reverse fly alternative
Exercise Alternative

21 Reverse Fly Alternatives for Massive Delts

Fully developed rounded shoulders are among the most stunning body parts of the human body. Most guys, however, never achieve them. Often they are able to build impressive front and side delts but it’s the rear delts that let them down.

The revere fly is a common exercise to hit this part of the body but is far from the only one. Here are 21 reverse fly alternatives to make your that your rear delts don’t let your down.

1. Lying Supine Cable Crossovers

Muscles worked

Rear deltoids

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The lying supine cable side lateral is a cable exercise that isolates your rear delts and places emphasis on the front part of the movement where you are strongest.

Equipment used 

Cable crossover machine, flat bench

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Place a flat bench in the middle of a cable crossover machine and set the pulleys at their highest level. 
  2. Lie on the bench and grab the handles in a crossover fashion.
  3. From a starting position with your arms extended above your chest, pull your arms down and out to the sides.
  4. Reverse and repeat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 15 reps. 

Tips 

Only come back 80% of the way with the cable to keep tension on the rear delts at all times. Contract your shoulder blade as you bring your arms down. 

2. Bent Over One Arm Cable Rear Delt Raise

Muscles worked

Posterior deltoids

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

This is a great unilateral exercise that allows you to isolate your rear delts and allow for a complete range of motion.

Equipment used 

Cable pulley machine

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Set the pulley on a cable machine at shin level. Stand side on the machine and grab the pulley handle with your outside hand. Maintain a slight bend in the knees and hinge your hips to come down to a 45-degree torso position.
  2. Maintaining a  straight arm, bring your arm directly out to the side to shoulder height. 
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps on each arm.

Tips 

Use a light weight to enable you to perform this exercise with proper form and control. Perform scapular retraction in the end position. 

3. Reverse Butterfly

Muscles worked

Rear delts

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The reverse butterfly makes use of the pec dec machine to provide you with a strict rear delt movement that isolates and activates for maximum intensity.

Equipment used 

Pec Dec machine

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Sit on a pec dec machine facing into the machine with the back of your elbows resting on the arm pads.
  2. Arch your back in as you push back on the elbows to move the arm pads back. Continue until you have reach the fill extension.
  3. Reverse and repeat.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.

Tips 

Keep your elbows up and your lower back pulled in throughout the movement. In the end position, you should achieve scapular retraction. This exercise can also be done on a reverse pec deck machine. 

4. Lying One Arm Side Delt Raise

Muscles worked

Rear deltoids

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The lying one-arm side delt raise isolates each rear dealt individually while also providing early phase loading.

Equipment used 

Light dumbbell

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Lie on the floor on your side with your feet stacked and a dumbbell held in your top arms at arm’s length resting on your torso.
  2. Keeping your arm straight, bring your arms directly up until it is perpendicular to the floor. 
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
Related Post:  11 Russian Twist Alternatives For A Well-Defined Core

Tips 

Your arm shoulder travels straight up with bending at the elbow; the only movement should be through the shoulder joint.

5. Band Rear Delt Fly

Muscles worked

Posterior deltoids

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The band rear delt fly is an excellent resistance band alternative to the traditional reverse fly exercises that allows you to isolate and target the posterior deltoid muscle. 

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with feet together and a resistance band under your feet and held in your hands in a crossover fashion.
  2. Hinge at the hips to come down to a 45-degree upper body position.
  3. Hold the bands in a neutral grip and extend your arms out to the sides to shoulder height.
  4. Lower and repeat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 12 reps. 

Tips

Do not lift your torso up as you perform the exercise; the only movement should be through the shoulder joint.

6. Horizontal Pull Apart

Muscles worked

Rear shoulder muscles

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The horizontal pull-apart is a move that activates all three heads of the deltoids through their full range of motion.

Equipment used 

Resistance Band

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with a band in your hands, held about 12 inches apart.
  2. Bring your straight arms up to chest level and pull the band apart to full extension.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Tips 

Maintain a neutral spine position throughout with straight arms, keeping tight core muscles.

