18 Rear Delt Workouts (Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable, Machine)

18 Rear Delt Workouts (Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable, Machine)

There are numerous ways you can train the rear delts using many different pieces of equipment. Most people train the rear delts passively through back exercises, but it is useful to know the best ways to isolate them to develop a more aesthetic physique and make them stronger to assist in other exercises.

Here are the 18 best rear delt exercises that you can do:

  • Barbell Face Pull
  • Barbell Upright Row
  • Snatch Grip Hang High Pulls
  • Pendlay Row
  • Bent-Over Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly
  • Prone Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly
  • Incline Prone Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly
  • Dumbbell YTWs
  • Dumbbell Row
  • Cable Face Pull
  • Standing Cable Reverse Fly
  • Bent-Over Rear Delt Cable Fly
  • Single-Arm Rear Delt Cable Fly
  • Cable Upright Row
  • Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
  • V Grip Lat Pulldown
  • Rear Delt Fly Machine
  • Band Pull Aparts

In this article, I will go through what you need to know about training the rear delts, what the best exercises are, and how you can integrate these exercises into your workout routine.

The Goal of Training the Rear Delt

Whether you are training for bodybuilding or powerlifting, training your rear delts will be useful for you. 

If you are bodybuilding, training the rear delts is important for balancing the aesthetics of your shoulders and upper back muscles. Since it is so common to overly develop the front delts, it is important to shape your shoulders with some rear delt exercises as well.

If you are powerlifting, training the rear delts will be important for building muscle mass to help you create a shelf for your back so you can perform low bar squats better.

How To Target The Rear Delts

The rear delts are the posterior fibers of the deltoid muscle group (meaning they are the muscles at the back of your shoulders and upper arms). They assist to bring the shoulders backward alongside the trapezius, rhomboid, and scapula retractor muscles (the back muscles that enable you to squeeze your shoulder blades together). 

Any movement that includes pulling, rowing, or bringing your arms and shoulders backward will be effective at targeting the rear delts. 

18 Rear Delt Exercises

I’m going to breakdown these exercises based on different pieces of equipment:

Click the links above to be taken to the section that has the equipment you’ll be using.

Rear Delt Barbell Exercises

Barbell Face Pull

The barbell face pull is a less common variation of the face pull as it is traditionally performed with a cable machine. This is a great variation if you are training at home or do not have access to a cable machine.

How To Do It

  • Stand up and hold onto a loaded barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  • Hinge forward by pushing your hips back and keep a soft bend in the knee while keeping your shins vertical and back flat.
  • Hold your torso at a 45-degree angle, allow the barbell to hang directly underneath your armpits, and take a deep breath in.
  • Exhale as you row the barbell towards the middle of your face while keeping your head stacked with your ribcage (i.e. keep the back of your head and your spine in one line).
  • Slowly return the barbell back toward the start position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • The bent-over position that you hold yourself in can greatly improve your muscular endurance on your back extensor muscles, which hold your posture during execution. This has a great transfer for larger lower body compound movements including squats and deadlifts.
  • The barbell face pull can be useful for targeting the external rotators, which are some of the rotator cuff muscles. This is an important muscle to target for powerlifters because it helps keep your shoulders healthy for bench presses.

Drawbacks

  • Sometimes the lightest barbell that you have available may weigh 20kg or 45lb. That may be too heavy for you to perform this movement and so you may not be able to perform this variation.
  • The strong arm can take over the weaker arm during execution, and so you may end up reinforcing asymmetry of your shoulders and upper back.

Barbell Upright Row

The barbell upright row is a popular deltoid exercise that targets the side delts and rear delts as well as the biceps. This is another great free-weight exercise that you can perform at home or in the gym.

How To Do It

  • Start by standing upright with a barbell of a chosen weight. Hold onto the barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you pull the barbell as high as you feel comfortable.
  • Make sure that you lead with the elbows and not with the wrist when you pull it. You want to ideally stop when the barbell reaches the collarbone.
  • Breathe in as you slowly control the barbell on the way down. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions in your set.

