Shoulder Exercises

Rear Delts Makeover

Shock these smaller muscles into growth by throwing in some compound work and going beyond failure.

by CSCS
delts

The posterior deltoids are about as well understood as astrophysics. Sure, there are some people out there who really “get it” but the rest of us are left floundering for solutions. This small muscle group, colloquially known as the “rear delts,” is almost universally undertrained among gym-goers. But if you suffered the same lack of growth with, say, your pecs, you’d scramble to try to find a way to remedy that. You’d become an expert on pec-trophysics overnight.

It’s time you give your rear delts the same kind of attention. These small muscles are not only important for the health of the shoulder but can add tremendous finish to an otherwise well-developed back.

If your rear delts are lagging behind, a once-weekly dedicated workout – in addition to your normal shoulder training – should switch them into swole mode.

The Routine

One of the ways to trick out your rear delts is to abandon the mentality that isolation moves are the only way to go. The face pull with a rope attachment is a great way to add significant overload for your rear delts. By enlisting the help of the biceps, forearms and various muscles of the upper back, you are able to use more weight through the same plane. Since progressive overload is a tried-and-true tactic for all other muscle groups, the face pull is a no-brainer for your routine. Starting your rear delt routine with this heavy move is a significant upgrade.

From there, you can go into a more traditional assortment of isolation moves. Dumbbell rear-delt raises allow you to move your arms freely through a natural range of motion. But for this move to be truly effective, you need to have sufficient forward tilt at the hips and you have to drastically reduce (or eliminate) momentum. Use a weight that allows you to bring your elbows as high as your shoulder blades for the full set.

The high-pulley cable reverse flye is a gym gem that trains the rear delts with smooth, constant tension. For increased effectiveness, make sure that the pulleys are set just above head height for your first set. On the sets that follow, adjust the pulleys down a click, which slightly alters the manner in which the rear delts are recruited.  You’ll finish with the reverse pec deck. By this point, your rear delts are likely toast but your core musculature is bound to be highly fatigued from all the standing resistance. The seated comforts and fixed range of motion of the reverse pec deck allow you to hit your rear delts for a few more sets.

Rear Delt Raise

Perform this rear-delt focused workout 2-3 days before or after your normally scheduled shoulder routine. Keep rear-delt training to a minimum on those days to avoid overtraining. Maintain this training schedule until your rear delts show marked improvement, then you can combine them back into a single workout based on your own specific needs.

Exercise

Sets

Reps 

Face Pull

5

12,10,8,8,81

Dumbbell Rear-Delt Raise

4

122

High-Pulley Reverse Cable Flye

3

12-153

Revese Pec Deck 

1      

100 4

1 Start with your 12RM and work your way up to the heaviest weight you can handle with good form for eight reps. You must be able to control the weight back to the start without the resistance pulling you forward.

2 After initial failure on your final set, do two drops in weight, going about 20-30% lighter each time.

3 If you have fully adjustable pulleys, start with the pulleys set about head level and lower them on each subsequent set. Your final set should be just below shoulder level.

4 Start with a weight you can handle for about 20 clean reps. Work to failure as many times as necessary to reach 100 reps, resting no longer than 20-30 seconds between bouts of work.

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