7. Band High Low Pull Apart

Muscles worked

Rear delts, front delts

Why it’s a great alternative

The band-high low pull apart works all three shoulder muscle heads through a full range of motion.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a band in your hands. Hold the band at arm’s length with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Simultaneously pull the band apart as you bring it down to chest level.
  3. Reverse and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Tips 

Keep an upright torso; do not bend your elbows.

8. Single Arm Band Pull Apart

Muscles worked

Medial deltoids, rear deltoids

Why it’s a great alternative

The single-arm band pull apart allows you to work each shoulder muscle unilaterally through its complete range of exercise motion, proving an excellent isolation exercise.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Secure a resistance band to an upright at shoulder height. 
  2. Stand side onto the upright and grab the band with your outside hand at shoulder level in an overhand grip.
  3. With a straight arm, move your arm directly out to the side to be in line with your shoulder.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Tips 

Adjust your starting position so that the band is taut.

9. Plank to Pike

Muscles worked

Shoulders, chest, upper back muscles

Why it’s a great alternative

The plank to pike is a dynamic exercise that overloads your delts with bodyweight resistance while also adding a plyometric element.

Equipment used 

Gliders

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down in the top plank position with a pair of gliders under your feet.
  2. Pull your feet in toward your hands as your butt rises into the air and your body forms an inverted V shape.
  3. Push back to the start position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Tips 

Move fluidly from rep to rep with no pause.

10. Elevated Pike Push Up

Muscles worked

Shoulders, chest, triceps

Why it’s a great alternative

The elevated pike push-up works all three heads of the delts as well as hitting the chest and triceps muscles.

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand on a bench or couch and, with slightly bent knees place your palms on the floor. Your body will form an inverted V position.
  2. Lower down to bring your head to the floor, stopping about six inches from it.
  3. Push back to the start position.

Tips 

Be sure to move through as full a range of motion as you can through this exercise.

11. Wall Walks

Muscles worked

Deltoids, pectorals

Why it’s a great alternative

The wall walk is an awesome full-body exercise to hit all three heads of your deltoids.

Related Post:  22 Bicep-Blasting Spider Curl Alternatives

Equipment used 

Wall

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand in a lunge position in front of a wall and lean forward to place your palms on the floor.
  2. Kick up both feet to come up to a handstand position against the wall.
  3. Walk your body away from the wall until your feet are about a foot from the floor.
  4. Reverse to walk your back to a  handstand position.

Tips 

Keep your core tight and your legs straight throughout the movement.

12. Handstand KickUps

Muscles worked

Deltoids, pectorals

Why it’s a great alternative

The handstand kickup is a delt focusing bodyweight move that incorporates a dynamic ploy aspect.

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand in an exaggerated lunge position, then lean forward to bring your hands to the floor in front of you. 
  2. Kick up with your back leg then follow through with your front leg.
  3. Reverse to return to the start position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Tips 

Maintain a tight core and a rigid torso in the top position.

13. Handstand Hold

Muscles worked

Delts, pecs

Why it’s a great alternative

The handstand hold is n isometric delt targeting bodyweight move that prolongs your training time under tension. 

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down on the floor on your hands and kick yourself up into a handstand position against a wall with your arms fully extended.
  2. Hold the top handstand position for 30 seconds.
  3. Do 3 sets of 30-second holds. 

Tips 

Keep your body taut throughout the handstand hold.

14. Arm Circles

Muscles worked

posterior delts, medial delts

Why it’s a great alternative

Air circles allow you to get a 360-degree movement and keep constant tension on the posterior delts.

Equipment used 

Dumbbells

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a light dumbbell held in each hand. 
  2. Lift your arms up to shoulder height and extended them out horizontally.
  3. Perform small arm circles by rotating through the shoulder joint, with arms straight.
  4. Do 3 sets of 20 reps (rotations). 

Tips 

Use a light weight that allows you to get high reps that will really cause a burning sensation in the rear delts.

15. Crab Bridge

Muscles worked

shoulder muscles, upper back muscles

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The crab bridge is a dynamic movement that will strengthen your shoulder muscles as it increases your flexibility and coordination.

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down on all fours, with your butt and palms facing forward. You should be resting on your palms and your feels with your toes up.
  2. Rise up to form a tabletop position with your body.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  4. Do 3 sets of 30-second holds.

Tips 

Warm up with some dynamic stretching before doing this exercise to prevent injury.

