Bent Over Rear Delt Fly Exercise Guide – How To, Benefits, and Variations (2022)

Developing your posterior chain muscles can be uncannily hard. The fact that you cannot look at your posterior muscles directly in the mirror while training them can make it difficult for you to establish a mind-muscle connection.

Having a solid mind-muscle connection can have several benefits—it can help maximize muscle fiber recruitment, improve your visualization skills, and aid in inducing muscle-ripping pumps.

On the other hand, training without a mind-muscle connection might feel great but know this—if you cannot feel every fiber of your target muscle working during an exercise, you aren’t making the most of your workouts.

Rear delts can be hard to train and develop. They are involved in many pulling exercises and act as a stabilizer during pressing movements like the overhead press.

Although the rear delts act as supporting muscles in many lifts, they are hard to train in isolation.

However, you cannot overlook training your posterior delts. Developed rear delts are essential for building3Dshoulders.

If we are being honest—bent over rear delt fly is not an easy exercise to get right. Unlike most other isolation exercises, rear delt fly has a steep learning curve.

The Shoulder Anatomy

To better understand the importance of the bent-over rear delt fly, you need to understand the structure of your shoulder. Your shoulder consists of three parts:

Bent Over Rear Delt Fly Exercise Guide – How To, Benefits, and Variations (1)
  1. Anterior Deltoids:Commonly known as the front delts, the anterior delts arise from your collar bone and insert into your humerus (upper arm bone). The main functions of the front delts include moving your arms up, forward, and to your center. Best worked with pressing exercises.Eg:Dumbbell, barbell overhead press.
  2. Medial Deltoids:Lateral deltoids are the biggest muscle of your shoulder. It arises from the acromion and inserts into your humerus. Shoulder abduction is the medial delt’s main function. It is best trained with side lateral raises.
  3. Posterior Deltoids:Rear delts arise from the spine of your scapula (upper part of your shoulder blade) and insert into your humerus. Your posterior delt is responsible for moving the arm outward and backward and external rotation of the shoulder. Best exercises to train posterior delts include bent-over rear delt fly and face pulls.

Muscles Worked

Rear delt fly—also known as bent-over dumbbell reverse fly—primarily targets three muscle groups:

  1. Posterior Deltoids:Rear delts are a lagging muscle group for most people. The bent-over rear delt fly is one of the handful exercises that train your rear deltoids effectively.
  2. Rhomboids:These are two bilateral and superficial muscles located in your upper back—between your shoulder blades. Rhomboids are important in upper limb movement and stability of both—shoulder girdle and scapula.
  3. Trapezius:They are a pair of large triangular muscles extending over the back of the neck and shoulders. It is responsible for stabilizing and moving the scapula.

Other secondary muscles include—lateral deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor, and teres major.

Benefits and Disadvantages

Bent over rear delt fly is a staple in most shoulder training regimens. Here are the advantages and drawbacks of the exercise you should know about:

Benefits of Bent Over Rear Delt Fly

1. Rear Deltoid Isolation

Your posterior deltoids are a small muscle group that is difficult to target and requires focused work to train effectively. The isolation exercise helps zero in on the target muscle and helps in building bigger and stronger shoulders.

2. Minimal Equipment Requirement

Since the bent over rear delt fly only requires a couple of dumbbells, they can be done anywhere. So, go ahead and buy a pair of dumbbells for your home gym.

Related:Home Gym Essentials For A Complete Training Setup

3. Boosts Shoulder Mobility

Underdeveloped posterior deltoids can cause shoulder stiffness. Training the rear delts loosens up your rotator cuffs and improves your shoulder mobility.

4. Improves Posture

The WFH lifestyle has millennials hunched over their computer screens for the majority of the day. The constant head-forward position can cause the rear shoulder and back muscles to lengthen while chest muscles become tight.

As mentioned above—the reverse fly targets the posterior deltoids and major upper back muscles.According to a study, strengthening these muscles helps improve poor posture, promotes an upright stance, and improves balance.

(Video) The FASTEST Way to Bigger Rear Delts!

