The 9 Best Rear Delt Exercises

photo of woman flexing her deltoids at gym

Whether you prefer jogging, dancing, or sports, a regular training program for many people focuses on the lower half or core. However, a lack of attention to upper-body strength might result in hunched posture or the inability to lift and carry heavy objects. As a result, upper body strengthening should not be excluded from your daily training practice.

Your arms, forearms, shoulders, chest, and hands comprise your upper body. These muscles connect your chest, limbs, and torso to your spinal column. Rear delt exercise may improve posture, sports performance, and daily confidence and reduce age-related atrophy.

Gaining shoulder muscle involves exercising multiple muscles from various angles. The front of your shoulder, particularly the anterior deltoid, dominates many workouts and daily activities. The anterior deltoid, for example, is important in elevating your arms in front of you and assists in pressing motions such as the bench press. However, strengthening the middle and posterior deltoids is also significant. The middle deltoid elevates your arms out to the sides. In contrast, the posterior deltoid stretches your humerus behind you in activities like walking or pulling a lawnmower cord.

You may increase strength to your posterior deltoid and create full shoulders by including a few rear deltoid movements into your shoulder routine. The best rear deltoid workouts for optimum posterior deltoid hypertrophy are listed in this guide!

You’ll also find training suggestions to enhance posterior delt development and exercise hacks to save time and energy as well as improve recovery.

What are Rear Delts?

Posterior Deltoids (Rear Delts) are muscle fibers on your shoulders’ backside. The shoulder blade muscle originates in the Scapula. It is inserted into the Humerus (Upper Arm) together with the Lateral (Side) and Anterior (Front) Delt muscles. The Scapula Retractors, Rhomboids, and Traps work along with the Rear Delts to draw your shoulders back. This is significant because it prevents the shoulders from hunching forward. Excessive upper body hunching causes shoulder and back tension, increasing the risk of injury.

Why do You Need to Do Rear Delt Exercises?

The back delts (shoulders) are one of the most significant upper-body muscles. Yet, even on a shoulder-focused exercise, most people ignore them, train them poorly, or do not give them the attention they need. Here’s why Rear Delt are vital to practice and some routines to help you achieve them.

woman stretching in the gym

Boosts Strength

Your rear delts assist in retracting your shoulder blades. This will benefit your pulling workouts like rear delt row and certain lying pressing motions like the bench press since they function as stabilizers. In addition, working out your rear delts achieves better balance, stability, and strength. 

Improves Posture

The posterior fibers help the back muscles extend the shoulder, and the rear delts help you maintain appropriate posture and function as an effective stabilizer to help avoid back discomfort and shoulder dislocation. On the other hand, hunched shoulders may force your head forward to compensate for the posture, which may contribute to persistent headaches, spinal difficulties, mental anguish, and other problems.

Boosts Shoulder Mobility

Underdeveloped posterior deltoids may cause shoulder stiffness. Training your rear delts helps release your rotator cuffs and promotes shoulder mobility.

Lowers Chances of Injury

Exercising your shoulder and upper back muscles aids in the development of strength in your back deltoids and upper body. Aesthetically, powerful deltoids make your upper body seem larger, stronger, and more toned.

Strengthening these muscles reduces your risk of injury, supports excellent posture, and aids shoulder stability. It may also aid in the symmetry and alignment of your physique.

woman flexing her rear delts

Burns Calories

Strength training increases metabolism in two ways. To begin, developing muscle raises your metabolic rate. Your muscles burn extra calories at rest than fat mass because they are more metabolically efficient. Second, studies suggest that strength-training activity increases your metabolic rate for up to 72 hours. This implies you’re continuously burning calories hours after your delt exercise.

Here are the 9 best rear delt exercises: 

Standing Bent-Over Lateral Raise

The bent-over lateral raise is an isolated exercise that targets the back of the shoulder and the rear deltoid. A matched pair of dumbbells is needed to do bent-over lateral lifts.

Begin by bending over at the hips and slightly bending at the knees with a dumbbell in each hand so that your body is near parallel with the floor. With your arms falling towards the floor, begin the exercise by exerting strength to elevate the dumbbells straight out to the side of your body. Imagine touching the wall in the building you are in. Raise the dumbbells until your arm is parallel with the floor, then hold them there for a split second before gently lowering them back to the starting position.

