The “Y” as I call it, is an exercise primarily for your rear delts, or the posterior muscle of your shoulder. This is a small, nuanced movement, so you can even do it effectively without weight. In fact, I want you to master it without weight first, so read below how to do the Y well.
Holding the position also reinforces a healthy hinge, which is a crucial movement to master to prevent back pain. Read the directions below about how to move into the hinge position. If this is troublesome, spend some time working on the hinge too!
How to do the “Y” for rear delts
Start with no weight at first. Remember, if you can do this and recruit the muscles you are trying to feel, you’ll do better at it when you do introduce weight. Start with a set of 10 reps, then stand and assess where you feel it.
hinge at the hips with back neutral and straight
extend arms with palms facing behind you
bend at the elbows as if you are elbowing the ceiling
rotate your arms up into a “touchdown” position
extend your arms into a “Y” shape
bend at the elbows, rotate arms, and straight elbows to return to the start position
Try another how-to: how to do the banded leg lift, one of my favorite ab exercises
How to do the “Y” with a Bench at the Gym
If you have a bench or would like to do this at the gym, you can follow the same directions. Watch the video below for a demo.
When To Do the Y
You can use the “Y” as a warm up exercise, in which case you’ll go fairly light in weight and do 2-4 sets of about 10 reps. If you’re using them as an exercise that you’d like to progress in, you can increase the weight and drop the reps slightly to about 8. Remember this exercise will generally be about the mind muscle connection and not about how heavy you can go. Work on feeling what you are aiming to feel (rear delts), and doing quality reps. Happy training!
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About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.