The Cable rear delt fly, also known as the reverse cable fly, high cable rear delt fly, is an exercise that increases deltoid muscle definition and strength.
Rear delt cable fly exercise targets your upper back muscles and shoulder muscles, particularly the posterior deltoids, or rear deltoids, on the backside of your shoulders.
A well-developed rear delt that is a very important feature for lifters and bodybuilders. It’s often considered one of the best things you can have. Some even argue that it is of the utmost significance.
However, performing this exercise can be tricky, especially if you’re not familiar with the correct form. That’s where this ultimate guide comes in.
In this post, we explore the following to effectively train the rear deltoid muscles.
- What is the cable rear delt fly?
- Anatomy and functions of the deltoid
- Benefits of the Reverse delt cable fly.
- What muscles does the rear delt fly train
- How to perform it correctly?
- Best rear cable fly variations.
- Best Alternate of it
What Is The Cable Rear Delt Fly?
The cable rear delt fly is an isolation movement that trains the posterior muscles. However, the term ‘isolation movement’ can be misleading. To clarify, it is more accurately described as a single-joint exercise in order to avoid confusion.
During the cable rear delt fly, the movement is primarily felt at the shoulder. Imagine spreading your arms wide as if you were giving someone a big hug, but in reverse, as opposed to a cable chest fly, where you pull forward.
This exercise uses a cable machine with a handle attachment to make a fly-like movement. The handles are pulled away from the body using the muscles in the back of the body. When performing a rear delt fly, the muscles at which the cable motion occurs is the rear delt, traps, rhomboids.
Multiple hand attachments and variations can be used during this movement. But in general, a person will use a pulley and grab the handle by crossing their arms.
The left arm grabs the right handle and vice versa while the pulley is set at about head level. The trainee should keep a slight bend in the elbow while pulling the arm back as if they’re getting ready to give someone a huge hug.
Cable Rear Delt Fly Muscle Worked
The rear delt cable flys primarily muscle worked Rear deltoid.
In addition to its target, the main rear delt muscles. The cable rear delt fly has the involvement of several synergist muscles, these muscles include,
A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your:
Benefits of Rear Delt Cable Fly
Cable Reverse delt fly exercises also help to:
- It specifically targets and strengthens the rear deltoid muscles, which help to develop a well-rounded shoulder.
- Improve posture by reducing the effects of rounded shoulders.
- Boost shoulder stability
- Prevent shoulder injuries
- Build symmetry with the shoulder, preventing a “forward sloping” look
- Improve shoulder function
- For a variety of sports and physical activities, strong rear deltoids are essential, as they contribute to movements such as pulling, rowing, and throwing motions.
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How To Do High Cable Rear Delt Fly
The high cable rear delt fly, also known as the standing cable rear delt fly, is an exercise that increases the rear deltoid muscle definition and strength.
It can be used as a finisher in a shoulder or back workout. You can get better results by using lightweight so you can focus on proper form and technique.
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.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
- Attach the handle attachments by adjusting the cable pulleys to the highest position. Make sure that both pulleys are the same height.
- Stand in the center of a cable crossover apparatus. Position your feet shoulder-width apart for stability.
- 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.
- Take a step back to create tension in the cable. Engage your core for stability.
- With your elbows slightly bent, pull your arms out to the sides in a controlled and deliberate manner. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you do the move.
- Continue pulling your arms pull out and back as far as possible. Pause for a moment at the peak contraction, feeling the engagement in your rear deltoids.
- Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.
- Perform the desired number of repetitions.
Tips And Form For Rear Delt Cable Fly
- 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.
- Throughout the exercise, keep your elbows slightly bent. Avoid fully extending or locking out your elbows.
- Make a controlled motion by pulling your arms back and away from the cable machine, leading with your elbows.
- Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the peak of the movement to activate your rear deltoid muscles.
- Perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner, emphasizing the eccentric (lowering) phase.
- Exhale as you pull your arms back, and inhale as you come back. During the exercise, keep your breathing steady.
- Your oblique muscles will need to be engaged to sustain a stable torso throughout the movement.
- You should aim to complete 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps of the cable rear delt fly.
- As you become more comfortable with the form, feel free to change your set and rep ranges to challenge yourself.
Rear Delt Cable Fly Variations
Above, we dissected the traditional variation of the cable rear delt fly. This fly version is what is usually seen and is an excellent back and shoulder exercise in its own right.
Furthermore, there are several variations that you can do to achieve different muscle activation. While the primary function of the exercise is there, these fly variations can really feel like a new movement.
1. Bent Over Rear Delt Cable Fly
If you’re looking for straightforward cable machine rear delt exercises to add to your, workout routine, the bent over cable fly is a great staple exercise to get you started.
The bent-over rear delt cable fly is a variation of the cable fly exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoids, upper back, and rhomboid muscles.
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 Rear Delt Cable Fly
- Attach D-handles to the low pulleys and select an appropriate weight.
- 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.
Tips For Proper Form
- Pull slowly so that you have total control of the weight.
- Remember to breathe out when you work hard.
2. Lying Reverse Fly (Supine Cable Reverse Fly)
The lying cable rear delt fly is the perfect exercise to hit the rear delts. 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.