Introducing the exercise in your training routine can also helpreduce pain and disabilityin the target areas.

Disadvantages of Bent Over Rear Delt Fly

1. Rear Deltoids Can Be Hard To Isolate

Since rear delts are a small posterior chain muscle group, if you do not perform the bent-over rear delt with a perfect form, bigger muscles might take over.

The exercise involves a steep learning curve. To ensure you are not leaving gains on the table, you need to perform the lift with a textbook form.

How To Perform Bent Over Rear Delt Fly

Here is how to perform the bent over dumbbell reverse fly:

  1. Stand with a shoulder-wide stance while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. While maintaining a slight bend in your knees, hinge at your hips and bend forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
  3. Make sure you maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
  4. Tuck in your chin as if you are holding an egg under your chin.
  5. While holding the dumbbells with a neutral (palms facing each other) grip and maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, let your arms hang so that they are perpendicular to the floor. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders at the starting position.
  6. Raise your arms out to the sides of your body and up to your shoulder level—mimicking the motion of a reverse dumbbell chest fly.
  7. Pause and contract your shoulder blades at the top of the movement.
  8. Return to the starting position with a slow and controlled motion.
  9. Repeat for reps.

Tips

  1. Focus on driving with your elbows and raising them towards the ceiling. Lifting with your arms will take off the tension from your deltoids.
  2. Maintain a tight core throughout the exercise and avoid moving your torso up and down during the lift.
  3. Avoid using dumbbells that are too heavy for you as it will force you into using momentum. Also, do not make the rookie mistake of rounding your back while performing the bent over rear delt fly.
  4. You could add a little variation and hit your rear delts differently by holding the dumbbells with an overhand (palms facing down) grip.
  5. Your arms should be in line with your shoulders throughout the exercise. Many lifters make the mistake of bringing their arms back towards their butt as they lift the dumbbells. Doing this puts your back muscles in the driver’s seat.
  6. We cannot emphasize this enough—following a full range of motion in this exercise is key to building aesthetic rear delts. If you find yourself doing partial reps—drop your ego and weight, and try again.

Variations

Adding bent over rear delt fly variations to your training program will ensure you never hit a plateau. Here are the alternatives that you should add to your exercise arsenal:

1. Seated Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

It is arguably an easier variation of the orthodox rear delt fly since it takes away your lower body from the equation.

Here is how to perform seated dumbbell rear delt fly:

  1. Sit on a military chair or a flat bench with an upright torso while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Place your feet at a closer-than-shoulder-width distance.
  3. Bend forward as much as you can and let the dumbbells hand on your sides.
  4. Raise your arms out to the sides of your body and up to your shoulder level.
  5. Pause and contract your shoulder blades at the top.
  6. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

2. Incline Bench Rear Delt Fly

It is a great variation for beginners or people who lack hip mobility or core strength required while performing the orthodox rear delt fly.

How to perform incline bench rear delt fly:

(Video) Exercise Index - Bent Over Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise

  1. Set an incline bench at a 60-degree angle with the floor.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and place your chest against the pad.
  3. Raise your arms out to the sides of your body and up to your shoulder level.
  4. Your arms will remain in line with your shoulders throughout the lift.
  5. Pause and contract your shoulder blades at the top.
  6. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Flat Bench Rear Delt Fly Variation

The flat bench reverse fly is an advanced version of the incline bench rear delt fly. You will perform this exercise while lying face down on a flat bench. This variation will put a greater emphasis on your posterior delts.

3. Pec Deck Machine Rear Delt Fly

The pec deck machine puts constant tension on your rear delts throughout the exercise. Using a pronated (palms facing down) grip is the best method of isolating your posterior deltoid as your shoulders are internally rotated in the position.

How to perform pec deck machine rear delt fly:

  1. Sit with your chest against the pec deck machine and grab the handles with an overhand grip at shoulder level.
  2. Pull the handles back in an arc as far as possible, keeping your elbows high and arms parallel to the floor.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

4. Cable Rear Delt Fly

It is another isolation variation that places constant tension on your rear delts throughout the exercise.

