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The 8 best Rear Delt Exercise for Stronger, Well Rounded Shoulders

When it comes to shoulder development the front and lateral head of the shoulder gets enough stimulation, even from the compound lifts, but the rear delt is almost always left out of the equation.

The average gym goer always neglects the rear delt just by being ignorant to what they truly offer. 

Build Your Shoulders from Every Angle

Rear Delts
Rear Delts Muscle

A stronger well rounded shoulder comes from development of all three heads. This should come as a no-brainer that if you don't inflate a balloon in all directions then it won't become well rounded, the same is the case with our shoulders we must work every striated head with the same intensity. To build well rounded shoulders do the following exercises. 

Best Rear Delt Exercises

The idea of best rear delt exercises is quite flimsy, but the best exercises for you, now that is something you should go after. Don't just find the best exercises, find the best exercises for you and for starters you can try these following exercises. 

Band Pull Apart

The name clears the exercise itself, you take a resistance band and you try to pull it apart. It's easier said than done but to target the rear delt you must do it in the following manner. 

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Band Pull Apart

How to do it

  • Take a resistance band with a relatively good range of resistance for pulling, if you take a higher resistance band you might not be able to stretch it out fully. 
  • Hold the band at shoulder width apart on either end with a pronated grip.
  • Raise your hands to make them parallel to the ground. 
  • This is your starting position. 
  • Take a deep breath and now pull the band apart by widening your arm span. 
  • Once stretched fully come back slowly to your starting position and repeat. 

Standing Cable Face Pulls

This is a well known rear delt exercise. The average gym goer does this and has returns on even light weight. This exercise however has a very long learning curve and you must practice this for a long time and after doing so you might feel your rear delt activated perfectly doing face pulls. 

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standing face pulls
Standing Cable Face Pulls

How to do it

  • Take the cable machine's moving arm and adjust it to slightly higher than your height. 
  • Attach a rope grip to the arm and pin the weight stack to a comfortable weight range. 
  • Hold the rope and take a few steps back and raise your arms maintaining the tension in the cable. 
  • This is your starting position.
  • Now pull the rope to your eye level and then flex like you are doing a double biceps pose, you should hold this position for a few seconds. 
  • Slowly lower the weight and go back to the starting position and repeat. 

Dumbbell Reverse Fly

The Dumbbell reverse fly has been a primary movement for old school bodybuilders to develop the rear delts. 

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Dumbbell Reverse Fly

How to do it

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells with adequate weight and lean forward by bending but still maintaining a straight and stiff back. 
  • Hold the dumbbells in front of your face in a pronated grip. 
  • This is your starting position. 
  • Now pill your arms to the side as if you're doing a flying motion. 
  • Once you've reached maximum contraction, slowly lower the weight  to starting position and repeat. 

Inverted Row

The Inverted row or Australian pull ups are a famous calisthenics exercise used to build a good base and strength in the upper body region. This exercise is often recommended to increase strength for doing pull ups. 

inverted row
Inverted Row

How to do it

  • First find a parallel bar which is at the height of your belly button. 
  • Get under the bar and hold a position like you're doing a reverse push up. 
  • This is your starting position. 
  • Pump your chest out, take your shoulders back and pull yourself towards the bar without bending the rest of the body. 
  • Once you've touched the chest to the bar then slowly lower down to starting position and repeat. 

Wide Grip Pull Up

The pull up is an ultimate back builder, it hits your lats, traps, lower back and rear delts. To make this movement a rear delt dominant you should use a wider grip. 

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Wide Grip Pull Up

How to do it

  • Get under a pull up bar and grab the bar with a wider stance than your shoulder width. 
  • Hang on the bar with your back arched and lift your feet up. 
  • This is your starting position. 
  • Now pull up ae if you're trying to bend the bar. 
  • Once you've touched the bar to your chest you slowly lower down to the starting position. 
  • Try to at least get your chin to the bar for a better contraction. 
  • From the starting position repeat again. 
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Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

The common misconception in bodybuilding is that a wider grip on lat Pulldown will make the lats wider but that is not so. The wider grip on lat Pulldown is a rear Delt dominant exercise. 

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Wide Grip Lat Pull Down

How to do it

  • Adjust the seat on the Lat Pulldown machine and pin the weight stack with a comfortable weight. 
  • Grab the bar with a wider grip than your shoulder width and sit down with your legs fixed on the leverage. 
  • Retract your shoulder blades and arch your back slightly. 
  • This is your starting position. 
  • Take a deep breath and pull down the weight till the bar touches your upper chest region. 
  • Once reached maximum contract slowly down the weight stack to reach the starting position and repeat for reps. 

