An empty gym is a brilliant occurrence, you can superset to your heart’s content, get on any equipment and basically do the equivalent of an iron shopping spree. Most of the time however, the gym is full of people all seeming to want to use the same machine you are.
Some people have asked me recently about rear deltoid exercises and how you can get the best from them, so naturally I thought I would write a bit of a small guide about the subject.
Knowing your way around a gym and knowing how to substitute some exercises for others is useful when the gym is crowded and someone is on the piece of equipment you wish to use, if your chosen machine is busy then there is no reason that you can’t have an option B, C and D.
Ditching what you deem to be your favorite piece of equipment may seem devastating but is actually a blessing in disguise. Being aware of multiple exercise variations is critical for maximum muscle development. Different equipment and exercises target your muscles from different angles and unique stresses which can provide a new stimuli for muscle growth.
Barbells, dumbbells, machines, cables and the Smith machine all have their own advantages compared to the other and none of them work the muscle in the same way. When all of these pieces of equipment are included in your workout, you work the muscle much more completely and are less prone to hitting a plateau.
Rock The Rear Delts
Here is a small tour of rear delt raises, a single-joint movement for the posterior (rear) delts and also to show you seven alternative variations for this core exercise. Each of these movements is a little bit different which means your workout can always have mild variations, if you are stuck in a rut or have hit a plateau then this movement diversity can really help you.
Don’t take this as the ultimate advice for rear delts though. The best muscle growth comes from knowing how to do a given exercise in multiple ways and including the variations in each workout in different ways, this will make you get round the gym quicker but also help you build size faster too.
Rear-Delt Raise Variations
1) Standing Bent Over With Dumbbells
This basic free-weight movement is done standing whilst bent over at the hips with your knees slightly bent and lower back arched. It allows a little bit of body English through the hips and knees to keep the body moving. Bring the dumbbells out to your sides in an arch as high as you can with a slight bend in the elbows.
2) Seated Bent-Over With Dumbbells
This is the same as the standing version but is much more difficult to cheat when seated, much less momentum can be generated from the lower body so a lower weight is required.
3) Seated Bent-Over On An Incline Bench
This is another rear-delt variation movement that limits momentum. You lie on a moderately inclined bench and do the same motion as above. Brace your feet for body stabilisation, as you complete the lift, try to keep your chest flat against the bench to reduce momentum.
4) Standing Bent-Over With One-Arm Using A Dumbbell
With one free hand holding onto the bench to stabilise your body, this variation allows you to focus independently on each side of your body and correct any strength imbalances. When standing you can generate a little bit of momentum through your knees and hips.
5) Seated Reversed On A Peck Deck Machine
When you are using machines you do not have to worry about movement patterns which is useful towards the end of your workout when you are tired and have trouble with the movement arc.
This machine forces your arms into a locked slightly bent position, which is helpful if you have a habit of extending your arms at the end of range of motion, this motion can also be done one arm at a time.
6) Standing With Two-Arms Using Upper Cables
When using cables, the line of pull comes from the sides, not straight down from gravity, as when using a dumbbell. This means the angle of pull on the rear delt changes, which hits the muscle somewhat differently than when you use a dumbbell. Also when in the bottom position of this variation, the rear delt isn’t resting as there will still be tension on it provided the weights are not resting on the stack, the constant tension can actually stimulate further muscle growth.
7) Standing Bent Over With One Arm Using A Lower Cable
This is similar to the one-arm dumbbell version with the benefit of pull coming across the body, not straight down. There is also the added benefit of each side being worked individually. It might be easier to lose the handle and grasp the rubber ball to keep your hand in neutral alignment with palm facing inwards.
Mixing It Up
So now you have some variations of rear deltoid exercises, hit the gym and try each one to get the full effect. Don’t limit yourself to variations on this exercise only, seek out new ways to do all your staple movements so you never get stuck waiting at the gym.