7 Best Rear Delt Exercises to Improve Strength & Posture

Updated on February 1, 2024
Tatiana Cooper By Tatiana Cooper
Tatiana Cooper

Expert writer, copywriter, and well-versed beauty and wellness enthusiast.

Table Of Contents

    Rear Delt ExercisesPIN

    7 Best Rear Delt Exercises to Improve Strength & Posture

    We don’t know about you, but sometimes when we look in the mirror or see a picture of ourselves, we wish we had more defined shoulders. If you can relate, follow us on this journey to figure out the best ways to get more defined shoulders. Your shoulders will be looking (and feeling!) their best in no time, just you wait.

    What Are The Rear Delts?

    Let’s take a moment to appreciate the rear delts and understand their importance. The rear delts, short for rear deltoids, are a group of muscles located on the posterior side of the shoulders. They are responsible for various movements, such as shoulder extension, horizontal abduction, and scapular retraction. A well-developed rear deltoid not only improves your overall shoulder strength but also enhances your posture and upper body aesthetics.

    When it comes to shoulder training, many people tend to focus on the front and middle delts, neglecting the rear delts. However, neglecting the rear delts can lead to muscle imbalances and poor posture. Strengthening the rear delts is crucial for maintaining a balanced and functional shoulder complex.

    Like strengthening any muscle, there are benefits to strengthening and targeting your rear delts. Check out the benefits of focusing on this muscle group in the chart below.

    Benefits Of Strengthening Rear Delts Description
    Improved Shoulder Stability The rear delts play a vital role in stabilizing the shoulder joint, especially during movements that involve pulling or rowing motions. Neglecting these muscles can lead to shoulder instability and increase the risk of injuries.
    Improved Posture Reinforces the muscles responsible for pulling your shoulders back, promoting a more upright and natural posture.
    Reduced Injury Risk Balanced shoulder development minimizes the risk of imbalances and injuries, especially in the shoulder joint.
    Functional Strength Supports daily activities by enhancing your ability to lift, pull, and perform various upper body movements efficiently.
    Athletic Performance Important for athletes in sports that involve throwing, swinging, or any upper body movements, contributing to improved performance.
    Overall Shoulder Health Promotes a balanced and healthy shoulder complex, ensuring optimal functioning and longevity of the shoulder joints.

    Rear Delt Dumbbell Exercises

    When it comes to targeting your rear delts, dumbbell exercises are not only effective but also simple to perform. By incorporating these exercises into your workout routine, you can strengthen and sculpt your rear delts so you can look your hottest. So, grab a pair of dumbbells, and let’s get into these exercises.

    Psst…holding up dumbbells can be hard on the wrists, so we suggest checking out wrist strengthening exercises just to make sure you are lifting weights as safely as possible.

    Dumbbell Row

    The dumbbell row is a classic exercise that primarily targets your rear delts while also engaging your upper back muscles.

    Here is a quick tutorial on how to perform this exercise:

    1. Start by placing your left knee and hand on a bench, ensuring that your right foot is firmly planted on the ground.
    2. Grab a dumbbell with your right hand and let it hang straight down, ensuring a comfortable grip.
    3. Pull the dumbbell up toward your chest, focusing on keeping your elbow close to your side throughout the movement.
    4. As you reach the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together, emphasizing the contraction in your rear delts.
    5. Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position, maintaining control and stability.
    6. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, then switch sides to target the other rear delt.

    Zohna Tip

    For the best results use a dumbbell that is nearly the maximum amount of weight you can lift and go for 8 to 10 reps. If you get to 10 easily, increase the weight.

    Incline Row

    The incline row is another effective dumbbell exercise that specifically targets your rear delts. This exercise not only engages your rear delts but also activates your upper back muscles for a well-rounded workout. You’ll be feeling sore the next day, so be prepared!

    Here’s how to perform the incline row:

    • Set an adjustable bench to approximately a 45-degree angle, ensuring a comfortable and stable position.
    • Lie face down on the bench, with your chest resting against it.
    • Grip a dumbbell in each hand, ensuring a firm and secure hold.
    • Start with your arms fully extended, allowing the dumbbells to hang down toward the floor.
    • Pull the dumbbells up towards your chest, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
    • Control the descent as you slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
    • Repeat the exercise for a challenging set of incline rows, feeling the burn in your rear delts and upper back.

