Rear deltoids are often overlooked in shoulder workouts, but they play a crucial role in maintaining good posture and preventing injuries.
Doing cable rear delt exercises can help you to improve posture and strengthen the overall deltoid, and ultimately help you avoid the back and shoulder pain that poor posture brings.
Cable exercises are a great way to target this rear delt effectively, as they provide constant tension throughout the movement.
The exercise targets the small muscles of the rear deltoid through a full range of motion, which will stimulate the growth of the shoulder muscles.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the following points:
- Anatomy and Function of the deltoid
- How to strengthen your rear deltoid using a cable machine.
- The benefits of cable rear delt exercises.
- Best cable rear delt exercises
- Best execution technique and Pro-tips
- Anatomy of the Rear Deltoid Muscle
- How to Train Your Rear Deltoid With Cable
- 1. Train rear deltoid with back workout
- 2. Train Rear Delts Twice per week
- 3. Prioritize Rear Delts On Shoulder Day Among The Three Delt Heads
- 4. Choose A Solid Mass-Builder With Challenging Weights
- Benefits of Cable Rear Delt Exercises
- 1. Limit Joint Stress
- 2. Provide Constant Tension
- 3. Improve Posture
- 4. Versatile
- 5. Isolation
- 6. Stability
- 7. Reduce the Risk of Shoulder Injury
- 8. Improved Looks
- Best Rear Delt Cable Exercises
- 1. Bent Over Cable Lateral Raise
- 2. Cable Rear Delt Row
- 3. Standing Cable Rear Delt Row With Rope
- 4. Cable High Row
- 5. Lying Reverse Fly
- 6. Cable Machine Y Raise
- 7. Cable Twisting Standing Row
- 8. One-Arm Bent-Over Cable Raise
- 9. Cable Rear Drive
- 10. Reverse Cable Crossover
- 11. Face Pull
- 12. Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly
- Do cable pull work rear delt
- Are cable rows good for rear delts?
- How many rear delt exercises should i do
- Sets and Reps for rear delt exercises
- Related Posts
- Video Illustration of 6 Best Rear Delt Cable Exercises
Anatomy of the Rear Deltoid Muscle
The deltoid muscle of the shoulder consists of three separate sections or heads.
The rear deltoid muscle, aka posterior deltoid, is located at the back of the shoulder and is responsible for shoulder extension, transverse extension, and horizontal abduction.
In other words, it helps you move your arm backward, out to the side, and across your body.
The rear delts may not be as visible as the front ones, but they play an important role in overall shoulder development and can help improve posture and health.
How to Train Your Rear Deltoid With Cable
Strengthening the rear deltoid muscles is essential for maintaining a stable and healthy shoulder position.
Under-performing rear delts prevent you from gaining strength with overhead pressing and bench pressing. They also play a crucial role in your posture.
Here’s how to strengthen your rear deltoid with a cable machine:
1. Train rear deltoid with back workout
Though your rear delt muscles are technically located in your shoulders, most people like to train them on back day, instead of integrating them into your usual upper-body series.
Your rear delts are already getting involved during the back workout day.
So, why not add one or two dedicated cable rear delt exercises at the end of your back workout to finish the job?
2. Train Rear Delts Twice per week
You can also double up your rear-delt workouts—not your entire shoulder workouts—over the course of your training split.
As long as you work enough rest days in and pay attention not to train back and shoulders on consecutive days.
3. Prioritize Rear Delts On Shoulder Day Among The Three Delt Heads
If your rear deltoids are lagging and weaker, then prioritize your rear-delt single-joint isolation exercise before working the middle and front delts.
The delt head that you work first, when your energy levels are highest, is the one that will improve the fastest.
4. Choose A Solid Mass-Builder With Challenging Weights
Need to pick the right weight and rep range. Never go too heavy with single-joint exercises, as they can put undue pressure on a joint.
Choosing a weight at which you fail on the 8-10 rep range is a solid muscle-building option.
Benefits of Cable Rear Delt Exercises
Before we dive into the exercises themselves, let’s take a moment to talk about why cable rear delt exercises are so effective.
Let’s look at some other benefits of posterior delt exercises with a cable machine.
1. Limit Joint Stress
For people who are experiencing joint discomfort during the rear delt row, cable workouts are a great alternative. The cable changes the angle of the movement enough to limit the potential stress on the joints.
2. Provide Constant Tension
Rear delt cable exercises are more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load on your rear (posterior) muscles throughout the whole range of motion.
3. Improve Posture
The ‘desk job’ posture, is where most people spend most of the day hunched over their computer with poor posture.
