Rear-Delt Exercises To Build Bigger Stronger Shoulders

Shoulder envy, it’s a real thing, and if you’re not effectively training your rear delt then good luck. Rear deltoids, or commonly referred to as rear delts, are the most crucial, yet often most neglected part of your shoulders that can make or break a beautifully capped shoulder. We’re going to cover the best rear delt exercises, to help you achieve shoulder greatness.

What Are Deltoid Muscles

The deltoids or delts, are composed of three primary muscle groups (the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoid) which embody your shoulders, giving them the rounded triangular shape. Your shoulders are attached by tendons to three other skeletal structures: the collarbone or (clavicle), the upper arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula).

The deltoids are activated as a secondary muscle group, during chest and back exercises, therefore it’s crucial to designate rear deltoid-specific exercises to your training protocol.

The rear deltoids are often the most neglected muscle group of the three primary muscles of the shoulders.

Deltoid Muscle Anatomy

To fully understand how to build your shoulders and rear deltoids, you need a basic understanding of the shoulder anatomy.

1. Anterior (Front)

Your anterior deltoids are positioned at the front of the shoulder. Also called front deltoids, most movents that sitmulate this muscle group will be placed pushing weight above overhead, or in front of the body.

2. Lateral (Medial)

Lateral deltoids are located at the middle of the shoulder, also known as medial deltoids.

Medial delts are the biggest of all three deltoid heads and can be activated with a variety of different shoulder workouts and exercises, yet are targeted most effectively with side or lateral raises.

3. Posterior (Rear)

Posterior Deltoids or rear delts are located at the back of the shoulder. Any movement which pushes weight behind you, such as cable crossover, or exercises which are positioned in a bent-over position uses gravity against the posterior muscles to build bigger and more defined rear delt muscles.

Best Rear Deltoid Exercises

1. Bent Over Lateral Raise (Reverse Dumbbell Fly)

The bent over lateral raise, or reverse fly, will target the rear delts effectively, building the back taper or cut for the coveted v-shape.

  • Sitting on the end of a bench, or standing bend forward nearly 50 degrees and keep your hands to your sides in a neutral position with the dumbbells hanging.
  • Keeping your back straight and your arms slightly bent, lift the dumbbells straight out to your sides, palms facing the floor, hold, then bring back to starting position.

2. Bent Over Band Pull Apart

The bent over band pull apart, is one of the best rear delt exercises, specifically targeting the rear delts and contracting the scapulae.

  • Bend over at 45-50 degrees, with your chest forward, holding a light to medium tension band.
  • Pull the band apart and raise your arms up until your body forms a t-shape with your arms parallel to the ground.
  • Pause and hold, then return back to starting position

3. Bent Over Barbell Row

Although the bent-over barbell row does not completely isolate your rear delts it does produce significant muscle activation to build a bigger and better foundation for your delts.

  • With your chest almost parallel to the ground, keep your back straight, and pick up the barbell.
  • Bring your arms back, and bend your elbows are fully contracted back, and the bar is near and below your chest.
  • Pause, then release the weight back to starting position

4. Bent Over Dumbbell Row

Like the barbell row, the bent over dumbbell row also targets the rear delts, as a secondary muscle group in addition to the lats, rhomboids, and traps. 

  • With your chest almost parallel to the ground, keep your back straight, and pick up two dumbbells one in each hand.
  • Bring your arms back, and bend your elbows are fully contracted 
  • Pause, then release the weight back to starting position

Rear Delt Exercises: Takeaway

Of course, there are many variations and alternative exercises, you can include to train your rear delts in addition to these proven rear delt exercises. You can even incorporate cables, bands, and different training implements, as well as change the tempo, intensity, and and rep format, to continue building bigger and stronger rear delts. Throw in a few of these tried and true rear delt exercises, in your upper body training split, and you'll build some well-rounded capped shoulders in no time.


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