Benefits

  • If done in a controlled manner, the upright row can also be useful for targeting the trapezius and rhomboid muscles as well as the abdominal muscles to stop you from using your back too much to extend.
  • It can be useful for Crossfitters and Olympic weightlifters when performing Olympic weightlifting-style movements as this strengthens a portion of the snatch and clean.

Learn more about the snatch and clean in Should Powerlifters Do Olympic Lifts? (In Some Cases, Yes).

Drawbacks

  • The barbell upright row is somewhat easy to cheat in terms of using your hips to drive momentum up. If you are fatiguing, you may also resort to reducing the range of motion after every rep.

If this movement is uncomfortable for you, check out my tips on reducing pain in the shoulders, wrists, or elbows in the upright row.

Snatch Grip Hang High Pulls

The snatch grip hang high pull is a unique exercise variation that comes from the world of Olympic weightlifting. It is a great way to build explosive pulling power and great for weightlifting or athletic strength and conditioning training.

This is not an exercise that you would perform with high reps — 3 to 5 reps is most appropriate.

How To Do It

  • Hold onto a barbell with a grip wide enough that the barbell is level with your hip crease.
  • Bend at your hips and knees while keeping your shins vertical and slide the barbell down your thighs halfway.
  • Take a deep breath in and hold that position with a flat back and your face looking forward.
  • Explosively extend your whole body vertically towards the ceiling as you come onto your toes and finish off by aggressively pulling the barbell high, leading with your elbows.
  • Gently come back down as the barbell comes down to your hips and finish with a soft bend in your hips and knees.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions in your set.

Benefits

  • Due to it being a derivative of the snatch, this is a useful movement for Olympic weightlifters and Crossfitters who want to improve their snatch technique.
  • It can be useful for sports athletes who want to develop explosiveness for their strength and conditioning training.

Drawbacks

  • This is not a great muscle mass builder for the rear delts because there is very little time under tension, and it is not programmed to a level where there is a lot of intensity or volume.

Pendlay Row

The Pendlay row is another exercise that came from the world of Olympic weightlifting. It was popularized by American weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay. This exercise was designed to build upper back and shoulder strength for strength athletes.

How To Do It

  • Load the desired amount of weight on the barbell and stand underneath the middle of the barbell with your feet between hip-width to shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend at your hips and knees until your back is parallel to the floor. Keep your shins vertical and make sure the barbell is above the mid-foot.
  • While in this position, reach and grab onto the barbell with a wide grip so that your arms are straight when you hold onto it.
  • Brace your core by breathing into your belly and thinking about expanding your sides. Row the barbell explosively towards your mid-torso and bring the barbell back down to the starting position.
  • Make sure your posture and position stay stationary.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions in your set.

Benefits

  • The Pendlay row is useful for strengthening your hip extensor muscles, including your glutes and hamstrings, in their weakest position where those muscles are most stretched out. This has a good amount of transfer for powerlifters who need to squat and deadlift as well as Olympic weightlifters.
  • You can overload the rear delts as the Pendlay row is often performed with high-intensity loads. This can be a good transfer for having a strong upper back and shoulders for back squats and bench presses.

Wondering how a strong back can help your bench press? Check out Does a Strong Back Help Bench Press?

Drawbacks

  • As the Pendlay row is performed explosively, it does not have a lot of time under tension, so it may not be the optimal exercise for building muscle around the rear delts.

Rear Delt Dumbbell Exercises

Bent-Over Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly

The bent-over rear delt dumbbell fly, also known as the bent-over dumbbell reverse fly, is a popular dumbbell isolation exercise for the rear delts and upper back. It can be performed in a bent-over position while standing or seated.

