How to Do the Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly – Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

man doing dumbbell rear delt fly at gym

The dumbbell rear delt fly is a resistance exercise that targets the rear shoulders particularly the posterior deltoids, or rear deltoids, on the backside of your shoulders and upper-back muscles. It can be done in the gym or at home because the only equipment required is a pair of dumbbells. Incorporate the reverse fly, also known as rear delt fly, bent-over dumbbell reverse fly, or dumbbell rear delt fly, into your upper-body strength-training regimen.

Rear delt flys are an isolation exercise that can help you prepare for more difficult compound movements like inverted rows, bench presses, and deadlifts.

This rear delt exercise can also engage your triceps, rhomboids, infraspinatus, and other scapular muscles surrounding your shoulder blades if done correctly.

How to Do Rear Delt Fly With Dumbbells

  • Hold dumbbells at your sides and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back behind you and bring your chest forward with a flat back. Maintain a firm core, straight back, and slight knee bend while hanging the weights straight down (palms facing each other).
  • Begin by lifting both arms out to your sides. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows. Continue upward and lift the weights out to your sides until they’re in line with your shoulders, your elbows are even with your back and you can squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • As you inhale, return the weight to the starting position. To maintain a neutral spine during the exercise, avoid hunching your shoulders and keep your chin tucked.
  • Perform three sets of 8–12 reps.

Muscles Worked By The Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly 

image showing three heads of deltoid muscle emphasized in dumbbell rear delt fly
Credit: corewalking.com

Primary Muscle Groups:

The dumbbell rear delt fly targets your rear delts in particular. The anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids are the three major fibers of the deltoid muscle. During this exercise, the posterior deltoids are put under the maximum stress.

Secondary Muscle Groups:

The dumbbell rear delt fly strengthens the trapezius muscles as well. This motion also engages upper back muscles including the rhomboids and erector spinae. During the dumbbell reverse fly, your core muscles also work to keep your body stable.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly Benefits

Stronger Shoulders And Enhanced Endurance

The dumbbell rear delt fly develops your posterior deltoids, which improves your shoulder muscles. The dumbbell rear delt fly is an auxiliary exercise that can help you perform better in compound exercises like the overhead press, barbell bench press, and deadlift.

The rear delt raise improves your endurance and strength. This strength move, unlike some other isolation exercises (moves that target only one muscle), engages multiple upper-body muscles at the same time. You also engage your quads and core when you do it in a bent-over position.

Better Posture

Long periods of sitting on a chair, as well as muscle weakness, can have a negative impact on your posture. Thankfully, one of the best workouts for improving it is the dumbbell rear delt fly! If you have a tendency to slouch over and round your shoulders, the dumbbell rear delt fly might help you strengthen your upper back.

Furthermore, the increased core muscle engagement from this exercise will aid in maintaining a straight back and active core for good posture. Incorporating the reverse fly into your strength training regimen has been shown to help reduce pain and increase mobility in these areas. For example, employing three short exercise sessions each week, a large group of office workers in one study saw positive outcomes.

Better Aesthetics

If you’re working out to improve your physical appearance, your shoulders should be a top priority. Many bodybuilders and lifters overwork their chest and arms, resulting in disproportionately tiny shoulders.

Not only is it necessary to build muscle symmetrically for aesthetic reasons, but it is also safer to strive for a balanced body.

Common Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly Mistakes

Curving Your Back

When doing the reverse fly, avoid curving your back since it puts too much stress on your lumbar spine (low back). By paying attention to your body position, you can simply correct this error. To efficiently execute the action, keep your core tight (imagine your navel sucked to your spine), chin tucked, and back straight.

Swinging The Weight – Using Momentum

When performing the reverse fly, keep your movements slow and controlled. To raise the arms out to the side, swinging the weight employs momentum rather than muscle. Muscle strengthening is a slow and steady process, not a sprint to the finish line.
You don’t want to feel your knees lowering and your back lifting with each rep throughout this exercise. Instead, concentrate on keeping your back completely still while bracing your core.

Lifting Too Heavy

We can’t stress this enough: don’t begin this exercise with a heavy weight. The aim is to maintain control.

If you can’t go through the whole range of motion during the reverse fly, you’re trying to lift too much weight. Your shoulders, back, and neck may also be strained. You will be able to complete the exercise more effectively and with good form if you reduce the weight.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly Variations And Alternatives

Single Arm Rear Delt Fly

The rear delt fly can also be done unilaterally. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand and train one shoulder at a time instead of two.

The single arm rear delt fly is an excellent unilateral rear delt exercise for correcting muscular imbalances in the shoulders!

Reverse Pec Deck

The pec deck machine is mostly used for chest exercises, although it also serves as a rear delt machine. It can help you isolate your rear shoulders better when you use it for reps.

Adjust the handles so that they’re both directly in front of you while you sit on the machine with your chest against the back pad.
This gives you access to the peg handles. You simply repeat the same motion as you would with dumbbells once you’ve set up.

Bent Over Cable Rear Delt Fly

The rear delt fly can also be done with cables. Set the pulleys low, hinge at the waist to keep your back parallel to the ground, and retract your rear delts to lift the weight.

At the top of each rep, you should feel a comparable pinch in your shoulder blades. Repeat for reps!

Upright Reverse Fly With Resistance Band

You can do the reverse fly with a resistance band while standing or sitting upright. This is an excellent alternative for people who have low back pain and find bending over painful. Place the middle of the band around a stationary object and draw the ends toward you to complete the task.

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