Strengthening the rear delts will help to straighten up your posture and tighten up your upper back.
The cable machine rear delt exercises offer almost unmatched versatility because you can change up the load, angle, grip positioning and body positioning easily.
The cable setup gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a huge pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.
Because cable exercises target specific muscles, they can be great for isolating those muscles and really feeling the burn. This can be especially useful if you’re looking to bring up a lagging body part.
Unlike dumbbells or barbells, which can be difficult to stabilize during certain exercises, cable machines provide a stable platform for you to work from.
This can help you focus more on the movement itself and reduce the risk of getting hurt.
7. Reduce the Risk of Shoulder Injury
Working the rear delts will help to strengthen your shoulders and add muscle, therefore lowering the risking of rotator cuff injuries.
8. Improved Looks
Large rear delts help round out the shoulders to create the boulder-shoulder look that many of you are training, all while improving health and performance.
Best Rear Delt Cable Exercises
You both must choose the right rear deltoid exercises and perform them in a way that maximally activates the rear deltoid.
Below you’ll find the best rear cable deltoid exercises for maximum posterior deltoid growth.
The best cable rear delt exercises are based on efficiency, safety, and effectiveness.
1. Bent Over Cable Lateral Raise
If you’re looking for straightforward cable machine rear delt exercises to add to your, workout routine, the bent over cable raise is a great staple exercise to get you started.
It is an excellent exercise to train and isolate the rear deltoid muscle. It provides constant stress on the muscle.
Unlike dumbbell raises where the resistance varies during the lift, the cable pulley affords a uniform resistance throughout the motion.
How To Do Bent over Cable Lateral Raise
- Grab the handles attached to two low pulleys (left-side handle in right hand, right-side handle in left hand), stand in the middle, then bend forward at the waist with back straight and parallel to the floor.
- Raise your hands upward in an arc to shoulder level, such that the cables cross over.
- Lower the handles back down to the start position, your right hand directly in front of the left ankle and your left hand in front of the right ankle.
- Pull slowly so that you are in control of the weight at all times.
- Remember to exhale while you exert.
2. Cable Rear Delt Row
When you do the cable rear delt row, ensure that your elbows are not dropping.
If your elbows drop, it can cause your latissimus dorsi muscles to engage more, which can turn the exercise into more of a standard wide-grip cable row.
Since you’re working your rear deltoid with the cable delt row and not your larger latissimus dorsi, use a lighter weight than you would with the wide-grip cable row.
How To Do Cable Rear Delt Row
- Sit in front of the cable machine and grasp the long bar with a pronated (overhand) elbow-width grip.
- Lean back so that your torso is upright, your back is straight, and your arms and shoulders are extended in front of you.
- While keeping the upper arms perpendicular to the torso, pull the bar toward your upper chest.
- Keeping your elbows at shoulder height and your body still.
- Slowly return the bar to the starting position.
- Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
- Refrain from using your biceps to do the work. Focus on targeting the rear delts, the arms should only act as hooks.
- Focus on the form before you go for a heavyweight.
3. Standing Cable Rear Delt Row With Rope
The standing cable rear delt row with rope is a very effective and functional exercise for building muscle and strength in the posterior deltoids.
It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, at least 8-12 reps per set, as part of an upper-body or shoulder-focused workout.
And by using cables, you’re keeping tension on the rear delts which is very beneficial for maximizing muscle hypertrophy.
How To Do Standing Cable Rear Delt Row
- Attach a double-grip rope to a cable pulley about mid-chest level.
- Grasp one end of the rope in each hand and step backward until the rope is pulled taut and your arms and shoulders are stretched forward.
- Keep your lower back upright and slide your hips back so that your knees are slightly bent.
- Keeping your elbows out to the sides, exhale as you pull the rope towards your shoulders until your elbows travel passed your back.
- Slowly return the rope to the starting position.
- Retract your shoulder blades to keep your rear delts engaged during the exercise.
- Pull the rope outward during the positive portion of the rep, so your elbows are flared out, which will really stimulate the rear deltoids.
- Maintaining the right posture while working out is extremely important.
4. Cable High Row
Using this exercise gives people with shoulder issues an exercise to get the benefits of rows.
In addition, face pull is one of the most effective corrective exercises that help compensate for poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.
How To Do Cable High Row
- Set the cable up at a high point with the rope attachments
- Grab the rope with both hands using an overhand grip
- Then take a step back and get onto knees facing the cable machine
- Starting with your arms stretched out and away, pull back through your elbows until your hands are just in front of your shoulders
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat for desired reps.
