T Nation

Favorite Exercise for Upper Back/Rear Delts?

Overall, I’ve been able to get my back to very good level of development but my lats and upper traps overshadow my rear delts and rhomboids/middle traps. I do a ton of heavy deadlifts and I’m pretty sure that’s the main culprit in this imbalance. I’ve been trying to bring my upper back (mainly my rear delts) up to par with the rest of my back, but the problem is during most rowing movements my lats tend to take over. I have found a high row machine in my gym that does a pretty good job of targeting my rear delts, but I figured some people here might have some good suggestions. I am hitting them with isolation exercises such as reverse flys, etc. but I also want to find a good heavy compound movement that targets them.

I’ve been focusing on trying to keep my elbows flared and rowing to my upper chest when doing free weight rows (both db and barbell) but it’s hard to maintain this form as it’s only natural for the stronger muscles to take over. Hopefully someone out there has a good idea I haven’t tried yet, otherwise I’ll just keep plugging away and hope they start catching up.

Hmnnn I did tons of BB rows for years, and even though I started doing direct rear delt work last year before my show, I always had pretty good development there just from all the rowing. Maybe if you tried utilizing 2 dumbells at once, and keeping the 'bells close to your body the lats wouldn’t assist so much (think like you’re doing a ‘shrugging’ motion except bent forward).

S

Deadlifts.

[quote]WestCoast7 wrote:
Deadlifts.[/quote]

Did you read what I wrote?

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
Hmnnn I did tons of BB rows for years, and even though I started doing direct rear delt work last year before my show, I always had pretty good development there just from all the rowing. Maybe if you tried utilizing 2 dumbells at once, and keeping the 'bells close to your body the lats wouldn’t assist so much (think like you’re doing a ‘shrugging’ motion except bent forward).

S
[/quote]

Thanks, I’ll have to try the DB thing. I’ve heard of doing a sort of horizontal shrug before, but for some reason never tried it

[quote]riddle22 wrote:
WestCoast7 wrote:
Deadlifts.

Did you read what I wrote?[/quote]

Nope, I answered the question you asked in the thread title.

As much as people hate machines, I like doing reverse fly’s on a fly machine, you can really focus on pinching your back and can adjust the weight easily. Also, try face pulls, there a great exercise that is often neglected.

Look for the recent delt video over at MD of evan centopani. I really like the chest-supported rear DB flies he does in that. Just started those a couple weeks ago and they are amazing for my rear delts.

I also 2nd what Stu said. I do lots of BB rowing and heavy rowing of all kinds really and my rear delts have never been a lacking body part weather I train them directly or not.

[quote]WestCoast7 wrote:
riddle22 wrote:
WestCoast7 wrote:
Deadlifts.

Did you read what I wrote?

Nope, I answered the question you asked in the thread title.

As much as people hate machines, I like doing reverse fly’s on a fly machine, you can really focus on pinching your back and can adjust the weight easily. Also, try face pulls, there a great exercise that is often neglected.[/quote]

If you read his post you’d see that he already does lots of heavy deadlifting and he believes its the main culprit for his imbalanced back.

[quote]josh86 wrote:
WestCoast7 wrote:
riddle22 wrote:
WestCoast7 wrote:
Deadlifts.

Did you read what I wrote?

Nope, I answered the question you asked in the thread title.

As much as people hate machines, I like doing reverse fly’s on a fly machine, you can really focus on pinching your back and can adjust the weight easily. Also, try face pulls, there a great exercise that is often neglected.

If you read his post you’d see that he already does lots of heavy deadlifting and he believes its the main culprit for his imbalanced back. [/quote]

Yes and that is why I wrote another response, which you quoted, so I’m confused as to why you wrote anything further.

I know I recommended iso exercises, but I think these could be helpful in correcting imbalances. If compound exercises are what threw you off, incorporating some iso exercises to bring up the lagging muscles/sections could be a big help. Also, with iso exercises you can pay a lot more attention to directing your effort to specific spots. Try it out.

Well seeing how the lats are primarily involved with vertical pulling movements, I would stick to a program with more emphasis on horizontal pulling…in other words lots and lots of rows.

