Home Training Plans The Best Rear Deltoid Workout: 10 Exercises for Shoulder Growth and Strength

The Best Rear Deltoid Workout: 10 Exercises for Shoulder Growth and Strength

by Steve Theunissen
rear delts

In order to develop that awesome wide shoulder, narrow-waisted V Taper back look, you need to give attention to your rear delts. Yet, most trainers neglect them in favor of their more noticeable front and side deltoid muscles. In this article, we provide you with 10 rear delt exercises, rated from best to worst. We’ll also provide you with an awesome bodybuilding rear delt workout to get the results you want.

Deltoid muscles consist of three separate muscles. The posterior, or rear, deltoid muscles originate on the upper scapula and inserts on the upper humerus (upper arm bone). Its main job is to pull the upper arm back and externally rotate it. When your arms are by your sides, rear delt muscle fibers, along with the front and side delt muscles, run diagonally from their origin to their insertion point. The best exercises for rear delts will follow the direction of muscle fibers. (1)

We will list our 10 rear deltoid exercises from best to worst based on their how they follow muscle fibers and the natural biomechanical movement of muscles. We’ll also put them together in a rear deltoid workout for size & strength.

10 Best Rear Deltoids Exercises

1. Rear Delt Cable Raises

Position an exercise bench about four feet in front of a double pulley machine with seat upright at 90-degree angle. Cables should be set at the shoulder level. Now lean against the bench facing the machine and grab cable handles in a criss-cross manner. Bring cables out and down to the sides. Do not bend elbows throughout the motion. As you draw each cable back, squeeze shoulder blades together.

For this exercise, you will need a double pulley cable machine. Use light-weight and grab ends of the cables with no handles attached. 

2. Lying Supine Cable Crossover

Position a flat bench between a cable crossover machine. Set pulleys in their highest position. Lie on the bench and grab the handles in a criss cross manner. Bring cables down and to the sides until arms are parallel to the floor. Maintain a slight bend at the elbow but keep arms locked so that movement originates at the shoulder joint. 

3. Bent Over One Arm Cable Row

This exercise is a unilateral version of the previous exercise. The difference is that it does not provide back support, so if you have lower back issues, we recommend exercise #2. Stand in front of a pulley machine with cable set at the bottom position. Bend down & grab the cable, resting your other hand on your knee. Now pull the cable out and to the side until your arm forms a line with your torso. Lower under control & repeat.

4. Lying Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

Lie on your side on the floor with your legs stacked upon each other and a dumbbell free weight in your top hand. The other hand should be supporting your head. Start with the dumbbell extended parallel to your shoulder, resting on the floor. Now, without bending at the elbow, raise the dumbbell up until it is pointing to the ceiling. Slowly lower & repeat. 

5. Reverse Pec Dec

Sit on the reverse pec dec machine facing into it, and grab the handles. Push back with your delts to move handles together and contract your shoulder blades. Slowly return and repeat. Set the seat height so that your arms are moving horizontally.

6. Incline Supine Rear Dumbbell Raises 

Lie face down on an incline bench that is set to a 45-degree angle with a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Perform side lateral raises by bringing the dumbbells out to the sides until they get to shoulder height. Hold for a second then slowly lower. 

7. Bent Over Rear Delt Dumbbell Raise

Stand with a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Bend over so that your torso is parallel with the floor. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. In this position, perform a side lateral raise by bringing dumbbells out and up to shoulder height. Keep your elbows slightly bent but lock your arms so that the only movement is through the shoulder joint.

8. Bent Over Wide Grip Barbell Row

Stand, holding a barbell in a wide overhand grip. Bend over until your torso is parallel with the floor. Now row the barbell up to your rib cage. In the top contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower and repeat. 

9. High Pulls (Cable)

Stand in front of a cable weightlifting machine with the pulley set at the highest level and a rope handle attached. Reach up to grab the rope handles. Take a step back and position yourself into a staggered step stance. Now pull the rope down chest level, keeping your elbows up. Maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement. 

10. Inverted Row

Lie under a secure bar that is set about 24 inches from the floor. Reach up to grab the bar with an overhand grip at slightly wider than shoulder-width. Maintaining a straight line through your torso and legs, pull yourself up until your chin touches the bar. Slowly lower and repeat. 

The Most Common Mistakes: 

1. Rear deltoid exercises should be selected correctly.

Of course, there are exceptions, but for most people, deltoids are made up of slow-twitch muscle fibers. This means that pumping up the back delt by swinging heavy dumbbells and performing 6-8 repetitions in the approach will not work. The best rear deltoid exercises need to be done with a large (12-15) number of repetitions, do not hesitate to use very modest working weights for this. The posterior bundle of deltoid muscles is difficult to isolate

2. The posterior bundle of deltoid muscles is difficult to isolate

The deltoid muscle is considered to be made up of three distinct segments: anterior, middle, and posterior. But science says, there are 3 main and 4 auxiliary bundles of muscle fibers in this group. Therefore, making direct exercises compelling to only the rear delts is incredibly difficult.

The front delt takes the most weight from the middle delt, during the barbell presses from behind the head, and the trapezoid – during the exercises on the back deltoid with a barbell and dumbbells. Especially when the weight of the burden is selected incorrectly.

3. Small options of rear delt exercises

The muscle gets used to the same type of load very quickly and then ceases to react to it, perceiving it as a light massage, and not weight training. The more exercise we use, the more harmonious body we can create. Each new exercise in the usual set of exercises for the shoulder workout is a way to force the muscles to respond to stressful stress, responding to it with hypertrophy.

Rear Delt Workout Routine:

Perform this rear delt workout every 5 days to bring out the roundness, definition, and detail of your posterior deltoids. Increase the weight slightly on each succeeding set. 

  • Rear Delt Cable Raise – 3 x 15 / 12 /10 reps
  • Lying Supine Cable Crossover – 3 x 15 / 12 / 10 reps
  • Bent Over One arm Cable Row – 2 x 12 (each arm)

Final Thoughts

Your rear delt training should follow on from your front and side delt lifts. The best exercise for the side delts is the standing side lateral raise on a cable machine, with the most productive move for the front delts being reverse grip seated cable press. Because the rear delts are a small muscle group, limit your workout plan to a maximum of 8 sets and give them at least four days of rest before hitting them again. 


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