Whether it’s calves, forearms, or delts, training each muscle is essential for achieving your best physique. However, we often neglect them or don’t train them as efficiently as we could be, and the rear deltoid is one of those muscles.
You can train your posterior delt with various exercises using different equipment, but this article is primarily for barbell lovers. Here, I’ll share the six best barbell exercises for rear delts that helps build strength and muscles, and enhance shoulder mobility.
The Posterior Deltoid Muscle
The rear or posterior delt is located on the back of your shoulder. It is one of the three deltoid muscles that is attached to the other two delts (anterior and medial) and upper arms. All three delts form round shoulders.
Many people often don’t pay much attention to the posterior delt but it is one of the crucial upper body muscles. Having brawny rear delts add definition to your shoulder and upper back and make them look muscular and aesthetic.
Related: Rear Delt Exercises with Dumbbells at Home
How do you train rear delt with a barbell?
You can do multiple exercises, such as rear delt row, seal row, and behind-the-neck shrugs to strengthen your posterior delt with a barbell. The barbell is one of the best workout equipment that helps lift more weight and allows a good range of motion.
However, dumbbells and machines are better and safer than barbells for hitting the posterior deltoid effectively. So, if you have access to these types of equipment, you can combine them with rear delt barbell exercises.
Barbell Exercises For Rear Delts To grow Strength and Mass
Here’s a quick list of all rear delt barbell exercises for developing sturdy delts and rounded shoulders. You can do some of the following workouts to maximize growth.
- Barbell Rear Delt Row
- Modified Barbell Seal Row
- Single-arm Barbell Rear Delt Raise
- Barbell 45-Degree Incline Row
- Single-arm Rear Delt Row
- Behind The Neck Barbell Shrugs
Let’s see how to perform each exercise with the step-by-step guide.
1. Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row
The barbell rear delt row is a strength and muscle-building workout. It hits the posterior delt and upper back. In the absence of dumbbells and machines, it will help you fortify your posterior deltoids and build muscular shoulders.
To perform rear delt row with a barbell,
- Put the appropriate weight into the bar and grab it with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart and elbows pointing out.
- Pushing your hips back, lean forward until your torso is parallel to the floor, and let the bar hang down below your chest.
- Keep your back straight and core tight. That’s the set-up.
- Now driving your elbows up and back, pull the bar toward your chest until you feel a full contraction in your rear delts.
- Pause at the top for one to two seconds and then lower the barbell to the start. That’s one rep.
Alternatively, you can do the band pull-aparts and band face pull when you train your shoulders with resistance bands.
2. Modified Barbell Seal Row
The barbell seal row is an amazing upper body isolation workout that primarily targets posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles.
The best thing about this movement is that it strengthens your muscles without putting much stress on your lower back like the bent-over row and dumbbell row do.
It can be an excellent alternative to the traditional posterior deltoid exercises, such as reverse pec deck fly1Franke Rde A, Botton CE, Rodrigues R, Pinto RS, Lima CS. Analysis of anterior, middle and posterior deltoid activation during single and multijoint exercises. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Jul-Aug;55(7-8):714-21. Epub 2014 Jun 20. PMID: 24947920 and face pull.
Although it works more on your upper back, you can make some adjustments to hit your rear deltoid effectively. For example, holding the bar with a wider grip and taking your elbows slightly out.
You need some additional equipment, such as a workout bench to perform a barbell seal row. Let’s see how to do it with step-by-step instructions.
- Place the legs off the bench on foot platforms or boxes. The height should be enough off the ground so you can grip the bar with straight arms.
- Lie properly on the bench with your face down and legs straight, chest and knees on the edge of it.
- Brace your core, glutes, and thighs, and maintain a flat back. That’s the start.
- Grab the bar with a wide grip, and driving your elbows up, pull the weight toward the bench until you feel the work in your posterior delts and upper traps.
- Shoot for three sets of 8 to 12 reps.
