5 Dumbbell Exercises That Work Your Hard-to-Target Rear Deltoids

The Arnold press is an exercise that will strengthen your rear delts.
Image Credit: Chainarong Prasertthai/iStock/GettyImages

Your rear deltoids (a muscle that's part of your shoulders) are a lot like the tiles behind your toilet. How so? They're both pretty hard to reach, whereas other parts of your body (and bathroom) may feel relatively easy to activate (or clean).

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If you struggle to train your rear delts during your upper-body workout, you might not be incorporating the best exercises. Thanks to Samuel Chan, physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York, we've rounded up some of the best exercises to help you hit this tricky-to-target muscle group.

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1. Standing Rear Delt Fly

1. Standing Rear Delt Fly
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level Intermediate
Body Part Shoulders
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Hold a pair of lighter dumbbells, hands in a neutral position (palms facing each other).
  3. Hinge at the waist and lean your torso forward until it's about parallel to the ground.
  4. Leading with a slight bend in the elbows, raise the weights up until they're at shoulder level.
  5. Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.

2. Dumbbell Facepull

2. Dumbbell Facepull
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level Intermediate
Body Part Shoulders
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Start lying on an incline bench face down, holding a pair of lighter dumbbells in an overhand position.
  2. Leading with your elbows bent at about 90 degrees, bring the dumbbells up to about eye level.
  3. Simultaneously rotate your forearm and wrist to bring your hands close to your ears.
  4. Pause here, pinching your shoulder blades together.
  5. Reverse the motion with control back to the starting position.

3. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

3. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level All Levels
Body Part Shoulders
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in an overhand position.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees slightly. Lean your torso forward until it's parallel to the ground. This is the starting position.
  3. Keeping a 90-degree bend in your elbows, row the dumbbells up to eye level, driving the elbows back as far as possible.
  4. Reverse the motion slowly to get back to the starting position.

Tip

Keep your elbows high and away from the torso to really work the rear delts instead of the lats (upper back), Chan says.

4. Seated Rear Delt Fly

4. Seated Rear Delt Fly
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level All Levels
Body Part Shoulders
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Sit at the edge of a bench or chair, knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean forward until your torso is nearly parallel to the ground, back flat.
  3. Hold a pair of light dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. This is the starting position.
  4. Leading with a slight bend in the elbows, raise the weights up to shoulder height.
  5. Lower the weight with control and avoid using momentum.

5. Arnold Press

5. Arnold Press
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level Intermediate
Body Part Shoulders
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Start seated with a dumbbell in each hand, back flat.
  2. Curl the dumbbells up in front of your body, elbows bent at 90 degrees in line with your shoulders, palms facing in.
  3. Spread the elbows apart and rotate your palms to face out. Your arms will be in a goalpost position.
  4. Press the weights straight above your shoulders.
  5. Lower the weights back with control and reverse the motion to return to the starting position.

Tip

For this exercise, you'll want to choose a pair of dumbbells that are a little lighter than your usual shoulder press set.

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