The Best Exercises For The Rear Deltoids

Effective training doesn't always mean heavier. And this is especially true for the rear delts.

Powerful bodybuilder showing off his rear delts

By: Travis

Hi, I am Travis. My main focus in life is to understand training better and help others get better results too. I used to be about the least fit kid in school and would always be last to get picked for a team. It wasn't for a lack of trying, but all my efforts just lead to injuries

For years, I had completely given up on ever getting in shape. Then I began to use my brain before using my muscles. I read every popular book on exercise, and began to structure my training.

With the right training methods, and the right machines, I was able to rebuild my body from the ground up.

According to science, I would never be able to walk pain-free again. And I would never be able to do 20 pull-ups with the injuries to my rotator cuff. But they were al wrong.

This site is where you can find all my tips and recommendations.

There are a lot of muscles in your upper body. In particular, the posterior deltoids are the most important. If you are not familiar with this term, the posterior deltoids are also referred to as the rear delts

Have you been in the gym consistently working hard on chest day with limited results? One reason why you may be experiencing stagnated gains is that you are neglecting to work out core muscles.

The rear delts are commonly not targeted during workouts. And when they are, the workouts are not done properly.

Let’s be honest, most of us have been in the gym doing an exercise wrong at least once. This is a common mistake when working out your rear delts. So, why is it important to train your rear delts? The key to answering this question is to understand the functions of the rear delts.

Why Are Your Rear Delts Underdeveloped?

You can find your rear delts on the backside of your shoulders. The rear delts muscles begin on your shoulder blades and extend into the upper arm area.

People focus on leg days because the leg region is often missed during workouts. A close contender in the neglected muscle department is your rear delts. The reason you may have underdeveloped delts is that they are either missed during your workout, or they are minimally worked out.

Another reason for the underdevelopment of your rear delts is the use of too much weight. When you use too much weight it forces your other muscle groups to take over the job. Therefore, you are not giving your rear delts an adequate workout. It doesn’t take a ton of weight to target the posterior upper back region.

The Importance of The Rear Deltoids

When your rear delts are not properly developed it may affect your shoulder stability. Your rear delts help to pull your shoulders backward helping with the overall posture of your upper body. Strong rear delts help to prevent your shoulders from slouching and hunching forward.

The risk of a body hunch is back stress and potential injury. This is one of the reasons why you should work out your rear delts. If you don’t target your rear delts during your workout, they will not develop to their full potential.

I know you may be thinking that you spend time working on your chest so that is good enough. Incorrect! With normal chest workouts, your rear delts do not benefit. Try the exercises below to solely focus on your rear delts to begin to form a fully developed upper body.

Rear Deltoid Exercises

1. Barbell High Row

First, start with the barbell high row. This is a great exercise for your upper back and even better for your rear delts. Your biceps also benefit from the movements of this exercise.

The barbell high row is probably one of the best exercises to build a bigger and thicker back region. It fully works out your rear delts, lats, and traps.

Remember to always use proper form. You will begin to feel these areas being stimulated as you complete the exercise


  • Begin the exercise by placing a wide grip on a barbell. While standing, position your arms about 45 degrees from the side of your body
  • Slightly bend your knees. Be sure to hinge at the hips. Your back should be parallel to the ground
  • Next, protract your shoulders by getting into the position as if you were going to push your fists downward
  • In the direction of your upper chest, lift the weight. Keep your elbows tight
  • Make sure your elbows are at a 90-degree angle at the top position
  • At the top, take a pause and contract the real delts
  • Now it is time to come back down

Recommendations & Tips:

  • 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • As you complete reps, start with a lighter weight and increase
  • Always maintain good posture and a wide grip
  • Using wrist straps can help you to isolate and focus on your rear delts

2. Dumbbell Incline Row

The movements emphasized in this exercise targets the rear delts. It will both develop and strengthen them. The more you do this exercise, the more efficient you will become in any pulling exercise. A dumbbell incline row will help your upper back become ripped and more defined.

With this exercise, you can build your upper back and increase the size and strength of this area. The incline bench is important because it helps to isolate your muscles. Otherwise, your other muscles would take over defeating the purpose of trying to build your upper back.

