until your chest reaches the bar.
  3. Lower with control until the arms are straight and repeat for 5-10 reps, 3-5 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you can't yet do a full pull-up, focus on eccentric reps, going as slow as possible, to build up your strength. 

15. Scapular Wall Slides

Scapular Wall Slide

Also known as wall angles, this exercise is surprisingly demanding and will expose how tight the muscles in your upper back and chest really are.

If you cannot get your arms fully extended above your head, then you know you're tight. Do this exercise daily to stretch the muscles and improve posture.


  • Helps improve upper back and shoulder mobility.
  • Assists in reducing chance of injuries. 

How To Do It:

  1. Standing against a wall, your back should be flush against it with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly away, knees slightly bent.
  2. Raise your arms to the sides at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Move only your arms overhead while keeping the elbows and back of the hands in contact with the wall, extending as far as your can.
  4. Lower to the start position and repeat for 10 reps.

Tips From A Trainer!

If this standing position is too difficult, start from the floor, and as mobility improves, you can move to the wall. 

16. Scapular Push Ups

Scapular Push Ups

Getting the shoulder blades moving properly is fundamental to shoulder and upper back structural health. The shoulder blades get stuck in one position for most of the day if you have a desk job, not ideal!

This rhomboid exercise is excellent for getting those shoulder blades moving through retraction (squeezed together) and protraction (pushed apart) which is going to keep your shoulder joint healthy.


  • Improves shoulder joint stability.
  • Helps prevent risk of injuries.
  • These will increase lifting capacity in other compound lifts like bench press.

How To Do It:

  1. The starting position is either on the floor or with your hands on the edge of a raised surface to make it easier (you could also do this on the floor on your knees to make it easier).
  2. Get into the push-up position and keep your torso tight and body in a straight line.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, pull your shoulder blades together and squeeze in this position. This is retraction of the shoulder blades, or scapular retraction.
  4. Move into protraction by pushing your shoulder blades away from one another and push hard against the floor. Keep the shoulders away from the ears to try and limit trap involvement.
  5. Move through protraction and retraction for 10 reps and repeat for 2-3 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

This exercise is all about scapular control. Make sure you don't let the elbows bend and keep your body in position. Make sure you don't push your head forward and strain your neck. 

17. Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

This basic but effective rhomboid workout doesn't require any weight and can be done as a warm-up or daily to mobilize the upper back.


  • Counteracts the shoulders rolling forwards.
  • Improves shoulder and upper limb stability.
  • Helps strengthen for every day movements such as pushing and pulling.

How To Do It:

  1. From a standing or seated position, keep your back straight and head neutral.
  2. Initiate the movement by pulling the shoulder blades together as far as you can and hold for 3 to 5 seconds.
  3. Relax to a neutral position and repeat this 10 times.

Tips From A Trainer!

When performing the shoulder blade squeeze exercise, always keep your shoulders back and down. Otherwise you will be activating the traps and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.  

18. Prone Y Raise

Prone Y Raise

The key to a healthy back is doing exercises such as the prone Y raise. It will strengthen all the upper back muscles and will improve shoulder range of motion.

Try doing this exercise regularly to strengthen and unlock a stiff back.


  • Easily done at home and can be done at any time.
  • Improves stability in the shoulders.
  • Carry's over to better pulling strength. 

How To Do It:

  1. Lying face down on the ground, tuck your chin and pelvis to create a neutral position.
  2. Extend your arms straight in front of you at a 45-degree angle, creating a Y shape with your body.
  3. Holding this position raise your arms upwards as far as they will go without compromising your position.
  4. Pause at the top, then slowly lower to start position. Repeat for 10-15 reps, 2-3 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

You can progress to a light dumbbell in each hand as the muscles get stronger. 

19. Prone Lateral Raise

Prone Lateral Raise

This exercise is really effective in isolating the rhomboid and working the thoracic spine to promote good structural movement in an area that can get really tight.


  • The lying position promotes better muscle isolation.
  • The can be done without any equipment and is going to provide benefits without the use of weights.
  • Improves mobility in the shoulders and upper back.

How To Do It:

  1. Lying face down on the floor with (or without) a light weight in each hand.
  2. Keep your arms straight to the sides and keep your forehead on the floor.
  3. Raise your arms upwards as far as possible without excessive lumbar extension.
  4. Lower to the floor and repeat for 10 reps.

Tips From A Trainer!

Lying on the floor will prevent momentum meaning your rhomboids will work the most effectively. This exercise can be done daily to unlock a stiff upper back. 