How To Do It

  • Hinge through your hips and keep a soft bend in the knee while keeping your shins vertical and back flat.
  • Hold your torso at a 30-degree angle from horizontal and allow the dumbbells you are holding to hang directly underneath your armpits with your palms facing each other.
  • Take a deep breath and exhale as you bring your arms outwards and away from each other. Stop when your arms are roughly parallel to the floor.
  • Make sure your legs and torso are stationary throughout the exercise. Ensure that your back is flat.
  • Make sure that there is a soft bend in your elbows but rigidity is maintained throughout the execution of the exercise.
  • Inhale as you return the dumbbells back to the start position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • The use of individual dumbbells for both hands means that both arms need to work equally hard to execute the load that you are using in your set. This is great for people who have asymmetry in muscle strength or size of the rear delts.
  • It is great for improving back posture strength as you hold yourself constantly in a bent-over position. This will have a good carry-over for squats and deadlifts.

Drawbacks

  • It is hard to see whether you are maintaining a constant range of motion throughout the set as you fatigue. There are risks of you swinging and using the momentum to try and finish off the set.
  • There is also little tension on the rear delts at the bottom of the range of motion.

Prone Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly

The prone rear delt dumbbell fly, or prone dumbbell reverse fly, is a great dumbbell isolation exercise for your rear delts, rhomboids, and mid traps.

This variation does a better job at isolating the rear delts when compared to the bent-over rear delt dumbbell fly. This is because you are prone on a bench (i.e. lying flat on your stomach) and no longer need your lower body and core muscles to stabilize you.

How To Do It

  • Set a flat free-weight bench so it is horizontal. You may also want to elevate the height of the free-weight bench by setting it on boxes or a stack of plates so that your arms do not touch the floor when they hang.
  • Lie prone on the bench with your head above the edge of the bench pad.
  • Hold onto a pair of dumbbells and let your arms hang naturally off the bench with your palms facing each other.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you raise your arms outward until they are level with your shoulders.
  • Make sure that there is a soft bend in your elbows but rigidity is maintained throughout the execution of the exercise.
  • Inhale as you control the dumbbells back down to the start position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • As you are prone on a bench, you can easily stop yourself from using momentum from your lower body. This really helps you keep all of the tension on your rear delts and upper traps.
  • You can also easily be spotted from in front of you to help add in some forced repetitions (meaning your spotter will help you lift the weight when you fatigue), or you can also do the movement with a partial range of motion once you fail to achieve full range of motion at the end of a set.

Drawbacks

  • When your rear delts fatigue, it is easy for your upper traps to take over and change the nature of the movement in your shoulders. This will take the tension towards the upper traps too much when you start shrugging to get the dumbbells up.

Incline Prone Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly

The incline prone rear delt dumbbell fly, or incline prone dumbbell reverse fly, is a great dumbbell isolation exercise for your rear delts and upper traps.

How To Do It

  • Set a free-weight bench at an incline of 30 degrees from horizontal.
  • Lie prone on the bench with your head above the edge of the bench pad.
  • Hold onto a pair of dumbbells and let your arms hang naturally off the bench with your palms facing each other.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you raise your arms outward until they are level with your shoulders.
  • Make sure that there is a soft bend in your elbows but you maintain rigidity throughout the execution of the exercise.
  • Inhale as you control the dumbbells back down to the start position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • If you are training in front of a mirror, you might find that you can actually watch yourself perform this exercise. The benefit you can get from this is you can watch your repetition speed and range of motion. You can then try and keep them as consistent as possible.

Drawbacks

  • When you fatigue, your upper traps can take over and take the emphasis away from the rear delts. This will put more tension on the upper traps because you’ll be shrugging your shoulders to get the dumbbells up.

Dumbbell YTWs

Dumbbell YTWs are a popular shoulder rehab exercise used by many coaches and physical therapists. The dumbbell YTWs exercise can target the rotator cuff and rhomboid muscles.

However, it is also a great exercise to target the rear deltoids. This is a unique exercise in the sense that there are technically 3 movements in this one exercise.

How To Do It

  • Set a free weight bench to a 30- to 45-degree incline and lie down prone on the bench with your head hanging over the top of the bench pad.
  • Hold onto a pair of light dumbbells with your thumbs pointed away from each other.
  • Raise your arms up and outwards so that your arms form a “Y” shape then lower your arms back to the same starting position.
  • Raise your arms again but this time directly out to your sides to form a “T” shape, then lower your arms back to the starting position.
  • Bend your elbows and keep them tucked close to your torso, and then rotate your arms outward to form a “W” shape.
  • These three movements form 1 repetition. Once you’ve done all three movements, repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • This is one of the most useful exercises to improve shoulder mobility and movement in the shoulder blades. The dumbbell YTWs exercise can improve function in the rotator cuff muscles, including the external rotators and scapula retractors, which are important for powerlifters.

