If your posterior deltoid muscles have grown stale with the same old rear delt fly and cable face pulls and you're not getting the muscle gains and rearview you're after, maybe it is time to add something new to your rear delt training.
Here are what I consider to be 5 of the best rear delt exercises outside of the standard cable and dumbbell rear deltoid exercises that you may be doing already.
While there's going to be lots of stress on the rear deltoids, we're still going to use good old dumbbells, barbells, and resistance bands.
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I'm Psymon H, your online workout partner, and avid physique builder for the past 40 years. It's my mission to help you get jacked no matter whether you train at home with minimal equipment or in a gym and are spoilt for choice. In today's feature, we'll take a look at 5 rare rear deltoid exercises with cues, tips, and pictures so you can be up and flying on your next rear delt session.
Here's my list of the 5 best rear delt exercises that you're not doing
1: Bent Over Underhand Dumbbell Row
2: Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Fly version 2
3: Bent Over Barbell Rockets
4: Band Face Pull Into Press
5: Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Fly Version 2 Into Seated Bent-Over Dumbbell Rockets
Before I kick things off, I quickly want to touch on some rear deltoid basics, because knowledge is power and power builds muscle.
Apart from capping off the side and rear of a physique from the muscle point of view, from a functional point of view, the rear deltoid also plays a few key roles.
1: Since the rear deltoid originates from the rear of the shoulders, their first function is to hyperextend and extend the shoulder backward, thus pulling the arm behind the line of the body.
2: Since they wrap around the arm when pulled and insert on the lateral aspect, they externally rotate the shoulder. We call it transverse abduction when the arms are in an abducted position.
To fully contract and maximize stress on the rear deltoid, we have to get our elbows up and behind the line of the back. Now we understand the function and how best to target rear delts, let's kick things up a notch and get rear delt training.
The rear deltoid does not start and end with the rear delt fly; there's more to working the rear deltoids. As I mentioned earlier, to fully contract and target rear delts you have to pull your elbows up and behind the line of your body. We're going to do just that with the first movement on our list of best rear delt exercises, the delt row. Here's how you do it!
Items Needed: One dumbbell
Cue 1: Hinge over at the hips and have feet shoulder-width apart.
Cue 2: Hold a dumbbell with a supinated grip in between your legs.
Cue 3: Retract your shoulder blades, tense your core and lift your chest. Inhale first before lifting the dumbbell.
Cue 4: Row the dumbbell out and up while keeping your hand in the pronated position. Exhale as you lift the dumbbell and try to keep it in line with your shoulders.
Cue 5: Repeat all cues for the desired amount of repetitions and do the same number of repetitions on the opposite side.
1: This is not a rear delt fly but a wide delt row, so take your time and row.
2: If you find that your hand turns into a neutral grip at the top of the movement, try dropping the weight and concentrate on form.
3: Maintain a flat back throughout the movement.
You can also do this exercise by sitting in a bent position on the edge of a flat bench. You can also do this on an incline bench with a pair of dumbbells.
2: Delt Row
Next on our list of best rear delt exercises is what I consider to be one of the better rear delt fly variations and a rear lateral raise that doesn’t require a whole lot of weight to be effective. If you're watching your form, this is probably one of the hardest and most intense dumbbell rear deltoid exercises, simply because being in the seated bent over position you have less room to do all of your work.
Items Needed: one pair of dumbbells and a flat bench
Cue 1: Pick up the dumbbells and sit on the edge of a flat bench. Have your arms hanging down on either side of you.
Cue 2: Hinge over at the hips until your chest is facing the ground.
Cue 3: Have the dumbbells on the outer side of each leg almost towards your ankles with a neutral grip.
Cue 4: Inhale
Cue 5: Exhale as you begin to lift the dumbbells.
Cue 6: Instead of flying the dumbbells out to the side, fly them out in front of you at a 45-degree angle.
Cue 7: Inhale as you bring the dumbbells back to the start position. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
1: Try not to lift your torso as you raise the dumbbells. Lifting your torso can often mean that the dumbbells are too heavy.
2: Try to raise the dumbbells high in a controlled fashion.
You can also do this exercise on an incline bench.
I could have other rear delt movements on this list of best rear delt exercises but felt I had to include a rocket exercise. What makes the rocket such a potent posterior deltoid exercise is that the rear deltoid originates from the rear of the shoulders, meaning that they hyperextend and extend the shoulder backward.
