Traps Taking Over Delt Work

Been really struggling with delt isolation exercises. It seems my traps and upper back take over stuff like lateral raises and rear delt flies.

I’ve tried leading with elbows, focusing on pushing the weight out away, not going past parallel…etc.
traps and back seem to take over.

Does anybody have any recommendations for more cues/techniques? Or just different exercises to specifically hit the middle and rear delts?

Can you do the movement without weights?

As in feel the muscles working/getting a pump?

As in move your hands up by contracting your middle delts; not your traps.

Just tried this. Still seem to be contracting traps.

That’s one thing I’ve really had to work hard for is mind muscle connections. I have it on very few lifts and generally rely on just obliterating everything in that general area to hit the muscle. Which is not good I know.

Any cues or tips to get the middle or rear delts to fire/flex with no weight involved?

No idea why this post got deleted. Phone maybe.

I don’t like cues. Practice has always been my best bet. Just gotta keep beating the head in the wall.

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Sounds good. Thank you for taking the time to help!

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Have someone push lightly on/touch the muscle you’re trying to fire/flex.

Or try looking at the muscle in the mirror while you’re trying to fire/flex it.

You might be one of those tactile/visual “responders”.


I recently saw a video where I pro iffb guy was doing that. Great idea. I’ll try that out!

AthleanX just posted a video the other day called can’t get bigger wider delts? Just do this. I’m sure you can find it YouTube


Thank you! I will go check it out now.

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@ChickenLittle so that video is freaking amazing. I just climbed out of bed and went downstairs and did his activation technique and worked through it slow keeping my free hand on my middle delt to make sure it was engaged and sure enough it worked!!!

Needless to say I’m fixing to do another shoulder workout!!! Thanks for sending me the right direction!

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I’ll have to check out that video too. After reading through this I just tried flexing my delt, and I can, but I have to flex my tricep/chest as well. Can’t tell if that’s required or not yet.


Notice when he’s doing the exercise at the end, on his first rep he touches his delt to make sure that it’s being engaged, then he touches his trap to make sure that it’s not.

Yea I did the same thing. I noticed when I would do them normally I ended up almost squeezing my shoulder back into the socket if that makes sense. I stepped on a band and put it on my should to help keep the should somewhat out of the socket (if that makes sense) and that helped too. I THINK I’ve got it whooped thanks to this video. Now to get the rear delts engaging :joy: