The rear deltoids are one of the most critical muscles for raw back strength and for giving your delts that 3-Dimentional look. These muscles transform into impressive boulders when they’re challenged regularly enough, but they’re built most effectively when using the right workouts. That’s why we’re going to go over the best rear delt exercises you can use for growth and strength development below
Bent-Over Reverse Fly (Dumbbells) – 3 to 4 Sets with 10 to 20 Reps
This powerful movement forces the core and a variety of back muscles to put in work to stabilize the body while putting the body into the ideal position to really press the rear delts to their limits.
- Start by gripping a pair of dumbbells at your sides with the dumbbells oriented in an up-and-down direction and your palms facing in toward your body.
- Now bend your knees slightly, lean forward to create a 45-degree angle with your back while keeping it flat and strong, and look down about six feet in front of you.
- Stretch your arms until nearly straight out while maintaining a slight bend at the elbows.
- Lift both arms using a hinged movement to take your outstretched arms from your sides to up in the air to form a “T” shape with your body while focusing on feeling tension in your rear delts.
- Avoid coming to high and letting your shoulder blades come together. By doing this your smaller upper back muscles will take away a lot of the effort from your rear delts
*Tip – To place full focus on the rear delts, do the above laying forwards on a bench set at 45 degrees. Check out the video below for a full tutorial.
High Pulley Lateral Extension (Crossover Cables High) – 3 to 4 Sets with 10 to 15 Reps
To perform this exercise you’ll need to stand between two cable cross-over machines that can have the pulleys set in the high position. Stand between both machines and reach up to grab each of the pulleys using crossed arms.
- Start the exercise holding the pulleys at just above head level with your arms in an X-formation.
- Keep the back straight and strong, bend the knees slightly.
- Bend your elbows slightly while locking the arms in a strong position.
- Uncross your arms into a “T” configuration with your arms straight out at shoulder height to complete the downward portion of a rep. Now raise the arms back up into that “X” configuration with the hands slightly above head height to finish the rep.
Seated Face Pull Row (Cable Machine High) – 3 to 4 Sets with 12 to 20 Reps
This movement puts real pressure on the rear delts but it shouldn’t be performed with too heavy of a weight or you risk losing proper form. Start by standing in front of a high pulley with square shoulders and an athletic stance with slightly bent knees.
- Start the exercise by attaching a tricep-pushdown rope to the end of the pulley and putting on a light to medium amount of weight.
- Bend your knees slightly and keep your back strong throughout the movement
- Lean forward and grip the tricep rope with an over-handed grip with the palms facing inward toward one another.
- Grip the rope near the knots and pull back aiming the “V” of the rope directly toward your face
- Pull until your hands are lined up with your head and then smoothly stretch your arms out until they are extended in front of you to complete a rep.
Wide Grip Inverted Row – 3 to 4 Sets with 12 to 20 Reps
One of the best rear delt exercises that most people don’t utilize is the wide grip row from an inverted position. This exercise looks a bit strange when performed, but it’s a powerful bodyweight workout that can really push the delts to their limits. In order to perform the workout, you’ll need access to a power rack an Olympic bar and a flat bench as well depending on your setup.
To get into the starting position, place your Olympic bar in your squat hooks with the hooks in a lowered position. Some hooks can be dropped down close to ground height, while others won’t go below waist level. To go off the ground set the hooks so that you can hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your feet out in front of you without your back touching the ground. To go from a higher height you will simply put your outstretched legs on a flat bench to help keep your body closer to parallel while using the raised row position.
- Start by going under the bar and gripping it with an overhand grip with your palms facing your toes
- Make sure your hands are in a wide grip position so they are slightly wider than shoulder-width
- Now put the legs out in front of you until they are nearly straight with a slight bend at the knee
- Start with your arms extended and pull your chest up to the underside of the bar while maintaining a flat and strong back
- Complete a rep by lowering back to having outstretched arms with a slight bend once again
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Working Your Delts Effectively
While it’s helpful having the best rear delt exercises available to you, just knowing them makes no difference if you don’t know how to use them most effectively. The deltoids are tough muscles, but they’re also muscles that get worked regularly during compound exercises.
If you want to achieve effective delt growth you need to perform between 6 and 20 sets a week. Shooting for a level somewhere in the middle, say around 10 or 12 sets is a good goal and we recommend performing delt exercises twice a week at the most to effectively isolate and grow the muscles without straining them.
Perform one or two of these exercises when trying to work the muscles and really try and push the delts to their limits to create effective growth. Just take care to avoid too much delt isolation on days while you’re performing compound lifts that put stress on the delts already, this can take away from your delt work.
Work your delts hard using these exercises and you’ll have a set of boulders on top of your back in no time at all!
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Hi, I’m David and I believe absolutely anyone can achieve the body of their dreams. I’m a qualified health and fitness coach and have been helping clients achieve their dream bodies for 15 years. Whether you are looking to get beach body ready, compete in a bodybuilding show or simply to improve your confidence and wellbeing, I can help.