In addition to helping with your bench press, adequate shoulder mobility can also help reduce shoulder pain when squatting.

  • Dumbbell YTWs can also improve your ability to maintain good posture if you are someone who is very slouched and flexed in the upper back.

Drawbacks

  • If this exercise is not done with correct posture, you can find yourself causing discomfort or even injuring your shoulder. You need to make sure that your back is not overly extended or flexed forward.

Dumbbell Row

The dumbbell row is a popular unilateral (single arm) back exercise that targets the traps and lats as well as the biceps. Consequently, it will also load the rear delts very well.

How To Do It

  • Put one knee on the end of one bench, bend over, and put the palm on the same side of the body on the bench. Your hand should be directly underneath your shoulder.
  • Keep the other foot on the floor in line with the leg that is on the bench and hold onto the dumbbell with the arm that is hanging over the floor.
  • Make sure your back is flat and you start with your torso parallel to the floor.
  • Row the dumbbell up and backward towards the hips and squeeze your shoulder blades and lats at the top. Ensure that your torso remains stationary throughout the movement.
  • Return the dumbbell back down to the start position, then repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Switch sides and do an even number of reps on the opposite side.

Benefits

  • With the dumbbell row, you can concentrate on training one arm at a time, which makes it great for people who need to focus on making sure there is more balance between both sides.
  • You can also bring your elbows quite far back behind your back, which makes it really good for focusing on contracting your rear delts at the top. With most other exercises, there are obstacles that stop you from being able to reach that far back in terms of range of motion.

Drawbacks

  • With the dumbbell row, when you fatigue or go too heavy, it is easy to swing and twist your torso to generate momentum as a means to cheat the repetition. You need to heavily engage the abdominal and oblique muscles to stabilize the torso to control the repetition.

Looking for more dumbbell exercises you can do to train your upper back and the backs of your shoulders? Check out the 9 best lat exercises with dumbbells.

Rear Delt Cable Exercises

Cable Face Pull

The cable face pull is one of the most popular rear delt and upper back exercises that are popular among powerlifters. This exercise relies on using a rope handle for the cable machine

How To Do It

  • Set up a rope handle on a cable machine, and adjust the height of the handle so that it is roughly face level.
  • Hold onto the rope handle with an overhand or underhand grip and stand 2 to 3 feet away from the cable machine. Make sure your arm and back muscles are taut in the start position.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you pull the rope handle toward your face. Hold this position momentarily.
  • Inhale as you slowly control the rope handle back towards the cable machine station, then repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • The cable face pull allows the wrists and elbows to move more freely when compared to the barbell variation, which makes it more comfortable to perform. 
  • If you hold the rope handle in a way that makes your thumbs point back, you can focus the emphasis more on the external rotators (the muscles that allow you to move your forearms away from your body when your elbow is tucked close to your torso), which are important if you do a lot of bench pressing or back squatting.

Drawbacks

  • It is very easy for the face pull to turn into more of a rhomboid, upper, and mid trap exercise when the rear delts start to fatigue. As these other muscle groups are larger, they can take the stress away from the rear delts.

Standing Cable Reverse Fly

The standing cable reverse fly, or standing cable rear delt fly as it is sometimes known, is a great bilateral (both sides) rear delt exercise that relies on the cable machine. 

How To Do It

  • Set the cable handles to about shoulder height and stand slightly in front of the middle of the cable machine.
  • Using opposite hands and with an overhand grip, grab onto each of the cable handles — i.e. the right hand holds onto the cable handle from the left and vice versa.
  • Hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder level so that your arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Keeping your abs engaged, back flat, and elbows straight, pull against the cables and swing your arms outward so that your body forms a crucifix posture.
  • Slowly return the cable handles back to the start position until your thumbs meet.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Research has shown that standing cable reverse flies are great at targeting the upper traps and rear delts, which can help improve the outcomes of chronic neck pain treatment.
  • Unlike the dumbbell variations, you can maintain more consistent tension on the rear delts muscles throughout the range of motion, which makes it better for building muscle. 

