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Train Rear Delts with Dumbbells

Train Rear Delts with Dumbbells

Shoulders can often be neglected by some weight trainers. Exercises like rear delts which target specific areas of the shoulder can be conveniently overlooked.

This is not surprising since most training programs feature a shoulder/back day on Friday – the day when everyone feels too tired/sick to train and goes home to binge watch Netflix instead. If they do make it to the gym, they might hit back hard then do a couple of half-assed sets of shoulder press in between texting their bros.

However, with the global pandemic taking over and home gyms becoming more popular, I hope that people will no longer have the excuses to neglect these vital areas.

Why you should train your Posterior Deltoids?

It is a muscle which often gets ignored for a few reasons: it is a small muscle which is difficult to isolate, especially when you like to train heavy. If you could put your ego to aside and focus on the muscle itself by using super lightweights, you could:

- Improve your posture by getting rid of the muscle imbalances in your shoulders.

- Develop a stronger and more visually appealing set of shoulders and reduce the likelihood of injury.

- Increase your bench press – your rear delts acts as a dynamic stabilizer in pushing exercises.

When you should train your rear delts?

As I mentioned before, the rear deltoid is a small muscle, so you should not start your workout with this exercise. Ideally, you would push it to the middle or to the back of your workout to achieve optimum results.

Common Mistakes:

- Grabbing a weight which way too heavy. You would recruit other muscle groups to complete the repetition. Your goal should be to isolate the muscle not to have a full-body workout when training rear delts.

- Using momentum to complete the repetition. Needless to say, this way of training is suboptimal since your muscle is not going to get that much stress at all.

- Not exercising through the whole range of motion – allows you to lift more weight, does put the most stress on the muscle.

Exercise variations

Seated Bent-Over Lateral Raise

How to:

- Raise the bench into the incline position or sit on a side of the bench.

- Grab a pair of light dumbbells.

- Place your legs forwards so that you would have enough room to bring the dumbbells underneath your legs.

- Bend forwards to around 45-degree angle.

- Bend your elbows a little bit and raise the dumbbells all the way up.

- Squeeze your deltoids at the top of the moment.

- Slowly return to the starting position.

You can either perform this variation with a pronated or neutral grip.

Bent Over Side Lateral Raise

How to:

- Start with the lightest weight.

- Bent over to around 45-degree angle.

- Keep your elbows slightly bend and flared out throughout the whole movement.

- Squeeze the muscle at the top of the movement.

- Slowly bring the dumbbells to the starting position.

The only downside of this exercise is that it makes it easier for you to use momentum to complete the repetition. There should not be any lower back strain as you should be using extremely lightweight for this exercise.

Behind your back

Even though the core muscle group worked in this exercise will be your rear deltoids you will also feel the stress in your traps too.

How to:

- Choose lighter weights for this exercise.

- Hold the dumbbells with a pronated grip behind your back.

- Lift them up as far as you can.

- Always keep the dumbbells behind your back.

One-Arm Side Lateral Raise

Less commonly known exercise variations between non-bodybuilding enthusiasts.

How to:

- Hold onto your racks upright or your bench in an upright position.

- Lean towards the opposite side you are holding.

- Bend your arm slightly.

- Lift the dumbbell up until it is parallel with your shoulder.

- Slowly bring the dumbbell down to your side.

Bench Reverse Flys

How to:

- Grab a super light pair of dumbbells.

- Lay down on the bench, with your head sticking past the backrest pad.

- Keep your arms slightly bent throughout the whole movement.

- Slowly raise your arms and squeeze the muscle.

- Keep your elbows flared out on the way up and the way down.

- Slowly return to the starting position.

This variation can also be done with a single dumbbell:

- Your set up would be identical to the dual-arm version.

- Use your free arm to support yourself by holding onto the bench bottom support beam.

- Keep your elbow slightly bent and arm flared out.

- Slowly raise your arm and squeeze the muscle.

- Slowly return to the starting position.

Rep Range

It can be quite tricky to train your posterior deltoid. That is because it is a small muscle and it is difficult to target as there are larger muscle groups waiting to take over the weight load.

It is all about squeezing and feeling the muscle. There is no need to set reverse flys PB’s you should not worry about the weight you are lifting at all.

Try performing somewhere between 10 to 15 repetitions each set to get the most out of this exercise.

How to train your rear delts if you are a beginner?

Try to bend over and just perform the reverse fly movement without any weight at all. Do around 20 repetitions and see if you can feel the muscle burning.

Alternatively, you can grab one of the smaller resistance bands and put the band under your feet and do the reverse flyes for 10-15 reps. Get the blood in there and feel the muscle.

When you will get the blood into the muscle and feel it burning, you will know which muscle to target. Rather than going too heavy too quickly and activating other muscle groups.

Linas Valuckas
Posted by Linas Valuckas

My name is Linas, I moved to Australia from Lithuania to study. I work part time at Sam's Fitness as a Digital Media Specialist which involves uploading and managing the content on the many platforms we operate on. So this combines my two passions - weight training and computers! 

 If you have any questions about bench pressing I am more than happy to share my Soviet era bench regimes - all the secrets from behind the Iron Curtain!