Each of the three deltoid heads—the front (anterior), middle (medial), and rear (posterior) deltoids—must receive equal attention for optimal shoulder growth. Neglecting the back delts while focusing on the front and middle delts may cause muscle imbalances and increase the risk of injury.
By building muscle in the back of the shoulders, you may improve their appearance, mobility, and stability. This article will discuss the significance of working the back delts and will provide some of the most efficient exercises for doing so.
The Role of Rear Delts
The posterior delts (or rear delts) are the muscles located behind the shoulder joint. They’re crucial in a wide range of upper-body motions, from pulling and rowing to pressing and shoulder-joint stabilization. Strengthening the rear delts helps with posture, shoulder stability, and avoiding muscle imbalances that may contribute to shoulder issues.
Effective Rear Delt Exercises
1. Bent-Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly
One of the best ways to strengthen your rear deltoids is with the time-honored classic, the bent-over dumbbell reverse fly. Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand and standing with your knees slightly bent.
Keep your back straight and parallel to the floor as you bend forward from the hips. Raise your arms out to the sides, elbows ahead of your shoulders, from this starting posture.
Keep the tension for a second, and then gradually return the weights to their starting position. Maintain a slow, controlled motion while actively contracting your back deltoids.
2. Face Pulls
The muscles in your upper back and behind will thank you for doing face pulls. This workout may be done with either a cable machine or resistance bands. To use a cable machine, first, secure a rope or handle at a height that’s around chest level.
Maintain a shoulder-width stance and an overhand hold on the rope. Keep your elbows high and broad and retract your shoulder blades as you draw the rope towards your face.
At the top of the motion, contract your rear delts as you gently return to the beginning position. Focus on the mind-muscle connection and keep your form steady for maximum activation of the back deltoids.
3. Seated Rear Delt Fly
The sitting rear delt fly is a targeted isolation move for the posterior shoulders. Position yourself on a bench or an exercise ball and grip a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inward.
Raise your arms out to the sides until they are parallel to your shoulders, keeping your elbows slightly bent. At the height of the movement, contract your rear delts as you gently return the weights to the beginning position.
Keep your spine in a neutral position during the exercise for optimum muscle activation.
4. Band Pull-Aparts
Pull-apart with resistance bands is a flexible and portable workout that can be done almost anywhere. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms outstretched in front of your chest.
To separate the band, squeeze your shoulder blades together and then stretch your arms out to the sides. Engage your back deltoids by keeping your elbows slightly bent.
After completing the required number of repetitions, slowly return to the starting position and begin again.
5. Cable Reverse Fly
Put the pulleys of a cable machine all the way down. Keep your feet hip-width apart and your back to the machine as you stand.
Exercise your rear deltoids by holding the handles with an overhand grip and extending your arms to the sides while bending your elbows slightly. Repeat the process while slowly reversing your posture.
6. Prone Reverse Fly
Position yourself facedown on an incline bench while gripping a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms out to the sides, bending at the elbows so that they are parallel to your shoulders.
Slowly drop the weights while you contract your back delts. Focus on the muscular contraction and keep your breathing under control the whole time.
7. Wide Grip Upright Row
Grab a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart and use an overhand grip. Place the barbell in front of your thighs and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Keeping the bar close to your body, pull it up until your chin touches it, leading with your elbows. At the peak, contract your rear delts by gripping your abs, and then slowly return the bar to the starting position.
8. T-Bar Rows
Prepare a T-bar row machine with a challenging load. Straddle the machine with your feet hip-width apart and an overhand hold on the handles.
Keep your back straight as you bend at the hips and draw the handles toward your body, squeezing your rear deltoids at the top of the exercise. Repeat while gradually lowering the handles again.
9. Dumbbell Wide Row
With your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight, do a squat by bending forward from the hips while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms dangle loosely at your sides.
From here, raise the weights over your head and out to the sides, guiding the movement with your elbows. Contract your rhomboids at the peak of the rep, and then gently release them as you drop the weights.
10. Reverse Pec Deck Fly
Place your back on the pec deck machine’s backrest and raise the grips to shoulder level. Use an overhand grip to hold onto the handles.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and press the handles backward, concentrating on tightening your rear deltoids, while keeping your back on the pad. Repeat the process while slowly reversing your posture.
11. Standing Band Face Pulls
Anchor a resistance band at chest level to a solid object. Face the anchor point while holding the band over your head.
To target your rear deltoids, shrug your shoulders back and bring the band closer to your face. Hold at the apex for a second or two, and then gently reverse direction.
12. Inverted Rows
Use a suspension trainer, such as a TRX, or set up a Smith machine with a barbell. Lie on your back with your legs outstretched and your body positioned such that your upper body is supported by the bar or grips. Use an overhand grip, somewhat wider than shoulder-width apart, on the bar or handles.
Pull your chest toward the bar or handles, leading with your elbows, while keeping your body straight. Contract your rhomboids at the peak of the movement and release as you descend.
13. Kneeling Rear Delt Row
Prepare a low-hanging cable machine by attaching a rope to it. Get down on your knees in front of the machine, back turned, and grab the rope handles above your head.
Pull the ropes in nearer your body while concentrating on tightening your rear deltoids and keeping your back straight. Repeat the process while slowly reversing your posture.
14. Prone Y-Raises
Place a light dumbbell in each hand and lie facedown on a bench or an exercise ball. Raise your arms over your head so that your body becomes a Y.
Raise your arms in a straight line toward the ceiling, directing your pinkies and concentrating on contracting your rear deltoids. Reduce the weight of the dumbbells and repeat the exercise.