The Best Rear Delt Exercises You Need To Try And Why


Your Guide to Killer Shoulder Workouts

Do you work all of your muscles? You should! That includes the rear deltoid. We give you all the best rear delt exercises you should be using. Check them out and try them today!

There are approximately 640 muscles in the human body. Every single one has its purpose. It is a good thing we do not have to train each one of them because we would need way more than seven days in a week.

I mean, seriously, could you imagine eyebrow day, pinky toe day and upper lip day?

Yeah, I can’t either (though it would be cool to master that Elvis Presley lip thing).

Luckily, there are some pretty awesome and effective exercises out there for the muscles that we do train, the ones that help us accomplish daily tasks, that keep us stable and that look pretty darn good when we grow them big and strong like the rear delts. We’ll go over some of the best rear deltoid exercises that you can add to your weekly routine to get them nice and carved out in a jiffy.

Have You Been Delt A Good Hand?

The deltoid muscle consists of three different sections. The anterior delt is in the front of the shoulder. The medial deltoid is in the middle and the posterior delt is in the rear. One of the most common issues with the deltoid muscles is that most lifters tend to have some pretty awesome front delts, okay middle delts, and sadly, some pretty weak rear delts.

One way to test the strength of your rear deltoid muscles is to stand with your arms by your side and completely relaxed. If your palms tend to face more towards the rear as opposed to your side, you may be a bit disproportionate.

But, fear not!

There is plenty you can do about it.

This Is All About The Rear Delt Muscles

The rear deltoid muscle, also known as the posterior deltoid, is located at the back of the shoulder. The main function of this muscle is to extend the shoulder, which will result in squeezing the shoulder blades towards one another.

The rear deltoid muscle is usually overlooked during a lot of routines.


The reason is because most people tend to focus on pushing exercises such as the barbell bench press, instead of pulling exercises, which will target the rear delts directly. When the rear delts are neglected, muscle imbalances are a given. That’s why it is important to include a few exercises to target them each week.

Building up and strengthening the rear delts is also beneficial because it will provide you with more sufficient movement and better performance during certain exercises.

Warm Up And Stretch The Delts. It’s Important And Here Is Why

Stretching is extremely beneficial in many ways. When we do stretching before a workout, it helps to make the muscles and joints ready for whatever we may throw at them.

Dynamic stretching or active stretching should be done prior to a workout for best results. This also helps to get the blood circulating to the muscles and get them warmed up.

After you have worked the muscles and they are nice and warm, they become more pliable. This is a great opportunity to gain some flexibility by holding a few stretches, which is also called static stretching.

Stretching the deltoid muscles can significantly reduce your chance of injury, increase flexibility and enhance your performance during various push-pull exercises. This is also a great way to keep your shoulders from tightening up post exercise and helps to reduce muscle soreness the next day.

Try These Delt Stretches

Arm across the chest stretch – Stand up tall and keep your back straight and head facing forward. Reach with your right arm across your body just in front of your chest. Use your left arm to help pull it inward towards your chest by bending at the left elbow and pulling in with the left forearm. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.

Anterior deltoid stretch – This stretch will also target the pectoral muscles. Stand at the end of a wall or doorframe. Place your forearm against the wall with your elbow bent at about 90 degrees. Slowly turn your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch across the front of your shoulder and chest. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.

Low back hand clasp – From a standing or sitting position, reach behind your back with both hands, palms facing each other, and interlace your fingers. Your thumbs should be pointing at the floor and your hands should be level with your lower back. Stick your chest outward, arch your upper back and extend your arms straight. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

Arm circles – This is a great dynamic stretch that will also help with joint mobility. Stand with your arms by your sides and reach up and back with the right arm as if you are doing the backstroke in swimming. As your arm comes back down, repeat the same motion with your left arm. Keep this going for about 30 seconds.

Standing wall stretch – Stand and face the wall then place your forearms flat against the surface. Step back with both feet, hinge at the hips, and extend your arms straight while tucking your head between them. Arch your back and press your chest down towards the floor. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

Each stretch can be performed two or three times for best results and improvement in flexibility.

Let’s Get Down To Business: Here Are The Best Rear Delt Exercises 

Here’s a list of some of our favorite and most effective exercise that will target your rear deltoid muscles. Pay close attention to your form and adjust the weight as needed.