How to perform cable rear delt fly:

(Video) Exercises You Don't Do That You Should - Delt Variation
  1. Attach D-handle bars to each side of the cable pulley adjusted at the highest setting.
  2. Grab the right handle with your left hand and the left handle with your right hand.
  3. Take a step back and initiate the movement by moving your arms back and outward while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  4. Pause and squeeze your shoulder blades at the contraction point.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Pro tip:You could also perform this exercise using a resistance band. Wrap the band around an elevated surface and follow the steps mentioned above.

5. Side-Lying Rear Delt Fly

This is an advanced exercise that should only be performed by advanced lifters. It is also the only unilateral exercise on the list.

Here is how to perform side-lying rear delt fly:

  1. Lie on the floor on your left side and grab a dumbbell with your right hand using a neutral (palm facing the floor) grip.
  2. Place one leg over the other and your left hand under your head for support.
  3. While maintaining a slight bend in your elbow, extend your right arm so that it is perpendicular to your torso.
  4. Without moving your torso, raise your right arm until it is almost perpendicular to the floor.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

6. Lying Cable Rear Delt Fly

If you are having trouble establishing a mind-muscle connection with your rear delts, you should give the lying reverse fly a try.

Here is how to perform lying cable rear delt fly:

  1. Position a flat bench between two high pulleys.
  2. Lie with your back against the bench while holding the right pulley handle in your left hand and the left pulley handle in your right hand.
  3. Keeping your arms perpendicular to your torso and your elbows slightly bent, exhale as you pull your arms open and out to the sides.
  4. Pause and contract your shoulder blades at the bottom.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

7. Face Pull

Since face pull is a pulling movement, you might experience a higher degree of the upper back and lateral deltoid recruitment as compared to fly movements mentioned above.

How to perform face pull:

(Video) shoulder variations |Rear Delt Flyes (science explained)#fitnesseducation #shoulderexercises
  1. Add a rope attachment to a pulley set at the highest setting.
  2. Grab each end of the rope attachment using a neutral (palms facing each other) grip.
  3. Lean back slightly and pull the rope toward your face until they are at the sides of your ears.
  4. Pause and contract your shoulder blades at the top.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

8. Incline Bench Rear Delt Row

It is a great exercise for beginners, but you might experience a greater lat engagement while performing the lift.

How to perform incline bench rear delt row:

  1. Adjust an incline bench at a 60-degree angle.
  2. Place your chest against the pad while holding a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand (palms facing down) grip.
  3. Pull the dumbbells up until your elbows are just above your shoulder level.
  4. Pause and contract your shoulder blades at the top.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Bent Over Rear Delt Fly Workout

To ensure overall shoulder development, your workouts should have a balance of anterior, medial, and posterior deltoid exercises. Here is a shoulder workout to help you achieve a 3D look:

  1. Barbell Military Press:3 sets of 10 reps, 60-sec rest
  2. Arnold Press:3 sets of 10 reps, 60-sec rest
  3. Cable Side Lateral Raise:3 sets of 10 reps (each side), 60-sec rest
  4. Bent Over Rear Delt Fly:3 sets of 10 reps, 60-sec rest
  5. Side-Lying Rear Delt Fly:3 sets of 10 reps, 60-sec rest
  6. Barbell Shrug:3 sets of 10 reps, 60-sec rest

Next Read:Best Rear Delt Exercises For Mass

Wrapping Up

Rear delts are one of the most stubborn muscle groups. If your rear deltoids are lagging, you need to stop treating them like accessory muscles.

Now that you know how to make the most of bent over rear delt fly—make it a part of your training regimen and take your posterior delt gains to the next level.

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Categories: Exercise Guides Shoulders

(Video) Bent Over Rear Delt Flies

FAQs

How do you do a bent over delt fly? ›

Dumbbell Bent Over Rear Delt Flye - YouTube

What are rear delt flies good for? ›

Rear delt flys are useful isolation exercises that can prepare you for more complex compound exercises like deadlifts, bench presses, and inverted rows. With proper form, this rear delt exercise can also activate your triceps, rhomboids, infraspinatus muscle, and other scapular muscles around your shoulder blades.

