13 Best Rear Deltoid Exercises for Muscle Mass and Symmetry

(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

best rear deltoid exercises

The rear delts are probably the most undertrained and underappreciated muscles in the entire body.

But if you don’t train your read delts, you’re missing out on a lot of gains.

Your rear delts not only give your shoulders width, roundness, and aesthetics. And they also play an important role in stabilizing your shoulder joint.

Moreover, strong rear delts will help you with other lifts like the bench press and the overhead press.

So if you want to build a well-rounded and impressive physique, you need to train your rear delts.

In this article, we’ll show you the 13 best rear delt exercises. We’ll also give you some tips on how to perform them with proper form.

 

Face Pulls

Face Pulls are a fantastic exercise for targeting the rear delts, traps, and rhomboids. They’re also relatively easy to perform with a good cable machine or bands.

This exercise is a pretty underrated trap builder, in my opinion. If you want massive traps along with your rear delts this is an excellent exercise to add to your routine.

How To do Face Pulls

  • Start by attaching a rope to a high pulley.
  • Then, hold the rope with your palms facing each other.
  • Pull the rope toward your face, making sure to keep your elbows high.
  • Once your hands reach your face, squeeze your rear delts and hold for a second.
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.



 

Bent Over Lateral Raises

Bent Over Lateral Raises are easily one of the best exercise for really targeting the rear delts. They’re a bit more challenging than Face Pulls, but they’re still relatively easy to perform.

You can also perform this exercise seated on a bench rather than bent over.

How To Do Bent Over Lateral Raises

  • Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
  • Bend at the hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground.
  • Keeping your back straight and your elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbells out to your sides until they’re level with your shoulders.
  • Squeeze your rear delts and hold for a second.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.

 

Wide Grip Inverted Rows

rear delt exercises

Wide grip inverted rows are one of the best bodyweight rear delt exercises. They work your entire back, are simple to perform, and don’t require equipment except a bar or something to hold on to. You could even use a sturdy table.

How To Do Wide Grip Inverted Rows

  • Start by gripping a barbell with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Hang from the bar with your feet off the ground and your body in a straight line.
  • Keeping your core engaged, pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.

 

Related: Best Calisthenics Exercises for Muscle Building




 

T-Bar Rows

t bar rows

T-bar rows are a great exercise for building a thick back. It targets the entire back, including the rear delts, traps, and lats. Most people generally don’t have the equipment to perform this exercise in their home gym so you will likely need to go to a commercial gym to perform this bad boy.

How To Do T-Bar Rows

  • Start by loading the weight plates onto a T-bar.
  • Position yourself so that the weight is in line with your mid-foot.
  • Bend at the hips and lower your torso until it’s about parallel to the ground.
  • Keeping your back straight, row the weight up toward your chest.
  • Squeeze your rear delts and hold for a second at the top of the movement.
  • Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat.

 

Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns

Most people think lat pulldowns are all about the lats; after all, it is in the name. This exercise targets the lats, of course, but this cable exercise also hits the rear deltoids really nicely along with the traps, and biceps and is excellent for the upper body.

How To Do Lat Pulldowns

  • Start by sitting at a lat pulldown machine with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Reach up and grab the bar with an overhand grip that’s just wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the bar down to your collarbone, making sure to keep your shoulders down and your back straight.
  • Squeeze your rear delts and hold for a second at the bottom of the movement.
  • Slowly return the bar to the starting position and repeat.



 

Incline Dumbbell Y Raise

Next on our list of the best rear deltoid exercises, we have the incline dumbbell Y raise which is great for smashing the posterior deltoids as well as the traps.

How To Do Incline Dumbbell Y Raises

  • Start by sitting on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other.
  • Raise the dumbbells out to your sides until they’re level with your shoulders.
  • Keeping your arms straight, raise the dumbbells up and overhead so that they form a Y shape.
  • Squeeze your posterior delts and traps at the top of the movement and hold for a second.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.

 

Reverse Pec Deck Flyes

The reverse pec deck fly is another tremendous rear delt exercise that really hammers the rear delt while also hitting the lats and traps.

Of course, you will likely need to go to a gym to do this exercise since virtually no one had a reverse pec deck machine in their home. This exercise is so simple a monkey could figure it out, but I’ll lay out the steps for you anyway.

How to Perform Reverse Pec Deck Flyes

  • Start by sitting in the machine and placing your back against the padded support.
  • Grasp the handlebars and press your chest against the front pad.
  • Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and use your posterior deltoids to raise the handles until they’re level with your back.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the movement and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired reps.

 

Bent Over Barbell Rows

bent over rows

Barbell rows are one of the best muscle building exercises for the entire back, they are also pretty good at hitting the rear deltoid muscles.

To perform this exercise, you will need a barbell, some weight plates, a pair of dumbbells, or even bands.

How to Perform Bent Over Barbell Rows

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand grip.
  • Hinge at your hips and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, row the bar up to your belly button, leading with your elbows.
  • Pause for a second at the top of the movement and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired reps



 

Wide Grip Pull-Ups

Danielle Sidell

Wide grip pull-ups are a great exercise to give you a broader back and that desired V shape. It’s also one of the best upper body exercises out there.

