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Rear Delt Exercises

What are Rear Delt Exercises

How to do rear delt flyes

See all rear delt exercises

The rear delts, or posterior deltoids, are the muscles which sit on the back of your shoulders. The rear delts help to stabilise the shoulders, and work alongside the muscles in your back to prevent your shoulders from hunching forward. They also play a key part in pulling movements. 

People with desk jobs or sedentary lifestyles tend to have poor posture, which leads to lead to muscles in the posterior chain like the rear delts becoming weaker than anterior muscles. This further worsens the posture and can cause long term issues, including back pain. 

Training the rear delts, along with your back muscles, glutes, and hamstrings, helps to combat these muscle imbalances and correct your posture.

 

Commonly asked questions on Rear Delt Exercises

  • There is no need to train rear delts everyday. In fact, you should be training hard enough that you need at least a day's rest inbetween working the same muscle group twice!

    If you want to build your rear delts, train them 2-3 a week, making sure to progressively overload the muscle by increasing the reps or weights. 

  • While push ups do work some muscles in the shoulder, they do not work the rear delts. The exercises below all target the rear delts. If you're looking for compound exercises that work the rear delts, pulling exercises like rows and pullups are good options.

  • Poor posture, particularly hunched shoulders, is caused by an imbalance between the chest and back/ shoulders. Strengthening the back and shoulders through exercises like face pulls can address this imbalance and improve posture.

  • Facepulls are good for strengthening the shoulders and upper back, including rear delts, trapezius, rhomboids, and rotator cuffs. If your goal is to strengthen your rotator cuffs, you'll also want to include mobility work and exercises that take the rotator cuffs through their full range of motion. 

Rear Delt Exercise tips

  • For stronger, bigger rear delts, do both compound exercises that work the rear delts (like lat pulldowns, rows, pullups) and rear delt isolation exercises like the ones below.
  • Focus on improving your mind-muscle connection and performing exercises in a slow, controlled movement to ensure your rear delts are doing the hard work for these exercises, rather than the muscles in your back. 
  • If you're sat down for long periods and suffer with bad posture, work on stretching out tight shoulder and upper back muscles.

Rear Delt Exercises

How to do a cable rear delt fly

Level: Beginner to Advanced

Equipment: Cable pulley machine, single handle

  1. Position the pulley at around shoulder height and select the weight. 
  2. Grab the handle with your right hand and position yourself with your left side facing the cable, feet shoulder-width apart, around 3ft away from the machine. Your right arm should cross over your chest.
  3. Brace your core and, keeping your torso as still as possible, extend your arm out to the right until it runs in a straight line from your shoulder. 
  4. Pause before returning your arm back to the start. 
  5. Repeat for reps then switch sides.

How to do a facepull

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment: Cable pulley machine, rope attachment

  1. Set the pulley above your head, at a height where the rope hangs level with your shoulders. Select the weight.
  2. Grab both sides of the rope using an underhand grip and take two steps back. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Engage your core and lean back around 20 degrees, with your chest up.
  4. Slowly bring the rope towards your face by driving back your elbows, stopping when your hands  are level with your face.
  5. Throughout the movement, focus on squeezing the shoulders back while opening the chest. 
  6. Pause before returning back to starting position.

How to do a rear delt fly

Level: Beginner to Advanced

Equipment: Dumbbells

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, or sit on the edge of a bench. 
  2. Maintaining a neutral spine, tuck in your chin and hinge forward at the hips so your torso is at a 30-45 degree angle. Your arms should hang straight down.
  3. Rotate your shoulders out, engage your core, and then squeeze your rear delts back to raise the dumbbells.
  4. Stop when your arms are in line with your back. You should have a slight bend in your arms, with the dumbbells slightly lower the top of your arms. 
  5. Hold for a few seconds before slowly returning your arms back down. 

How to do Y raises

Level: Beginner to Advanced

Equipment: Dumbbells

  1. Set a bench at a 30 - 45 degree incline and sit down with a dumbbell in each hand, leaning your torso against the bench for support. 
  2. Keeping your arms straight, slowly raise the dumbbells overhead while rotating your shoulders so your arms create a 'Y'. 
  3. Lower the dumbbells back down to your side and repeat. 

You can also do this exercise standing and hinging forward around 30 - 45 degree at the hips. 

How to do w raises

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment: Dumbbells

  1. Stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Brace your core and then bring the dumbbells up in front of your waist with your elbows bent at 90 degrees, palms facing inwards.
  3. Lift the dumbbells out to the side until they reach shoulder height, focusing on pushing back your rear delts. 
  4. Pause before slowly lowering the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  5. Make sure to maintain the bend in your elbows throughout the movement. 

   

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.