Drawbacks

  • Due to the nature of one cable overlapping another cable, you may feel that during execution, the experience on each side of your body may feel slightly asymmetrical. 

Bent-Over Rear Delt Cable Fly

The bent-over rear delt cable fly, or bent-over reverse cable fly, is a great cable rear delt exercise that is similar to the standing rear delt cable fly. The only difference is that you are in a bent-over position, which will engage your back extensors a bit more.

How To Do It

  • Set the cable handles to the bottom of the pole and stand slightly in front of the middle of the cable machine.
  • Bend at your hips with a soft bend in the knees so that your shins are vertical.
  • Using opposite hands and with an overhand grip, grab onto each of the cable handles — i.e. the right hand holds onto the cable handle from the left side of the machine and vice versa.
  • Hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder level so that they are vertical.
  • Keep your abs engaged, back flat and elbows straight.
  • Pull against the cables and swing your arms back towards the ceiling.
  • Slowly return the cable handles back to the start position until your thumbs meet.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • This bent-over position challenges you to engage your back extensors and your core muscles to help stabilize your torso during execution. 

Drawbacks

  • You can cheat by allowing your elbows to bend and rely on the triceps to finish off the range of motion during each repetition. This happens when you are going too heavy or if you are going towards failure.

Single-Arm Rear Delt Cable Fly

The single-arm rear delt cable fly, also known as the single-arm reverse cable fly, is a unilateral (one side/arm) variation of the rear delt cable fly. This can either be done in a standing or bent-over position.

How To Do It

  • Set the cable handle to about shoulder height and stand perpendicular to the machine.
  • Grab onto the frame of the cable machine that is next to where the cable handle stems from.
  • Grab the cable handle with the hand that is furthest away from the machine.
  • Keep your abs engaged, back flat and elbows straight.
  • Pull against the cable and swing your arm outward until it is parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly return the cable handle back to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • With the single-arm variation of this exercise, your opposite arm does not impede your range of motion. You can stretch your arm over towards the other side more, which stretches out the rear delts even more. This is useful because training the muscle through more range of motion and a more stretched-out position is superior for muscle growth.

Drawbacks

  • There is a strong tendency to twist through your torso to try and complete the range of motion if you go close to failure or go too heavy. This will recruit the core muscles, including the abdominals and obliques, and take the demand away from the rear delts.

Cable Upright Row

The cable upright row is a cable machine alternative to the barbell upright row. The cable upright row can be done with different handles for the cable, but the best handle is a straight bar handle.

You can use a rope handle for flexibility of movement, but some people find this uncomfortable on the wrist.

How To Do It

  • Stand about a foot away from the cable column and set the cable to stem from the bottom of the column. Attach an appropriate cable handle such as a straight bar handle.
  • Grab onto the cable handle and stand up straight while facing the cable column.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you pull the handle up toward your neck.
  • Keep the cable handle close to your torso and lead with the elbow.
  • Inhale as you return the cable handle back down to the bottom.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • The cable version of the upright row exercise can target the rear delts a little bit more than the barbell upright row. This is because the cable creates resistance by pulling slightly horizontally away from you rather than vertically away from you. As such, there is more tension in the rear delts than in the upper traps and side delts.

Drawbacks

  • Due to the nature of how you hold onto the cable handle, you may find that this causes discomfort in your wrist and forearm muscles, as it forces you to bend your wrist sideways.

For more workouts that can add mass to the shoulders, check out my article 3 Cable Shoulder Workouts For Mass (Complete Guide).

Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row

The wide-grip seated cable row is a great compound exercise that relies on using a seated cable row machine. You can also create a makeshift seated row with any dual adjustable pulley machine. You will need to use a long bar cable handle or a lat pulldown handle.

