Rear delt flys are a simple exercise that should be a staple in any well-rounded exercise routine. As the name suggests, they target the rear deltoid muscles in the back of the shoulder effectively, but they also incorporate muscles in the upper back, muscles of the rotator cuff, the triceps, and the forearms. This makes it an extremely beneficial exercise for building practical strength and reaping the health benefits of having healthy shoulders. Below we’ll dive into the specific health benefits you’ll gain from occasionally adding rear delt flys into your workout routines.
What Are Rear Delt Flys?
Before discussing the benefits, it’s essential first to understand what a rear delt fly is. This simple exercise has many variations, but the premise of the exercise is to add a weighted load to a horizontal shoulder abduction movement. If you’re familiar with chest flys, you can think of rear delt flies as essentially the exact same moment but in reverse.
Rear Delt Fly Variations
- Bent Over Standing Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly
- Bent Over Standing Cable Rear Delt Flys
- Upright Standing Cable Rear Delt Flys
- Bent Over Standing Resistance Band Rear Delt Flys
- Bench-Assisted Dumbbell Rear Delt Flys
- Bench Assisted Cable Rear Delt Flys
- Bench Assisted Resistance Band Rear Delt Flys
- Single Arm Version of Any Above Variation
All of these rear delt fly variations are completed by keeping the arms stiff and drawing the wrists back from a forward position into alignment with the arms extended through the shoulders. This is what’s known as an isolation exercise or a single joint movement since there should be no changes in any joint position aside from the shoulder.
This exercise is versatile and can be done with minimal equipment. If gym equipment is inaccessible everyday objects such as cans or water bottles can serve as an effective replacement to dumbbells to complete, the standing bent-over dumbbell rear delt fly variation. Most individuals won’t require a significant amount of weight to adequately strengthen the muscles in this movement, but serious athletes and more advanced fitness practitioners may do best with access to gym equipment that allows them to gradually increase their load.
Health Benefits of Rear Delt Flys
The health benefits of rear delt flies are robust. They arise with steady, consistent practice using an appropriate amount of weight and good form. It’s important to note that these benefits arise from including rear delt flys in an otherwise well balanced fitness regime. The muscles of the shoulders, arms, and back are complex, and while rear delt flys cover a number of the essential ones, they don’t cover them all.
The first benefit you can expect to see from doing rear delt flys is impressive improvements in posture. With the sedentary habits of modern life that usually involve hunching over a computer or looking down at a phone, many people struggle with forward-rounded shoulders and upper back. This can cause back pain, neck pain, headaches, and more.
Rear delt flies will directly help fight against the rounded forward posture tendency by strengthening the muscles involved with keeping the shoulders pulled back. The bent-over standing variations of the exercise can also help to strengthen the core muscles, which further supports a healthy spine with good posture.
Greater Ease with Everyday Activities
The next benefit of rear delt flys may be the most noticeable. Rear delt flys strengthen many of the muscles regularly used in everyday life, which will make simple tasks much easier. For example, picking items up from shoulder or above shoulder height requires a significant amount of strength in the rear deltoids and upper back muscles. A common scenario where this would come in handy is lifting airport carry-on luggage out of the overhead bins.
Another helpful movement rear delt flys can help with is the action of pulling, which is used in many situations as simple as opening a heavy door. There are countless times when having stronger shoulders and a strong upper back makes everyday life a little bit easier.
Perhaps the most important benefit of rear delt flys is the overall stability they provide to the shoulder joint. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the entire body, and unfortunately, this also makes it particularly susceptible to injury. Shoulder issues can arise from poor posture, overuse, athletic injuries, and more.
The best prevention is to have strong and mobile shoulders with enough muscle to protect against ligament or tendon strain and stress. The rotator cuff muscles are one of the most common muscles to be injured in the body since they are small and unable to take a large amount of load. Rear delt flys effectively strengthen several muscles in the shoulder cuff, which can make injury and overuse much less likely.
Better Athletic Performance
The next notable benefit is improved athletic performance, Many sports involve the muscles used in rear delt flys. For example, movements such as swinging a racquet, stick, or club backward to wind up for a powerful hit involve the rear deltoid muscles.
The exercise also helps with retracting the shoulder blades, which is an important motion used in rowing or pulling. All of this means that racquet sport players, hockey players, golfers, rowers, and more could all stand to benefit from regularly practicing this exercise.
A final benefit that might be underestimated by many is the effect rear delt flys can have on your confidence. Rear delt flys can help to add width across the upper back, which is a desirable aesthetic trait for most men and many women as well. It helps the waist look more defined and the upper body looks powerful.
This can give a big confidence boost alone, but the impact rear delt flys have on posture is also important to note. There are studies that show physical posture plays a role in the emotions of individuals. Those who stand up straight and tall have more confidence and a higher sense of competency. Rear delt flys can contribute to this effect by encouraging proper shoulder placement.
Overall, it’s very clear that rear delt flys are a versatile exercise that provides many benefits beyond the gym doors.