You have to make sure you use a wide grip, though, if you narrow your grip, it won’t hit the rear delts nearly as much for the rear delts.

How to Perform Wide Grip Pull-Ups

  • Start by hanging from a pull-up bar with your wider than hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and use your rear delts to pull your body up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Pause for a second at the top of the movement and then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired reps

 

Single Arm Dumbell Rows

best rear delt exercises

Dumbbell rows are another excellent back-building exercise that builds muscle mass in the last traps and rhomboids. You can probably guess that this exercise works the rear delt as well.

This bad boy also helps with core stability and posture. Here’s how to do it.

How to Perform Single Arm Dumbbell Rows

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and place your left hand and knee on a bench.
  • Pick up a dumbbell in your right hand and let it hang at arm’s length.
  • Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, row the dumbbell up to the side of your body, leading with your elbow.
  • Pause for a second at the top of the movement and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired reps and then switch sides and repeat with the other arm.

 

Incline Rear Delt Dumbbell Rows

Incline rear delt dumbbell rows are a great way to get an isolated rear delt workout.

This exercise can be done at home with just a pair of dumbbells or at the gym on an incline bench.

This exercise also hits the rear delts, traps, lats, and rhomboids.

How to Perform Incline Rear Delt Dumbbell Rows

  • Set an incline bench to about 45 degrees and lie face down on it.
  • Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and let them hang at arm’s length.
  • Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, row the dumbbells up to the side of your body, leading with your elbows.
  • Pause for a second at the top of the movement and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting



 

Seated Cable Rows

seated cable row

The seated cable row is yet another great rear delt exercise that will help you build a bigger, wider back. This exercise also does a pretty good job of hitting the lats as well. You will need access to a gym for this one unless you have a cable machine at home, which most people don’t.

How to Perform Seated Cable Rows

  • Sit on a seated row machine with your feet placed firmly on the footplates.
  • Grasp the handle with an overhand grip and lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  • Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, row the handle back to your stomach, leading with your elbows.
  • Pause for a second at the top of the movement and then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: If you have access to an attachment that allows for a wider grip, I would use that since it will hit the read delt more than a narrow grip would.

 

Side-Lying External Rotation

Rounding out our list of exercises that work the posterior deltoid we have the lying side lateral rotation.

This is a good isolation exercise that works mainly the rear delts. This exercise can be done at home with just a light dumbbell or resistance band.

How to Perform Side-lying external rotation

  • Lie on your right side on an exercise mat and position a light weight in your left hand.
  • Rest your head on your right arm and position your feet one on top of the other.
  • Keeping your elbow at your side, slowly rotate your left arm up until it points to the ceiling.
  • Pause for a second at the top of the movement and then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired reps and then switch sides and repeat with the other arm.



 

What is the Function of the Rear Deltoid?

The rear deltoid is responsible for abducting (raising) the arm at the shoulder.

It also helps to stabilize the shoulder joint and keeps the humerus from dislocating anteriorly.

The rear deltoid is often neglected in favor of its more prominent counterparts, the front and middle delts.

However, neglecting this muscle can lead to imbalances that can lead to injuries down the road as well as poor posture.

That’s why it’s essential to include rear delt exercises in your workout routine.

Working this muscle will help to build a strong, symmetrical physique and help keep you injury-free in the long run.

 

Anatomy of the Rear Delts

shoulder anatomy

The rear deltoid muscle is located on the back of the shoulder. Here comes a lot of techinical information that the anatomy nerds will love.

The rear deltoid is attached to the humerus (upper arm bone) and helps to raise the arm. The rotator cuff muscles are located around the shoulder joint and help to stabilize the joint.

The subscapularis muscle is located under the scapula (shoulder blade) and helps to rotate the arm.

The supraspinatus muscle is located above the scapula and helps to lift the arm. The teres minor muscle is located next to the subscapularis muscle and also helps to rotate the arm. The infraspinatus muscle is located below the scapula and helps to rotate the arm.

As you can see, the rear delt is basically what brings your shoulder and back together. When you don’t train the rear delt, your shoulders will begin to move forward, which will cause you all sorts of posture problems, and it does not look as aesthetic. Keep the rear delts trained unless you want to look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.




 

Set and Reps for Rear Deltoid Exercises

As with any muscle group, the rear delts should be trained with a variety of exercises using different angles and intensities.

For best results, I recommend doing 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for rear delt exercises.

I’d also start off with 1-2 exercises and work your way up to 3 for best results.

Start with a light weight and focus on getting a good range of motion.

As you get stronger, you can increase the weight and/or reps.

Just make sure to always keep good form and focus on contracting the rear delts throughout the entire movement.

 

Conclusion

The rear deltoids are an often neglected muscle group, but they are crucial for maintaining balanced shoulders and good posture.

Include rear delt exercises in your workout routine to build strong, symmetrical shoulders and avoid injury down the road.

Remember to start light and focus on getting a good range of motion. You can increase the weight and/or reps as you get stronger. Just make sure to keep good form throughout the entire movement.

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