How do you use a rear delt to fly? ›

How-To Use the "Rear Delt / Pec Fly" Machine - YouTube

How do you do a bent over rear delt row? ›

Barbell Rear Delt Row - Shoulder Exercise - Bodybuilding.com

What does bent over fly work? ›

The reverse fly, also known as the rear delt raise or the bent-over dumbbell reverse fly, is a weight-training exercise that targets your upper-back muscles and shoulder muscles—particularly the posterior deltoids, or rear deltoids, on the backsides of your shoulders.

Are bent over flies good? ›

The bent over dumbbell reverse fly, also known as the bent over rear delt fly, is a great exercise to assist you in building a complete set of shoulders. Many lifters utilize the bent over dumbbell reverse fly to target the rear delts, an often lagging muscle for many lifters alike.

What muscles does a rear delt fly work? ›

When done correctly, the dumbbell rear delt fly not only targets the posterior deltoid muscle, but also the middle and lower trap, rhomboids, infraspinatus and teres minor. Using weights that are too heavy, or not hinging forward far enough at the hips can cause other muscles, such as the upper trap, to kick in.

What muscles does back fly work? ›

During a reverse fly, you work the rhomboid muscles in your upper back and shoulder region. Strong upper back muscles help balance your shoulder strength and help protect your shoulder from injury. Nicole L. Campbell: To do a reverse fly with dumbbells, sit with your knees bent and hold a dumbbell in each hand.

How do you activate rear delts? ›

REAL Science Based Rear Delt Exercise (ALL NEW GAINS!)

Are rear delt Flyes necessary? ›

The Rear Delts function alongside the Scapula Retractors, Rhomboids and Traps to pull your shoulders back. This is important as it reduces the shoulders hunching forward. Excessive upper body hunch leads to excessive shoulder and back stress and increases the risk of injury.

What muscles do bent over rows work? ›

The bent over row primarily works the latissimus dorsi (the large wing-like muscles in your back), the middle and lower trapezius, the rhomboids, and the posterior deltoids. These are the prime movers that are responsible for the movement in the exercise.

Do bent over rows work delts? ›

What muscle does the bent over row work? Barbell bent-over rows also hammer your rear delts, traps, rhomboids, and to a lesser extent, your forearms and biceps.

Are rear delt Flyes necessary? ›

The Rear Delts function alongside the Scapula Retractors, Rhomboids and Traps to pull your shoulders back. This is important as it reduces the shoulders hunching forward. Excessive upper body hunch leads to excessive shoulder and back stress and increases the risk of injury.

Are rear delt raises effective? ›

The rear lateral raise isolates your rear deltoid. Targeting this muscle helps to strengthen, tone, and stabilize your shoulders and upper body. Strong deltoids help with pressing, pulling, and overhead movements. This makes it easier to complete your athletic and daily activities while reducing your risk of injury.

Do rear delt Flyes work lateral delts? ›

The notable difference in muscle targets is the deltoid. The reverse fly engages the posterior portion of the shoulder muscles, while the lateral raise engages the anterior portion. Beyond that, both exercises work the lateral deltoids along with the same network of secondary muscles.

How much weight should a rear delt fly? ›

What is a good Machine Reverse Fly? Male beginners should aim to lift 50 lb (1RM) which is still impressive compared to the general population.

Videos

1. Isolate Your Rear Delts - Bent Over Fly Dumbbell Exercise
(Total Fitness Bodybuilding)
2. How To Properly Use The Rear Delt Fly Machine (+ BONUS TIP)
(Mind Pump TV)
3. How To Build Boulder Rear Delts: Optimal Training Explained
(Jeff Nippard)
4. Brutal bent over row variation for rear delts
(Mike T Nelson)
5. 1 Exercise For Capped Shoulders! | Dumbbell Rear Fly 2.0
(ScottHermanFitness)
6. How to Build Your Rear Delts (NOT REVERSE FLYS!)
(ATHLEAN-X™)

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