The rear-delt raise is a weight training exercise that targets the rear deltoids. It can be performed with or without weights. This exercise engages the back and raises the arms to about shoulder height. The hands are kept in contact with the body at all times for this exercise. This exercise is done solely with the back muscles, so it does not need any other weight lifting equipment besides heavy weights or dumbbells, depending on your strength level.
Variations In Rear-Delt Raise
Slight changes in how you perform this rear-delt exercise can have a significant impact on your results. Here are several of the most common variations, each tied to a particular goal.
Elbows bent throughout the movement
The bent-elbow variation is a good one to start with if you’re a beginner. Bent elbows make it easier to focus on contracting rear delt muscles rather than using other muscles such as your triceps to take over. Besides, pressing straight out from your sides should be something you can graduate to later on. As long as your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, the rear delts will get worked as you reach back and slightly down at the end of each rep. In this version, try starting with 10-pound dumbbells for 10 reps, aiming for 15-20 total reps per set.
Elbows straightened throughout the movement
Once you have a good handle on the bent-elbow version, you can start to work on straightening your elbows. This variation is a little more challenging as it takes more muscle coordination and strength. You’ll feel it more in your rear delts and rhomboids, which is why it’s a good one to include in your routine if you want to focus on thickness and width. Straightening your elbows also puts less stress on the shoulder joint, making it a safer option if you’ve had any previous injuries. Work up to 3 sets of 12-15 reps with heavier weights (20-30 pounds).
Elbows held outward at shoulder level during some or all of the movement
This is another great way to add variation and target different muscles fibers. Holding your elbows out moves the emphasis to the lateral head of the delt, while inward movement targets more of the medial head. You can also play with the amount of time you spend with your elbows in each position. For example, start with your elbows held outward for the first half of the range of motion, and then move them inward as you reach the top and bottom of the lift. This will help ensure that all of the muscle fibers in your rear delts are getting a good workout. Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps, using a weight that feels comfortable (15-20 pounds).
Arms close to the body only partway through a range of motion
This is a great variation if you want to focus on the contraction and get the most out of each rep. When you perform a rear-delt raise with your arms close to your body, you can feel the muscle working. You’ll also fatigue more quickly, so this is a good variation to use near the end of your workout. Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps, using a weight that feels comfortable (15-20 pounds).
Hands behind head
This variation puts a greater stretch on the muscles and is a good way to increase intensity. It’s also a great way to work on posture and improve overall shoulder flexibility. Just be sure not to hyperextend your neck by looking up at the ceiling. Keep your eyes focused straight ahead to maintain good form. Start with 2 sets of 12-15 reps.
Hands holding dumbbells
This is the basic version of the movement and is a great way to start your workout. You can use heavier weights and perform fewer reps, or use lighter weights and do more reps. As with any other exercise, be sure to focus on contracting the target muscle as you lift the weight.
Dumbbells with palms facing forward
This variation targets more of the front delt muscles and is a good choice if you want to emphasize width. It’s also a good option for beginners who are just starting with this exercise. Start with 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
The rear-delt raise is a weight training exercise that can be performed with or without weights to target the rear deltoids. This exercise is done purely with the back muscles and does not require any other weight lifting equipment besides a heavyweight or dumbbell, depending on your strength level.