- Don’t lean backwards to pull the weight towards you.
- Focus on the mind-muscle connection to pull down by using your back muscles.
5. Lying Reverse Fly
The lying cable rear delt fly is a great option if you have any lower back issues or just want to reduce the amount of stress on your lower back.
Completing this exercise in a supine position on your back allows you to purely focus on contracting your rear delts in order to pull the cables down to the sides.
How To Do Lying Reverse Fly
- Position a flat bench between two high pulleys.
- Lie supine (on your back) holding the pulleys’ handles.
- The handle from the right pulley should be in your left hand, and the handle from the left pulley should be in your right hand. The cables should be crossed and pulled tightly.
- Keeping your arms perpendicular to your torso and your elbows slightly bent, exhale as you pull your arms open and out to the sides.
- Hold for a count of two. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat for desired reps.
- When you lie down, make sure that your shoulders are lined up with the pulleys. This will ensure optimal mechanical leverage.
- Keep the movement slow and deliberate.
6. Cable Machine Y Raise
This exercise combines horizontal shoulder abduction with external shoulder rotation. Strengthening the external shoulder rotators and the internal shoulder rotators.
How To Do Cable Machine Y Raise
- Stand facing between two low cable pulleys, with each hand holding the handle of the cable of the opposite pulley.
- To maintain good posture, push your chest forward, and point your shoulders back while slightly bending both knees.
- Stand straight up with your arm fully extended and feet facing forward.
- Maintaining a slight bend in the elbows, raise your arms upwards and outwards, forming the letter ‘Y’ with your whole body.
- Hold for a second, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Maintain a fixed slightly bent elbow position throughout exercise.
- Keep your torso still, your back straight, and your elbow slightly bent.
- Don’t just swing your arms. Keep controlled motion throughout the exercise
7. Cable Twisting Standing Row
When doing an arm workout with a cable machine, there are plenty of single-arm rear delt cable exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.
It involves numerous muscles as it requires you to slightly rotate at the waist. This is a unilateral exercise, which requires you to engage your core throughout the movement.
Besides being a great back and shoulder exercise, this movement also works your hips, glutes and other lower body muscles.
How To Do Cable Twisting Standing Row
- Attach a single grip handle to an elbow-high cable pulley.
- Step back and get into a staggered stance, knees slightly bent.
- Your arm should be out straight and your waist is rotated towards the cable.
- Keeping your elbow close to your body, pull back towards your waist while rotating your waist to the same direction
- Pause briefly at the top of the movement, then slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat desired reps.
- Make sure the rotation is in your waist, not hips. You can place your inactive hand on your other hip for added stability.
- To make the most of this move, your reps should be slow and controlled.
8. One-Arm Bent-Over Cable Raise
You can do this exercise using one arm at a time, allowing you to alter the range of motion by adjusting the start or finish position.
This unilateral version makes it possible to raise your hand higher and get a longer stretch at the bottom, thereby generating more work for the posterior deltoid.
Stabilize your torso by resting your free hand on your thigh.
How To Do One-Arm Bent-Over Cable Raise
- Lean forward at the hips, place your right hand on your thigh,
- Hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your arm extended straight down.
- Raise the weight straight out to the side until your arm is parallel with the floor.
- Pause for a moment at the top of the motion before slowly lowering the weight back down to the starting position.
- Repeat with the right arm.
- Pull slowly so that you are in control of the weight at all times.
- Remember to exhale while you exert.
9. Cable Rear Drive
The cable rear drive is an exercise that builds muscle and strength in both the triceps and rear deltoids.
Now, this is a very unconventional movement, but that doesn’t diminish its effectiveness. It’s kind of like two exercises in one which targets two different muscles.
When you go heavy with the cable rear-drive, numerous muscles in your legs and core are significantly activated to stabilize your body.
How To Do Cable Rear Drive
- Attach a rope to a shoulder height cable pulley.
- Then, stand, so the left side of your body is facing the cable pulley and grab the rope with your right hand.
- Now, take one step to the right, so there’s tension in the cable.
- Then, pull your elbow back and away from the pulley, so it’s facing in the opposite direction.
- Now, extend your forearm to the right, so your arm is straight while contracting your Tricep.
- Exhale during this portion of the exercise.
- Slowly bring your forearm back and allow your arm to return back to the starting position.
- Inhale during this portion of the exercise.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
- It’s best to use light to moderate weights for this exercise to minimize joint stress and to maintain good form.