20. Prone IYT Raises

Prone IYT Raises

Effective rhomboid exercises don't always need to be done using weights. This exercise will assist in the stabilization of the small muscles surrounding the shoulder while strengthening the rhomboids.


  • Promotes shoulder stability and mobility.
  • Creates an overall healthier back, promotion good range of motion.

How To Do It:

  1. Start lying on the floor with your arms and legs extended.
  2. Brace your abs and hold this position while you raise your arms off the floor, creating the I shape with palms facing inwards.
  3. Keep your head in line with your thoracic spine, focusing on lifting through the chest and not your lower back; hold this for 5 seconds and return to the start position.
  4. Holding the same body position, raise the arms into a Y position and hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Lifting the arms, extend them out to the sides in a T shape and hold for 5 seconds.

Tips From A Trainer!

To get the most out of the IYT exercise, try doing two sets of 10 reps twice a week. Start with bodyweight and as you get stronger, try adding light dumbbells.  

21. Darts


This is another simple rhomboid exercise that can be done at home that requires no equipment. Do these often to keep your upper back and shoulder joint strong.


  • Improves poor posture.
  • Safe exercise for those who have muscle tightness or weak shoulders. 
  • Promotes a healthy spine.

How To Do It:

  1. Lying face down on the floor with your arms by your side and palms facing down.
  2. Roll your shoulders back and lift your arms as your chest comes off the ground.
  3. Hold for a couple of seconds, then return to the start position and repeat for 10 reps.
  4. Keep your core braced and breathe normally throughout the exercise.

Tips From A Trainer!

To protect your lower neck from any strain, keep your chin tucked throughout the movement. 

22. Banded Y Raise

Banded Y Raise

This rhomboid band exercise is best suited as a warm-up or for rehab work for the upper back or shoulders.


  • Improves shoulder mobility and range.
  • Reduces chance of injury playing sports or in the gym. 
  • The band keeps tension on the muscles and builds strength whilst mobilizing. 

How To Do It:

  1. Attach a resistance band to a stable surface and hold onto each end with an overhand grip.
  2. Step back to bring tension to the band and extend arms out in front of you.
  3. Engaging through your upper back, keep the arms straight and raise them straight up at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Hold at the top for a second or two, then slowly lower the arms to the start position.
  5. Do this for 8-10 reps and 2-3 sets at the start of a back or shoulder workout.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you don't have anywhere you can loop your band around, you can do this exercises seated with your legs straight and the band wrapped around your feet. 

23. Suspension-Trainer Reverse “Y” Fly

Suspension-Trainer Reverse “Y” Fly

This bodyweight exercise is performed with either gymnastic rings or the TRX cable.

You can make the movement more difficult by moving your feet towards the rig and decreasing the angle of your body.


  • Improves shoulder function and health.
  • Reduces the shoulders rounding forwards due to weak muscles and poor posture.

How To Do It:

  1. Hold onto the handles of the rings or TRX and lean back until your arms are extended out in front of you. Start with your body in a straight line at around a 45-degree angle and move your feet closer to the rig to increase the difficulty.
  2. Keep your elbows straight, contract your back muscles, and pull the arms out wide to form a Y shape with your body near vertical.
  3. At the top of the movement, hold, focusing on squeezing the shoulder blades, and return to the start with control. Complete 12-15 reps for 2-3 sets.

Tips From A Trainer!

This can be done at the start of a workout to fire up the rhomboids. 

Related Article - Best TRX Alternatives

24. Banded Diagonals & Pull Aparts

Banded Diagonals & Pull Aparts

Resistance band rhomboid exercises are an ideal warm-up before lifting weights. It will really activate the back muscles and get them ready for some heavy lifting.


  • Reduces risk of shoulder and back injuries.
  • Help increase upper body strength.
  • Enhances shoulder strength and stability.

How To Do It:

  1. Hold onto a medium resistance band (it shouldn’t be too stiff) with two hands
  2. Extend your arms out in front of you with hands at shoulder height.
  3. Raise one arm up at head height and the other at waist height on a diagonal line and pull tension onto the band by squeezing shoulder blades together; the band should move towards your body.
  4. Release and swap to the other side.
  5. Banded pull-aparts are done the same way but not moving into a diagonal shape. Extend the arms out in front, then retract the shoulder blades and pull the band towards your chest.

Tips From A Trainer!

To avoid using momentum during this exercise, slow down the movement and concentrate on squeezing the shoulder blades together. Hold for a moment in this position. 

