Which Bodyweight Exercises Work the Rear Deltoids?


Most people are familiar with upper-body bodyweight exercises for the chest, anterior deltoids and triceps. The anterior deltoids are often over-developed to the detriment of the rear or posterior deltoids. The rear deltoids should be exercised with the same regularity as your anterior deltoids to ensure balanced muscular development and to avoid postural problems. A variety of bodyweight exercises can help ensure this.


  • The pullup is a compound bodyweight exercise that works a variety of muscles. Pullups primarily target your lats, or latissimus dorsi, with a secondary effect on other upper-back muscles such as the rhomboids, lower and middle trapezius and rear deltoids. Your shoulders comprise the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids, but your posterior deltoids are also considered part of your upper-back musculature.

Inverted Rows

  • Pullups are pretty challenging even to the experienced trainer. Inverted rows or inverted pullups are a less challenging bodyweight exercise for the rear deltoids. To do inverted rows, grasp a bar set at upper-chest height with a wide overhand grip. Position your feet so you are leaning backward with your legs, hips and spine in a straight line. With your elbows pointing backward, lower your body back until your arms are straight, then pull yourself forward until the bar touches your upper chest. Make the exercise more challenging by lowering the bar midway between your lower chest and waist. Step forward under the bar so your weight is on your heels. Pivot on your heels as you lower your body toward the floor and pull upward to the bar. Ensure you target your rear delts by keeping your elbows high throughout the movement.

Floor Rolls

  • The rear delt floor roll is an easy-to-perform bodyweight exercise ideal for beginners. Lie on your back on an exercise mat with straight legs and your arms stretched out sideways, flat on the floor. Raise your right arm above your chest, roll onto your left side and lower your right arm across your body until it touches your left arm. Roll onto your back while raising your right arm. Lower your right arm to its starting position and push against the floor. Do 20 repetitions then repeat with your other arm.

W Formation

  • The W formation is part of a series of rear deltoid bodyweight exercises where your arms configure with your body to form the letters I, Y, T, W and O. To do the W formation, lie face down on the floor with your arms in front of you. Bend your elbows and pull your arms toward your waist with your palms facing inward. Your arms now form the letter W. Press your hips into the floor and gently raise your shoulders. Hold the position for a slow count of five. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.


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