July 17, 2021
The posterior deltoids or rear delts don’t get enough love in most people’s workout routines. We’re here to change that with the 12 best rear delt dumbbell exercises to put on size and gain strength. Using dumbbells to work the rear delts allows you to really target the muscle in various body positions and hand positions that would be impossible to do with a barbell. Read on if you want to increase your shoulder strength, improve your posture, reduce risk of shoulder injury and look better all around.
Before we get into the dumbbell exercises for the rear delts we should cover the other deltoid muscles. The shoulder is comprised of three main muscles:
The posterior deltoid A.K.A the rear delt is the rear muscle of the three headed deltoid muscle. The deltoid muscle is triangular shaped getting its name from the location posterior or back and the Greek letter delta, as it’s shaped like triangle. It lies over the glenohumeral joint creating the rounded curve of the shoulder. The origin of the rear delt is at the inferior border of the scapula and spine with insertion in the deltoid tuberosity of the lateral humerus.
The main function of the rear delt is the action of moving the shoulder in horizontal abduction where the shoulder is internally rotated or shoulder extension when extending the arms behind the hips. It is also responsible for external rotation of the shoulder. The rear delts are involved in many pulling exercises and it acts as a stabilizer during pressing movements like the overhead press.
The best way to target the rear delts with dumbbells frequently include exercises where you will be hinging forward at the hips if standing or bending over if sitting. Other body positions that will target the rear delts with dumbbells can be lying on your side while externally rotating at the shoulder or lying face down then externally rotating the shoulder or bringing your arms up and away from your body. You will see these body positions displayed in the 12 best posterior deltoid dumbbell exercises below.
Performing rear delt exercises with dumbbells have a number of benefits such as gaining strength and muscle mass and improving bone density in the shoulder.
Here's a look at a few other benefits to doing rear delt exercises:
The key to doing rear delt dumbbell exercises is to really focus on contracting the muscle and squeezing the shouler blades together. The following dumbbell rear deltoid exercises will isolate the muscle so there’s no need to use very heavy weights. You should work with a weight that you will exhaust the muscle but not compromise form where you can injure yourself. You should lift the weights slowly and with purpose!
Let’s get into the 12 best posterior deltoid dumbbell exercises…
Note: Form is everything in exercises like this so start with a lighter dumbbell.
Note: You can use a heavier weight with this exercise. Use a mirror to make sure you aren’t rotating your torso during the movement.
How can I hit my rear delts at home?
You can target your rear delts at home with bodyweight exercises or using items found in every household like a towel. You will want to keep in mind the function of the rear delts so that you can target them without equipment. Take a look below for three bodyweight rear delt exercises.
Forearm Plank Up & Downs
Reverse Iron Cross
Trigger point therapy or myofascial release can help to alleviate pain or tightness in the rear delt muscle. All you need is a massage ball or another type of semi-hard ball to massage out the trigger points causing your pain. By targeting the trigger points, you can release some tension and pain stored in the muscle.
Note: This self-massage can also be performed lying down on the floor in the same manner.
It’s important to stretch your deltoids to reduce risk of injury and to lower the chances of experiencing shoulder pain or rear delt pain. Stretching your muscles will help to improve blood flow and circulation to the muscle tissue keeping them loose and flexible You should stretch all your deltoids evenly but for this article’s sake here are a few stretches for the rear delts.
The most common cause of rear delt pain is overuse, muscle strain, accident or tendons issues. People lifting heavy items or athletes where there are repetitive movements of the shoulder.
Symptoms of Posterior Deltoid Pain
Symptoms of rear delt pain can present in a number of ways but usually is felt when lifting the arm. This pain or tenderness can be the result of muscle strain or tears. Muscle strain severity is on a scale with three grades. Deltoid pain can be categorized in the following ways:
More Resources on Shoulder Pain:
Are Dumbbell Rows Good For Rear Delts?
Yes, dumbbell rows are a great exercise to strengthen the rear delts. Dumbbell rows are great because you can focus on lifting with one arm at a time while keeping your body supported with your other arm.
What Is The Fastest Way To Build Rear Delts?
The fastest way to build your rear delts is to do isolation exercises that specially target them. While it’s true that pulling exercises like lat pull downs and seated rows hit the rear delts, it has been proven with EMG data that more isolated movements like reverse fly on the pec deck recruit and activate the rear delts at a much greater rate.
Do Rear Delts Make You Look Bigger?
Yes, strong muscular rear delts will make you look bigger. Having large, wide shoulders can make your upper frame bigger. Large rear delts will add to the coveted inverted triangle look that many people are after when weight training. Built rear delts will also improve the symmetry to your upper body providing the balance between your chest and upper back.
Are Rear Delts Back Or Shoulders?
Although the rear delts are located on the posterior or backside of your body they are considered a shoulder muscle. The rear delts make up one third of the deltoids, the triangular shaped muscle that covers the shoulder. In many pulling movements the rear delts are engaged so when you do back exercises like pull-ups or lat pulldowns your rear delts will be worked.
Related: 7 Best Bodyweight Back Exercises
Is The Posterior Deltoid Important?
Yes, the posterior deltoid is extremely important to keep your shoulders healthy and in good working condition. Rear delts have become increasingly important as society spends more and more time hunched over in front of a computer or looking down at phones. This hunching can lead to serious posture problems, shoulder and back issues and increases risk of injury. Strengthening the rear delts can help to counterbalance these problems.
Do Push Ups Work Rear Delts?
Pushups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do but unfortunately they don’t work the rear delts. The anterior deltoid or front delts get worked the most while doing pushups.
Do Pull Ups Hit Rear Delts?
Yes, pull-ups hit the rear delts along with a number of other muscles in your back, arms and shoulders. Many of the major muscle groups in the upper body are recruited to perform pull-ups properly. If you want to increase the load on the rear delts and work them more while doing pull-ups then you should opt for wide grip pull-ups. Wide grip pull-ups put more emphasis on the deltoids in general compared with regular grip.
Isolating your rear delts with dumbbells is one of the best ways to build your rear delts fast. Try to focus on incorporating some rear delt specific exercises into your training routine. The benefits of training the rear delts can't be overstated, so go grab yourself a few dumbbells and get to work!
More Resources on Shoulder Exercises:
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