The lats help a little with any rowing movement, but are weak in relation to the rear delts and rhomboids in this movement. So if you use 4 or 5 compound movements on your back day, using 3 of them for rowing would be a good start. Then adding in deads and some variation of lat pulldowns or pullups as the other exercises.

Another route is to work on pre/ post fatigue. Depending on how you see this sort of training you can either
a) choose a rear delt exercise like flyes and fatigue them first, or
b) choose a lat focused iso exercise such as pullovers

and then work on a big rowing movement like BB bentover rows or the DB rows that Stu suggested

bams

The elbows out rows (facepulls, machine, DB, or BB) are going to hit the rear delts a lot. If bringing them up is really a priority, then focus on your form and making sure that you feel your rear delts working. Once you start to feel the workload shift to your lats/upper traps, then terminate the exercise because your target muscles are fatigued.

As far as reverse flyes go, lots of people tend to do them with too much ROM (or too much weight) for really targeting the rear delts. If you are retracting your shoulder blades at the top of the movement then you are pretty much using your traps to do the movement and not your shoulders. Some people don’t have issues with this and their rear delts grow just fine, others need more attention to detail.

Try only moving at your shoulder joints while doing reverse flyes/reverse pec deck. It’ll be a much more strict movement and will probably force you to drop the weight to begin with, but you’ll definitely feel them in your rear delts.

As far as the middle/lower traps, close grip rowing variations tend to hit those well (as they generally allow for more scapular retraction).

For an isolation movement, try chest horizontal shrugs. Here’s a video example (he’s using a T-bar machine, but you can also use DB’s or even a low pulley):

[quote]bams_101 wrote:
Well seeing how the lats are primarily involved with vertical pulling movements, I would stick to a program with more emphasis on horizontal pulling…in other words lots and lots of rows.

[/quote]

That advice is absolutly mental!!!

You can’t just say do more rows!!

One advice I can give is use a VERY wide grip on the pulldown machine…maybe just two fingers on the bar…THAT wide.

Then do a normal pulldown as if trying to target the lats…YOU WONT BE…but you may…if you’re like me…feel it in the rear delts and forearms!

Try it.

ALSO SENTOGUY…a way I’ve found…thanks to a little tip from CT…to focus on shoulder movement above scapular retraction is to focus on lifting the DB’s OUTWARDS and not UP.

Also…what I’m doing at the moment is doing a very wide row to the neck for rear delts while focusing on keeping the elbows up.

[quote]Clown Face wrote:
bams_101 wrote:
Well seeing how the lats are primarily involved with vertical pulling movements, I would stick to a program with more emphasis on horizontal pulling…in other words lots and lots of rows.

That advice is absolutly mental!!!

You can’t just say do more rows!! [/quote]

Actually I can man, especially seeing that according to him his LATS and upper traps are overpowering the rest of his back. So that really doesn’t make sense to be giving him too many lat focused exercises. 1 to maintain and Deadlifts!

If you’re rowing with your arms out to the side you’ll hit the rear delt, rhomboids and middle/lower fibres of the traps moreso than the lats as they are in a mechanically weaker position for transverse extension!! And since you’ll also be pulling you shoulder blades back (I hope) thats where the traps and rhomboids come in!

In a pullup/pulldown (articulation wise) you’re shoulders are going through adduction and scapulae through downward rotation, in which the rear delt is not a prime mover. So I can’t see the point of advocating this as an exercise in which to target the rear delt; which is the OP’s question.

[quote]One advice I can give is use a VERY wide grip on the pulldown machine…maybe just two fingers on the bar…THAT wide.

Then do a normal pulldown as if trying to target the lats…YOU WONT BE…but you may…if you’re like me…feel it in the rear delts and forearms!

Try it.[/quote]

Ok, supersetting pulldowns…with pulldowns. Great idea there mate.

[quote]Also…what I’m doing at the moment is doing a very wide row to the neck for rear delts while focusing on keeping the elbows up.
[/quote]

This is better advice IMO =)

I hope you learned something

The answer is face pulls. Use either a rope or separate handles. Keep the hands and elbows at at forehead level