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Rear Delts

The Key To Bigger Stronger Shoulders

By Matteo Longobardi

When most people train their shoulders they usually include plenty of exercises for the front deltoids, side deltoids, and the trapezius muscles. But the rear deltoids are most often neglected.

Rear deltoid muscle



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Well developed rear delts will help to keep your shoulders balanced and help to prevent a lot of shoulder injuries and rotator cuff problems. Very often the front delts are strong from lots of pressing movements (bench presses, overhead presses, etc.) so they over power the rear delts.

Strong rear delts will also help to improve your strength in exercises such as the bench press. With a strong well developed upper back you will be more solid on the bench and be able to generate more power. They will also help your squat because the bar is placed across your upper back. By having big strong rear delts and traps you will be able to stabilize the bar better and not hunch over in the squat. Just look at anyone who has a big bench press and / or squat and you will see that they also have well developed rear delts and upper back muscles.

Here are are some exercises that will target your rear delts and upper back. You should incorporate these exercises into your workouts. I usually do at least a 3 sets of rear delt work every workout as part of my warm up. I also work my rear delts after chest, shoulder, and back workouts.

Since this is a small muscle group you should train with fairly light weights and do higher reps, between 10-20 reps per set. Focus on feeling the muscles working with each rep.

Bent Over Lateral Raise

There are several different variations of this exercise and they are all excellent for working the rear delts. Use one type of Bent Over Lateral Raise for a couple workouts and then switch to a different variation.

Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise



Using dumbbells, bend over at the waist with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep a slight bend in the knees to prevent stain on the lower back. Hold the dumbbells at arms length in front of you with the palms of your hands facing each other. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.

Using your upper back strength, raise the dumbbells to the back and upwards in a semicircular arc as far as you can. Hold this position for a second to maximize the peak contraction in the rear deltoids. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat.

Seated Bent Over Lateral Raise


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This is similar to the Bent Over Lateral Raise except you sit on the end of a bench. You should be able to use the same weights as you can with the standing version.

Lateral Raise on an Incline Bench

Reverse Incline Bench Flyes



This is similar to the previous versions of the Bent Over Lateral Raise except you lay chest down on an incline bench. This isolates the rear delts more and you will not be able to use as much weight as with the standing or seated versions.

Lateral Raise on a Flat Bench

Reverse Flat Bench Flyes



This is the similar to the previous version except you lay chest down on a flat bench. You should be able to use the same weights as you can with the incline bench version.

Rubber Band Reverse Flyes

Rear delt flyes with a rubber fitness band

Back rows with a rubber fitness band



This version of the rear delt lateral raise works the muscles hard, but doesn't place stress on the joints like free weights can. They are very therapeutic. I like to use these rubber band versions as part of my warm up exercises

On a cable pully machine use a rope attachment. Pull the rope towards your face with your elbows held high. You can use either an overhand or underhand grip. Contract your upper back and rear delt muscles by squeezing your shoulder blades together while keeping your chest held high.