A quick show of hands – how many of you begin your shoulder workout with a compound movement like behind-the-neck seated barbell presses? Probably a shitload of you reading this are now shaking your heads in the affirmative. But believe it or not, that’s the quickest way to invite a torn rotator cuff to your body and also detrimental to your symmetry within the actual deltoid muscles themselves.
Here’s a suggestion for you: give your shoulders a good stretching out and then start off with a rear (or posterior) delt exercise. What’s that, you say? Well, that’s part of the problem, but first things first.
The benefits of doing this are two-fold: muscle building and injury prevention. When you are not warmed up and jump right into a really taxing compound movement like presses, it puts a lot of stress on the rotator cuff and that is something that will wear out over time in the gym no matter how much you prepare it. So why hasten the process?
As far as the aesthetics go, doing rear delts properly require the widest range of motion than any other shoulder movement and it is better to at least do one before pre-exhaustion sets in. You will get the most out of the sets then and give your shoulders a great warm-up at the same time.
So with all of these benefits of doing rear delts, why the fuck do people overlook doing them? Your guess is as good as ours but the exercises do not exactly put your body in the most comfortable of positions – even for weight training purposes, which isn’t exactly made for comfort purposes to begin with. Besides that, it’s hard to see your rear delts, so they also are difficult to monitor as far as any progress goes.
If they make you feel like a pretzel or not, rear delt exercises need to be done. Here are some of the more effective ones and you should do at least one or two every shoulder day…one at the beginning, of course.
4. REVERSE PEC DEC MACHINE
Most gyms have a wide grip pec dec/flye machine and facing into it will magically transform it into a rear delt killer! What’s also pretty cool about these machines is the option of doing them seated or standing by leaning into the top of the back part of the seat on a 30-degree angle.
3. SEATED BENT OVER DUMBBEL LATERAL RAISES
The positioning on this exercise sucks balls and is even worse when you’re wearing a weight lifting belt. You will lose a lot of the effectiveness by having sloppy form and allowing your head to come up even a little bit.
2. STANDING ONE-ARM CABLE RAISES
Use the standard D handle here but start with the hand furthest away from the weight stack holding the handle behind your back. Raise it up until your arm is at a 90-degree angle with you body and return it back down slowly. These will burn like a motherfucker if you do them right.
1. INCLINE BENCH BENT OVER DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISES
These are similar to the standing and leaning version on the pec dec machine and really isolate the rear delts good by taking any body English out of the equation. It’s all shoulders, baby!