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🏋️‍♂️ 12 best upper back exercises to test your rhomboids


Today’s newsletter is presented by WHOOP. Head here to get a WHOOP Strap and your first month for free!

Here’s what’s on tap for today:

  • Upper back exercises to blast your rhomboids

  • Calf training for size and support

  • Inside Lou Ferrigno’s Hulking feats of strength

Exercise Tips


Credit: VITAL ML / Shutterstock

The shirtless back of someone who has dialed in their training for years is kind of like looking at a topographical map of the Alps, crammed full of rugged peaks and valleys.

Two of the most prominent protrusions jutting out are the powerful and visually interesting rhomboids. While upper- and mid-back training can often (mistakenly) just focus on the lats, learning to train the rhomboids with the 12 exercises we’ve rounded up today will give you eye-popping gains and increase your capacity for overall strength.

In simple terms, the lats make you wide, and the rhomboids make you thick (think about a Ninja Turtle). Rhomboid training means lots of heavy rows that force you to focus on contracting your shoulder blades together. Inverted rows and band pull-ups may be the simplest way to feel this focus, but they are far from the only exercises available to you. 

If you’ve been neglecting this vital back muscle, you’re going to be entering into a whole new world of size and strength by learning to grind out these reps for your rhomboids.

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Grow Your Calves

Credit: Jasminko Ibrakovic/Shutterstock

If you struggle with your calves, don’t fret — you’re in good company. The great Arnold Schwarzenegger is among many who possess a great physique, genetics, and discipline but still have difficulty with their calf muscles.

The “biceps of the legs” may sometimes be tricky to deal with, but with these eight different ways to train calves, you have more chances than ever to impress when wearing golf shorts at the cabana.

You can use classic calf-building movements, like the donkey raise or seated calf raise, or get creative (and functional) by understanding how to use sled drags and farmer’s walks to beef up your lower legs. There are fewer excuses than ever to ignore this important stabilizing muscle, so pick your favorite calf workouts from this list below and start going to town.


The Tale of Sweet Lou

Credit: Giphy

Lou Ferrigno has spent a lot of his life walking around on camera without wearing a shirt (and then, later, with a shirt on). A huge human being who was successful in a sport that can often reward bodybuilders who max out smaller frames, Ferrigno literally stood head and shoulders above his competition.

Tall, broad, and athletic, looking like a late-‘90s strongman competitor, you’d naturally think Ferrigno would have some serious strength to back up his size. And you would be right. 

Ferrigno’s feats of strength were indeed impressive, and he even put his power on full display by competing in the first-ever World’s Strongest Man contest (alongside Franco Columbu). Leaving for Hollywood never cost Ferrigno his physique, and he still looks great today. See how he stacks up in the strength game and learn about his all-time best lifts.

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