3. Single-arm Barbell Rear Delt Raise
The barbell rear delt raise is also known as rear delt fly and it is a good alternative to the dumbbell reverse fly. It targets the posterior delt efficiently from a different angle and adds strength and definition to your delts.
A study published by the American Council of Exercise (ACE) has shown that rear lateral raises elicit higher muscle activation in the posterior deltoid and help build sturdy shoulders.2 Dynamite Delts: ACE Research Identifies Top Shoulder Exercises by Samantha Sweeney, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D.
To perform this movement, grab a naked barbell with an overhand grip and hold it to your side with a straight arm. Hinge forward at your hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor and raise the bar out until you feel the full contraction in your posterior deltoid. Perform an equal number of sets and reps on each side.
4. Barbell 45-Degree Incline Row
The incline row is one of the best rear delt barbell exercises that help increase strength, mass, and shoulder mobility. You can perform this exercise with both dumbbells and barbells, they are equally effective for activating the rear and medial delt muscles.
The ACE study also suggests that the 45-degree incline bench row is one of the highly effective workouts for growing rear delt. You can see in the image below:
Here are the steps to perform an incline rowing with a barbell:
- Set the bench to a 45-degree angle incline height.
- Holding a barbell with an overhand grip, lie on the bench with your face down and lower chest on the edge of it. Your hands should be slightly shoulder-width apart and palms facing in.
- Keep your head and spine in a neutral position and let the bar hang underneath your chest. That’s the start.
- Row the bar toward your chest until your rear delts are fully engaged.
- Pause for a moment at the top and then return the bar to the start.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.
5. Single-arm Rear Delt Barbell Row
This exercise is also known as the one-arm landmine row and meadows row. It works primarily on two muscles – posterior delt and traps. The best thing is it is a unilateral movement that allows you to focus on one side of your rear delt specifically so you can target them effectively.
To perform a single-arm rear delt barbell row,
- Place the one end of the bar in the corner of the wall and put the suitable weights into another.
- Stand in a split stance with your right foot in front of your left.
- Slightly bend your knees and lean forward so your chest is facing the floor.
- Place your right hand on your knee for balance and grab the weighted end of the bar with your left hand. Your grip should be overhand and your elbow pointing out.
- Keep your core engaged and spine in a neutral position. That’s the setup.
- Pulling the bar toward your torso, drive your elbow as high as possible.
- Pause for a second and lower the bar to the start. That’s one rep.
- Perform an equal number of sets and reps on each side.
6. Behind The Neck Barbell Shrugs
The behind-the-neck shrug is one of the crucial shoulder exercises. It isolates upper trap and posterior delt muscles and helps build sturdy and rounded shoulders.
You can add this movement to posterior delt exercises to maximize your strength, mass, and mobility, and improve other movements, such as rowing and presses.
How to do it:
- Holding a loaded bar behind your thighs, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your arms straight and hands just outside your hips.
- Brace your abdominal muscles and maintain a neutral spine. That’s the start.
- Shrug your shoulders up and back without bending your elbows. You’ll feel the contraction in your rear delts and upper traps.
- Shoot for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
The Takeaway Message
For building muscular rounded shoulders, training the rear deltoid is crucial. You can do various posterior exercises with different equipment, such as dumbbells, machines, and barbells to train your posterior deltoids. However, this article is especially for barbell lovers.
You can do the above six barbell rear delt exercises at home or the gym to increase strength and mass. These workouts also maximize shoulder stability, fix muscle imbalance, and reduce the chances of injury.
So when you create a barbell workout routine, you can incorporate all of the exercises.
Related Barbell and Shoulder Workout
- 1Franke Rde A, Botton CE, Rodrigues R, Pinto RS, Lima CS. Analysis of anterior, middle and posterior deltoid activation during single and multijoint exercises. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Jul-Aug;55(7-8):714-21. Epub 2014 Jun 20. PMID: 24947920
- 2Dynamite Delts: ACE Research Identifies Top Shoulder Exercises by Samantha Sweeney, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D.