Get Cannonball Type Shoulders With Rear Deltoid Exercises

Although fitness magazines would have you believe that in order to get great looking shoulders all you need to do is do exercises like shoulder presses, the reality is that you can not achieve good shoulder development without doing rear deltoid exercises.

You are probably familiar with the workouts in fitness magazines.  They outline a workout that consists of the following:

  • Shoulder Presses
  • Lateral Raises
  • Front Raises
  • Upright Rows (maybe)

Although these exercises will give you shoulders development the truth is that the rear deltoid muscles should never be neglected.

The Importance Of Rear Delts In Shoulders

It is easy to dismiss the rear delts as an important component of the shoulders area since we often see bodybuilders or athletes with cannonball type shoulders with medial deltoids and front delts standing out.  However it is the rear delts that give that added roundness to a properly developed shoulder.

The rear deltoids are found on the back part of the shoulders.  The rear delts tie in with the muscles of the back as well and pull the shoulders back, which keeps the shoulders from having an appearance, is if they are slumping forward.

Developing this area of the shoulders is also very important as it helps in avoiding injury.  The shoulders are a complex muscle group and as such cannot be dismissed with one generic exercise that some assume is enough to cover all your bases.

Primary Rear Delt Exercises

Rear Raises:  This is the king when developing the rear delts.  These are performed similar to lateral raises but the difference is you have to be bent over either seated or standing.

Upright Rows: Upright rows are excellent at working on any area of the shoulders.  This exercise works the front, side, top, rear and really the entire muscle.  Unfortunately this exercise is often left out of shoulders workouts but should definitely be included.

Do I Have To Work On Rear Delts On Shoulders Workout Days?

Here is the good news; you do not have to work on rear delts on shoulder workout days.  There are other exercises for rear delts that target or stimulate this area when you work on certain back exercises.

Here are some exercises you can do that target this area of the shoulders as a secondary muscle:

Low Rows: Doing rowing exercises are excellent as the rears of the shoulders are secondary muscles stimulated.  The back muscles are primarily developed with this exercise.   Low rows however work the rear portion of the shoulders more than a typical rowing exercise.

High Rows: These are performed with a rope on a pulley machine and the weight is pulled towards the eyes level and the rope flares out.  I have actually heard many guys tell me that they prefer doing high rows because they find it difficult to perform rear raises.

Lat Pull Downs and Pull Ups/Chin Ups: Again an often neglected exercise but these also work on rear deltoids to a lesser extent.

If you are not performing any one of these exercises there is a good chance your shoulders are not reaching their potential.  I am often surprised how often people don’t workout on their back muscles.  Simply doing some rowing exercises would help in developing the rear deltoids.

Then again, I am also surprised to see many people skip out on shoulders workouts or just doing some offhand shoulder presses.

Performing exercises for rear deltoids is not something that should be ignored or something that you have to dedicate an entire workout to.  In fact, simply adding some exercises for the back muscles along with rear deltoid exercises will take you a long way in getting cannonball type shoulders.

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  1. Great post man! I’ve always been a great advocate for muscular balance and targeting anterior and posterior muscle groups equally. Rear deltoids are very often neglected…just like the lower back takes a back seat to the abs (pun definitely intended:)).

    The exercises you listed are great. Another one I would add is the bodyweight row – great for targeting the upper back and rear shoulders.

    • Sam Munoz says:

      The shoulders are a complex muscle group so working different areas is something I see as necessary.
      Thanks for including the bodyweight row! Also a good one for back and rear shoulder development.

  2. All very cool exercises, I think having good size on shoulders really makes a top looking shape.
    I’ll have to add in rear raises they should work well for me!

  3. Nice post. Considering the impact shoulders make to a physique its amazing to me how little imagination (and effort) people seem to put into working them.

    I’ve noticed since I’ve improved my work on my rear delt my whole posture looks better. No point building a decent body if your always hunched forward so noone can see it!


    • Hi Michael,
      I agree with you 100 percent. The shoulders are often neglected, which is too bad. All it takes is focusing on this muscle group and not forgetting the rear delts. It is amazing how neglecting the rear delts gives an appearance of slouched posture.

  4. I think that complete development to all areas of the shoulders is important to help prevent injury also. Most people spend so much time doing bench presses and they have too much front delt development and not enough rear delts.

    I started doing hand stand pushups, (Convict Conditioning style). Wow, these are so much harder than I thought! My shoulders get fried every time I do them.


    • I agree with you on this. Very often guys who tend to only do bench presses have overly developed front delts. This imbalance creates a shoulder prone to injuries.
      I can imagine hand stand pushups are good. Unfortunately, I’m afraid of landing on my head lol.
      Thanks for stopping by,

  5. Nice group of rear deltoid exercises. I like to add in rear raises to circuit training workouts. They’re much harder than a lot of other shoulder exercises.