In order for you to have a good posture, there should be a balance between the front, lateral, and rear deltoids. If these muscles do not work together properly, then they will cause an imbalance in your shoulders which can lead to pain and injury over time.
I’ve shared as many as nine dumbbell rear delt exercises, from beginner to intermediate. The different variations of dumbbell rear delt rows, flyes, and raises hammer your posterior deltoid effectively and help your shoulders look broader and more defined.
The Importance of Rear Deltoid Muscles
The rear deltoid is a relatively small muscle located at the back of the shoulder. It connects the shoulder blade to the upper arm and helps stabilize and support the scapula. It also helps move your arm up, down, and sideways which is crucial for a wide variety of everyday movements.
Having sturdy rear delts improve shoulder strength, mobility, and definition and reduce the risk of injuries which is often known as shoulder impingement.
Benefits of Doing Rear Delt Exercises with Dumbbells
1. Better range of motion
Dumbbells provide a full range of motion and help target the shoulder more efficiently. The higher range of motion is useful for training small muscles like the rear delt and helps put stress where it is required.
2. Allow you to do the unilateral movement
Dumbbells help perform the unilateral exercise, meaning you can use one arm at a time to focus your rear delts separately. Single-arm rear delt exercises prevent overusing of the dominant side and help isolate and even out strength imbalances, which often lead to shoulder injuries.
3. They can be used at home
Dumbbells are easy to use and require a little space. You can build up your rear delts effectively with dumbbells in the comfort of your home or living room.
9 Best Dumbbell Rear Delt Exercises to Sculpt Your Shoulders
You can train your rear delts in various ways with dumbbells. For example, you can do rows, flies, and raises to hit your posterior delt from all angles.
Here are nine dumbbell exercises for rear deltoids.
1. Seated Rear Delt Dumbbell Raise
|Beginner||Build Strength and Muscle||Dumbbells and Bench|
The seated rear delt dumbbell raise is one of the best exercises to target the posterior deltoid and helps build sturdy shoulders. It also works on the trapezius muscles and improves the definition of the back.
- Sit on the edge of the bench, holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, feet flat on the ground.
- Keep your arms straight beside your legs with your palms facing inwards.
- Slightly lean your torso toward your thighs. Maintain a flat back. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your elbows softly bent, raise the dumbbells out to the sides until you feel a full contraction in your rear delts.
- Pause for a moment and then lower the dumbbell to the start. That’s one rep.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and repetitions.
Suggested reps and sets: 8-12 x 3
2. Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise
|Intermediate||Build Strength, Mass, and Balance||Dumbbells|
How to perform it:
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Slightly bend your knees and hinge forwards from your hips to lower your trunk.
- Keep your arms straight underneath your chest with your palms facing each other. This is your starting position.
- Inhale and raise your arms out until they reach your shoulder height. Maintain a soft bend in your elbows.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top and then lower the dumbbell to the start. That is your one repetition.
- Maintain a tight core and flat back during the movement.
Recommended reps and sets: Do three sets of 8-12 repetitions each.
3. Incline Dumbbell Rear Deltoid Fly
|Beginner||Develop Strength and Mass||Dumbbells and Adjustable Bench|
How to perform incline DB Rear Delt Fly:
- Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, lie prone on an incline bench (30-45 degrees).
- Keep your arms straight below your shoulders with your palms facing each other. That’s your starting position.
- Raise the dumbbells out to the sides (while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows) until your posterior deltoid is activated.
- Hold for a second and then return to the start. This is your one repetition.
- Perform as many sets and reps as you want.
Recommended reps and sets: Aim for three sets of 8-12 repetitions.
4. Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear delt Row
|Beginner||Build Strength and Mass||Dumbbells|
The bent-over rear delt dumbbell row is another excellent way to hit the posterior shoulder from a different angle. The movement involves pulling dumbbells up toward your head, so your rear delt can engage efficiently.
How to do dumbbell row for rear delt:
- Holding a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, stand straight in the shoulder-width stance.
- Bend your knees and hinge forwards from your hips to lower your chest towards the ground until your torso is parallel to the ground.
- Brace your core, Keep your arms straight below you and maintain a flat back. This is your starting position.
- Inhale, and row the dumbbells as high as you can so your posterior deltoid engages.
