These 10 Exercises Are the Key to Rock-Solid Shoulders


Rear, or posterior, deltoid exercises are often the missing link for lots of lifters and athletes who’re looking to take their physique to the next level. Developed rear dels can be the difference between great posture and an imposing physique, and one that’s just shy of being impressive.

Although it’s a smaller muscle group, it’s a key player to other performance aspects like a healthy back, solid shoulders, throwing and swinging power, and strong pressing.

Related: 50 Best Shoulder Exercises To Target Full Range of Motion

The main thing to remember about the rear deltoids: They don’t function quite the same as the front (anterior) and mid (lateral) deltoids. They’re involved in abduction (raising) of the upper arm, but also have a role in external rotation of the upper arm (rotating back and away from the body)—a function many athletes ignore.

The lateral (left) and posterior (right) deltoid muscles.

SCIEPRO/Getty Images

These 10 shoulder exercises cover every aspect of rear deltoid training. They’re balanced between heavier loaded movements and humbling light weight exercises, and your rear delts will be reminding you of their presence for days to follow. 

Best Rear Deltoid Shoulder Exercises

1. Dumbbell Reverse Flye

Traditional reverse flyes begin with palms facing each other (above). Try turning your hands out to lock down your shoulder blades. 

How to do it:

  • Hold a pair of light dumbbells in standing position, and bend forward until the torso is nearly parallel to the floor.

  • Turn the palms to face out and away from your body. This will lock your shoulder blades down to ensure you’re targeting your rear delts.

  • Keep the elbows very slightly bent and in one motion, raise the dumbbells away from each other, up toward the ceiling laterally. Lower slowly and repeat. 

2. Barbell Snatch-Grip High Pull

For a snatch grip high pull, move your hands closer to the ends of the barbell. 

How to do it:

  • Set a loaded barbell up on blocks or benches, so it’s elevated to knee or thigh level.
  • Assume a snatch grip. That means hands in an overhand grip, wide out near the ends of the barbell on either side (wider than shown in the image above).
  • Get in close, and get tight as though about to deadlift the weight using this grip.
  • In one motion, extend the whole body and pull high with the arms so the bar reaches shoulder level. Let the bar crash down under control.

Pro tip: This is a power-based exercise, so focus on low reps and heavy weight. This won’t work with weight too light.

3. Barbell Bentover Row

Barbell bentover row

How to do it:

  • Stand upright, and hold a barbell with your bench press grip. Hinge forward so the weight is hanging at just below knee level. Keep a flat spine.
  • Draw the shoulder blades together to stabilize the upper back and row the weight up by pulling through the arms. Aim to make the weight contact the ribcage. Keep the elbows wide.

4. Face Pull

Cable machine face pull

How to do it:

  • Set a cable pulley at eye level, using the rope attachment. Keep the weight light.
  • Hold the ropes with either an overhand or underhand grip—whatever suits you. Just keep the hands and elbows high at all times.
  • Retract the shoulder blades and pull the ropes in toward mouth level, and return slowly to start position.

5. Rear Delt Cable Chops

How to do it:

  • Set up a cable pulley at the highest possible level, with no attachment handle.
  • Stand sideways to the pulley and hold the cable knob with the hand furthest from it (if it’s to your left, hold it with your right hand).
  • Hinge over into a bent position like a deadlift or bentover row, and let the arm fold across the body. Your biceps should cover your mouth.
  • In a chopping motion, pivot the arm from the shoulder joint (don’t extend the elbow) and finish with the hand above the foot of the same side. 

6. Ring Rockers

View the original article to see embedded media.

How to do it:

  • Set a pair of gymnastic rings at waist level, and hang under them, as though about to perform inverted rows with your feet planted flat and knees bent.
  • Slide your hips under your body while pulling your face through your hands. In the top position you should appear to be seated upright, as though you’ve just finished a pull up. Return to start position and repeat.

7. Back Plank

How to do it:

  • Set up two benches or platforms side by side, and sit down on the floor between them. Place the elbows and upper arms on each platform. Keep the knees bent and feet planted on the ground.
  • Ensure the knuckles face the ceiling at all times. Press into the benches to lift the body off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds. 

8. Blackburns

How to do it:

  • Holding light dumbbells, lay face down on a mat or the floor.
  • Start with the weights off the ground in a fully extended arm position. Pull the weights toward the ears without touching the floor. Return them slowly to the start position. 

9. Reverse Crossover Cable Flye

Reverse crossover cable flye

How to do it:

  • Set up two cable pulleys at forehead level and stand between them. It’s best if they have no handle attachment. Load them light.
  • Stand tall, and hold the left pulley with the right hand, and the right pulley with the left hand. Keep the arms long, and pull them back for a flye pattern.

Pro tip: Keep the elbows high the entire time. This will keep the rear deltoids exposed and adequately stretched on each rep.

10. Lava Clap

How to do it:

  • Grab a light plate (a 2.5- or 5-lb weight is perfect) and lay face down on the floor or a mat.
  • Hold the plate with both hands overhead, without letting any part of your arms or hands touch the floor.
  • Pass the plate behind your back and over the head from one hand to the other, avoiding any contact with the ground at any point. Repeat in each direction. 

Las Vegas News Magazine

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