How to Do a Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

The rear delt fly can help you sculpt your back. A dumbbell rear delt fly strengthens your upper back muscles and shoulders while working on stabilization strength in your spine, deep abdominals and hips. It requires you to maintain a neutral spine position and avoid moving your torso.

Rear delt flys can help shape your back. (Image: gilaxia/E+/GettyImages)

Doing a dumbbell rear delt fly properly requires you to maintain good posture throughout the movement. Use a lighter weight if you find it difficult to perform the exercise with proper form or use a heavier weight if you can do the exercise with little effort.

Mind Your Posture

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. Concentrate on keeping your shoulder blades pulled down and together throughout the movement. Do not let your shoulders shrug up toward your ears.

Standing Dumbbell Rear Fly

Execute a standing rear delt fly hinging forward at your hips while keeping your back flat. If this position is not attainable, consider using a cable machine to allow you to stand upright as you do a rear delt fly.

  1. Stand with your legs about hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side. Choose a weight that allows you to perform eight to 12 repetitions.
  2. Bend your torso forward at your hips and bend your legs slightly so that your arms extend below your body with your hands facing each other as you hold the dumbbells. Keep your back flat. This is the starting position.
  3. Exhale and raise your arms out to your sides with your hands facing down, squeezing your shoulder blades together during the movement. Do not round your spine or move your head forward.
  4. Inhale and lower your arms to the starting position. This completes one repetition. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

Single Arm Dumbbell Rear Fly

Strengthen one side of your back at a time with the single arm dumbbell rear delt fly. As an alternative to standing, perform this exercise lying on your chest on a weight bench.

  1. Stand with your legs about hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your left hand by your side.
  2. Bend your torso forward at your waist so that your arms extend below your body. This is the starting position.
  3. Exhale and raise the weight with your left arm, keeping your hand facing down and your right hand on your right thigh. Do not move your torso as you lift. Shift your weight toward your right foot as you lift.
  4. Lower your arm to the starting position as you shift your weight back toward the center of your body. This completes one repetition. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
  5. Switch the dumbbell to your right hand and repeat the movement to work this arm. When raising the weight with your right arm, shift your weight toward your left foot. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

Warning

Stop performing this exercise if you experience pain in any joint, especially if you lack stabilization strength and exhibit excessive curvature in your upper spine. Work on improving your posture and movement patterns before attempting this exercise.

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