13 Best Rear Delt Exercises (With Videos)
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Many people have a wide and rounded looking shoulder from the front view but their delts do not look fuller from the sides. The main reason for this is underdeveloped rear delt.
Rear delts are one of the smallest and the most underrated muscles which many people forget or ignore to train. However, it is one of the important muscles which helps to keep your shoulders healthy as it helps to keep your upper back at a stable position during any pressing movement.
Here, in this article, you will find some best and unique ways to hit those posterior parts of your delts most effectively. But before talking about the exercises, let’s first look at the functions of rear delts.
Functions of Rear Delts
Rear delts are situated at the posterior (back) part of your shoulders whose main function is to-
- Extend the glenohumeral joint
- Horizontal abduction
- External rotation.
So according to the functions of rear delts, we have combined the best exercises for you so that you can get the most out of your workout. So let’s begin with some amazing rear delt exercises!
Rear Delt Exercises
1. Barbell Rear Delt Row
Rows are an effective way to train not only the lats but also the rear delts. You just need to remember that when you are targeting your lats, your elbows should be in and the barbell should touch your abdominals at the top whereas, for rear delts, you should bring the bar towards your lower chest.
How to do
1. Hold the barbell and stand straight on the ground. Your both hand should be placed at shoulder-width apart.
2. Now bend down by taking your hips back without rounding your lower back and keep your chest up while facing down.
3. Lift the barbell and take it towards your lower chest such that it looks like a T shape.
4. Return to the starting position and then repeat the movement.
If you are a beginner then don’t use heavy weights because it can injure your shoulder joints and can cause serious problems. It’s always better to start the exercise with some warm-up set with light weights before jumping onto the main set.
2. Seated Rear Lateral Raises
This is one of the best ways to target the rear delts. According to ACE study, this exercise is ranked No. 1 when it comes to maximum rear delt activation when compared with many other shoulder exercises. So definitely include some rear lateral movements into your shoulder workout!
How to do
1. Hold two light pair of dumbbells and sit on a bench with your knees at about 90° angle.
2. Now bend forward while keeping your back straight and hold the dumbbells to the the side and this will be your starting position.
3. Start moving the dumbbells up with a slight bend in the elbow and raise it to the sides at about shoulder height.
4. Squeeze your rear delta at the top and then bring the arms back to the starting position
You can also go heavy with this exercise but make sure that you are not swinging too much. Also, focus on your rear delts while you move the dumbbells up.
3. 45-degree Incline Row
This 45-degree incline dumbbell row will give you that round and fuller look to your shoulders. This is the second-best exercise to train your posterior deltoids (rear delts) as per the ACE shoulder study. So even the science says it all, so include it in your workout without thinking twice!
How to do
1. Grab two dumbbells and place your chest on the bench which is set up at a 45-degree angle.
2. Start pulling the dumbbells up by flexing the elbow and bring the dumbbells up towards the chest. Both dumbbells should be away from each other.
3. Pause at the top for a second and then return to the starting position.
To be at the safer side, if you feel any pain in the shoulder joint during the movement, then discontinue the exercise.
Also, don’t go heavy on this. Choose appropriate weight according to your strength and experience. The most important part is to contract and feel that burn on the right muscle rather than moving the weights up and down.
3. Incline Rear Delt Fly
This is another great way of using the dumbbells to train your rear delts. For this, you will need an incline bench and a pair of dumbbells. Add this into your workout routine and enjoy the benefits.
How to do
1. Pick two dumbbells and lay down on an incline bench with your chest on the bench. Your feet should be placed on the ground for balance.
2. Start by raising the dumbbells to the sides while maintaining a slight bend at the elbow.
3. Pause at the top when your hands are parallel to the ground. Fully squeeze your posterior delts at the end.
4. Hold the top position for 1 second and gradually return to the starting position.
You don’t have to use heavy dumbbells for this exercise. Don’t raise your back or shrug during the movement. If your form starts to mess up, immediately reduce the load.
4. One-Arm Supinated Dumbbell Rows
Another great move to strengthen those posterior deltoids. The best part of this exercise is the supinated grip which allows external rotation which is another function of the rear delts.