16. Front and Lateral Raise

Muscles worked

Side and rear shoulder muscles

Why it’s a great alternative

The front and lateral raise is a combination move that allows you to hit both the rear, front and side delts all in one dynamic movement.

Equipment used 

Dumbbells

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm’s length, with both arms at your sides.
  2. Simultaneously lift your right arms directly out to the side and the left arm directly up in front of you to shoulder height.
  3. Lower and repeat with alternate arms.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps. 

Tips

Keep your arms locked with the only movement pattern being through the shoulder joint. 

17. Alternate Punches

Muscles worked

shoulder, upper back, chest muscles

Why it’s a great alternative

Alternating punch is a dynamic movement that burns calories while working all of the muscles of your shoulders, chest, and upper back.

Equipment used 

Bone

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Stand if the boxing ready stance.
  2. Throw a lead arm jab at an imaginary target in front of you.
  3. Follow throw with a jab with your non-leading hand.
  4. Do a total of 30 punches.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 30 punches.

Tips 

Perform your reps in a fluid, constant manner.

18. Beast Crawl

Muscles worked

Shoulders, lats, pecs

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The beast bear crawl is a dynamic moving exercise that improves your functional fitness while also targeting your shoulders and back.

Related Post:  9 Sit-Up Alternatives to Revamp Your Workout

Equipment used

None 

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down on your hands and knees with your feet together and hands about six inches apart. 
  2. Rise up on your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Also, rise up on your fingertips.
  3. Walk your hands and feet forward.
  4. Take 5 paces forward and then 5 paces back, for 3 sets.

Tips 

Warm-up with some stretching drills before doing this exercise. 

19. Elevated Hand Walk

Muscles worked

shoulder muscles

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The elevated hand walk is another dynamic, plyo type bodyweight move that emphasizes all three heads of the deltoid muscles.

Equipment used 

Chair

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down in the top position of a push-up with a chair directly in front of your body.
  2. Walk one hand up onto the chair.
  3. Follow through with the other hand so that you are resting on the chair.
  4. Reverse one hand and then the other to return to the start position.

Tips 

Keep your core and upper body rigid throughout the movement.

20. Crow Stand

Muscles worked

shoulders, chest, upper back

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The Crow stand is a bodyweight strengthener and flexibility movement that will improve your functional fitness as it develops your posterior delts.                                                                                                                                         

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Crouch down to bring your hands all the way down to touch the floor, with palms down and back rounded. Your heels should be raised with toes on the floor.
  2. Push your weight forward to bring your toes off the floor so that your entire body is resting on your palms.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds.
  4. D 3 sets of 15 second hold.

Tips 

Maintain a rigid core and torso as you do this exercise.

21. Pike Circles

Muscles worked

front delts, posterior delts, pectorals

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

Pike circles are a dynamic bodyweight shoulder exercise that hits all 3 heads of the deltoids.

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Get down on the floor on all fours with your contact point being your toes and fingers. Lift your butt into the air so that your body forms a V position, bring your feet in to lift your body higher.
  2. Drop your head toward the floor then move your torso to the left, round and back up to the start position.
  3. Lower to the floor again and this time, move your torso to the right, round, and back to the start position.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

Tips 

Keep your lower back slightly arched and core tight.

Final Thoughts

You’ve now got no more excuses not to bring up those lagging rear delts. After all, I’ve just provided you with 21 awesome reverse fly exercise alternatives to max them out. Select from them to create your own shoulder workout routine.

Do a total of six sets for the rear delt muscle, with reps ranging from a high of 30 with super lightweight down to 15 with your heaviest weight. Work your posterior deltoids once every 5 days for best growth and strength potential. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good full deltoid routine?

A good full shoulder workout will include an exercise for each of the three heads: the anterior, medial, and posterior head. The single best exercises for these 3 heads are the seated front cable press (underhand grip), the cable side lateral raise, and the cable rear delt reverse fly exercise. Do six sets of each exercise, pyramiding down to your heaviest weight for the last two sets. 

What muscles do reverse flys work?

Revere flys target the posterior deltoid which originates on the upper ridge of the scapula and insert at the top of the humerus (upper arm). 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

You may also like...