How to Get a Better Rear Delt Contraction

The Bent-Over Lateral Raise is one of the most common exercises used for working the rear or posterior deltoids.

For most trainers, it can be difficult to really feel the rear delts working during this movement as the larger, stronger muscles of the back have a tendency to take over.

To really get the most out of this exercise, you need to remove the back muscles from the equation. This can be easily accomplished with a simple technique.


How to Do This Rear-Delt Activation Technique:

First, get yourself into position for the Bent-Over Lateral Raise. This can either be standing, seated or with your chest on an incline bench. The same technique applies to all variations.

Your arms should be hanging straight down in the start position.

Now, drop your shoulders down towards the ground without moving your torso. You will be keeping them down throughout the exercise. This forces the back muscles into a stretched position, thereby reducing their involvement in the exercise.

Rear delt bent-over lateral raise technique start

Once your shoulders are dropped, start the movement by doing a reverse wrist curl with the dumbbells. This means simply bending your wrists back and up and holding them there.

Rear delt bent-over lateral raise technique finish

Now squeeze the weights up to the top position of the lateral so that they are in line with your head at the top and squeeze hard at the top.

Here is an excellent tip for the way up: as you raise the dumbbells, imagine as though you are trying to wrap the backs of your arms around a tree. You've often heard that you should try to wrap your arms around a tree for dumbbell flyes, now apply it to this movement.

Also, try to force your hands into as wide of an arc as possible and keep the dumbbells as far away from your body as possible. This technique will help you to keep your shoulders down as you lift the weights.

What all these tips accomplish is to reduce the ability of the stronger back muscles to contract during the exercise, forcing the rear delt muscles to "shoulder" the burden of the exercise.


The keys to remember are:

1. Shoulders down throughout the movement.
2. Do a reverse wrist curl at the start.
3. Wrap your arms around a tree on the way up.
4. Raise the dumbbells up in line with your head.

Incorporating these tips into the bent-over lateral movement will target your rear delts like a laser beam!

Note in these pictures what is occurring at the hands and wrists.

  • At the start of the movement, the shoulders are down and the wrists are in a neutral position.
  • Just before beginning the upward phase of the movement, the wrists are flexed up and back, in essence doing a reverse wrist curl.
  • Keep your wrists flexed up like this all the way up to the top of the movement.

As you continue up with the movement, remember to keep your shoulders down and try to force the dumbbells as far away from your body as possible.

This will keep the stronger back muscles in a stretched position, forcing the rear delts to take up most of the tension in the exercise.

Learn how to perform Lying Rolling Rear Delt Laterals here.



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