Rear Delt Cable Fly: Muscle Worked, Tips & Alternate

The rear delt Cable fly, also known as the reverse cable fly, is an exercise that increases deltoid muscle definition and strength.

Rear delt cable fly exercise targets your upper back muscles and shoulder muscles, particularly the posterior deltoids, or rear deltoids, on the backside of your shoulders.

Delt fly exercises help you to strengthen the small muscles of the rear delt by using a full range of motion.

To effectively train rear deltoid muscles, first, we understand the anatomy and functions of deltoid, and then we explore the best rear delt fly variations along with the best execution technique and Pro-tips.

Furthermore, there are many variations that you may not be aware of. You are going to learn in this article:

  • What is the cable rear delt fly?
  • Benefits of the rear delt cable fly.
  • What muscles does the cable rear delt fly train.
  • How to correctly perform the cable rear deltoid fly.
  • Best rear delt cable fly variations.
  • Best Alternate of cable rear delt fly

What Is The Cable Rear Delt Fly?

The cable rear delt fly is an isolation movement that trains the posterior muscles.

The joint at which the cable motion occurs when performing a rear deltoid fly is the shoulder. This happens when the arms are brought back and spread out.

Have you seen a cable chest fly? Same exact thing, only opposite; you pull backward rather than forward.

There are multiple hand attachments and variations that can be used during this movement. However, the general motion will have a trainee set up a pulley and grab the handle attachment by crossing the arms across the body. 

The left arm grabs the right handle and vice-versa while the pulley is set at about head level. The trainee should keep a slight bend in the elbow while pulling the arm back as if they’re getting ready to give someone a huge hug.

Benefits of Rear Delt Cable Fly

Cable rear delt fly exercises also help to:

  • Maintain proper posture
  • Boost shoulder stability
  • Prevent shoulder injuries
  • Build symmetry with the shoulder, preventing a “forward sloping” look
  • Improve shoulder function

Cable Rear Delt Fly

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your Rear delt cable workout, why not try Cable Rear Delt Fly?

Your arms should move directly back (and downward slightly) almost parallel to the floor to target the posterior deltoid.

If the hands are raised through a higher arc to a point above shoulder level, the trapezius, and lateral deltoid make a bigger contribution to the movement.

Reverse Cable Crossover

Muscles Worked

Primary: Posterior deltoid.

Secondary: Lateral deltoid, trapezius, rhomboids, Infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major.

Execution Technique

  1. Stand in the center of a cable crossover apparatus.
  2. Start with hands crossed in front of you at shoulder height, with the left high cable in your right hand and the right in your left hand.
  3. Using your rear delts, pull your elbows out and back as far as possible, then slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the desired number of reps and sets.

Tips

  • The posterior deltoid is best targeted with your torso upright, not leaning too far forward or back.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.

Rear Delt Cable Fly Variations

Above, we dissected the traditional variation of the cable rear delt fly. This fly version is what is usually seen and is an excellent back and shoulder exercise in its own right.

Furthermore, there are several variations that you can do to achieve different muscle activation. While the primary function of the exercise is there, these fly variations can really feel like a new movement.

1. Cable Bent Cable Fly

If you’re looking for straightforward cable machine rear delt exercises to add to your, workout routine, the bent over cable fly is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is an excellent exercise to train and isolate the rear deltoid muscle. It provides constant stress on the muscle.

Unlike dumbbell raises where the resistance varies during the lift, the cable pulley affords a uniform resistance throughout the motion.

Bent over Cable Raise

Execution Technique

  1. Grab the handles attached to two low pulleys (left-side handle in right hand, right-side handle in left hand), stand in the middle, then bend forward at the waist with back straight and parallel to the floor.
  2.  Raise your hands upward in an arc to shoulder level, such that the cables cross over.
  3. Lower the handles back down to the start position, your right hand directly in front of the left ankle and your left hand in front of the right ankle.

Tips

  • Pull slowly so that you are in control of the weight at all times.
  • Remember to exhale while you exert.

2. Lying Reverse Fly (Supine Cable Reverse Fly)

The lying cable rear delt fly is the perfect exercise to hit the rear delts. Completing this exercise in a supine position on your back allows you to purely focus on contracting your rear delts in order to pull the cables down to the sides.

It’s important to keep your arms perpendicular to your trunk so that you reduce the chances of your lats helping to complete the exercise.

Lying Reverse Fly (Supine Cable Reverse Fly)

Execution Technique

  1. Position a flat bench between two high pulleys.
  2. Lie supine (on your back) holding the pulleys’ handles. The handle from the right pulley should be in your left hand, and the handle from the left pulley should be in your right hand. The cables should be crossed and pulled tightly.
  3. Keeping your arms perpendicular to your torso and your elbows slightly bent, exhale as you pull your arms open and out to the sides.
  4. Hold for a count of two. Inhale as you slowly return to starting position. Repeat for desired reps.

Tips

  • When you lie down, make sure that your shoulders are lined up with the pulleys. This will ensure optimal mechanical leverage.
  • Keep the movement slow and deliberate.

3. Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective variation of cable rear delt exercise, try the Incline bench cable rear delt fly.

It is an upper-body exercise that targets the rear deltoids and the postural muscles of the upper back.

This exercise targets such small muscles, that’s why it is usually performed with lightweight for high reps, such as 10-15 reps per set or more.

The incline bench takes away the potential of using momentum and makes the movement more challenging.

Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly

Execution Technique

  1. Place an incline bench sideways midway between two cable stations.
  2. Grasp the D-handles attached to the cables with the opposite-side hand and lean your chest against the incline bench (45 degrees).
  3. Keep your feet on the floor for stability, with your chest up and abs tight.
  4. Keeping your arms slightly bent, raise the cables out to your sides as high as possible.
  5. Keep your head neutral and your eyes focused on a few feet in front of you as you hold the peak contraction.
  6. Slowly lower the cables back to the start, but don’t let the weight stack touch down at the bottom before beginning your net rep.

Tips

  • Do not lift backward or forward.
  • Set a bench at about 30-45 degrees inclined.
  • Keep form strict to isolate the rear delts.

4. One-Arm Cable Rear Delt Fly

You can do this exercise using one arm at a time, allowing you to alter the range of motion by adjusting the start or finish position.

This unilateral version makes it possible to raise your hand higher and get a longer stretch at the bottom, thereby generating more work for the posterior deltoid.

One Arm Bent Over Cable Raise

Execution Technique

  1. Lean forward at the hips, place your right hand on your thigh and hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your arm extended straight down.
  2. Raise the weight straight out to the side until your arm is parallel with the floor.
  3. Pause for a moment at the top of the motion before slowly lowering the weight back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat with the right arm.

Tips

  • Pull slowly so that you are in control of the weight at all times.
  • Remember to exhale while you exert.

5. Arm Standing Cable Rear Delt Fly

The Arm Standing cable rear delt fly is an exercise that builds muscle and strength in both the triceps and rear deltoids. Now, this is a very unconventional movement, but that doesn’t diminish its effectiveness.

It’s like two exercises in one, targeting two different muscles.

Arm Standing Cable Rear Delt Fly

Execution Technique

  1. Attach a rope to a shoulder height cable pulley. Then, stand, so the left side of your body is facing the cable pulley and grab the rope with your right hand.
  2. Now, take one step to the right, so there’s tension in the cable. Then, pull your elbow back and away from the pulley, so it’s facing in the opposite direction.
  3. Now, extend your forearm to the right, so your arm is straight while contracting your Tricep. Exhale during this portion of the exercise.
  4. Slowly bring your forearm back and allow your arm to return back to the starting position. Inhale during this portion of the exercise.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Tips

  • It’s best to use light to moderate weights for this exercise to minimize joint stress and to maintain good form.
  • Keep your body still. Only your arm should move.
  • Keep your upper arm horizontal. If your elbow drops, your latissimus dorsi will get involved.

Cable Rear Delt Fly Alternatives

The cable rear delt flys are a great shoulder and upper back exercise, but you don’t need to do them all the time. There are several alternatives you can use to keep your workouts productive and interesting:

Before we deep dive into the best cable rear delt fly alternatives. We must remember, a good rear delt cable fly alternative will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

1. Activate the rear delt muscle groups, which is trained in the rear delt cable fly.

2. Isolate the muscle groups during execution.

3. Train the rear delt muscle through a longer range of motion

1. Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Dumbbell Bent Over raises is one of the best alternate of cable rear delt fly. It is an excellent exercise to focus specifically on the rear deltoid muscles.

Thus, the exercise hit specifically the rear delt head by isolating it better than any other shoulder exercise. This exercise can be performed in both a standing and a seated position. Prefer the seated version as it calls for strict movement.

Lateral Bent over row

 

2. Cable High Row

Half kneeling high cable row rope is a tremendous exercise that effectively works many muscles, including the shoulder, back, wing and trapezius muscles. As an alternate to cable rear delt fly, must try this exercise.

People with shoulder issues can get the benefits of rows by doing this exercise. In addition, face pulls are one of the most effective corrective exercises that help compensate for poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.

Cable High Row

3. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

The rear deltoid row exercise is simple and effective, that is used to target your lats and rear deltoids. This exercise is very similar to a basic one-arm dumbbell row for the lats, except with a couple of important modifications.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

FAQ

Is cable rear delt fly good?

The cable rear delt fly is perhaps the best isolation exercise for your posterior deltoid and back. You need to be doing them.

How do you hit rear delts with cables?

To hit the rear delt with cable, start with hands crossed in front of you at shoulder height, with the left high cable in your right hand and the right in your left hand.
Use your rear delts to pull your elbows out and back as far as possible, then slowly return to the starting position.

What muscle does rear delt fly work?

The rear delt fly works your upper back muscles and shoulder muscles, particularly the rear deltoids, on the backside of your shoulders.

How often should I train rear delts?

To gain muscle, train your muscle no more than two times per week, or give it a minimum of 48 hours rest before training it again. Train your rear delts with 10-to-20 sets per week. To develop any major muscle group, including your rear delts, it’s generally best to train it with 10-to-20 weekly sets.

Takeaways

Now that you know a few variations for your cable rear delts fly, hit the gym and try each one to get the full effect. Don’t limit yourself to variations on this exercise, either. There are several alternatives you can use to keep your workouts productive and interesting:

The cable rear delt fly is the perfect exercise, as it uses a light load and requires a tremendous mind-muscle connection. Cable rear delt flyes are a must for serious lifters.

Seek new and interesting ways to perform all your staple movements so that you never get stuck waiting at the gym, never grow bored, and always keep growing.

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Video illustration of Best Rear Delt Exercises for Mass and Strength

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