What back muscles do you hear talked about in the gym all the time? Usually the ones which are brought up in every discussion are the trapezius (traps), the latissimus dorsi (lats), and the lower back muscles. For some reason no one spends much time talking about their rhomboids which provide the powerful pull which bring your scapula (shoulder blades) inward towards your spine. Rhomboid exercises are very important to building the deep cuts in your back and in increasing your overall pulling strength.
The traps and lats are the two groups everyone thinks about due tto their impressive size and ability to be worked easily. Rhomboid exercises are no more difficult and actually help to enhance the workout of all your other back muscles.
One of the most popular exercises to target your rhomboids is the bent over barbell row. It is a common exercise included in many beginning weight lifting workouts. In addition to the rhomboids it works your lats, shoulders, and biceps. The important aspect of using the bent over barbell row is to complete the exercise fully with proper form. Many lifters do not pull the bar all the way to their chest pulling their shoulder blades tightly together at the top. This is the place the rhomboids get their work is when the shoulder blades pull in. If you pull only with your arms and outer back muscles you are failing to target the rhomboids.
One problem with bent over barbell rows is the ease of rocking your body to assist in the lift. Form often fails and isolation disappears. Other rhomboid exercises are more effective at eliminating the rock and increasing isolation. One of the best is the incline bench pull. Setup your weight bench as if you were doing an incline bench press but lie on your stomach. Place the bar below you. Do the same motion of pulling the bar to your chest (actually the back of the bench) just as you did in the bent over barbell row. Since you cannot rock you are isolating the muscle and getting more effective work directed to the rhomboid.
A barbell limits motion due to being a one piece bar. By changing to dumbbells you can increase the range of motion and get a more complete pull on the muscle. Rhomboid exercises using dumbbells include Two Hand Bent Over Dumbbell Rows, One Hand Rows, and Two Hand Reverse Palm Rows. All of these lifts give you greater range of motion and freedom of arm movement.
Make sure you include a variety of rhomboid exercises in your workout plan to help round out the appearance and depth of your back. The rhomboid muscles play an important role in your body symmetry and power. To ignore this critical muscle will leave you with a weaker back with higher risks of injury. Since the lifts all give added advantages to the rest of your back, arms, and shoulders they are a great addition to any workout.