When it comes to back bending the rhomboids play a critical role. Shoulder engagement, rotation, and power, makes a huge difference when it comes to leading backbends and gaining more depth. With that being said… We have put together 8 rhomboid exercises to help open and strengthen the shoulders!
Rhomboids & Posture
The way you sit, stand, or move will truly determine how well your muscles and joints are performing. Improper ways of sitting and standing can cause so many postural deformities, which can cause back, neck, or shoulder pains.
These postural issues can also lead to muscles atrophy and weakness. However, exercise can aid strengthen the muscles and reduce the chances of postural issues and backaches.
Secondly if we have postural alignment issues we will not be in our back bends or over head reaches correctly, which will disable your ability to progress, skewer one side and can and will lead to injury.
Our back is strengthened with multiple muscles, but today we will only discuss rhomboid muscles and how rhomboid exercises can help us improve our posture, deepen our bends, and support the thoracic spine.
WHAT ARE The RHOMBOID MUSCLES?
The rhomboid muscles are a group of four muscles that are present in pairs.
They are located in the upper-middle portion of the back and are present underneath large trapezius muscles.
Each pair comprises a small rhomboid minor and a large rhomboid major muscle. Together, they show rhomboid shape, therefore, are called rhomboid muscles.
The two pairs are arranged in a way that one pair is present on one side and the other on the other side of the upper back. Both pairs connect your upper spine to your scapula (shoulder blade).
Generally, rhomboid muscles are considered as superficial muscles because they are present next to trapezius muscles means they are pretty close to the skin. However, as they already have one layer of muscles over them, so it is difficult to see them unless you are seeing a well-defined person with low body fat.
IMPORTANCE OF STRONG RHOMBOID MUSCLES:
Rhomboids play a crucial role in performance. Without the proper functioning of strong rhomboids, your other larger mirror muscles will have less ability to increase in size and strength.
The reason is that rhomboids have the prime role in scapular retraction (pulling of shoulder blades towards each other) so, you can use them in any pulling movements such as rows or pull-downs. They also work in raising shoulders into pull-ups.
The core purpose of rhomboids is to hold the scapula to the spine. As their prime function is scapular retraction and adduction (moving the arm back towards the body.)
ADVANTAGES OF RHOMBOID EXERCISES:
Rhomboid exercises provide a lot of benefits. Some of them are mentioned below.
These exercises increase strength in the rhomboids muscles. Consequently, the rhomboid will lift more weight and assist the neighboring muscles the trapezius and latissimus dorsi (superficial lower back muscle). Thus creating more strength and power.
Rhomboid exercises, for example, rhomboid stretches also play a significant role in releasing tightness and tension from your back muscles.
They also help to enhance the flexibility of your spine, which is crucial in many contortion moves.
Rhomboid exercises also help in maintaining a healthy posture. Postural issues are pretty common these days because of a sedentary lifestyle and can result in chronic backaches.
To prevent these postural mis-alignments, you need to practice postural exercises with consistency.
As we have deeply discussed, the rhomboid muscles, their importance, and the benefits of exercising them. Now let discuss some exercises that you can do to maintain the strength, flexibility and durability of your rhomboid muscles:
STRENGTHENING RHOMBOID EXERCISES:
Prone lateral raise:
- Lie in prone line position (facing down). Grip light dumbbells in both hands.
- Position your forehead on a mat and your feet equal to your shoulder-width apart. Place your arms in the extended position and you’re palm facing downward.
- Raise your arms to your sides till your elbows are equal to your shoulder height, and then exhale. Now squeeze your both scapulae together and keep it for one count. None of your body parts should be raised except your arms.
- Now inhale and slowly lower down your arms, holding dumbbells. Repeat it 5-8 times.
Front lift thumbs-up:
- Lie in prone line position. (facing down) with your forehead in the downward direction and your feet equal to shoulder-width apart.
- Exhale and lift your arms straight up. Maintain them in a fully extended position without raising your head on the mat.
- While lifting your arms, compress the muscles between your scapulae as much as you can with no disturbance in your form.
- Hold this position for one count. Then inhale and lower your arms slowly back towards the ground. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times.