Items Needed: Barbell, plates, and a power rack
The Setup: Set the barbell at thigh height. Stand with your back facing the bar and lift it off the rack with a pronated grip. Have your hands set a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
Cue 1: Step away from the rack and set your feet shoulder-width apart.
Cue 2: Hinge over at the hips and have your neck in a neutral position. The bar should be lightly touching the top of your calf area. This will be your starting position.
Cue 3: Tense your core, lift your chest, and maintain a tabletop back. Inhale.
Cue 4: With straight arms, lift the bar as high as you can behind you while slowly exhaling. If you can't get the bar level with your glutes, you may need to drop some weight from the bar.
Cue 5: Briefly hold the top position before inhaling and returning the bar to the start position. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
Try not to swing the bar and use momentum, but ensure the bar is stationary before every repetition.
You can also work between a supinated and pronated grip to see which one feels best for you.
You can do this exercise in a few different ways...
1: Use an incline bench and dumbbells
2: Bent over with dumbbells
3: Seated and bent over with dumbbells
While you may see lifters doing cable face pulls with many variations, you don't see many utilizing the Band Face Pull. Even though cable face pulls are great, why the band face pull into press makes my list of the best rear delt exercises because it targets the rear delts with a little more venom due to the ascending tension from the resistance bands.
To make the exercise a little harder, we'll do it in the seated position. We will also use a PVC pipe as a handle to make sure we're pulling the band behind the line of the head to put more action on the posterior deltoid and the surrounding muscles.
When people ask for the best rear delt exercises with bands, this exercise always tops the list.
Items Needed: one medium resistance band and 2 light resistance bands, an upright anchor or power rack, Velcro (optional) a flat bench, and one length of PVC piping.
1: Loop the medium resistance band around an upright anchor so it's at shoulder height when you sit down.
2: Use Velcro to attach the two light bands to the end of the medium band making sure the bands and Velcro are secure under tension.
3: Set your flat bench at the end of the bands and quickly test to see if you need to move the bench closer or further away.
4: Thread the length of PVC piping through the two light resistance bands.
Cue 1: Holding the PVC pipe with a shoulder-width pronated grip, sit on the bench.
Cue 2: Start with your arms straight out in front of you with just a little tension in the bands.
Cue 3: Slight hunch over so that your shoulders are in a pronated position.
Cue 4: Take a deep breath. Exhale as you pull the pipe up and back until it is behind the crown of your head.
Cue 5: Retract your shoulders before pressing the pipe overhead.
Cue 6: Bring the pipe back down behind your head before returning it to the start position. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
Ensure the pipe goes behind the head before retracting your shoulders and pressing it to the top.
Move the bench forward if you can't get the pipe behind your head. If there's not enough tension in the resistance bands, move the bench back.
Avoid moving your head forward to get the pipe behind your head. Instead, use the muscles of the rear deltoids and upper back to bring the pipe behind your head.
You can also perform cable face pulls
I've turned up the notch on this list of the best rear delt exercises that you're not doing by adding an "In-Set Superset" with two rear delt dumbbell exercises.
An In-Set Superset is when you forge together two exercise movements for the same muscle group inside one set. In this case, I've pitched together two bent-over seated dumbbell rear deltoid exercises; the Bent Over Seated Reverse Fly (version 2) and the Bent Over Seated Dumbbell Rocket.
Unlike traditional supersets, where one exercise is completed before immediately doing another set of a different exercise, you will alternate between two exercise movements for the same muscle group inside one set.
Items Needed: one pair of dumbbells and a flat bench.
Cue 1: Sit on the edge of a flat bench with the dumbbells in hand using a neutral grip.
Cue 2: Hinge over at the hips so that your chest faces the ground
Cue 3: Bend the elbows slightly and fly the dumbbells out in front of you at a 45-degree angle until they are almost level with your head.
Cue 4: Bring the dumbbells back to the start position.
Cue 5: With straight arms, raise the dumbbells behind you and at the top of the movement bring them in so that they almost touch each other.
Cue 6: Slowly return the dumbbells to the start position. This makes one repetition. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
Try to keep from lifting your upper body when doing this exercise duo. This may mean that you will need to use lighter weights.
This can also be done using an incline bench or by standing and hinging over at the hips.
Always warm-up before undergoing any of the movements on this list of the best rear delt exercises to avoid shoulder injuries and rotator cuff problems.
Thank you for reading the Best Rear Delt Exercises You're Not Doing.
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