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Rear Deltoid Training Significance

In bodybuilding, neglecting a muscle is very taboo. Many people will call themselves bodybuilders but only train muscles that feed into a perceived strength of theirs (this is for all the chest folks and three day a week bench pressers). Bodybuilding is not only training muscles in proportion with the others, but also letting off an image as well of balance and strength.


When it comes to neglecting a muscle or part of the body in the gym, the legs are the most popular indeed.  Rounding up second place would be the posterior deltoids.


The posterior deltoids (back shoulder muscles) are part of the three heads on the deltoids. You have the anterior (front) head, lateral (side) head, and the posterior (rear) head. All 3 muscles move the arms in the direction in which their name implies.


This article is about the red headed step child of the 3 however.


The rear delts serve their own particular purposes when it comes to function.


They include:

  • shoulder extension (moving the upper arm down to the rear),
  • transverse extension (moving the arm away from the chest with the elbows out to the sides),
  • transverse abduction (moving the arm away from the chest with the elbows down), and
  • external rotation (turning the upper arm outward).

From a visual standpoint the rear delts serve many purposes as well. Many people in the gym who do a lot of anterior shoulder work (dumbbell presses, bench press, military presses, etc.) develop a forward roll to the delts as a whole. This takes away from the thickness of the chest and even arms. By developing the rear delts properly, this indirectly causes the shoulders to be pulled back which then causes the chest to be pushed out. Also, the arms then rests against the side of the body (as opposed to hanging freely in front of the body like a gorilla) which then causes the triceps and biceps to appear wider when looking at the body from a lateral view.


Remember about the “image” part of bodybuilding? Balance and strength?


Everyone should be training their rear delts.


Some effective movements to train the posterior delts are:

  • rear delt flies
  • behind the head lat pull downs
  • behind the head pull ups
  • seated bent over lateral raises
  • rear cable flies


Most people have underdeveloped rear delts by comparison to the other two heads on the shoulders. One could look around the gym and notice most people’s rear delts are not even visible. This neglect takes away from other muscles and their appearance on the body as a whole. Also, rear delt development adds to the overall appearance of the back as well.


This little muscle serves a big purpose not only in function but appearance.


Do not neglect it anymore.  


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