For the past couple of years, we’ve all spent a lot of time at home hunched over a computer or a mobile phone as we work from the comfort of our homes. Sometimes, your posture can suffer from that position, so it's important to strengthen the muscle group that supports your upper body.
That's where rear delt exercises come in: The rear deltoid muscles are key to helping you maintain proper posture and avoid slump-induced back pain.
What Are Rear Delts?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, your deltoid muscles are skeletal muscles that are in each of your shoulders—the ball and socket joints that connect your arms to the trunk of your body. They help you move your arms as well as protect and stabilize your shoulder joints. “This muscle helps maintain proper posture and is generally engaged in any type of pulling motion,” explains Liz Hilliard, trainer and creator and owner of the Hilliard Studio Method. “It acts as a shoulder stabilizer and should be strengthened and balanced with the anterior and medial deltoid for optimum shoulder health. Exercises to strengthen this muscle will improve your posture, keep you strong, balanced and less prone to shoulder injury.”
Related: 10 Stretches for Upper Back Pain
Here are seven moves to help you make sure you are working on your rear delts as part of your exercise routine.
Best Rear Delt Exercises
1. Face Pull-Aparts
Grab a resistance band for this exercise. “These can effectively be done with a long loop resistance band anchored about a foot above the face. Stand back far enough to have tension between the anchor and tension between the hands. Next, pull the band to the face with a meat hook grip. This means gripping with the fingers and not the thumb,” explains Judy Arazoza, AFAA Certified Trainer at Grateful Fitness. She suggests doing four sets of 20.
2. Standing Dumbbell Fly
This exercise is best done with weights, anywhere from five to 15 pounds.
“Stand with feet apart, aligned under hips with core engaged. With a weight in each hand, hinge the torso forward 45 degrees. Keeping weights connected, extend your arms forward from your chest. Keep elbows wide as if you have a big beach ball between your arms. Fly both arms back. Keep elbows slightly bent as you draw them toward your lower ribs until palms are facing forward. Return weights back to the starting point for 1 rep,” says Hilliard.
She suggests completing 3 sets of 10. To make it more challenging, she suggests stepping into a lunge to do these, but make sure you do an even amount for each leg.
3. Seated Rows
You will need to use a resistance band for this exercise and somewhere to sit.
“Sit down and extend your legs straight in front of you. Place the band around the balls of your feet, crisscross the band to make an x and hold either end of the band in each hand. Keeping the torso upright and core engaged, draw elbows back beside the body and then extend arms straight to complete 1 row,” says Hilliard. You can do three sets of 10 for this exercise.
4. Chest-supported Reverse Dumbbell Fly
You can do this exercise on a weight bench.
“With your chest supported on an incline bench and feet on the floor, put light dumbbells in your hands. Let them hang down palms facing each other, and then open them to opposite sides, keeping your arms perpendicular to your torso. Hold that position for an exaggerated pause and then lower with control,” says Arazoza.
For this exercise, you will want to do four sets of eight to 12 reps. Make sure to rest for at least a minute in between.
5. Kneeling Y Raise with Dumbbells
For this exercise, you will need to get on the floor with your dumbbells.
“Kneel on the floor with toes digging into the floor. Start with dumbbells down in front of your hips with straight arms. Raise them to a Y position with the backs of your hands facing the wall behind you as you raise them. Complete four to five sets of 20 reps,” advises Arazoza.
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6. Standing Rows
Using your weights again, this exercise requires you to stand.
“Stand with feet apart, aligned under your hips with your core engaged. With a weight in each hand, hinge the torso forward 45 degrees and with your arms bent at 90 degrees palms facing forward, draw elbows up behind the back so weights are near your ribs. Extend weights forward directly out of the chest until straight, then draw elbows back beside the body, rowing weights back to start,” says Hilliard.
This is a classic exercise that works for overall body health, and you don’t need any equipment.
“From a plank position, move your arms slightly wider than your shoulders with elbows angled back 45 degrees. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to elbow level. Exhale and press your body back to its starting plank position. This can be done just as effectively on the knees. From a plank, drop the knees to the mat keeping your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line. Keep the neck long as well for perfect posture by gazing past the fingertips and draw your navel to your spine to support your back,” says Hilliard.
If you can, start with 10 pushups at a time, for up to three sets.