The shoulder muscles (the actual muscles at the top of the arm – not the traps which run along the top of your shoulders and into your neck) are called the deltoid muscles, and they are actually made up of 3 heads – the front (anterior) side (medial) and the rear (posterior).
Without question, the rear deltoid is the most neglected and least used in bodybuilding. That’s because the variety of lifts involve some kind of pushing motion which involves the front heads primarily, side heads to a lesser degree, and hardly ever touches the rear deltoids, leaving them flat and lagging completely.
This makes your arms look very strange from the side, so you need to really start hitting the rear deltoid’s to bring out the full roundness of the shoulders.
Here are several great rear deltoid exercises that will do just that:
Bent Over Rows
This is a barbell exercise, primarily for the lats, but it also hits the rear deltoids well providing you lift heavy.
Stand with your feet around shoulder width apart, shoelaces underneath the barbell. Bending at the knees, keeping your back locked; get into the dead lift position. Use a grip of several inches wider than shoulder width; double-overhand, not an alternating grip.
Safely lift the bar up off the ground several inches by lifting with your legs. You need to set yourself in a position where your legs are slightly bent, and the spine – still locked out – is almost parallel with the floor. You should have the bar hanging down below you.
Now, maintaining this stance, pull the bar up to the top of your abdomen; where your sternum is. Give a squeeze, and slowly lower. Repeat for however many reps your workout includes.
Note: You may not feel much during this exercise. This is generally because the rear delts (and the lats) are so underused in the body in general, that they simply do not have the nerve sensation to give instant feedback. But, in the coming days you’ll notice pain in them. That’s good, you’ve hit them.
Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise
This exercise is performed in a position almost identical to that of bent over rows. This time, we are using dumbbells, and holding them below us in a palms-inward position.
We then raise them out to the side, in an almost flapping motion, twisting our wrists outward as we lift up, and trying to hold for a split second at the top, before reversing the motion.
This can be a pretty awkward lift to master, but once you’ve got it, it’s a great rear delt exercise.
Lying Rear Deltoid Raise
I really like this one. Simply lie on you stomach on a flat bench. The higher the bench, the greater the range of motion you can use.
With your arms slightly bent, hold a dumbbell at each side of the bench, and simply try to lift them upward – in the same flapping motion as the dumbbell rear lateral raise. The secret is to go slowly on the way up, and even slower on the negative repetition.
I guarantee you – this exercise really hits the rear deltoids great, and will give excellent results.