How To Perform A Cable Rear Delt Fly And Why You Should Do It
The rear delts can sometimes end up as the forgotten step-child of shoulder muscles. With gym-goers focusing heavily on pressing movements and adding in raises for isolation, the anterior and lateral heads of the deltoids get the lion’s share of attention.
Sure, your posterior delts will get worked during some of your pulling movements but they rarely get as much focus as they need. As you will discover in this article, training your rear delts is something that you need to take seriously.
To train these muscles effectively, isolating them with certain exercises is a good idea. An excellent isolation exercise for the back part of your shoulders, where your posterior delts are located, is the cable rear delt fly.
I will provide a step-by-step guide to performing the exercise correctly later. First, you need to know a little bit more about your posterior deltoid muscles and why training them directly will benefit you.
Reasons To Train Your Rear Delts
In my opinion, every single exercise that you include in your training program must serve a specific purpose that aligns with your goals. If you do not know why you are training a muscle or performing an exercise, it may not be a good fit in your routine.
With that being said, here are some of the best reasons to train your rear delts and include exercises like the cable rear delt fly in your workouts.
1. Healthy Shoulders
Your shoulder joint is a complicated one that involves the use of a large number of muscles. The main muscles that keep your shoulder joint in place and provide movement are your deltoids.
Your deltoids have three separate heads: Anterior, lateral and posterior. In order for your shoulder joint to maintain proper function, each of these muscles needs to be strong.
Not only that, they need to be equally strong. If one of your deltoid heads becomes overpowering, it can pull on your shoulder joint and create uneven force, which can lead to injury.
The same thing happens if one of your deltoid muscles is much weaker than the others. Quite often, as a result of high amounts of pressing exercises, it is the rear head of the deltoid that becomes weak among gym-trained individuals.
Adding in some targeted posterior deltoid work, like a cable rear delt fly, can help to keep your shoulder muscles balanced and lower injury risk at the joint.
2. Improved Posture
Unfortunately, poor posture is extremely common in our society nowadays. Excessive seated positions, hunching over desks and driving are the main causes of what is known as a kyphotic posture or kyphosis.
Kyphosis is the forward rounding of the shoulders and upper back, which gives a hunch-back type appearance. Usually, kyphosis can be attributed to tight muscles on the front of the body, caused by the hunched sitting positions, and relatively weak ones on the back of the body.
In order to improve this kind of posture, two things need to happen: the tight muscles need to be stretched and the weak ones need to be strengthened.
Your rear delts are part of the group of muscles that need to be made stronger to enable your shoulders to be brought back into a neutral position.As an added bonus, if you use a cable rear delt fly, you will also be stretching some of the anterior muscles at the same time you are strengthening your rear delts.
3. More Aesthetic Physique
For those with a goal of a powerful and eye-catching physique, the shoulders are a key point of focus. Big shoulders are a visual representation of a strength.
More specifically, the three-dimensional look to the shoulders is what bodybuilders, models and physique athletes strive to achieve. It should go without saying that you are highly unlikely to attain “3D delts” if you ignore any one of the deltoid heads.
For a bodybuilder, in particular, building your rear delts can provide you with a big advantage since they are likely to be a weak point for much of your competition. Exposing the weak muscles of your competitor’s by showing strength in those muscles yourself can be a big advantage on stage.
4. Stronger Lifts
Obviously, stronger shoulders will lead to a stronger overhead press and stronger rear delts will help with rowing movements. Additionally, your shoulder muscles provide a base of stability for many other lifts that you will be performing in the gym.
Well-developed rear delts will aid in balance and stability for your bench press and they will help you to keep a strong bar position and posture during a squat. Your rear delts will also provide support for your upper back/shoulder muscles during deadlifts and chin ups.
Those are some serious mass and strength-building exercises there. By working on your posterior delts and in turn improving those lifts, all areas of your training will benefit.
How To Perform A Cable Rear Delt Fly
I am a big fan of cable work for the shoulder muscles; the constant tension provided by the cables forces you to maintain a solid and stable position, which is exactly what the shoulder must do at all times.
Here are the steps to using the cable machine to isolate your posterior deltoids with the cable rear delt fly exercise:
- Set the pulleys of a cable crossover machine to the high setting and attach the handle attachments to each side.
- Stand in the centre of the machine, grab the left handle with your right hand and the right handle with your left. Your arms should start in a crossed position.
- Take a couple of steps backwards so there is some tension on the cables.
- With your arms extended in front of you, set your shoulders back and down with your chest out to establish a good starting posture.
- Without moving your elbows, pull your arms backwards until your shoulder blades are pinched together.
- Return to the start position in a controlled fashion and repeat for the following reps.
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For this exercise, it is important to maintain good posture and to feel the muscles working. Therefore, using heavy weights isn’t necessary; you should pick a weight that is challenging for you but allows you to maintain a good technique and full range of motion.
One common concern is whether or not this exercise should be included as part of your shoulder or back workout. My response to that is to not sweat over it too much since it could really go on either day. The main thing is that your performance and recovery abilities aren’t affected by the day you choose to perform the exercise.
To be honest with you, I feel that some type of direct rear delt work should be a part of your training program. They may be a relatively small muscle but they can have a big impact on a number of areas.
Of course, my recommendation is to perform a cable exercise and the cable rear delt fly will certainly get the job done. If your gym has an adjustable cable crossover, feel free to experiment a little bit with the height of the pulleys to see where it feels the best for you.
As always, make sure you give me your feedback on both this guide and the exercise itself in the comments section below. Your thoughts are more than welcome and greatly appreciated!