6 Best Rear Delt Exercises to Get a Stronger Upper Back

Rear delt exercises is important to improve posture. (Image by @coachgemma/Instagram)
Rear delt exercises is important to improve posture. (Image by @coachgemma/Instagram)

Rear delt exercises help to keep your upper back in good shape and are very effective at avoiding shoulder and back pain that occur as a result of poor posture.

Rear delt muscles aren’t talked about as much as glutes and abs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep them strong. In fact, many of the movements that you perform daily, such as turning, twisting, reaching, bending, etc., are all dependent on the rear delts, and therefore, it’s important to strengthen them to get a stronger and toned upper back.

Rear delt exercises for the upper back:

If you want a strong and sculpted upper back, incorporate these rear delt exercises into your strength workout routine.

1.) Standing bent-over lateral raise:

When doing this exercise, always start with a lighter weight, and gradually increase it as you gain confidence. A lighter weight will allow you to build strength safely.

Muscles targeted: middle deltoids, posterior deltoids, middle trapezius and rhomboids.


  • Start by holding a pair of light to moderate weight dumbbells and keep your palms facing each other.
  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  • Keep your back straight and bend a little forward at your hips.
  • Hold both the dumbbells together just below your chest and point your elbows outside.
  • Slowly raise both your arms up and out and make them parallel to the floor.
  • At the top of the movement of this exercise, make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Complete 10 to 12 repetitions in 3 to 4 sets.

2.) Rear deltoid machine:

You can also work on your posterior deltoid muscles on a rear deltoid machine, as it will become easier for you to isolate the muscles and work on them safely.

Muscles targeted: rhomboids, rear deltoids, middle trapezius


  • Sit straight on the rear deltoid machine by facing the pad. You may adjust the seat height depending on your height and comfort. Just make sure the handles of the machine are on a level with your shoulders.
  • Hold the handles and press both your arms back and keep them straight. You may also keep them slightly bent.
  • Now squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Complete 12 repetitions.

3.) Single-arm bent-over row:

Add this exercise to your shoulders and back days as this will help you develop more posterior deltoid strength.

Muscles targeted: rear deltoids, transverse abdominals, biceps, back


  • Put your right knee and right hand on a bench, and keep your right elbow straight.
  • Extend your left leg behind you and keep your foot on the ground for added support. Make sure to keep your spine and back neutral.
  • Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and reach down your arm towards the floor.
  • Slowly bend your left elbow, pulling it back and up in a way that your upper arm is in line with your chest.
  • Squeeze your shoulders together and lower the dumbbell with control.

4.) Cable machine high pull with ropes:

This exercise will allow you to change the angles of your muscle training and uniquely target your deltoids. You can do this exercise on your shoulder day.

Muscles targeted: middle and rear deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius


  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Face the cable machine.
  • Level the cable attachment to your chest height and attach the rope handle.
  • Take a step back so that your arms easily reach in front of you.
  • Now pull the cable rope towards you by keeping your elbows high to target your rear delts.
  • Extend your elbows back in a slow and controlled movement to the starting position.

5.) Assisted pull-up:

Pull-ups are an excellent exercise for your rear delt muscles; however, it is a bit difficult for some people as they don’t have the appropriate upper body strength to perform it. But this exercise will help you do a pull-up with a little help.

Muscles targeted: posterior deltoids, biceps, lats, lower and middle trapezius


  • Start by adjusting the weight on the side of the pull-up machine.
  • Climb on the knee pad, push it down and place both your knees on it. Make sure your knees are hip-width apart.
  • Hold the outer handle of the machine and keep your palms facing away sideways.
  • Now extend your arms and slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
  • Pull your body up again until your chin and above the handles.
  • Hold this position, and then lower yourself slowly. Keep your shoulder blades pressed down and back.

6.) Dumbbell bent-over reverse fly:

Another great exercise for strengthening your rear delts is the dumbbell bent-over reverse fly. This exercise not only involves your rear delts to produce power but also allows your spinal erectors to work to target your posterior chain musculature.

Muscles targeted: rear shoulders and upper back


  • Hold a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip. Your palms should face each other.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, maintain a straight neck position and keep the dumbbells under your chest.
  • Now raise both your arms to the side and make them parallel to the floor. While doing this, make sure you just move your shoulder.
  • At the end position of this exercise, squeeze your upper back and hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.


The rear delts are crucial shoulder muscles used in several movements and are great shoulder stabilizers too. Hence, it makes complete sense to work on them for smooth shoulder mobility. Also, if you are working on developing a stronger upper back, incorporating the above-discussed exercises will definitely help to get the desired results.

Edited by S Chowdhury