• Home
  • |
  • Blog
  • |
  • The Best Rear Delt Exercises for Men and Women – Home or Gym

December 22, 2021

The Best Rear Delt Exercises for Men and Women – Home or Gym

Your shoulders are a unique muscle group. They are made up of three heads, just like the triceps. But unlike the triceps, or any other muscles, each of those heads has a unique origin and insertion point. That means that they each have a distinct function and direction of movement. In other words, they should be treated as three different muscles, with their own exercises and workouts. In this article, we will focus on the rear part of the shoulder muscle group. This is the rear deltoid.

 

Rear Delt Structure & Function & Impact on Men and Women Training 

Before we drill down on the rear delts, let’s get an overview of the complete deltoid muscle group. There are three heads to the deltoids:

 

  • Lateral
  • Anterior
  • Posterior

 

The function of the lateral head is to move the arm out to the side, while the anterior head moves it to the front. The posterior, or rear, delts have their origin on the upper ridge of the scapula bone. They insert on the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus (upper arm bone). This is right alongside the insertion point of the lateral, or side, deltoid.

 

The main function of the posterior deltoid is to pull the humerus back behind the body. It also assists in the external rotation of the humerus. When the arm is down at the side of the body, the rear delt fibers run diagonally, from the origin to the insertion points. The anatomy is the same in men and women and therefore the workouts undertaken would not differ.

 

To identify the best exercises for the rear deltoids, we should look for moves that have alignment between the direction of resistance, the direction of  movement, and the origin and insertion of the muscle. To meet these requirements, you need to be doing an exercise that causes the upper arm, which is the operating lever of the rear deltoids, to travel diagonally – that is downward and backward – through that plane. This provides perfect alignment with the origin and insertion of the rear deltoids.

 

Traditionally, rear deltoid exercises have been performed with the arms up to put them in a position that is perpendicular to the torso. However, this does not improve the mechanics of the posterior deltoid function. On the contrary, it actually compromises it because the motion is not nearly as natural as bringing the arms downward and backward, with a diagonal sweep.

 

The best machine to work the rear delts is a cable pulley machine. That is because a pulley machine allows you to set the pulleys for proper alignment with the direction of the muscle fibers. The cable machine also allows for early phase loading where the exercise is harder at the beginning, following the strength curve of the rear delts.

 

When you are setting up for working the rear delts on a cable pulley machine, set the pulleys at a height that is at the level of your head, just above the shoulders. This provides for an early upward resistance that the rear deltoids can pull down against. This facilitates early phase loading.

 

When it comes to the width between the pulleys, you want them at a 45-degree angle to either side of the torso. This position allows for an inward resistance that the rear delts are able to pull out from. This combination of height and width of the pulleys delivers the upward and inward resistance so that the rear delts can then pull in the ideal direction – downward and outward.

 

If you are working out at home, you can replicate the cable pulley machine with resistance bands. While not as ideal as a cable machine, a resistance band will allow you to get a similar angle of movement.

 

Home Workout – Rear Delts

Beginners:

Floor T Raise

  • Lie on the floor on your stomach with legs extended and your arms out laterally in line with your shoulder.
  • Arch up to bring your legs and torso off the floor to form a banana shape with your body.
  • Simultaneously bring your arms up to the ceiling, squeezing your shoulder blades together and activating your rear delts. Hold for a count of two.
  • Lower and repeat.

 

Band Pull Apart

  • Stand with a resistance band held out in front of your body, with your hands about 18 inches apart. The band should be taut between your hands.
  • Without bending your elbows, pull the band apart to full extension.
  • Hold the fully extended position for a 2 count as you engage the rear delts.
  • Reverse and repeat.

 

Band Reverse Fly

  • Put a resistance band underneath your feet.
  • Stand and grab the band ends in each hands. Hold the bands in an overhand grip.
  • Reposition your body so that the band is taut when your straightened arms are put in front of your body at chest level.
  • From a starting position with your arms at chest level, pull your arms down and out to full arm extension.

The Workout:

  • Floor T Raise – 3 x 15
  • Band pull Apart – 3 x 15
  • Band Reverse Fly – 3 x 15

 

Intermediate

Band Single Arm Reverse Fly

 

  • Place the resistance band underneath your feet.
  • Grab the band with your left hand.
  • Position yourself so that the starting position sees your arm across your body at chest level. Reposition so that the band is taut.
  • Pull the band down and out so that, in the end position, your hand is diagonally in line with your hips.
  • Reverse and repeat.
  • Do the same number of reps on both sides of the body.

 

Banded Upright Row

 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a band under your feet. Hold the band ends in your hands at full arm extension in front of your body. Make sure that the band is taut in the starting position.
  • Pull your arms up to shoulder level, bringing your elbows up high.
  • Hold the top position for a two count and engage your rear delts.
  • Lower and repeat.