- Once you reach the maximum height, lower the dumbbells back to the start. That’s one repetition.
- Do three sets of 8-12 repetitions each.
5. Side-Lying DB Rear-Delt Fly
|Intermediate||Build Strength and Mobility||Dumbbells and Bench|
Side lying is another way to hammer the back of your shoulders. It is a great exercise to improve shoulder looks and strength. This exercise is performed while lying laterally on a bench and lifting one arm out to your side.
How to do it:
- Set a bench at the height of a 30-45 degree incline.
- Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, lie on your left side on the bench with your knees bent.
- Keep your right arm straight down and your left hand gripping the bench for support.
- Brace your core and maintain a flat back. That’s the start.
- Raise the dumbbell up toward the ceiling until your arm is straight above your shoulder.
- Pause for a second, and then return your arm to the starting point.
- Go for the desired repetitions.
6. Kneeling Single-arm Rear Delt Raise
|Intermediate||Build Strength, Size, and Mobility||Dumbbells|
The unilateral rear delt dumbbell raise is a great way to work both the posterior deltoid and the upper trapezius. It’s one of my favorite exercises because it allows me to work more on my weaker delt and helps me even out muscle imbalance.
How to do it: This exercise is helpful for those who don’t have a workout bench. You can do this movement by sitting on your knees. To do that, sit on all fours and grab a dumbbell in your hand with a neutral grip and maintain a neutral spine position. Raise your arm out to your side until it is parallel to the floor. After a brief moment, lower your arm to the start.
7. Incline Dumbbell Posterior Delt Row
|Beginner||Chisel shoulder and back||Dumbbells and Bench|
The incline dumbbell facepull targets rear deltoid, traps, and rhomboids and helps improve the shape of your shoulder and back.
How to do it:
- Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lie on a 30-45 degree incline bench with your toes on the floor.
- Keep your head in a neutral position and arms extended below your shoulder with your palms facing in.
- Pull the dumbbells up with your elbows out until you feel the contraction in your posterior delt.
- Stay in that position for a moment, and then lower your arms to the start.
- Shoot for two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
8. Single-arm Rear Delt Dumbbell Row
|Beginner||Build and improve strength and shape||Dumbbells and Bench|
A single-arm rear delt row is a unilateral exercise and a great way to bank on when it comes to strengthening the posterior deltoid and improving the symmetry of the shoulders.
How to do a unilateral rear delt row:
- Stand on your left foot and place your right knee and hand on the bench.
- Lean forward while maintaining a flat back and grab a dumbbell in your left hand with an overhand grip.
- Keep your arm straight below your chest with your palm facing in and your elbow pointing out.
- Contracting your rear delt, pull the dumbbell at your side as high as possible.
- Pause for a second and lower your and repeat.
- Aim for three sets of eight to 12 reps.
9. Lying Rear Delt Circles
|Advanced||Improve Strength, Balance, and Flexibility||Dumbbells and Bench|
The dumbbell rear delt circle is a compound exercise that works the rear delts, rhomboids, and traps. It involves lying prone on a flat bench and circling your arms to contract your posterior shoulder muscles.
How to perform rear delt circles:
- Lie on your stomach on a flat bench until your neck, and look forward.
- Take one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip.
- Raise your arms in front of you to a level of your head. That’s your starting position.
- With a slight bend in your elbows, bring your arms out in a circular movement across from your shoulders to your hips.
- Pause and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s your one repetition.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and repetitions.
The rear deltoid is a relatively small muscle located at the back of the shoulder. People often forget to train this muscle or train it at the end of the session. And that’s the reason it gets less training compared to the other delts. However, it is important to work on each deltoid equally when it comes to achieving sturdy and rounded shoulders.
The above exercises are great ways to target posterior delt from different angles and help improve strength, mobility, and definition of your shoulders.
They bolster various other muscles as well, such as the rotator cuff, rhomboids, and upper and middle traps, and help improve the shape of your upper back.
Dumbbells are not the only equipment that helps forge your rear deltoids. You can use other equipment at home to sculpt your shoulders, such as your own bodyweight, resistance bands, kettlebells, and barbells.
Here are all exercises you can substitute with or perform along with dumbbell exercises: