Rear Delt Row: Muscle Worked, Benefits, Alternate

Rear shoulder exercises such as the rear delt row help you to strengthen and tone the posterior deltoid muscles. It is a very effective and functional exercise for building muscle and strength in the posterior deltoids.

There are many ways to do the rear delt row, you can do it with dumbbells, a barbell, or a cable machine, depending on your preference.

This article is going to answer all of your questions and explain everything you want to know.

  • What is the rear delt row
  • What muscles are worked when doing rear delt rows?
  • Its Benefits
  • Best rear Delt row variation you can do with a dumbbell, barbell, cable, and machine.
  • Its replacement or substitute

What Is The Rear Delt Row?

When you want to build your rear delts, you need to first look at your workout program to see how much they are getting trained indirectly from other movements.

Exercise like pull-ups, pull downs, bent over rows, and dumbbell pressing all rely on the rear deltoid for stability and strength.

If you are looking to add additional rear deltoid work to your current training program, then rear delt row is the best option for this.

It being a relatively easy and simplistic exercise. It, often performed with low levels of weight, is an easily accessible movement that may be performed by nearly every member of the population.

Delt row primarily activates, fittingly, the posterior head of the deltoid muscle group. It will also utilize the entirety of the deltoid muscle group as well as the trapezius muscles located behind and beside the neck.

Muscle Worked During Rear Delt Row

The rear delt row is a simple exercise that targets many areas in the body.

The deltoid muscle of the shoulder consists of three separate sections or heads.

Shoulder Anatomy

Benefits of Rear Delt Row

Listed below are the benefits of performing the delt row exercise.

  • Help you work a lot of muscle areas that directly affect your posture and reverse some of the negative effects that come with the modern way of living.
  • Recruits postural and stabilizer muscles important for shoulder stability.
  • Promotes aesthetically and functionally balanced shoulders
  • Build symmetry with the shoulder, preventing a “forward sloping” look
  • Improve shoulder function
  • Prevent shoulder injuries

Here you’ll find the best delts row exercises for maximum rear deltoid growth. Plus, you’ll find training execution techniques and tips to exploit rear deltoids growth.

Try the best variations of rear delts row exercises when designing your next rear deltoids workout.

The Rear Delt Row Variations

Working your delts can be done by a variety of exercises; we are going to mention a very popular variations of rear delt row exercises. With slight modifications and additions, you can get a plethora of variations of this exercise.

There are three main variations of this exercise:

  • Dumbbell Rear Delt Row
  • Rear Delt Barbell Row
  • Rear Delt Cable Row

Now we’ll be discussing them in detail and how to perform each one step-by-step.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

There are many advantages of doing rear delt row exercises using dumbbells, such as:

  • Dumbbells require more balance than barbells or machines that can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
  • Dumbbell delt row allows unilateral training (training one limb at a time), increase core stability, and improve muscular imbalances.
  • It affords a greater level of variety, which prevents physical and mental burnout.
  • Dumbbell rear delt row exercises variations allow for a greater range of movement (ROM).

1. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

The rear deltoid dumbbell 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.

Although I do prefer the one-arm dumbbell variation since it allows you to keep your lower back supported and each arm works independently. Rear delt rows can also be done using both hands.

One Arm Dumbbell Row Back Exercise

How To Do Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

  1. Start by placing your right foot on the floor with your left knee resting upon a bench, keeping your body weight supported by your left arm.
  2. While keeping your back flat, pick up a dumbbell in your right hand.
  3. Begin by leading up with your elbow, bringing your arm up close to your chest, and squeezing with your back muscles.
  4. Once you reach the top of the exercise, stop and hold for a count, then return to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat.

Tips

  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Always use weights that you can comfortably handle.

2. Lying Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

Dumbbell Lying rear row is a strength exercise that works your deltoids and side deltoids. It is a great basic move. When done correctly, it can effectively target your shoulders and upper body.

The muscles worked during dumbbell lying rear delt row may change slightly based on your trained range of motion and technique, but in the most general case, posterior deltoid trained the most.

Lying Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

How To Do Lying Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

  1. Start off lying on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand extended out in front of you.
  2. Slowly pull the dumbbells until your elbows are just above your shoulders.
  3. Once you reach the final position, hold for a count and squeeze your muscles.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.

Tips

  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Pause for a moment at the top before slowly lowering the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Barbell Rear Delt Row

Barbells are a valuable tool in the arsenal of a person who wants to gain strength efficiently. Exercise experts also point to several other benefits of barbells.

  • Barbell rear delt row exercises provide versatility, can help you strengthen virtually every muscle in the body with a wider range of resistance.
  • The barbell is a simple tool, so it is easy to learn the basic lifts quickly

3. Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

Standing barbell rear delts row is a free weight exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid and middle back, and to a lesser degree, it also targets the biceps, shoulders, and traps.

If you haven’t tried this exercise before, load the barbell with a reasonable amount of weight, prioritizing an amount that allows you to stick to proper form rather than trying to lift heavy.

Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

How To Do Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

  1. Stand up straight while holding a barbell using a wide (higher than shoulder width) and overhand (palms facing your body) grip.
  2. With slightly bent knees, bend over at the waist so that your chest is parallel with the floor.
  3. While keeping the upper arms perpendicular to the torso, pull the barbell up towards your upper chest as you squeeze the rear delt.
  4. Slowly go back to the initial position as you breathe in. Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Refrain from using your biceps to do the work. Focus on targeting the rear delts, the arms should only act as hooks.
  • Focus on the form before you go for a heavyweight.
  • Maintaining the right posture while working out is vital.

4. Barbell Chest Supported Rear Delt Row

A chest supported dumbbell row is an effective variation. As the name suggests, it’s a row where your chest is supported.

By leaning into a bench with your upper torso, you’re removing the need for your back to stabilize the movement. Unlike other rows like the bent-over row, your lower back and hamstrings aren’t recruited to stabilize the movement.

Barbell Chest supported rear delt Row is a strength exercise that works your side deltoids. When done correctly, it can effectively target your shoulders and upper body.

Barbell Chest Supported Rear Delt Row

How To Do Barbell Chest Supported Rear Delt Row

  1. Lie down on an incline bench with a barbell and hand extended out in front of you.
  2. Slowly pull the barbell until your elbows are just above your shoulders.
  3. Once you reach the final position, hold for a count and squeeze your rear delt muscles.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.

Tips

  • Remember to exhale while you exert.
  • The form is an essential part of this exercise.
  • Don’t just swing your arms. Keep controlled motion throughout the exercise.

Cable Rear Delt Row

The cable rear delt row exercises offer an effective way to train the posterior shoulder and back muscle, let’s have a look at some other benefits of delt row exercises with a cable machine.

  • For people who experience discomfort in their joints during the barbell row, cable Delt Row workout are a great alternative. The cable changes the angle of the movement enough to limit the potential stress on the joints.
  • Cable delt row exercises are more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load throughout the whole range of motion.
  • The cable setup gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a considerable pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.

5. Cable Rear Delt Row

If your elbows drop, your latissimus dorsi will get involved and the cable rear delt row will become more of a standard wide-grip cable row.

Since you are targeting your rear deltoid with the cable delt row and not your relatively larger latissimus dorsi, use a lighter weight than you would for the wide-grip cable row.

Cable Rear Delt Row

How To Do Cable Rear Delt Row

  1. Sit in front of the cable machine and grasp the long bar with a pronated (overhand) elbow-width grip.
  2. Lean back so that your torso is upright, your back is straight, and your arms and shoulders are extended in front of you.
  3. While keeping the upper arms perpendicular to the torso, pull the bar toward your upper chest, keeping your elbows at shoulder height and your body still.
  4. Slowly return the bar to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Refrain from using your biceps to do the work. Focus on targeting the rear delts, the arms should only act as hooks.
  • Focus on the form before you go for a heavyweight.

6. Standing Cable Rear Delt Row With Rope

The standing cable rear delt row with rope is a very effective and functional exercise for building muscle and strength in the rear deltoids.

The standing cable rear delt row primarily targets the posterior deltoids. This movement also hits the traps, rhomboids, and biceps. It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, at least 8-12 reps per set, as part of an upper-body or shoulder-focused workout.