Isolation exercises, such as the bent-over lateral raise, work best when combined with weights that allow for at least 10 excellent reps. When targeting such a tiny muscle as the rear deltoid, it is quite simple to mistakenly include bigger, stronger muscles, such as those of the mid-back in this example, if the weight surpasses a specific threshold.

If you exercise your shoulders, the bent-over lateral raise can be used at any point during the session. Depending on your primary focus of that workout, if the rear deltoids are a priority, this exercise can be used first in the routine. If they are the least priority, this exercise can be used last in the routine. On the other hand, if you divide your shoulder training into two days with the rear deltoids paired up with the back, this exercise should be utilized at the end of the program to prevent limiting your back session.

woman about to do bent-over lateral raises

Lying Rear Delt Circles

Look ahead while lying on your stomach on a flat bench. Then, hold one dumbbell in each hand using an overhand grip. Next, raise your arms in front of you to head height. That is your beginning point. Next, bring your arms out in a circular motion across from your shoulders to your hips, keeping your elbows slightly bent. To return to the beginning position, pause and then reverse the movement. Repeat until you’ve completed the specified amount of sets and repetitions.

Assisted Pull-ups

Pull-ups are an excellent training movement, but most individuals lack the upper body power to complete one without assistance. This exercise targets not just the posterior deltoids but also the lats, trapezius, and biceps.

Assisted pull-ups allow you to gain strength while perfecting your technique and body positioning. While these variations may not provide the same strength as standard pull-ups, you will still acquire strength and target the same muscles. You may also concentrate on increasing your grip strength, enhancing your stability, and polishing your form. You may consider the variations as progress as long as you’re improving your fitness and achieving your objectives.

Include these workouts in your strength-training regimen. Do 2 to 4 sets of 4 to 8 repetitions for each variation, such as band pull-ups, negative pull-ups, and partner assistance pull-ups.

It is recommended to begin with a weight that is light enough to make the exercise difficult yet allow you to execute the movement correctly and with excellent form. 

woman doing an assisted pull up in the gym

Inclined Rear Delt Dumbbell Row

Another heavy workout that effectively targets the back delts is the dumbbell incline row. This exercise involves several of the rear delts’ movement functions and extra external rotation.

To do it, first set up a bench with a 30-degree incline. If you set it too high, your side delts and back muscles will be activated. If you set it too low, you will not be able to achieve a complete range of motion. Next, take a set of dumbbells in each hand and raise them with your elbows pointed out by your sides instead of being tucked in. Anatomical studies show that doing so strengthens the back delts and prevents the lats from taking control. As you pull, externally rotate your shoulder by rotating your wrists outwards with each rep. For some seconds, hold the top position while entirely contracting your rear delts before returning to the bottom position. With each exercise, consider pushing the elbows up and behind the body to work the back delts.

Incline Reverse Dumbbell Fly

Start by positioning your body on a chair with the backrest tilted at 45 to 60 degrees. Keep your body pressed against the backrest and your feet firmly planted on the floor. Allow your arms to sway towards the floor with slightly flexed elbows and palms facing each other. To stabilize your spine, tighten your core and abdominal muscles.

Exhale and gently lift the dumbbells up and out to the sides, raising the upper arms, elbows, and dumbbells together until the arms are near shoulder level. As you approach the finish position, squeeze your scapulae (shoulder blades) together. The dumbbells should be aligned with, or slightly in front of, your ears in the elevated position. Maintaining your body firmly on the backrest may prevent arching your back during the upward phase.

During the lowering phase, inhale gradually and drop the weights back to your starting position. Again, the technique is crucial in this lift. The focus moves away from the shoulders and toward the latissimus dorsi when the dumbbells are elevated to an end position behind the head rather than in line with the ears (back).

Rear Deltoid Machine

The reverse fly machine, also known as the rear delt fly machine, is a gym machine workout that strengthens your rear deltoids. This gadget helps educate newbie weightlifters on the safest approach to stimulate their back delts.

