To build an aesthetically pleasing physique, all muscle groups should be trained equally. That includes the chest, legs, arms, back and, of course, your delts. Typically, gym-goers who train their shoulders mostly perform exercises that target their front delts but not their rear delts. For example, some the most popular shoulder exercises, such as using a dumbbell and military presses, are great for your front delt development but do little for your rear delts. In the long run, this could cause your shoulders to look under-developed and you will be at higher risk for a shoulder injury while training. In order to help you to avoid such an unfortunate situation,
1. Dumbbell reverse flyes
This is a simple, yet very effective, rear delt exercise with dumbbells. This exercise also hits your traps and upper back. It’s not as easy to perform as it sounds, and your form must be perfect to really target the rear head of the deltoid muscle.
- To begin, take a dumbbell in each hand and bend forward at the hips, until your torso is virtually parallel to the ground.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Allow both dumbbells to hang directly downwards from your shoulders, with your arms slightly bent and your palms facing each other. You can experiment with palm position to find the best way that allows you to target your rear delts.
- Now, keep your torso still and your back stationary. Raise both arms out to your sides until they are both directly in line with your torso. Making sure to maintain the same amount of bend in the elbows.
- Hold for a second, squeeze, and then return the dumbbells to the starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps as required.
2. Lying rear delt raises
This exercise is considered ideal for intermediates. So, if you are fairly experienced with resistance training, you shouldn’t have any problems with it. It’s an exercise that requires a flat bench, a set of dumbbells, and nothing else. It’s great for really packing muscle mass onto the delts when all else seems to be failing. If your rear deltoid development is lacking, try this lying rear delt raise.
- Begin by taking a dumbbell in each hand. Then lay down face forwards on a flat bench, so that your chest is fixed firmly to the bench.
- Extend both arms so that your palms are facing one another. Then bend your elbows ever-so-slightly.
- Now bring both elbows up into the air and slowly raise them until they are roughly at shoulder height.
- Hold for a second. Then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position, breathing in as you do so.
- Repeat for your chosen number of reps.
3. Lying one-arm lateral raises
Lying one-arm lateral raises are effective rear delt exercise with a dumbbell that you can try. This exercise will really blast your deltoids, and by performing it laying down, you can help isolate the rear head of the deltoid. Here’s what to do:
- Lay down face first onto a flat bench, so that your chest is resting on the bench.
- In one hand, take a dumbbell and rotate your hand so that your palm is now facing your body.
- Ensure that your arm is extended, with your elbow ever-so-slightly bent.
- Bring up the arm holding the dumbbell and out to the side, until you find that your elbow is at shoulder-height. Your arm should be parallel to the ground.
- Hold for a second, and then slowly lower weight back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps as chosen. Then switch arms and repeat the exercise in the exact same manner.
This exercise has a variation, in which you lay down on your side and then perform single-arm lateral raises.
4. Dumbbell rear delt rows
When we think of rows, we automatically think of working the back muscles. It’s true that rows are vital for a big and powerful back. However, this simple exercise is also a great shoulder workout. Focus on perfecting your form and you will quickly find your rear delts responding very well.
- Stand upright with a dumbbell in either hand, with knees bent and leaning forwards ever-so-slightly. You must make sure that you keep your back straight.
- Make sure to allow your arms to hang at a nearly perpendicular angle to the ground, with your elbows pointing to your sides. Begin by extending your shoulder transversely and rowing the dumbbells towards your body.
- Really focus on squeezing the back and shoulders. Ensure your back remains stationary at all times. You should continue the movement until your elbows are both inside of roughly 90-degree angle.
- Hold at the top of the movement and return to the starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps as required.
5. External rotations
This exercise is primarily for targeting the rotator cuff. It’s easy to perform and is very effective at strengthening this important shoulder muscle. However, along with the rotator cuff, it also works out your rear delt muscles. To perform external rotations:
- Lay sideways onto a flat bench, with one arm holding a dumbbell. Keep the other hand folded in order for you to rest your head on.
- Bend the elbow of your active arm to create a 90-degree angle. Keep your upper arm firmly in position.
- Now exhale and slowly externally rotate your forearm to allow the dumbbell to be lifted upwards in a semi-circular motion. Maintain a 90-degree angle between your forearms and upper arms.
- Do as big range of motion as you comfortably can.
- Hold for a second and then slowly return the dumbbell to the starting position.
- Perform as many reps as needed, and then switch arms and repeat.
All these exercises have different variations. Your goal is to adjust torso, palms, etc. position to better and safely target your rear delts!
Shoulder workouts with focus on rear delts
Here are two delt workout examples with focus on the rear delts.
External rotations: 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
Standing barbell military presses: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
Lying one-arm lateral raises: 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
Dumbbell reverse flyes: 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
Upright row to chest level: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
Dumbbell rear delt rows: 2 sets of 10-15 reps.