The latissimus dorsi -- commonly called lats -- and rhomboids are back muscles that work together in pulling movements. The lats, which run from your pelvis and lower back to your upper arms, draw your arms down and back. The rhomboids, located between your spine and shoulder blades, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pulling exercises, such as rows and pulldowns, strengthen both sets of muscles.
Cable pulldowns, sometimes called lat pulldowns, primarily target the lats, but also engage the rhomboids. Take hold of the bar with an overhand grip, placing your hands wider than shoulder-width. Sit on the seat facing the machine. Place your knees under the padded support, with your feet flat on the floor. Lean your upper body slightly back, extending your elbows fully. Bend your elbows to pull the bar toward your chest, then return to the starting position.
Straight-Back Seated Cable Row
Seated cable rows work both the lats and rhomboids. Sit on the bench facing the machine. Place your feet on the foot supports. Grasp the handles and slide your hips back until your knees are slightly bent and your elbows are straight. Keep your torso upright. Pull the handles toward your abdomen. Lift your chest and pull your elbow back to emphasize the rhomboid contraction. Slowly return until your elbows are straight.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
One-arm dumbbell rows strengthen the rhomboids and lats on each side of your back individually. Place your left hand and left knee on a bench, with your right foot on the floor. Your right knee will be slightly bent. Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand with an overhand grip. Keeping your upper body stable and your back flat, pull the dumbbell upward. Draw your elbow back at the end of the movement to emphasize the rhomboid contraction.
Inverted rows are a bodyweight exercise that target both the lats and rhomboids. Position yourself under a stable horizontal bar. Hold the bar with a wide grip. Extend your elbows fully, straighten your legs and lift your hips until your body is in a straight line. The bar should be high enough that your back does not touch the floor. Maintaining the alignment of your body, pull your chest up to the bar, then lower until your elbows straighten.
- Essentials of Strength and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association
- ExRx.net: Back
- Body Building Anatomy; Nick Evans
Joe Miller started writing professionally in 1991. He specializes in writing about health and fitness and has written for "Fit Yoga" magazine and the New York Times City Room blog. He holds a master's degree in applied physiology from Columbia University, Teacher's College.