How To Do It

  • Attach an appropriate cable handle onto a seated cable row or low row station.
  • Sit on the seat with your feet on the footpad. Ensure that your torso is upright with a flat back and keep a soft bend in your knee.
  • Hold onto the handle with an overhand grip and take a deep breath in.
  • Exhale as you row the cable handle towards your torso and hold it there momentarily.
  • Inhale as you slowly return the cable until your arms are straight.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

Benefits

  • You can standardize the range of motion by fully allowing your arms to straighten and bringing the bar handle all the way to your torso.
  • Regardless of how you angle your torso to target the traps more or lats more, the rear delts will always receive a similar amount of demand in the execution.

Drawbacks

  • Holding onto a wide bar cable handle means that your range of motion in the rear delts is limited. The bar itself will stop you from reaching further back when it touches your torso. You would be able to get more range of motion and more of a stretch in your rear delts if you used a narrower grip, but you would activate the lats more which is a larger muscle group.

Wondering which cable handle is best for seated rows? Check out 5 attachments you can use for cable rows.

V Grip Lat Pulldown

The wide-grip lat pulldown is one of the most popular lat exercises that also target the rear delts really well, but the use of the V grip handle assists to lengthen the rear delt muscle as much as possible so as to maximize the stimulus on it.

How To Do It

  • Attach the V grip cable handle to the lat pulldown machine and set the seat up so you can fit your legs underneath the leg pad.
  • Sit in the lat pulldown machine and hold onto the handle.
  • Keep your abs tight so that your back is flat, and draw a deep breath in.
  • Exhale as you pull the V grip handle down to your upper chest.
  • While keeping your back flat, slowly let the handle return back up to the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • The benefit of the V grip lat pulldown is that you get a large range of motion through the shoulders, which will give you a stretch in your back and rear delt muscles. Training muscles through longer muscle lengths has been shown to be more conducive to muscle mass and strength gains.

Drawbacks

  • You may find yourself recruiting your abdominal muscles to try and finish off the range of motion for the repetition if you struggle. This can limit the range of motion going through the rear delts as you change your postural position.

Rear Delt Machine and Resistance Band Exercises

Rear Delt Fly Machine

The rear delt fly machine is one that most gym-goers are familiar with. It is easy to set up and really allows you to isolate your rear delts, rhomboids, and traps. 

How To Do It

  • Set the seat up to a height so that the handles are exactly level with the shoulder joint.
  • Sit on the seat facing into the machine and select the desired load to execute.
  • Take a deep breath in and swipe the machine handles outward as far back as you can go. Make sure you keep your chest in constant contact with the chest pad.
  • Inhale as you slowly return the machine handles back to the original starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • The chest pad provides good support so that you can isolate the rear delts muscles without needing to engage your back extensor or core muscles at all.
  • As this is a machine exercise, there is no need to think about balance or stability, which makes it beneficial for the purpose of pushing to closer proximity to failure and stressing the rear deltoid muscles. This would be useful to have at the end of a workout.

Drawbacks

  • You may find yourself naturally recruiting the upper trap muscles inadvertently without noticing as your rear delt muscles fatigue. When this happens, your shoulders may roll forward as you push backward. You may also find yourself bending your elbows to try and recruit the triceps.

Band Pull Aparts

The band pull apart is a rear delt exercise that uses a resistance band. It is often used in powerlifting warm-up routines to warm up the rear delts and upper back for bench press and squats. You can use it as a main exercise as well.

How To Do It

  • Select an appropriate resistance band and hold it at a length where there is tension immediately upon stretching it.
  • In a standing or seated position, maintain a flat back and hold the band in front of you with your arms parallel to the floor.
  • Reach forward slightly so your shoulder blades stretch forward, but avoid slouching your posture down.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you pull the band apart until your arms are directly by your side. The band should be able to reach and make contact with your chest.
  • Inhale as you slowly return your resistance band towards the start position in front of you.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • If you rep out close to failure and start to cut the range of motion back, you can immediately alter the grip width of the band enough to reduce the resistance to complete the range of motion.