    Rear Delt Cable Exercises

    If you have access to a gym with cables, you’re going to be a sculpted god before you know it. Adding cables to your workout routine is an excellent way to maximize muscle engagement and build strength in your rear delts. They allow for a greater variety of movement patterns compared to traditional dumbbell or barbell exercises. This can lead to enhanced muscle activation and improved overall development of the rear deltoids.

    Zohna Tip

    If you want to prevent sore muscles the day after you perform your rear delt exercises, don't forget to foam roll, stretch, and eat anti-inflammatory foods.

    Cable Cross Body Lateral Raise

    Stand facing a cable machine with the handle at waist height. This exercise targets the rear delts from a different angle, providing a unique stimulus for growth and development.

    Here are steps to doing the perfect cable cross-body lateral raise:

    1. To begin the cable cross-body lateral raise, grab the handle with your opposite hand and step back to create tension in the cable. This initial tension will ensure that your rear deltoids are engaged right from the start.
    2. With your arm straight, raise it out to the side and across your body, reaching across to the opposite hip. This movement pattern emphasizes the rear delts while also engaging the muscles of the mid-back and upper traps.
    3. To maximize the effectiveness of this exercise, focus on maintaining proper form throughout the movement. Keep your arm straight and avoid using momentum to swing the weight up. Instead, rely on the strength of your rear delts to lift the weight.
    4. Once you have completed the movement on one side, return your arm to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Aim for a controlled and deliberate tempo, focusing on the mind-muscle connection with your rear delts.

    Cable Face Pulls

    Attach a rope handle to a cable machine and set it to chest height. Cable face pulls are an excellent exercise for targeting the rear delts, as well as the muscles of the upper back and rotator cuff. This exercise helps to improve posture, strengthen the muscles responsible for scapular retraction, and enhance overall shoulder stability. P.S. – Doing these cable face pulls can cause strain on the neck, so make sure you check out some neck strengthening exercises to prevent any possibility of injury.

    Here is how to pull off the cable face pull:

    • To perform cable face pulls, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing the machine. Grab the rope with an overhand grip and step back to create tension in the cable. This initial tension will ensure that your rear delts are engaged throughout the exercise.
    • With your elbows slightly higher than your shoulders, pull the rope towards your face, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and engaging your rear delts. This movement pattern emphasizes the muscles of the upper back, helping to counteract the effects of sitting and slouching for extended periods of time.
    • As you pull the rope towards your face, be sure to maintain a neutral spine and avoid excessive shrugging of the shoulders. Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position, feeling a stretch in your rear delts and upper back.
    • Repeat for a challenging set of cable face pulls, focusing on maintaining proper form and technique throughout the exercise.

    Rear Delt Exercises with Bands

    Having access to a gym is a luxury not all of us can afford, but that shouldn’t stop you from being able to get a sneaky rear delt exercise at home. Resistance bands are a perfect tool for targeting your rear delts at home! Not only are they convenient, but they also provide a challenging workout that can help you build strength and improve your posture. Let’s take a closer look at two effective band exercises that specifically target your rear delts. If bands aren’t your thing, battle ropes are also an effective tool for shaping and toning those shoulders.

    Band Pull Aparts

    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a resistance band with both hands in front of you. This exercise primarily targets your rear delts, but it also engages your upper back and traps.

    • Start by pulling the band apart, keep your arms straight, and pull, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement. This contraction helps activate your rear delts and promotes better shoulder stability.
    • Slowly bring your hands back together and repeat for the desired number of reps.

    As you perform band pull-aparts, focus on maintaining proper form throughout the movement. Keep your core engaged, your back straight, and your shoulders relaxed. By doing so, you’ll maximize the effectiveness of the exercise and minimize the risk of injury.

    Band Abduction Row

    Another effective exercise for targeting your rear delts with resistance bands is the band abduction row, here’s how to do it:

    1. Place a resistance band around a sturdy anchor point, such as a pole or doorknob.
    2. Stand facing the anchor point with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the band with both hands.
    3. Begin with your arms extended in front of you, then pull the band towards your body, keeping your elbows close to your sides. As you do this, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together, which will engage your rear delts and promote better posture. The band abduction row not only targets your rear delts but also engages your upper back and biceps.

