Best Rear Deltoid Exercises: Get Bigger Looking Shoulders

Your rear deltoid muscles are a small muscle group compared to the rest of your shoulder.The only way to grow rear delts is to hit them hard with the best rear delt exercises. Your rear deltoid is one of the muscles responsible from making you look big and fuller from the side and from the back, something that every guy wants. 

Having said that, the rear deltoid muscles are often the most neglected.

Unless you hit them directly, they won’t be worked as efficiently.

Your rear deltoid muscle is responsible for shoulder stability and keeping your rotator cuff in check. During most pressing movements, such as the shoulder press and bench press, your front (or anterior) delts get worked. For side laterals and upright barbell rows, your front and side (or lateral) delts are worked.

In this picture, Red denotes your front delt, Green is your lateral or side delt, and Blue is your posterior or rear delt.

Today I’m going to show you a few techniques and tips to help fix your rear delts not growing.

Best Rear Delt Exercise: Face pulls

If you’ve ever started benching and your shoulder starts hurting because you didn’t warm it up, it’s most likely caused by rotator cuff issues.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that provide stability during any motion of the shoulders. You can really warm up and stretch your rotator cuff muscles with face pulls.

The face pull is performed on the cable machine with a two handed rope, pulling towards your face.

The rear deltoid is a small muscle in comparison to the rest of your shoulder. What you’ll want to do is hit it with lots of sets with high reps. I like pyramid sets with these for 5 sets in total. For example:

Set 1: 10 reps

Set 2: 12 reps

Set 3: 15 reps

Set 4: 20 reps

Set 5: 25 reps

Remember to externally rotate your shoulder as you pull towards your face. What does that mean? As you pull towards your face, have the inside of your biceps face out (biceps face the wall). This will allow you to optimally hit your rear delt muscle versus using your traps.

Can you see the difference? In the first picture the full range of motion isn’t being achieved.

If you simply just pull towards your face your traps end up taking over, and that’s not what we want. As you pull to rope towards your face, roll your shoulders back. When you do that, you’re firing your rear delts much more effectively. Just by doing a simple change like that will promote growth in your delts.

Rear Delt Cable Fly

This is a fantastic exercise to train your rear delts. One of the best things about this exercise is that by using cables, you keep constant tension on your muscles.

Time under tension is paramount to bodybuilding exercises and really building that mind muscle connection, especially important with a small muscle group.

This is the exact opposite of a normal fly, it’s a reverse fly where you start the exercise from the chest and end with straightened arms.

One thing to keep in mind to really build your rear delts is to keep your chest up in this exercise and go slow. If you go too heavy with this exercise, you may not develop a mind muscle connection. Rear delts are a odd muscle to feel, it it takes some time to really build that connection. I say odd as opposed to a muscle like you chest, something that you’ll really feel during the bench press for example.

Gain Mass with the John Meadows Rear Delt Destroyer Sets

This is the killer exercise to build and grow your rear delts. I have never felt such a massive pump in my shoulders when I first learned about this exercise. It’s such an easy exercise that was modified to really hit your shoulders.

This exercise is this:

  • Lie face down on a bench so that your chest is supported.
  • Complete 60 reps with dumbbells using a heavy weight. The trick here is to do a partial swing and keep the weight moving.
  • Once you’re done with the first set, cut the weight in half and grind out 30 reps. Same as before, keep the dumbbells swinging.
  • Lastly, cut that weight in half and do 10 complete reps. Use a full range of motion, squeezing your rear delts on each rep.

Here’s an example:

Tip: if your forearms are getting tired, considering using lifting straps. You’re not explicitly training your forearms here so don’t think you’re cheating by using straps.

These are the straps I use, check them out on Amazon:

The pump from this is INSANE, I had trouble even putting the dumbbells away after this!

Use this exercise at the end of your workout so you can really give it all your effort. I find rear delt destroyer sets to be much more effective than bent over rows. 

Another killer exercise from John Meadows, is the Meadows Row. It’s an amazing back mass builder that you should add to your workout.

Rear Delt Training Frequency

Unless you’re really taxing your shoulders, you should be able to train your rear delts between 2 and 6 times per week. There is a lot of overlap with exercises, especially exercises that utilize the rear and side delt, so it’s difficult to solely target the rear delt.

Similar to the bicep muscle, it is not always leveraged in a mechanical way efficiently. As opposed to a muscle group such as your triceps, the rear delt muscle does not produce a lot of force in respect.

Like I said, as long as you’re not using heavy ass weight you should be able to recover quickly.

Obviously don’t hit the same muscle group day after day, but just be aware to your own body’s needs.

Is Rear Delt Work Necessary?

Necessary, no. Chest work isn’t necessary, leg work isn’t necessary but you still do it.

If you want to build a full, finely sculpted physique, you’re going to have to hit your rear delts. Like your traps or back, it all adds up to a complete and well-trained body.

If you don’t hit your chest, you’re going to look weird. If you don’t hit your legs, it’s going to look as if you’ll fall over at any moment. You want to look thick and three dimensional from every aspect angle.