25. Kettlebell High Pull

Kettlebell High Pull

The kettlebell high pull will target the deeper back muscles. The horizontal pulling motion will very effectively target the rhomboids, and using kettlebells give you an added cardiovascular workout.

This is a unilateral exercise, allowing more balance between two sides of the body.

This exercise is a progression to the single-arm kettlebell swing, so make sure you are competent in this before trying the high pull.


  • Activations and strengthens the upper back.
  • Great exercise to balance strengths between the two sides of the body.
  • Balances out the shoulders rounding forwards from poor posture and too much sitting.

How To Do It:

  1. Holding onto a kettlebell with an overhand grip and stand with feet outside of shoulder width.
  2. Keeping your core engaged and back tight, hinge at the hips and initiate a one-arm kettlebell swing.
  3. When the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, pull the kettlebell towards your shoulder, keeping your wrist neutral and elbow high.
  4. Push the kettlebell back out and into a swing and repeat, trying to breathe rhythmically.

Tips From A Trainer!

Make sure you always have a good grip on the kettlebell, so you do not hit your face as it comes very close. Always start with lighter weights when you're getting used to the movement. 

Benefits Of Rhomboid Strengthening Exercises

Back muscles and lats can easily get tight from lack of movement and contribute to bad posture from being stuck in the same position for long periods.

Too much time spent sitting is a huge issue in today's modern world. We spend way too much time hunched over a cell phone, our laptops, or driving.

Another issue is spending too much effort on upper body pressing exercises, such as bench press, will only make the problem worse. Rowing exercises are fundamental to rhomboid strength.

Tight rhomboid muscle will contribute to muscle imbalances, poor posture, and decreased performance in the gym.

You will be more susceptible to injury and pain daily if you do not strengthen this muscle, and you also limit your mobility, particularly overhead.

If you focus on strengthening and mobilizing your rhomboids:

  • You will be less susceptible to injuries
  • You will create fewer issues through other areas, such as shoulder injuries
  • You’ll walk a bit taller and be less rounded forwards
  • You’ll improve performance in the gym
  • You will create better muscular development through the upper back
  • Back training supports better posture

The rhomboids are often overlooked because it is not an upper back muscle that is going to grow in size; the muscle growth is limited.

But strengthening this as part of the upper back muscles will mean the overall size of your back will get bigger, and you can continue to train how you want.

If the rhomboids are undertrained, this is where imbalances can occur, meaning stronger muscles will take up some of the slack, which can lead to issues elsewhere.

craig capurso doing a pull up

Frequently Asked Rhomboid Exercises Questions

What causes tight rhomboids?

The rhomboid muscles are susceptible to becoming tight due to the amount of sitting we do at a desk, on cell phones, or while driving.

Our posture deteriorates when sitting for long periods, and we end up hunched forwards.

Being stuck in this position for long periods will create a tight and stiff upper back which can cause problems elsewhere in the body.

How do you treat a strained rhomboid?

Strained rhomboids can be treated with gentle stretching or a massage ball or foam roller to relieve the strain.

Awareness of your posture is also important to treat strained rhomboids and to try to move through different positions throughout the day.

It is important to see a physio if any pain persists so they can give you proper rehab exercises and recommendations.

How do you stretch your rhomboids and back?

There are plenty of stretching exercises you can do for your rhomboid and back to loosen the muscles and stay pain-free.

Stretches such as cat/cow and thoracic twists are taking your upper back through active mobility.

A static position you can hold to feel a long stretch through your mid-back is clasping your hands together and extending your arms out in front of you.

From here, push forwards and allow your upper back to round forwards and tuck your chin. Hold for 20-30 seconds and feel instant relief.

How do you release rhomboid trigger points?

Releasing tight rhomboids can be done with active stretching, static stretching, and using soft tissue release tools such as a foam roller or a massage ball.

If that doesn't help, it's a good idea to see a therapist who can release the area with techniques such as dry needling and deep tissue massage.

Why does my rhomboid major hurt?

There can be many causes of rhomboid pain [2].

Long periods spent at the computer, poor thoracic mobility, and conditions like kyphosis (curvature of the upper spine) are just a few reasons this muscle can cause pain.

If you have kyphosis or limited mobility, make sure you are doing rhomboid exercises at home daily to improve your function.

Pain can also be from a strain caused by exercise, which will improve with gentle stretches, massage, or rest if needed.


Rhomboids are not a muscle that everyone thinks about training, but you definitely should.

You need to be aware of this important muscle as it not only helps with improving your posture, helping with back pain, but it can also improve your performance in the gym.


Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website