How to do
1. Bend down and hold the barbell with one hand which is placed on a rack. You can also do this on a dumbbell rack or a bench.
2. Keep your back flat and both legs away from each other for balance.
3. Pick a dumbbell and then start moving it up with your hands facing at the front. Your elbow should go out at about 45° angle to hit the rear delts.
4. Squeeze your rear delts at the top and then return back to the starting position.
It’s very important to maintain an underhand grip to maximally activate your rear delts. So always remember this and correct yourself whenever you go wrong.
Also at the beginning, you should start with the lighter weights and then gradually increase the weights according to your strength.
5. Bradford Press
Many of you might not be familiar with this exercise but it’s a very good way to target your shoulders. As you take your hands back during these exercises, it forces your rear delts to get activated more into the picture.
You don’t need to add heavy plates on the bar, instead focus on contracting the muscle and feel that nice burn in your delts, especially the rear delts.
How to do
1. Grab the barbell with both hands placed slightly wider than the shoulders.
2. Keep the barbell close to your shoulders and hold that position.
3. Now start pressing the barbell up and take it towards the back of your head. You don’t need to completely extend your elbows as you move the barbell.
4. Slowly move the barbell up and then take it back towards the front part of your shoulder and then repeat the movement.
Always remember to keep your elbows pointing down rather than facing backward. This will keep the tension on your rear delts and will prevent you from getting injured.
6. Seated Cable Rows for Rear delts
This exercise will build your rear delts which makes your shoulder look wider from the sides. It’s very important to train your rear delts as most people have an underdeveloped rear delts.
How to do
1. Sit on a seated cable row machine and keep your legs on the platform. Your knee should be slightly bend.
2. Grab each end of the bar and keep your back straight while holding the bar. You can also use a straight bar but make sure that you are holding it with a supinated grip.
3. With your chest up and shoulders rolled back, start pulling the weights and bring the bar towards your upper abdominal area. Your elbow should go out and should be at about 45° angle.
4. Pause at the end and then return back to the starting position.
The key thing to note here is the elbow positioning. As your elbow goes out, the focus shift towards the upper back and rear delts. A 45° angle is the preferred angle to train the rear delts.
7. Behind-the-Neck Shoulder Press
This is another best way to strengthen your rear delts. Behind the necks helps to get that external rotation which is a great way to activate your posterior delts.
Snatch grip makes it more difficult so it’s not recommended for beginners or people with less shoulder mobility.
How to do
1. Grab the bar such that both hands are wider than the shoulders width. Keep the bar on your traps just like squats and step back from the rack.
2. Both feet should be shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and shoulders back before moving the weights up.
3. Start pushing the bar up while contracting your shoulders and fully extend your elbows at the top.
4. Return to the starting position and then repeat the movement
Here, you should choose a weight which you can handle without any pain or discomfort. If you feel pain, then you should avoid it because most people lack shoulder mobility due to which, it becomes difficult to perform these movements.
8. Behind The Back Barbell Raises
As the video suggests, it’s one of the most effective ways to train your rear delts. You will love this exercise because it directly brings rear delts into action. So if you are not able to effectively activate those rear delts, then this exercise is for you.
How to do
1. Place one barbell on the ground and stand in front of it. Now slowly bend down and pick the barbell up from the ground.
2. Now start bending forward while moving your hips back and keeping your back straight. This will be your starting position.
3. Start moving the barbell up and stop when your hands are parallel to the ground.
4. Pause at the top and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the movement without bending your back.
You can do the same exercise with an underhand grip. You just have to follow the same steps mentioned above. The only difference would be that your grip is underhand (supinated).
This is another great variation to hit those rear delts. So try the underhand version too.
9. Rear Delt Cable Flys
This is a great isolation exercise where you can completely focus on the right muscles and can eventually build the mind and muscle connection. Your rear delts will burn out after this exercise.
