How to Do a Rear Delt Raise

This exercise can be performed from a number of positions: standing yet bent over, seated, or lying face down on an incline bench. While the maneuver is considered an isolation exercise for its ability to primarily target the posterior deltoids, several other muscles come into play such as the lateral deltoid, trapezius and rhomboid of the back. The abs and hamstrings are activated as well.

Adding this exercise to your weight lifting routine can be beneficial to everyday activities such as pressing, pulling and reaching overhead.

How To

  • To begin this exercise, stand with feet planted firmly on the floor at about hip width apart. Knees should be slightly bent and abs engaged.
  • Using a slight bend at the elbows, hold the weights at your sides with thumbs pointing forward and palms facing each other.
  • Hinge forward at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep a strong, straight back. At this point, your arms should hang down below your shoulders, but remember to keep that slight bend at the elbows.
  • Engage the shoulder blades by drawing them together and down your back. Lift your arms out to the sides. Your arms should stop when your elbows reach the height of your shoulder. Use you pinkie finger to guide your hand up.
  • To complete the exercise, slowly lower the weights back down to their starting position. Remember not to drop the arms, as the downward movement is just as important and beneficial. 


Seeing how this is an isolation exercise used to target a very small, underused muscle, higher numbers of repetition completed with much lighter weights is the best course of action. Three to five sets of 15-20 raises is a good goal to work toward.


Seated raises: For those who need to give their lower body a break, these raises can be performed from a seated position. When bending forward, make sure to hinge at the hip instead of rounding the back down.

Supine raises: Rear delt raises can even be performed lying face down on an incline bench. This can help to keep the correct posture through the back. If you don’t have access to an incline bench, you can rest your forehead on a table or the arm of your couch. Your head should stay on the supporting surface. It if comes off, that’s an indicator of bad form, and you’re using momentum to complete the exercise.

Cautionary Notes

Make sure not to choose a weight that is too heavy. The positioning of the body during this exercise, and the fact that it is an isolation maneuver, means that heavy weights can easily lead to injury. Depending on the person, anywhere from 5 – 15 lbs is enough.

Do not use momentum to complete the motion. Doing so means you are using too heavy a weight and can easily lead to injury.

Do not lift the arms past the height of the shoulders. This can activate and overuse the wrong muscles.

Maintain a flat back and keep the abs engaged. This helps to protect the lower back from injury. If your lower back bothers you, trying bending your knees a bit more. Stop the exercise if the problem persists and consult your doctor.

More Rear Delt Raise Related Resources

Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise | Exercise Videos & Guides |
Build Strong Rear Delts With the Bent-Over Lateral Raise | STACK
Workout Tips: Most Common Training Mistakes for Rear-Delt Raises | Muscle & Fitness
Tip: Replace the Rear-Delt Raise | T Nation
17 Best Rear Deltoid Exercises for Shoulder Growth | The Fitness Tribe
Dumbbell Rear Deltoid Raise Exercise How-To with Video & Pictures

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