5 Best Rear Delt Exercises for Shoulder Growth

Shoulder training and development helps in building a strong rear delt muscle. (Image via Unsplash /Nigel Msipa)
Shoulder training and development helps in building a strong rear delt muscle. (Image via Unsplash /Nigel Msipa)

When it comes to shoulder training and development, the rear deltoids are perhaps the most frequently overlooked muscle group. This is especially true of men who spend so much time with barbell pullovers and dumbbell lateral raises that they have a disproportionate amount of pec development compared to the rest of their body (which is why they’re such fond devotees of the bench press and never do the shoulder press).

Your rear delts are one of your strongest muscles, providing stabilization for your shoulders. They’re a force to be reckoned with in the gym. However, it can be hard to add size to this muscle group. Many bodybuilders and lifters struggle to build bigger delts because they don’t include the right exercises in their training regimen.

Dumbbell Upright Row and 4 Other Best Rear Delt Exercises to Grow Your Shoulders

1) Dumbbell Reverse Fly

The chest-supported reverse fly can help you isolate and target the rear deltoids with less of a body swing, especially as you get tired. This reduces a clumsy approach to the exercise.


How to do it?

  • Grab a pair of light dumbbells, one in each hand, and hinge at the hips as if performing an RDL or bent-over row.
  • Keeping your back flat and chest upright, pull the weights straight down toward the floor in front of you.
  • You can also do this exercise with your arms facing the sides of your body, thumbs touching each other.
  • Bend your elbows slightly and pull outwards as if you were trying to touch the walls in front of you.
  • Lift the weights as high as possible before your shoulders start hunching forwards or until you feel like you lose the contraction in your rear delts.
  • Pause the weight at the top of the movement for a moment, then slowly lower it down in an arc.

2) Bent Over Dumbbell Face Pull

The bent-over dumbbell face pull is a variation of the bent-over reverse fly. In this move, you'll allow your elbows to bend as you lift the weights upward, keeping your elbows angled out to the sides.


How to do it?

  • Stand with your back to a bench or slope, holding dumbbells in each hand.
  • Your arms should be fully extended downward and your palms should face each other.
  • By spreading your elbows outwards and bending them, lift the weights.
  • Make sure your elbows are flared out to approximate 90 degrees at the top of the movement.
  • At the top of the movement, your hands should be in line with your chin or eyes (pull to the face).
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold a brief pause, making sure your head is not rounded down toward the floor.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, keeping your elbows flared.

3) Dumbbell Upright Row

The dumbbell upright row is a shoulder exercise that can build both the rear delts and the traps. It's often effective when done with control, using moderate to light weights.


How to do it?

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold them up in front of your body, palms facing you and about 12–16 inches apart.
  • Lean forward a little bit, to bring the weights off your hips.
  • Lift your arms so they make a “W” shape.
  • Raise the dumbbells until you can't raise them anymore without pain, or until they are at eye level.
  • Make sure your elbows are high and pointed up and out, not back.
  • Slowly lower the weights to the starting position (1-2 second lowering phase) and repeat.

4) Cable Reverse Fly

To target the rear delts, try this exercise: With your palms facing each other, pull the cable to your side while holding it at chest or shoulder level. To target both rear delts and traps, adjust the cable height so it is just above waist level.


How to do it?

  • Stand in front of a cable system, with the pulley set at shoulder level.
  • Grasp the handles, one in each hand.
  • Cross your arms so that you grab the left handle with your right hand and vice versa.
  • Stand in front of a cable system that has a pulley set at shoulder height.
  • Grasp the handles, one in each hand. Cross your arms as you grab the handles with your opposite hand.

5) Band Upright Row

The banded upright row is performed similarly to the cable or dumbbell upright row, with the exception that you anchor the band with your feet. As you perform the exercise, make sure your feet are securely planted on the band.


How to do it?

  • Take a resistance band and stand on the middle of it with both feet.
  • Pushing your palms away from you, lift your elbows high and stretch the band.
  • To make the movement harder, lift your elbows higher than 90 degrees.
  • The elbows should be at ear level and higher than the wrists.
  • Pause at the top of the movement before slowly lowering your hands downard, resisting any pull from the resistance bands.


There are a lot of rear delt exercises in existence, and which ones you ultimately choose will depend on your specific preferences and goals. Still, it's a good idea to have a basic understanding of what your options are and how they can benefit you.

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Edited by Babylona Bora