It’s important to keep your arms perpendicular to your trunk so that you reduce the chances of your lats helping to complete the exercise.
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 of the right pulley should be in your left hand, and the handle of the left pulley should be in your right hand.
- The cables should be pulled tightly and crossed.
- 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.
Tips For Proper Form
- 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.
3. Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly
Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective variation of cable rear delt exercise, try the Incline bench cable rear delt fly. It 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.
- 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.
Incline Bench Cable Rear Delt fly
- Do not lift backward or forward.
- Set a bench at about 30-45 degrees inclined.
- Keep form strict to isolate the rear delts.
4. Single Arm Bent Over Cable Rear Delt Fly
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 is a great exercise to isolate the rear delt of the shoulder and work on each side individually. This helps your muscles to be more balanced and symmetrical.
This unilateral version allows you to raise your hand higher and get a longer stretch at the bottom, thereby generating more work for the posterior deltoid. It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, as part of an upper-body or shoulder-focused workout.
How To Do Single Arm Bent Over Rear Delt Cable Fly
- Attach a D-handle or a single-hand attachment to a low cable pulley.
- Adjust the height of the pulley to a position that is comfortable for your arm’s range of motion.
- Lean forward at the hips, place your right hand on your thigh.
- Hold a handle 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.
Tips For Proper Form
- Pull slowly so that you are in control of the weight at all times.
- Remember to exhale while you exert.
- Your torso should be at a roughly 45-degree angle
- Keep your neck and spine in line and don’t stretch or bend your back too much.
5. Single Arm Standing Cable Rear Delt Fly
Performing the exercise with the single arm allows for more control of the resistance. You should also find that during this exercise, your mind-muscle connection is stronger.
Doing the exercise with one arm at a time helps you find and fix any differences in strength or muscle size between your left and right sides. This helps your muscles to be more balanced and symmetrical.
It also builds muscle and strength in the triceps, and is a good upper body exercise.
How To Do Single Arm Standing Rear Delt Cable Fly
- 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.
- Exhale and extend your arm to the right, so your arm is straight.
- Inhale and slowly bring your arm back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Tips For Proper Form
- It’s best to use light to moderate weights for this exercise to minimize joint stress and to maintain good form.
- Keep your back straight and core engaged.
- Keep your upper arm horizontal. If your elbow drops, your latissimus dorsi will get involved.
Cable Rear Delt Fly Alternatives
The cable rear delt flys are a great shoulder and upper back exercise, but you don’t need to do them all the time. There are several alternatives you can use to keep your workouts productive and interesting:
Before we deep dive into the best cable rear delt fly alternatives. We must remember, a good rear delt cable fly alternative will be able to satisfy the following criteria:
- Activate the rear delt muscle groups, which is trained in the rear delt cable fly.
- Isolate the muscle groups during execution.
- Train the rear delt muscle through a longer range of motion
1. Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Dumbbell Bent Over raises is one of the best alternate of cable rear delt fly. It is an excellent exercise to focus specifically on the rear deltoid muscles.
Thus, the exercise hit specifically the rear delt head by isolating it better than any other shoulder exercise. This exercise can be performed in both a standing and a seated position. Prefer the seated version as it calls for strict movement.
2. Cable High Row
Half kneeling high cable row rope is a tremendous exercise that effectively works many muscles, including the shoulder, back, wing and trapezius muscles. As an alternate to rear delt fly, must try this exercise.
People with shoulder issues can get the benefits of rows by doing this exercise. In addition, face pulls are one of the most effective corrective exercises that help compensate for poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.
3. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row
The rear deltoid row exercise is simple and effective, that is used to target your lats and rear deltoids. This exercise is very similar to a basic one-arm dumbbell row for the lats, except with a couple of important modifications.
3. 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.
This exercise prevents muscular imbalance and builds overall shoulder strength. Try it as an alternative to a high cable rear delt fly.
Is the cable rear delt fly good?
The cable rear delt fly is perhaps the best isolation exercise for your posterior deltoid and back. You need to be doing them.
How do you hit rear delts with cables?
To hit the rear delt with a cable, start with your 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.
Use your rear delts to pull your elbows out and back as far as possible, then slowly return to the starting position.
What muscle does the rear delt fly work?
The rear delt fly works your upper back muscles and shoulder muscles, particularly the rear deltoids, on the backside of your shoulders.
How often should I train rear delts?
To gain muscle, train your muscle no more than two times per week, or give it a minimum of 48 hours rest before training it again. Train your rear delts with 10-to-20 sets per week.
To develop any major muscle group, including your rear delts, it’s generally best to train it with 10-to-20 weekly sets.
Now that you know a few variations for your cable rear delts fly, hit the gym and try each one to get the full effect. Don’t limit yourself to variations on this exercise, either. There are several alternatives you can use to keep your workouts productive and interesting:
The cable rear delt fly is the perfect exercise, as it uses a light load and requires a tremendous mind-muscle connection. Cable rear delt flyes are a must for serious lifters.
Seek new and interesting ways to perform all your staple movements so that you never get stuck waiting at the gym, never grow bored, and always keep growing.
Best Rear Delt Exercises for Mass and Strength
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.