The rear delt fly machine develops your shoulder muscles by training your posterior deltoids. While this is an auxiliary exercise, it may help you perform better in hard exercises like the overhead press, barbell deadlifts, and bench press. With the rear delt fly machine, there is less risk for injury because it is a stationary machine. As a result, there is minimal tension on your lower back, and your core does not have to work hard to stabilize your torso. 

Consequently, you may concentrate on exercising your back delts without fear of injury. This choice is ideal for novices or those with a history of shoulder problems. Moreover, long hours of sitting in a chair combined with muscular weakness might lead you to hunch over and round your shoulders. Fortunately, the rear delt fly machine is one of the greatest workouts for improving it. If you have back issues, the rear delt fly machine may tighten your rear delts to cure this condition.

woman exercising her rear deltoids in gym

Cable Machine High Pull with Ropes

This technique is a terrific method to vary your shoulder workouts, but it does need the use of certain gym equipment like a cable machine with a double-handled rope attachment. Changing the angles of your muscle exercise will help you target your deltoids in new ways. This will assist you in gaining strength.

To do this exercise, you must stand with your feet hip-width apart while facing the cable machine. Place the rope handle to the cable attachment once it has been adjusted to chest height. Step back with your feet hip-width apart and your arms outstretched in front of you. Pull the ropes toward you, separating them as you go. To help target those deltoids, keep your elbows up high. Return your elbows to the beginning position slowly and with control. The weight must be light enough to allow for 10–12 repetitions. Work your way up to 2–3 sets.

It is recommended to bend your elbows 45–90 degrees away from your sides while drawing the rope apart and toward your chest. You can lower your shoulder to reach your comfort level if you suffer discomfort or stiffness with your elbows 90 degrees apart from your sides.

woman using a cable machine doing high pulls in gym

Seated Bent-Over Lateral Raise

The sitting bent-over lateral raise is a good shoulder isolation exercise for increasing muscle and strength, but it also stimulates the rhomboids (back muscles). Seated Bent-Over Lateral Raise are a good technique to train through a broad range of motion while also getting a decent stretch in the muscle, making it a safe workout that anybody can perform.

Since the shoulders are a sensitive region in general, you should start light and gradually increase the weight as your shoulder joints warm up. Still, it’s always a good idea to go gently in your endeavors to make consistent progress. Gains will occur, and you don’t need a lot of weight to grow beautiful shoulders. So, if you want to train them efficiently, include the sitting bent-over lateral rise into your program.

Start by sitting on the end of a bench with two dumbbells, one in each hand. Then, with your back straight, bend your torso a little. Raise both dumbbells to your sides and laterally until your arms are parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds before exhaling. Then, while inhaling, lower them back down.

Rear Delt Cable Pull

The final exercise is known as the rear delt cable pull. This is another terrific exercise for targeting the back delts with a smaller weight and greater repetitions. This exercise is beneficial if you have trouble with your neck, traps, or mid-back. This is because the end range of this exercise includes putting the arm into hyperextension behind the body, which is one of the key roles of the rear delts and a position in which other muscle groups such as the lats and traps are pretty weak.

Fix the cable pulley at the shoulder length and fix the weights that will match best with your fitness and strength. Attaching a double grip would be better for good motion. Next, grab the grip with both hands, such that both your palms will face each other with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart. This will mark your start position. Next, you’ll need to pull the cable towards your upper chest. Your arms should be horizontally in line with the shoulders and your elbows need to be pointing outward. Next, exhale and release the cable to the start position while maintaining the position of your body. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps. 

Final Thoughts

Most of the people spend their time sitting in front of the laptop, television, or tablet for hours. This impacts posture and may lead to back pain or other muscle pains. Rear delt exercises help improve posture and boost performance. 

A stronger back and shoulder muscles enhance your posture during physical activities, which may reduce injuries caused by bad form. Stronger upper body muscles aid in the lifting of large goods in regular duties. Without strengthening these regions, your lower back muscles are often forced to compensate for the arms and shoulders, which may cause tension, inexplicable soreness, or an excessive injury.

You might try adding one of the above-mentioned delt exercises to your gym routine to make your upper body stronger and build muscle. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before you start any exercise.

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