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If you want to get bigger rear delts then you have to train them. The crazy thing is, many of us want to build up our posterior delts but neglect to hit them with any specific exercises and therefore don’t see the muscle gains they are looking for. In this video, I’m going to show you one exercise that you can do either with cables or a single pair of dumbbells to get bigger rear delts in no time.
First, it helps to understand the anatomy and function of the rear delts. We put the science back in strength in every video and this is not any different. The rear delt attaches to the deltoid tuberosity on the upper arm bone (humerus) and has it’s opposite attachment to the spine of the scapula. This means that in order to activate the rear delt the most you want to get that arm closer to the scapula for maximum shortening.
A lot of lifters make the mistake of thinking that reverse dumbbells flys are the best way to do this. When you attempt to perform that motion however you see that you are limited in how far behind the body you are able to get your upper arm. If instead, you focus on extending the arm back by bending the elbow and pulling the elbow as far as you can behind you it becomes instantly apparent that you can go further and feel a more intense contraction.
Beyond this however, it is important to understand that the rear delt can also assist in external rotation of the shoulder by nature of its attachment. If you can perform an exercise where you are extending the arm behind the body but at the same time getting external rotation as well, then you are really going to hit these muscles hard.
Here I demonstrate a cable exercise that ultimately resembles a face pull, but done from a low to high position rather than starting and ending high. The key is that while the elbows are traveling backwards you also want to let your thumbs tilt back as well. I say that you want to try and have a race between your elbows and thumbs – which one is going to get to the back first. If you are doing this rear delt exercise correctly then you will see that the elbows should always win. That doesn’t take away from the fact that you still want to get the feeling of getting those shoulders externally rotated on every rep.
From here you want to squeeze the muscles in your rear delts and upper back for a count of three and then reverse the motion back to the start. If you want to intensify the movement you can extend your arms out to the sides at the end of each rep to increase the moment on the rear delts and make it more work for them during the eccentric lengthening back to the start.
If you only have a single pair of dumbbells and do not have access to a cable machine, you can still experience the benefits of this awesome rear delt exercise. Simply lay face down on a bench and start with your thumbs pointing towards each other. Rotate your hands up and out to the side while twisting the thumbs back. Your arms should assume a W position at the top of each rep. Squeeze the contraction on the rear delts and reverse the motion back to the start.
Either one of these exercises will give some much needed extra work to those rear or posterior delts and help you to experience all new gains. If you are looking for a complete program to build bigger rear delts while also building up the rest of your body, head to and get the complete ATHLEAN-X Training System.
For more videos on how to get bigger delts and the best exercises for your rear, middle and front delts be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at