When it comes to cultivating a strong and balanced physique, paying attention to every muscle group is necessary. This includes focusing on areas of the body that are often neglected and underdeveloped, such as the rear delts. By creating consistent development in these forgotten muscles, you’re not only creating a better-looking physique but a more functional one.
Stronger rear deltoids not only enhance the aesthetics of the shoulders but also enhances functional strength and posture. Like any muscle group, building the rear delt requires avoiding common weight-lifting mistakes. This means being more mindful of training techniques and choosing workouts specific to that muscle group, such as seated rear delt fly for rear deltoids. Below, we’ll review common mistakes to avoid, as well as five workouts that are best for developing the rear delts.
What to Avoid for Rear Delt Development
The rear deltoids refer to the posterior head of the deltoid muscle. It’s composed of three heads, anterior, medial, and posterior, lying at the back of the shoulder and opposite the chest. This is one of the major muscles in the shoulder and is important to its functionality. The rear delt is responsible for shoulder extension, horizontal abduction, and external rotation.
While the anterior and medial deltoids are more commonly developed, neglecting the rear delt can lead to an imbalance in posture, shoulder strength, and possible injury. When the rear delts are properly developed, it creates a more sculpted physique by adding depth and width to the upper back.
It’s easy to miss the rear deltoids when weight training the shoulders and upper back. It’s even more common to improperly develop this area of the body when training. Let’s explore the top five mistakes to avoid when weightlifting for rear delt development.
A prevalent mistake that’s made in weightlifting for any muscle group is training with bad or improper form. When targeting the rear delts, it's important to understand how small the muscle group is and how to engage them effectively.
This takes executing exercises properly, such as avoiding excessive swinging movements that may lead to injury. Proper form includes emphasizing controlled movements throughout each repetition that deliberately stimulate the rear deltoids.
Limited Range of Motion
Another common mistake is when individuals limit their range of motion when performing exercises that target the rear delts. When the range is limited, or reps are only partially completed, it restricts the activation of the muscle fibers.
This results in less-than-optimal muscle growth and development. Achieving a full range of motion for the rear delts means contracting at the top and stretching fully at the bottom of a movement.
Lack of Consistency
Building the ideal physique and larger muscle mass overall takes consistency to achieve as well as maintain. Training that’s infrequent makes it harder to produce desired results, and the rear delt is no different in this case.
A consistent routine for the rear delts involves working the muscle group at least two times a week. This can be done by incorporating dedicated rear delt exercises or shoulder and back workouts that include the rear deltoids.
Too Much Heavy Lifting
A common misconception in weight training is that more weight equates to bigger muscles. This dangerous myth is skewed when it comes to smaller muscle groups, such as the rear delts, leading to injury and hindering gains. While it’s tempting to load up on weight, the rear delts are not equipped to maintain the same higher weights as the chest or back could handle.
Prioritize using lighter to moderate weights and concentrate on muscle activation through mind-muscle connectivity. Focus on achieving strong contraction of the rear delts throughout the whole exercise instead of increasing weight to higher limits.
Not Enough Variety
Just as consistency is important for any workout regime, variety is also an important factor when it comes to muscle development. It’s common to fall into the trap of performing the same exercises, but variety in movement is necessary to ensure optimal muscle growth. When variety is utilized in movement, it helps engage the muscle fibers in different ways and stimulates growth.
4 Exercises to Target Rear Delts
The exercises commonly performed to target the rear delts include
- face pulls
- bent-over lateral raises
- prone rear delt raises
- and reverse flies
All these movements focus on isolating and engaging the small muscle group, promoting muscle strength and growth. Here’s how to do those exercises and some other movements that effectively target the rear deltoids, helping you achieve a proportionate and functional shoulder workout.
Adjust a cable machine to chest height while utilizing a rope or handle. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, use an overhand grip to grab the rope while stepping back to create tension on the cable.
Pulling the rope to your face, squeeze the shoulder blades together while keeping your elbow high. Slowly return to the starting position, focusing on controlled and intentional movements activating the rear delt.
Bent-Over Lateral Raises
With a slight bend in the knee, stand with feet shoulder-width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells. With palms facing each other and back straight, bend forward at the hips. Leading with your elbows, lift the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms are parallel to the ground. Lower the weights slowly and intentionally back to the starting position.
Seated Cable Rows: Wide Grip
Using a seated cable machine, place your feet securely on the footrests. Keeping hands wider than shoulder-width, grasp the cable with an overhand grip. As you pull the handle towards your chest, keep your back straight and your shoulder blades activated by squeezing them together. Slowly release the tension and begin again from the starting position.
Prone Rear Delt Raises
Using an incline bench set at a slight angle, lie face down while holding a pair of dumbbells. With palms facing each other and arms extended towards the floor, raise the dumbbells out to the sides, keeping your arms straight and in line with your body. Lower the weights back down at a controlled pace to complete the rep.
Get Better Results for Your Rear Delts
After gaining an understanding of proper training techniques and what to avoid, it’s much easier to build a stronger, more defined rear deltoid. You can maximize this muscle group, and most muscle groups, by focusing on form, range of motion, variety, and consistency.
Mindful training will not only improve muscle mass and strength but provide you with a balanced shoulder aesthetic along with improved posture. Focus on a targeted and intelligent workout routine at least two times a week to help you build impressive rear delts you can be proud of.