    Remember to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. Keep your core engaged, your back straight, and your shoulders relaxed. This will help you get the most out of the exercise and prevent any unnecessary strain on your muscles or joints.

    Rear Delt Exercises At Home

    Working out at home is no excuse to leave your poor, sad rear delts unworked and neglected. It’s time to give them the makeover they deserve with these two awesome rear delt exercises at home. These bodyweight exercises will help you strengthen and shape your shoulders.

    Crab Walks

    This one might sound funny, but it’s pretty effective, here’s how to do it:

    1. Start by sitting on the floor with your hands placed behind you, fingers pointing backward.
    2. Lift your hips off the ground, creating a tabletop position with your body. This position engages not only your rear delts but also your triceps, core, and glutes.
    3. Once you’re in the tabletop position, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you move. This movement helps activate and strengthen the rear delts.
    4. Simply walk sideways by moving your hands and feet simultaneously. Take a few steps in one direction, then reverse to complete a set of crab walks.

    Crab walks can be hard on the rest of the body since your body is technically your weight, that said check out these hip flexor exercises to strengthen your body for this strange crab-like movement. Crab walks are not only a great exercise for getting to those rear delts, but they also provide a good cardiovascular workout. So, let’s get those delts strong and that blood pumping!

    Plank-Ups

    Another exercise that targets the rear delts is the plank-up. This exercise not only works your rear delts but also engages your core, chest, triceps, and glutes.

    Here’s how to do it:

    • Begin in a push-up position, resting on your forearms instead of your hands.
    • Engage your core and glutes to maintain a straight line from head to toe.
    • From this starting position, push up onto your right hand, straightening your arm.
    • Repeat the same movement on your left side, then return to the starting position.
    • Alternate between right and left for a challenging set of plank-ups.

    This exercise not only activates your rear delts as you stabilize in the plank position but also helps improve your overall upper body strength and stability.

    Rear Delt Bodyweight Exercises

    Not everyone has access to weights or resistance bands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work your rear delts. If you are interested in using only your body weight try these two bodyweight exercises. You never know, you might actually enjoy not using any workout tools.

    Bodyweight Cobra

    Lie face down on the floor with your arms extended above your head. Lift your chest off the ground, reaching your arms forward and squeezing your shoulder blades together. This exercise not only targets your rear delts but also engages your upper back muscles, helping to improve posture and shoulder stability. Hold the squeeze for a couple of seconds, then lower your chest back to the floor. Repeat for a challenging set of bodyweight cobras, focusing on engaging your rear delts throughout the movement.

    Bodyweight Rear Delt Fly

    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight. Extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing down. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms up and out to the sides, focusing on engaging your rear delts. Remember to keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the exercise. By maintaining proper form, you can maximize the effectiveness of the bodyweight rear delt fly and prevent any unnecessary strain on your lower back. Lower your arms back down and repeat the movement for the desired number of reps. As you progress with this exercise, you can increase the difficulty by performing it on one leg or adding a slight pause at the top of the movement to intensify the contraction in your rear delts.

    Rear Delt Exercises with Machines

    If you have access to them, machines are a great way to instantly make your workout that much more intense and get great results. Here are two of our favorite rear delt exercises with machines.

    Reverse Fly Machine

    Set the machine’s handles at chest height and adjust the seat to fit your height. Sit facing the machine with your chest against the pad and your arms extended in front of you. Pull the handles back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and engaging your rear delts. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for a challenging set of reverse fly machine reps. Yep, it’s that easy.

    Inverted Row

    Using a Smith machine or a suspension trainer, set the bar or handles at waist height. Lie underneath the bar or handles and grip them with your palms facing up. Keep your body straight and pull your chest up towards the bar or handles, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower yourself back down and repeat for a challenging set of inverted rows, targeting your rear delts and upper back.

    Melt Your Delts

    All we have to say is thank us in three to five months when your rear delts are looking strong and sexy. With consistency and a good attitude, you can transform your rear delts, making you not only look it but feel stronger too. Working out your muscles isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about feeling good about yourself and confident in your body’s capabilities.