How to get bigger rear delts (A bodybuilding guide)

How to get bigger rear delts

Learn How to Get Bigger Rear Delts

There are a few basic things that you can do to get bigger rear delts.
  • Go heavy with deadlifts
  • Perform regular rowing exercises
  • Heavy overhead pressing (this will activate all three major deltoid muscles)
  • Utilise rear delt isolation exercises such as rear delt flyes
  • Add rear delt accessory movements to the end of your back workout
  • Increase your protein intake

What are the rear delts?

The rear delts (or deltoids) make up part of your shoulders. They are the deltoid muscle at the back of your shoulder and are responsible for pulling or rowing movements. 

Many bodybuilders overlook this muscle when training leading to poor posture and a rounded back. 

The anatomy of the shoulders.

The shoulders are made up of three major muscles. The anterior deltoids at the front, the lateral deltoids at the side, and the posterior deltoids at the back (also known as the rear delts). 

These three muscles are prevalent in elite bodybuilders and you can see the definition between all three muscles. 

Shoulder anatomy of the rear delt

All three heads of the deltoids are activated with shoulder presses but the majority of the load is taken on by the front and side delts meaning that the rear delts can sometimes just be left lagging behind. 

There are exercises that target the rear delts and by adding these into our workouts, we can build rounder, bigger shoulders. 

What are the benefits of bigger rear delts?

There are a few benefits to developing your rear delts in the gym.
  1. Better posture. Having larger rear delts will help you from being front-heavy and putting strain on the spine.
  2. Better aesthetics. If you are a bodybuilder, you are going to have bigger, rounder shoulders by developing your rear delts. 
  3. Bigger numbers in the gym. Developing the rear delts will help you with deadlifts and heavy rows. 

Why aren't my rear delts growing?

Some people are genetically gifted and either already have broad shoulders or find them easy to develop in the gym. If this is not you, you're going to have to learn how to get bigger rear delts and work hard for them. 

The good news is, that the rear delts are one of the easiest muscles to build with frequent training and dedication. 

If you have just relied on shoulder press until now, be prepared to switch it up and add in a lot of shoulder isolation exercises. 

Heavy shoulder presses should still play a big part in your training but they will need to be supplemented with lateral flyes and some rear delt flyes if you want bigger rear delts and maximum hypertrophy. 

The rear delts are one of the fastest recovering muscles in our body meaning that they can be heavily activated up to four times a week. This allows for rapid repair and adaptation. 

What are the best exercises for bigger rear delts?

How to get bigger rear delts. The best exercises: 
  1. Dumbbell rear delt flyes
  2. Machine rear delt flyes
  3. Rear delt rows
  4. Upright rows
  5. Face pulls
  6. Shoulder press
  7. Bent over row
  8. Cable row
  9. Arnold press
  10. Deadlift

Dumbbell rear delt flyes

These are on a par with a rear delt fly machine. The only advantage is that they are easy to superset with lateral raises. Using a shoulder superset like this really ramps up the intensity and gives you a great pump in your shoulders. 

You can either add in some front raises if you really want to push the delts for bigger and better results. 

Machine rear delt flyes

If you are lucky enough to have a rear delt fly machine in your gym, you should take full advantage of it. By using a rear delt fly machine, you can keep a constant strain on the rear delts and maximise time under tension. 

Rear delt fly machines are also great for performing forced negatives which you can't really do with dumbbells. 

Rear delt rows 

Rear delt rows are a compound movement as they will bring the biceps, lats, rhomboids, and traps into play. This is a good way to train the rear delts with a heavy load but keep in mind that you are fatiguing other muscles. 

Upright rows

Some lifters struggle with upright rows because of wrist mobility but, when performed correctly, they can be very effective in the lateral and posterior delts. Using an EZ bar attachment on a cable machine allows you to angle your grip and take some of the strain away from the wrists.

Face pulls

Face pulls with a rope on a cable machine are great for building bigger rear delts and upper traps. Use a double rope attachment and pull the ends apart as you draw the rope towards your face. Hold the position and squeeze the rear delts before slowly lowering the weight stack. 

Shoulder press

The shoulder press is often regarded as a front delt exercise but, recent studies have shown that it also heavily activates the lateral delts, and to a slightly lesser extent, the rear delts. The shoulder press should be a staple movement in any good bodybuilding program.


Bent over barbell rows, dumbbell rows and cable rows are all great for rear delt development. Make sure that you are training heavy within a low rep range for maximum benefit from these movements. Using a wider grip on the barbell or cable attachment will put more strain on the rear delts. 

Arnold press

Arnold presses fall into the same category as a shoulder press as it is predominantly aimed at the front and lateral delts. Although not the intended target muscle, the rear delts are activated with Arnold presses. Although they should not be your first choice when you target the rear delts, add them into your routine for overall shoulder development. 


The deadlift is the best strength-building exercise that you can do. It puts significant strain on the entire posterior chain and heavily activates the rear delts. 


There are a lot of steps you can take to improve your rear delts. Try adding some of the suggested exercises listed above into your program and see your rear delts get bigger. If you are looking for the best hypertrophy split to grow your rear delts and the rest of your body, look at our HyperGrowth free training program

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