In addition to giving your rear delts and amazing workout, dumbbell incline rows work your shoulders and biceps.


  • First, set your bench to an incline of 30 degrees Sit on the bench and make sure your chest is against the back of the bench
  • Place a dumbbell in each hand. Position your hands so that your palms are facing each other. Lift the dumbbells
  • While you are lifting keep your elbows tucked in. Pull the dumbbells to your body. They should sit just below your chest.
  • Contract your rear delts and hold the position
  • Come back down

Recommendations & Tips

  • 3 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Be cautious about the amount of weight you use. Be sure not to go straight for the max. Gradually work your way up
  • Be sure not to set the incline too high. When you do this, you are no longer targeting your rear delts. It is recommended to use a 30-degree angle or slightly smaller
  • While performing this exercise the more you drive your elbow up and behind the body the better activated the delts will become
  • Try not to rotate your wrists when you are lifting your arms
  • Breathe out when you lift and breathe in as you go down

3. Lay-Down Face Pulls

This exercise is somewhat similar to the traditional face pulls, but this version does a better job of isolating your muscles. What makes the lying face pulls different from standing face pulls is the primary muscles being used to perform the exercise.

When you are doing a standard face pull, your upper traps are doing most of the work. A lying face pull encourages your body to use the rear delts more than your traps. How does this occur?

By laying down, there are minimal effects of gravity. Because of this, it is harder for your traps to overpower the workout. If you know how to do a traditional face pull, this is no different. The only change you need to make is to lay down.


  • Use a pulley machine or home gym. Grasp the handles on the machine using both hands, make sure your palms are facing inward
  • Lay down flat on your back so that your body is positioned comfortably between the machine
  • Once you are positioned, fully extend your arms
  • Starting pulling the rope toward you to begin lifting the weight. Roll your shoulders back to help stabilize your posture.
  • Now you are ready to start. Place the machine handles toward your head, closer to your forehead. During this time, the palms of your hands should be facing in and your elbows should face out
  • Being careful not to let your shoulders and chest slouch forward, slowly extend your arms
  • Continue with more reps

Recommendations & Tips

  • 2 sets of 20 reps
  • The key to this exercise is to use lighter weights and to do more reps
  • While doing this exercise, never hunch your shoulders or for them to roll forward
  • Pay attention to keep your elbows facing outward because this is what helps to target your rear delts
  • Keep your motions slow, steady and controlled while performing this exercise
  • Lying face pulls are better suited towards the end of your workout

4. Rear Delt Cable Pull

One of the last exercises to incorporate to help strengthen your delts is the rear delt cable pull. Just as the lying face pull, for this exercise use a lighter weight and complete more repetitions.

This is a perfect exercise to narrow in on your delts. It helps to prevent your traps and other muscles from taking control of the exercise.

Your rear delts are targeted because of the range of movement this exercise provides. When performing the cable pull, your arm is hyperextended behind your body. This is one of the functionalities of your rear delts. When your body is in this position it causes your rear delts to continually do their job without the major help of other muscle groups.


  • The cable should be set slightly higher than the height of your shoulder
  • Do not use the handle and grasp the ball of the cable
  • Slightly bend your arm and bring it down and place it behind your body
  • When your arm is down and back, it should be at a 45-degree angle and positioned away from the side of your body
  • To complete the rep, rotate your shoulder and lower the cable.

Recommendations & Tips:

  • 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Keep your elbow locked while doing your reps
  • If you are doing the exercise properly, you will feel contractions in your rear delts
  • For a more complete workout, try different arm angles.


Although your rear delts may be small in size, they are big in function. They are an important muscle in your body that should be worked out often so that they can develop properly. The best way to complete a full-body workout is to be sure to focus on your rear delts region.

To achieve amazing rear delts incorporate the following exercises into your weekly upper body routine or 3-Day split workout. It is suggested that you work out your rear delts last in your routine.

1. Barbell High Row

2. Dumbbell Incline Row

3. Lying Face Pulls

4. Rear Delt Cable Pull

Stay consistent and motivated, while making sure you eat plenty of proteins. Once you begin to incorporate these exercises, you will start to see results in no time!