And by using cables, you’re keeping tension on the rear delts, which is very beneficial for maximizing muscle hypertrophy.

Standing Cable Rear Delt Row With Rope

How To Do Standing Cable Rear Delt Row

  1. Attach a double-grip rope to a cable pulley about mid-chest level.
  2. Grasp one end of the rope in each hand and step backward until the rope is pulled taut and your arms and shoulders are stretched forward.
  3. Keep your lower back upright and slide your hips back so that your knees are slightly bent.
  4. Keeping your elbows out to the sides, exhale as you pull the rope towards your shoulders until your elbows travel passed your back.
  5. Slowly return the rope to the starting position.

Tips

  • Retract your shoulder blades to keep your rear delts engaged during the exercise.
  • Pull the rope outward during the positive portion of the rep, so your elbows are flared out, which will really stimulate the rear deltoids.
  • Maintaining the right posture while working out is extremely important.

7. 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.

Using this exercise gives people with shoulder issues an exercise to get the benefits of rows. In addition, face pull is one of the most effective corrective exercises that help compensate for poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.

Cable High Row

How To Do Cable High Row

  1. Set the cable up at a high point with the rope attachments
  2. Grab the rope with both hands using an overhand grip, then take a step back and get onto knees facing the cable machine
  3. Starting with your arms stretched out and away, pull back through your elbows until your hands are just in front of your shoulders
  4. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat for desired reps.

Tips

  • Don’t lean backwards to pull the weight towards you.
  • Focus on the mind-muscle connection to pull down by using your back muscles.

Best Alternate of Rear Delt fly

Working your delts can be done by a variety of exercises; we are going to mention a very popular alternative exercise – that you can do alongside, or instead of the regular rear delt row.

Before we explore the best rear delt row alternatives. We must remember, a good delt row alternative will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Activate the rear muscle groups which is trained in the rear delt row
  • Isolate the muscle groups during execution
  • Train the rear delt muscle through a longer range of motion

1. Standing Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

The bent-over dumbbell reverse fly, also known as the bent-over rear delt fly, is a great exercise to assist you in building a complete set of shoulders.

Strengthening the rear delts by using the bent over rear delt fly can lead to improved posture and a greater level of strength on other lifts.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

2. Machine Rear Delt Fly

Machine Rear Deltoid Fly is an excellent exercise for the rear deltoid. The rear deltoid fly machine provides a uniform resistance throughout the range of motion.

This machine also offers several technical adjustments to grip. Trajectory and range of motion to help isolate the posterior deltoid.

reverse pec deck fly

3. Face Pull

Face pull is a cable machine exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid and to a lesser degree also targets the biceps, triceps, and traps.

This exercise prevents muscular imbalance and builds overall shoulder strength.

Face Pull

Frequently Asked Question

Are rear delt rows effective?

Whether you are doing rear delt rows with dumbbells, barbells, or cables, all are very effective for training your upper back and shoulder muscles. It especially works your rear delts, which are small muscles on the back of your shoulders.

Takeaways

Now that you know a few variations for your rear delts row, hit the gym and try each one to get the full effect. Don’t limit yourself to variations on this exercise, either.

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.

Know More About Rear Delt Training

References

1. Campos YAC, Vianna JM, Guimarães MP, et al. Different Shoulder Exercises Affect the Activation of Deltoid Portions in Resistance-Trained Individuals. J Hum Kinet. 2020;75:5-14. Published 2020 Oct 31. doi:10.2478/hukin-2020-0033

2. Ronai, Peter MS, CSCS, RCEP: Exercise Modifications and Strategies to Enhance Shoulder Function. Strength and Conditioning Journal: August 2005 – Volume 27 – Issue 4 – p 36-45

3. Botton C, Wilhelm E, Ughini C, Pinto R, Lima C. Electromyographical analysis of the deltoid between different strength training exercisesMed Sport. 2013;17:67–71

4. Franke AR, Botton C, Rodrigues R, Pinto R, Lima C. Analysis of anterior, middle and posterior deltoid activation during single and multijoint exercises. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015;55:714–721.

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