Smith machine, assisted pull up machine, or even a table can be used for this exercise.
- Grip the bar with hands around equal to the distance of shoulder width. Your whole body should be aligned from your head to your feet.
- With your fully extended arms, lift your chest towards the bar. Don’t try to touch the bar but lift as high as you can.
- When you attain the peak, hold this position for a while and slowly come back towards the ground. Repeat this 8-10 times.
Scapular wall slides aka
- Stand up against the wall and tilt your pelvis to remove the arch in your back. Your head, hips, and back should be pressed actively against the ground.
- Now lift your hands and place them flat against the wall with your fingertips and knuckles touching the wall. (Palms in the opposite direction to wall and elbows at an angle of 90 degrees from the body.)
- Now start raising your arms in the upward direction, making an angle of 180 degrees with a body without permitting your elbow, wrist and hands to detach from the wall.
- Retain this position for a while, and then lower your arms in the same way as you have lifted them. Repeat it 10 to 15 times.
Isometric Shoulder Extension Wall
- Stand with your back to a wall.
- Decide If you wish to use a bent arm, or a straight arm.
- It does not really matter which you choose.
- Pull your arm behind you, into the wall. This will cause a contraction of the shoulder muscles.
- Hold the contraction, and relax.
- Repeat as required.
Isometric Shoulder Wall Exercises
- Using a wall as resistance, simply push your arm into the flexion and pushing your arm forwards into the wall.
- Then abduction, or pushing your arm sideways into a wall.
- Then pushing your arm backwards into the wall.
- Pull your arm a body into the wall.
- Pull your arm inwards into the wall you may tuck your elbow into your side.
- Pull your arm outwards int making sure you tuck your elbow into your side.
- This strengthens the small muscles around your shoulder and the stability of the shoulder.
As we have discussed, strengthening exercising that helps in maintaining posture. Now let have a look at some rhomboid stretches that can remove tightness and soreness from rhomboid muscles:
Knee scapular pushups:
- On all fours with your hand underneath your shoulders and knees under your butts.
- Place your arms in the extended position and squeeze your scapulae together
- Retract your scapulae by drawing them together; then protract while pulling them away from each other
- Lower your body minutely and then lift back up. Repeat it 5-8 times.
For an intermediate version:
- Curl the toes under and lift the hips high into a mountain pose.
- Hand and arm positioning stays the same.
- Continue to retract and protract.
- Position the body into a plank position.
- Stand in the erect position and place your chin on your sternum (chest bone.)
- Now exhale and start to roll your spine forward by rolling your middle and lower back forward and also permit your pelvis to move forward.
- Maintain your knee soft and weight evenly distributed through your feet.
- Now, exhale and start lifting it in the same manner. Repeat it several times.
Rock n Rolls
This one is always fun too.
Standing thoracic rotation:
- Stand in an erect position with the spine perfectly straight.
- Now abduct your arms. (90 degrees to body).
- Fold at the hips.
- Rotate your trunk, pelvis, and head towards the right side. Keep this position for 10 secs.
- Again rotate your trunk, pelvis, and head towards the left side while the spine being erect and keep this position for 10 secs.
- Repeat this stretch 8-10 times.
- Start with a quadruped position in which your hands under your shoulder and knees under your hips. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
- Raise your sit bone in the upward direction, press your chest in the forward aspect, and permit your belly to sink
- Now raise your head, let your shoulders relax away from your ears and keep your eyes straight ahead.
- As you expire, attain the cow-cat pose while circling your spine outward, pinching in your tailbone and moving your pubic bone forward.
- Lower your head towards the ground and relax your body.
- Visualize a ball between your bum and your head.
- Actively try to pop the ball working your head to bum.
While performing these exercises, you have to evaluate whether they are necessary for you.
The golden rule is we always lengthen what we strengthen and strengthen what we lengthen.
The prime thing with shoulder work or any training method is consistency. Only then you will achieve your goal.
Looking for more advanced flexibility or contortion methods? Come along to a class on me! Simply use the code: First Class.
Stay strong and limber,
You may also like