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

The single arm dumbbell row has been in practice ever since the inception of free weights and today also many bodybuilders and strength athletes still do this movement. With a slight modification you can target rear delts effectively. 

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Single arm Dumbbell Row

How to do it

  • First take a dumbbell which suits your strength capabilities and place it in front of a bench
  • Place your hand and one leg on the bench for leverage and don't over rely on that leverage 
  • Grab the dumbbell in one arm and arch your back and keep it that way throughout the movement.
  • This is your starting position 
  • Take a deep breath and pull the dumbbell to your chest and once reached maximum contraction slowly lower down to the starting position
  • Repeat for reps
  • Switch arms and repeat the same amount of reps

Bent Over Barbell Row

The bent over barbell row is considered to be the best back builder by many bodybuilders. This movement has the same mechanics of a deadlift and targets your entire back with slight modifications. Let's see how you can target rear delts using a bent over barbell row. 

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Bent Over Barbell Row

How to do it

  • Grab a barbell and add plates with weight that matches your strength range. 
  • Bend and pick up the barbell in a deadlift manner with a pronated grip. 
  • Lean forward and bend your back with your back straight and maintain an arch in your back
  • This is your starting position. 
  • Take a deep breath and pull the weight to your diaphragm region. 
  • Once reached peak contraction slowly lower the weight and repeat for reps. 

How to Train Your Rear Delts

To target your rear delts efficiently you must understand the mechanism which targets your rear delts without engaging your triceps and traps and that falls on two main factors, exercise selection and volume. 

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Rear Delt Exercise Selection

The rear delt muscle is difficult for any beginner to hit properly, first you must learn to adjust to the movement and for that you must pick the correct exercise according to your intensity. 

You can start hitting rear delts on the machine first if you are a beginner and slowly you can start hitting them on a cable machine, then you can slowly progress to using dumbbells and barbells. 

Rear Delts Sets and Reps

The overall volume in training rear Delts matter a lot, for beginners hitting 4-5 sets with high reps and lighter weight is going to train rear delts effectively, but as soon as you increase your compound lifts then you can start to lower the sets and reps on your rear delts as they get enough stimulation from your compound lifts. Some professional bodybuilders only need 1-2 sets for stimulating rear delts. 

Rear Delts Training Tips

Training rear delts can sometimes get tedious as the learning curve on every rear delts exercise is long. The rear delt exercise first needs some amount of muscle mass to develop beforehand to even feel the muscle working during the workout or when you flex them. To properly feel the rear delts during workout you can follow these tips. 

Learn Scapular Control

Your scapular movement dictates either traps or rear delts are working, to engage your rear delts properly remember to retract your Scapula back and stuff throughout the rear delts exercise. 

Train Rear Delts First

Training your rear delts will jot cause any pre fatigue while you workout your heavy compound lifts, so training your rear delts first will lead to better gains and safer progression. 

Change Your Variables

Your exercise variables include the weight, tempo and number of reps and just changing weight might not cut it, so try to change your workout tempo first and then increase your reps and only when you've become comfortable in these two ranges then you increase the weight you're lifting. 

Benefits of Training Your Rear Delts

The reason why most people don't train rear delts is because they don't know how rear delts improve your other lifts and how balanced a well rounded shoulder looks. The  benefits of training rear delts are as follows. 

Increases Shoulder Stability

A well developed rear delt improves shoulder stability in your presses. A well developed shoulder gives a superior performance during bench press and shoulder press and helps avoid injuries. 

May Improve Posture

A well developed rear delt pinches the upper back muscles so you always keep your chest out and proud giving you a better posture. 

Builds Balanced Upper Body Strength

If you wish to see how well rear delts help you in your upper body strength just look at people who train rear delts regularly and the people who don't. The people who train their rear delts regularly have a better stability performance and gain strength and size faster. 

What Muscles Make up Rear Delts

The rear delt is a muscle which contributes to the overall shoulder gains. The rear delts have small fibers stretching from the scapula to the shoulder. These fibers help stabilize the shoulder joint in presses and pulls with ease. The anatomical study of the rear delt also confirms how important the rear delt muscles are to our upper body strength and stability

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sandesh Khade
sandesh Khade

Hi I'm Sandesh khade and I am an electronics and telecommunications engineer, I have taught math to engineering, diploma and 10+2 students. I am also an avid fitness enthusiast and workout regularly. I love to analyze and write. I try to write about almost any event or make one up just for the sake of practicing writing.