Here’s part 2 of our series on a lesser-known muscle, your rhomboids! Earlier this week we discussed what they do and why they are important to train, and in this post we’ll show a few exercises you can do to make them stronger.
The Face Pull
My personal favorite exercise to get those rhomboids working is the face pull. Here’s a few keys to get the most out of this movement:
- Grip the end of the rope like you’re about to give a thumbs up.
- Keep your elbows high.
- Imagine you’re trying to bring the middle of the rope right between your eyes.
- Pull back with your shoulder blades – think about pinching them together.
Rows (any variation)
Any kind of row will stimulate your rhomboids – along with many other back muscles! Any variation will do, such as the bent-over row from a previous post (http://www.becomepowerful.com/2012/01/exercise-of-the-week-rows/), TRX rows, dumbbell rows, etc. We’ll use cable rows as the example for this:
- Keep your shoulder blades pressed flat against your ribcage and tucked down like you’re pulling them into a back pocket. You want to maintain this shoulder position throughout the duration of the exercise.
- Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulder blades back and together. Concentrate on using your back musculature to pull the weight rather than your arms.
Incorrect form – shoulders are being pulled forward by the weight and are unstable instead of pulled into place back by the scapula.
Just as the name implies, band pull-aparts are simply taking an elastic band and pulling it apart!
- Grip the band near the edges. The further apart your hands are on the band, the easier the exercise will be, but move them closer together to get a bigger challenge.
- Begin with your hands together. Pull them apart by thinking about pinching your shoulder blades together. Imagine that someone has a pencil or their finger between the shoulder blades and you need to crush it! Keep your arms straight without bending the elbows.
- Take care not to shrug your shoulders during the exercise. Just like in the row, think about keeping your shoulder blades flat against your back and tucked down.
- Lay face-down on the floor with your palms facing down. Go ahead and tuck your shoulder blades down.
- Pinch the shoulder blades together and raise your chest, keeping your thumbs facing upwards. Hold for a few seconds and lower yourself back down.
Scapular Retractions (Bat Wings)
This is an exercise I learned from an article written by Dan John, a coach I read from frequently. I’m using his description and his pictures from the article. (http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/reawaken_your_rhomboids)
- Grab a heavy pair of kettlebells or dumbbells and lie facedown on a bench, resting the weights on the floor.
- Pull the weights up toward your rib cage, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top for a second. From a bird’s-eye view, your torso should resemble bat wings. When in doubt, stick your thumbs in your armpits on this drill.
- The higher you pull, the harder you should squeeze your shoulder blades together. This movement is slight, the weights should move up and down only about 6 inches.
Check out the video of some of these exercises HERE, and get to appreciating those rhomboids!
B.S. , NASM-CPT