How to do
1. Attach both pulleys at the top part of the cable machine.
2. Grab the right side of the cable with your left hand and the left cable with your right hand.
3. Stand in between the cable machine and then move a few steps back while holding the cables.
4. Raise your hands and keep both hands together and from there, start moving your hands back with a slight bend in the elbow.
5. Pause when both arms are straight and parallel to the ground and squeeze your rear delts harder.
6. Slowly bring your hands back to the starting position and repeat the movement.
Do this with the proper form and use light weights for this exercise. You don’t need to go too heavy on this otherwise many other assisting muscles will get involved like traps. So go light and focus on rear delts as you move the arms.
10. Landmine Rear Delt Row
Landmine set-up is a great way to perform different exercises and you just need a barbell for it. Try this move and you will get that perfect burn on those rear delts.
How to do
1. Place a barbell at the corner of the wall and stand next to the barbell as shown in the video.
2. Now bend down by taking your hips back and grab at the end part of a barbell from one hand. Your hips should be back and your chest should be up. This will be your starting position.
3. Start lifting the barbell by moving your elbows to the side rather than keeping it in as this will allow you to engage more rear delts.
4. Squeeze your rear delts at the top and then return to the starting position.
This exercise will effectively challenge your rear delts as the positioning itself allows you to engage more rear delts. If you haven’t done this exercise before then start with light weights. Afterwards, you can increase the weights as your strength improves.
11. Single-hand Rear Delt Flys
Some people cannot use rear delts during fly exercises due to lack of mind and muscle connection. But this exercise will be a great alternative for you. It will completely isolate your rear delts.
How to do
1. Attach a pulley at about shoulder height and stand in front of the cable machine with your sides facing the cables.
2. Hold the cables from the other hand and keep your elbow and arms at shoulder height. Your elbow should be slightly bend.
3. Now start moving your arms horizontally and bring them towers the side of the body. Your chest should be up throughout the movement.
4. Pause when your arm is perpendicular to the shoulder. Then return back to the starting position and repeat the exercise.
Your rear delts are the one that gives width to your shoulders from the side view. It also tends to get weak due to our daily posture and sedentary lifestyle. So always have them in your shoulder workout.
12. Face Pulls
This is one of the best exercises not only for your back shoulder muscles but for the entire scapular muscles. If you want healthy shoulders, then you should do this exercise at least twice a week.
How to do
1. Attach a rope at the upper part of the cable machine. Hold each end of the rope and take a few steps back.
2. Stand at a shoulder width stance or a split stance, whichever is comfortable for you. Then, start pulling the ropes towards your nose.
3. Your elbow should go out and always go back. Think as if you want to hit someone standing behind you with your elbows.
4. Pause and then bring your hands forward and stretch your rear delts at the end.
You can do this at the beginning of the workout or the end as a finisher. Make sure to use moderate weight on this, otherwise, you can hurt your shoulder joints.
13. Dumbbell W Raises
If you have postural problems then this workout is for you. It will help you to target those weak muscles which we develop from either sitting too long at a desk or doing other official jobs. This will work your rear delts and rhomboids along with mid and lower traps which are important muscles to keep your shoulders in a safer position.
How to do
1. Set up an incline bench at about 60° angle. Pick two dumbbells and lay down on a bench with your chest down. Choose light dumbbells for this exercise.
2. Take your hands forward with elbows under the shoulders and at a 90° angle. From this position move the dumbbells up with thumbs facing up and form a W.
3. Breath out on the way up and squeeze Hi kye the back shoulder muscles. Come down to the starting position while breathing in.
Don’t use heavy dumbbells during this exercise as it is not meant for that purpose. You can use heavy weights in compound movements but not in these corrective exercises.
So these were some awesome exercises for your rear delts. You don’t have to do all these exercises, rather pick 2 or 3 exercises and do that for 6 weeks and then replace it with some other exercises mentioned above.
Also, make sure that you are adding both compound and isolated movements into your workout program to make the workout more effective.
If you want, we can help you in making a workout program for you according to your goals and requirements. So feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you find this blog helpful, then please do share it with your friends so that they can also start working on their rear delts and can add some new exercises in their shoulder workout.
Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.