 

Band Reverse Fly

  • Sit on a chair and place a resistance band underneath your feet.
  • Grab the band ends in each hands and hold the bands in an overhand grip.
  • Bend your upper body at a 30 degree angle.
  • Reposition your body so that the band is taut when your straightened arms are put in front of your body at chest level.
  • From a starting position with your arms at chest level, pull your arms down and out to full arm extension.

 

The Workout

  • Band Single Arm Reverse Fly: 3 x 15
  • Banded Upright Row: 3 x 15
  • Ban Reverse Fly: 4 x 10-15

 

Gym Rear Delts Workout

Beginner

Standing Cable Rear Delt Fly

 

  • Set the pulleys on a cable pulley machine just above shoulder level. Remove the handles from the ends of the cable.
  • Stand in front of the machine about three feet away from it and grab the ends of the cables with your opposite hands, so that the left hand holds the right side cable and vice versa. Hold the cable ends in a palms down grip. You may wish to wear gloves when doing this exercise to protect your palms.
  • From a starting position with your straightened arms in front of your chest, pull down and back so that, in the finish position, your arms are down and out to the sides of your body.
  • Hold the end position for 2 seconds as you engage your rear delts.
  • Reverse and repeat.

 

Seated Reverse Fly

 

  • Sit on a bench with a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Do not use a weight that is too heavy as you are targeting a relatively small muscle group.
  • Maintaining a neutral back position, position your upper body at about a 30-degree angle.
  • From a starting position with your arms slightly bent and the dumbbells together in front of your body, pinot from the shoulders to bring the weights up and back to shoulder level.
  • Hold the top position for 2 seconds then lower under control.

 

Upright Row

 

 

  • Stand with a barbell held at arm’s length with an overhand grip, and your hands about 6 inches apart.
  • Pull your arms up to shoulder level so that your elbows come up high.
  • Squeeze the rear delts in the top position and hold for 2 seconds.
  • Lower under control and repeat.

 

The Workout

  • Standing Cable Rear Delt Fly : 3 x 15
  • Seated Reverse Fly: 3 x 15
  • Upright Row: 3 x 12-15

 

Intermediate

 

Rear Delt Flye Machine Flys

 

  • Sit on a rear delt machine, facing in toward the weight stack. Select the appropriate weight and adjust the elbow pads to your height.
  • From a starting position with your elbows under the pads, push up to bring your arms up to a 45-degree angle from your torso.
  • Hold the top position for 2 seconds and engage your rear delts.
  • Lower under control and repeat

 

Renegade Rows

 

 

  • Get down on the floor with a pair of dumbbells in your hands and assume the top position of a push up.
  • With your body in a straight line and your core tight, row the right hand dumbbell up to your rib cage. Lower and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Alternate your reps from side to side to complete your rep count.

 

Standing Cable Rear Delt Fly

 

  • Set the pulleys on a cable pulley machine just above shoulder level. Remove the handles from the ends of the cable.
  • Stand in front of the machine about three feet away from it and grab the end of the cables with your opposite hands, so that the left hand holds the right side cable and vice versa. Hold the cable ends in a palms down grip. You may wish to wear gloves when doing this exercise to protect your palms.
  • From a starting position with your straightened arms in front of your chest, pull down and back so that, in the finish position, your arms are down and out to the sides of your body.
  • Hold the end position for 2 seconds as you engage your rear delts.
  • Reverse and repeat.

 

 

The Workout

  • Rear Delt Fly Machine Flys: 3 x 15
  • Renegade Rows: 3 x 15
  • Standing Cable Rear Delt Fly: 3 x 60 seconds

Conclusion

You have now got four awesome workouts to see you through several months of rear delt training. If you are working out at home, I recommend following the beginning program for 6 weeks and then moving onto the intermediate program. Do the same thing with the gym workout programs.

 

Training your rear delts in the same workout as your posterior and anterior delts makes a lot of sense. In fact, you may want to train your shoulders by themselves on a dedicated shoulders day, remembering that you are, in effect, working three muscles. Do 9-12 sets for each of the rear, anterior and posterior deltoid heads for a total of about 27 sets for the entire deltoid muscle group.

 

Because you are doing a lot of sets for the shoulders, you need to give them plenty of rest and recuperation time. That is, after all, when your muscles grow. I recommend training your shoulders once every 5 days for the ideal balance between muscle stimulation and recovery.

Related Posts

Best 15 Lower Glute Exercises – Target your Underbutt

Best 15 Lower Glute Exercises – Target your Underbutt

10 Exercises and 30 Foods to Melt Love Handle Fat

10 Exercises and 30 Foods to Melt Love Handle Fat

Top 10 Exercise Ball Ab Workouts for Killer Abs

Top 10 Exercise Ball Ab Workouts for Killer Abs

Best 5 elliptical workouts for weight loss

Best 5 elliptical workouts for weight loss

Steve


Steve Theunissen is from New Zealand and is a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with over 30 years experience. Read more about Steve in the 'about us' page.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}