- Keep your body still. Only your arm should move.
- Keep your upper arm horizontal. If your elbow drops, your latissimus dorsi will get involved.
10. Reverse Cable Crossover
If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your rear delt cable workout, why not try Reverse Cable Crossover?
Your arms should move directly back (and downward slightly) almost parallel to the floor to target the posterior deltoid.
If the hands are raised through a higher arc to a point above shoulder level, the trapezius, and lateral deltoid make a bigger contribution to the movement.
How To Do Reverse Cable Crossover
- Stand in the center of a cable crossover apparatus.
- Start with hands crossed in front of you at shoulder height, with the left high cable in your right hand and the right in your left hand.
- Using your rear delts, pull your elbows out and back as far as possible, then slowly return to the starting position.
- The posterior deltoid is best targeted with your torso upright, not leaning too far forward or back.
- Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
11. Face Pull
Face pull is a cable machine exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid and to a lesser degree also targets the biceps, triceps, and traps.
Use a cable pulley machine to pull the weight straight toward your forehead.
This exercise prevents muscular imbalance and builds overall shoulder strength.
How To Do Face Pull
- Grab the ends of the rope attachment using a neutral grip (palms facing each other) and slightly lean back.
- Pull the rope toward your face as you spread the ends of the rope, so they end up on the sides of your ears just above your shoulders in the finish position.
- Hold this position for as second as you squeeze your shoulder blades together, contracting rear delts.
- Then slowly return the rope to the start position and repeat for reps.
- Stand straight with feet in a comfortable, balanced stance.
- Think about trying to pinch your shoulder blades as tight as possible when pulling weight toward your face.
12. Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly
Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective cable rear delt exercise, try the Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly.
It is an upper-body exercise that targets the rear deltoids and the postural muscles of the upper back.
This exercise targets such small muscles, that’s why it is usually performed with lightweight for high reps, such as 10-15 reps per set or more.
The incline bench takes away the potential of using momentum and makes the movement more challenging.
How To Do Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly
- Place an incline bench sideways midway between two cable stations.
- Grasp the D-handles attached to the cables with the opposite-side hand and lean your chest against the incline bench (45 degrees).
- Keep your feet on the floor for stability, with your chest up and abs tight.
- Keeping your arms slightly bent, raise the cables out to your sides as high as possible.
- Keep your head neutral and your eyes focused on a few feet in front of you as you hold the peak contraction.
- Slowly lower the cables back to the start, but don’t let the weight stack touch down at the bottom before beginning your net rep.
- Do not lift backward or forward.
- Set a bench at about 30-45 degrees inclined.
- Keep form strict to isolate the rear delts.
Do cable pull work rear delt
Yes, cable pulls are effective in targeting the rear deltoid muscles. Cable pull exercises provide constant tension throughout the movement, which can help to isolate the rear deltoids more effectively than other exercises.
Are cable rows good for rear delts?
Cable rows are not specifically designed to target the rear delts, but they do engage the muscles to some extent. But Cable delt rows can effectively target the rear deltoids.
Cable rear delt row is specifically designed to work the rear delts and involves pulling a cable towards your chest while keeping your elbows high and wide.
How many rear delt exercises should i do
Include 1-2 rear delt exercises in your workout routine, with 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for each one. That will enhance the effectiveness of the rear deltoid muscles and promote muscle strength and hypertrophy.
Sets and Reps for rear delt exercises
The recommended sets and reps for a delt workout are listed below to improve strength, size, and endurance.
- Strength: 3-6 sets of 1-5 reps, using heavy weights that allow for maximal effort
- Hypertrophy: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps, using moderate weights that cause muscle fatigue by the end of the set
- Endurance: 2-4 sets of 15-25 reps, using light weights with high reps and short rest periods to build muscular endurance
If you’re looking to build stronger shoulders, cable rear delt exercises are a must-try.
They not only keep you in tension throughout the entire range of motion, but they also let you target the rear delts from different angles and with different types of resistance.
Incorporate these exercises into your shoulder workout routine and you’re sure to see results in no time.
- Rear Delt Fly: Muscle Worked, Benefits, Alternate
- Dumbbell Posterior deltoid exercises for Bigger Shoulder
- 25 Best Rear Delt Exercises for Mass and Strength
- Bent Over Lateral Raise: Muscle Worked, Benefits, Alternate
- 28 Best Rhomboid Exercises for Strength and Muscle
- 12 Best Back Exercises and Workout for Mass & Strength
Video Illustration of 6 Best Rear Delt Cable Exercises
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.