Face Pulls

Face pulls are awesome, efficient and they also target those rear delts like many pulling exercises tend to do. The best thing about face pulls is that they are a compound exercise. That means you will be working more than just your rear delts. Face pulls work all three points of the deltoids, the rotator cuff muscles, the upper back, neck and rear shoulders (rhomboids and trapezius).

This Is How To Do It

Attach your rope to the pulley station and set it at chest level. Grasp the rope with a pronated grip (palms facing down). Step back and support the weight with your arms completely extended straight and parallel to the floor.

Your stance should be staggered and knees slightly bent so you have a good foundation to brace yourself for the pull. Keep your shoulders back, chest out and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Keep your head facing forward and pull the center of the rope towards the center of your face. As you’re pulling, also imagine that you are trying to pull the rope apart. This will enable you to retract your shoulder blades. Hold this contraction for a second while you squeeze your rear delts and upper back muscles. Return to the starting position to complete one full rep.


Bent-Over Rear Lateral Cable Raises

This is an isolation exercise. Needless to say, that means it only targets a specific muscle. In this case, that’s the rear deltoid of course. If you have any issues with back pain, this might not be the exercise for you, as you need to be bent over the entire time. But, rest easy.


We have more exercises on our list to suit you. This exercise can also be done using dumbbells if you do not have access to the cables. The reason we chose cables is because they will keep the muscle under tension for the entire rep.

This Is How To Do It

Stand with your left side facing the machine, feet about hip-width apart, hinge at the hips and bend over until your torso is just above parallel to the floor. Grab the cable handle with your right hand, palm facing the machine.

Drop your shoulder so that your scapula (shoulder blade) does not retract. This will direct the tension to only the rear deltoid muscle.

Pull through the elbow instead of the hand, and out to the side until you feel the rear delt contract. Hold this for just a second then lower the weight slowly and with control to complete one full rep.


Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise

This is another great isolation exercise that will target those rear delts and make them burn like a hot sidewalk in Phoenix. This exercise will also incorporate a lot of stabilizer muscles such as the erector spinae, triceps, wrist extensors, hamstrings, and glutes. Watch your form and try to focus directly on the contraction of the target muscle.

This Is How To Do It

Grab the dumbbells out to your sides like you are grabbing suitcase handles. Hinge at the hips to bend forward, keep your back flat and position your elbows with a slight bend and palms facing each other.

Raise your upper arms to about shoulder-height, squeeze in the rear delts, hold for a second then lower the weights back down to the starting point. This will complete one rep. Be sure to keep your back flat and eyes facing the floor. Relax your neck so you won’t build up excess tension.

improve your bench workout

Rear Delt Raise On An Incline Bench

This is a great way to reach those rear delts without having to bend for the entire exercise because you get to rest your chest against the incline bench. Be sure that you plant your feet firmly so that you won’t slip down as you are performing the exercise.

This Is How To Do It

Lay chest down on a slightly inclined bench (about 15 degrees) and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Firmly plant your feet behind you to prevent any slippage. The palms of your hands should be facing your torso and your elbows should be slightly bent. This will be your starting position. Try to keep your neck relaxed.

Raise your arms to the sides until your elbows reach shoulder height. Squeeze in the rear delts and hold for about one second before you slowly descend back to the starting position. This completes one rep.

Inverted Rows

Inverted Rows

For some reason, I think these are a lot of fun. Maybe it’s just because it brings back memories of the playground for me. This is a good way to activate the rear delts, and there is also no bending over involved in this exercise. Some call this the reverse bench press, and for good reason as you are actually doing the exact opposite, a pull instead of a push.

This Is How To Do It

Lie on your back underneath the horizontal pull-up bar. Grab the bar with an overhand grip that is set a little wider than your shoulder width. The bar should be set to where you can fully extend your arms. Engage your abs and keep your body as straight as possible from head to toe.

Pull yourself up to the bar until your chest comes in contact with it. Squeeze in the rear delts, hold for a second and slowly lower yourself to complete one rep.

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There you have it, some of the best rear delt exercises that you can incorporate into your workouts. These fit best on back and shoulder day, as some of the exercises performed will also target the muscles of the back.

Give them a try and see what you think. Never neglect the rear delts again because you never know who could be checking you out from behind. And, that’s not to mention other important reasons, too.

By Heather Neff, CPT

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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