Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

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By Alex
Last updated on

Exercise Name

Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing

Also Called

Meadows Rear Delt Swing, Partial Rear Delt Fly

Primary Muscles

Secondary Muscles







Required Equipment

Dumbbell, Adjustable Bench or T-Bar Row Machine with Chest Pad)

Optional Equipment

Lifting Straps (if using heavy dumbbells)



Rep Range




Standing Rear Delt Swing, Knees on Bench Rear Delt Swing, Single Arm Rear Delt Swing


Dumbbell Rear Deltoid Raise, Snatch Grip Rack Pulls, Snatch Grip Rows

Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing Instructions with Pictures

1. Starting Position

  • Find an adjustable bench and adjust the backrest to an incline angle of approximately 20-30 degrees. Most t-bar row machines with a chest pad also work well since they're typically designed at a similar angle.
  • Select the appropriate size dumbbells and have them prepared on the floor, ready to picked up once you get on the bench.
  • Straddle the bench and place your chest on the backrest in a comfortable position. Position can vary from higher on the bench backrest to lower:
    • Some people prefer going lower on the bench, so that their face is in front of the top of the bench.
    • Others find better results going higher on the bench, with the top of the bench being approximately level with or slightly below the nipple line.
  • Once you're on the bench, you can reach down and grab the dumbbells from the floor. If you had to get out of position to grab the dumbbells, then simply adjust your torso back into to proper position on the bench.
Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing - Setup - Pick Up Dumbbells

Source for this & other images on page: Josh Bryant

  • Either use a wide stance with feet on the ground or bring knees together on the seated area of the bench.
  • Holding the dumbbells, lean slightly forward so that the back slightly rounds over the top of the bench.
  • Keep the core braced and chest in contact with the bench.
  • Maintain a neutral head position or posture, looking approximately 6-12 inches ahead of you
  • The arms should be extended straight down, with the elbows slightly bent.
Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing - Eccentric - Front

2. Concentric Movement

  • Begin the movement by contracting the rear delts, beginning to raise the weights outward as the head and neck lift 
  • Lift the weights outward to the sides, with a slight bend at the elbows, making sure to stay within a partial range of motion to focus on the delts, do not go so high as to include the scapular muscles
  • Slightly raise the head and chest while you lift the weight, maintaining the chest contact with the bench
Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing - Concentric - Front

3. Midpoint

  • Briefly pause at the top of the repetition
  • The arms should not be perpendicular to the body but slightly lower, slightly bent at the elbows
  • Chest should maintain contact with the bench, head is up
Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing - Concentric - Side

4. Eccentric Movement

  • Return to the starting position by lowering the arms, head and neck and rounding the back again
  • The weight should be controlled on the way down, not in free-fall, but not overly slow or delayed
  • Focus on squeezing inward with the pecs as the weight lowers
Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing - Setup - Starting Position
Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing - Eccentric - Side

5. Repeat

  • Immediately begin the next rep with minimal pause or rest between reps
  • Maintain tempo and repeat for 25 or more reps

Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing Errors to Avoid



Not Engaging the Delts

Focus on lifting the weight by contracting the upper back as you lift the head and neck, instead of squeezing the shoulder blades

‚ÄčNot Stretching the Delts

Remember to slightly round the upper back and squeeze the pecs at the starting point of the exercise to fully stretch the delts and open up the range of motion

Disregarding Head and Neck position

To maximize the upper back and rear delt contraction, focus on lifting the head and neck as you raise the arms to the side for a full contraction of the rear delts

Lifting the Chest off the Bench & Extending Lower Back

Focus on pressing the chest into the bench, and maintaining contact throughout the exercise to ensure you use the rear delts and not the lower back to lift the weight

Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing Tips

  1. You will likely feel dumbbells pulling you a bit into internal shoulder rotation. Resist this with slight external shoulder rotation your shoulders. This is very subtle, but if you do it right, you'll feel your rear delts firing a lot harder.
  2. Choose your initial weight conservatively and make sure you can complete at least 20-30 reps with perfect tempo before progressing. This is a high rep exercise.
  3. Maintain a strict tempo to ensure maximal time under tension and gains
  4. Maintain chest contact with the bench at all times. The upper chest can come up a bit at the top of the rep, but the lower pecs should never lose contact.
  5. Focus on squeezing the pecs together at the starting point
  6. Slightly round the back at the starting position and squeeze inward with the pecs as you complete a repetition.
  7. Keep head and neck position in line with body, look 6-12 inches ahead in starting position, lift head as you lift the weight.

Is the Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing Right for You?

The Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing is an excellent choice for nearly every lifter. The rear delts are critical to building a bigger and muscular back, but more importantly are key to maintaining shoulder health and balance for those who press often.

This is not a compound exercise and thus should not replace staple upper back exercises like rows or pull ups. However, they are an excellent isolation exercise as an assistance movement to supplement bigger lifts and target rear delt hypertrophy.

It may be a bad choice for anyone with shoulder injuries or nagging rotator cuff issues. Also, I don't recommend it for beginners, as this is too much of an isolation motion for that stage. Otherwise, this is an excellent exercise choice for any healthy intermediate to advanced lifter who wants to build 3D delts, improve posture or just develop better upper body balance and strength!

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

2 thoughts on “Dumbbell Rear Delt Swing Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures”

  1. Thanks for sharing the depth information of dumbbell rear delt swing in isolation mechanics. It will be very helpful for me.


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