Drawbacks

  • There is initially very little resistance at the start of the repetition if you choose an appropriate resistance band that you can repeatedly stretch to a full range of motion.

Rear Delt Workout Routines

Below are sample workouts that integrate all of the exercises listed above to help you target your rear delts. The workout examples will include routines that exclusively use certain pieces of equipment. I’ve also included a bonus sample routine that brings together the best exercises that require each piece of equipment.

You’ll notice that I frequently refer to reps in reserve (RIR) in each of these workouts. This means that you should use a weight that lets you perform all of the prescribed reps while still feeling like you have a few more left in the tank. Learn more about RIR training in RPE vs RIR: What Are The Differences? How To Use Them?

Rear Delt Barbell Workout

This is a sample rear delt workout that uses barbells only. This is a two-session-per-week workout suitable for intermediates and beyond.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Warm Up
  • Snatch Grip Hang High Pulls – 3 x 5
  • Barbell Upright Row – 3 x 10, 3 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Warm Up
  • Pendlay Row – 3 x 5, 3 reps in reserve
  • Barbell Face Pull – 3 x 15, 3 reps in reserve

Rear Delt Dumbbell Workout

This is a sample rear delt workout that uses dumbbells only. This workout requires sessions per week workout and is suitable for intermediates and beyond.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Warm Up
  • Bent-Over Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly – 4 x 8, 3 reps in reserve
  • Prone Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly – 4 x 8, 3 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Warm Up
  • Incline Prone Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly – 3 x 8, 3 reps in reserve
  • Dumbbell YTWs – 2 x 6, 3 reps in reserve
  • Dumbbell Row – 3 x 10, 3 reps in reserve

Rear Delt Cable Workout

rear delt cable workout

This is a sample rear delt workout that uses cables only. It can be done two days a week and is ideal for lifters who are at least at the intermediate level.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Warm Up
  • Cable Face Pull – 3 x 10, 3 reps in reserve
  • Standing Cable Reverse Fly – 3 x 10, 3 reps in reserve
  • Bent-Over Rear Delt Cable Fly – 2 x 12, 3 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Warm Up
  • Single-Arm Rear Delt Cable Fly – 2 x 12, 3 reps in reserve
  • Cable Upright Row – 2 x 10, 3 reps in reserve
  • Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row – 3 x 8, 3 reps in reserve
  • V Grip Lat Pulldown – 3 x 8, 3 reps in reserve

Rear Delt Machine and Resistance Band Workout

This is a sample rear delt workout that uses machines and resistance bands. This is a two-session-per-week workout suitable for intermediates and beyond. The same exercises are used for both days, but one is a harder day and the other is a lighter day.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Warm Up
  • Rear Delt Fly Machine – 4 x 10, 3 reps in reserve
  • Band Pull Aparts – 4 x 15, 3 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Warm Up
  • Rear Delt Fly Machine – 4 x 8, 5 reps in reserve
  • Band Pull Aparts – 4 x 12, 5 reps in reserve

Rear Delt Full Equipment Workout

This is a sample rear delt workout that uses the best variation using each type of equipment. It is ideal for intermediate and advanced lifters. The same exercises are done on both days, but one is an easy day and one is a hard day.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Warm Up – Band Pull Aparts – 1 x 10, 5+ reps in reserve
  • Snatch Grip Hang High Pulls – 3 x 5
  • Single Arm Rear Delt Cable Fly – 3 x 12, 3 reps in reserve
  • Rear Delt Fly Machine – 2 x 12, 2 reps in reserve
  • Dumbbell YTWs – 2 x 5, 5 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Warm Up – Band Pull Aparts – 1 x 10, 5+ reps in reserve
  • Snatch Grip Hang High Pulls – 2 x 5
  • Single Arm Rear Delt Cable Fly – 2 x 12, 5 reps in reserve
  • Rear Delt Fly Machine – 2 x 12, 4 reps in reserve
  • Dumbbell YTWs – 2 x 5, 5 reps in reserve

Additional Shoulder Training Guides


About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach

Norman Cheung

Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com