To Top

Need Better Rear Delts FAST? This Exercise Combo Will Do It…

Rear delts make for a complete physique...unfortunately, the rear delts can be a tough muscle to hit...bent-over lateral raises will hit them well in isolation and are useful to some degree. To really BUILD muscles, you need to use compound exercises.

Here's the problem...there ARE no compound exercises that directly target the rear delts specifically.

Shoulder presses utilize the rear delts to help stabilize the shoulder joint, not to actually press the weight up. The rear delts function to pull the humerus (the upper arm bone) posteriorly (to the back), not to raise it up in a vertical movement pattern - that's the front and side delts at work, along with the triceps.

Rowing and pull-up movements actually give you a more direct attack on the rear delts according to their actual function but the large powerful muscles of the back (like the lats, teres major and rhomboids) tend to take over, leaving the rear delts out in the cold.

That's where THIS exercise combination comes're going to work two directly antagonistic exercises that each hit the rear's basically the only common denominator between the two compound exercises.

And yes, that means this combination is going to BLAST your rear delts extremely hard....everything else gets a rest at some point between the two exercises...the rear delts get ZERO rest.

This combination is done in what I like to call an "In-Set Superset." What that means is instead of doing a normal superset where you do a full set of exercise then immediately do a full set of the other exercise, you're going to alternate reps of each exercise...and these exercises must share a common position so that you can transition smoothly between the two with no break.

You'll see exactly what I'm talking about once I show you the exercise in action here.

You're going to be doing a kneeling barbell shoulder press alternated with a leg-assisted pull-up done using that same barbell.

This one is best done in the power rack. Kneel down in the rack and set the safety rails to just below shoulder height.

Set the racking hooks about 2 feet higher...try this with just the bar as a dry run so you get the heights right before you add weight.

Start with the bar on the rails next to the uprights of the rack and kneel down. Grab the bar with a moderate to wide grip. I usually use a bit inside my bench press grip for shoulder press.

Get the bar into the start position for the shoulder press (I'll give you the back and side views side-by-side here).


As you press up it's CRITICAL that you push your head forward underneath the bar. This is what activates the rear delts (albeit to stabilize the shoulder joint). Force those elbows back and get your head under the bar.


Once you've hit lockout, move the bar forward until it hits the uprights of the rack then set it down into the racking hooks. This is where you'll need to make any adjustments to the height of those hooks - you don't want it to be a stretch to get the bar up and in and but you also don't want them to be too low that you end up dropping the bar more than a few inches into them.


Now do the pull-up. Keep your toes on the ground and use your legs to guide and assist the movement so that you can use EXTREMELY strict form, pulling your elbows back as far as you can and pullling yourself up until the bar hits your upper chest.

This is VERY important as the higher you pull (to that point) and the more you can focus on pulling your elbows back, the harder the rear delts will be worked.

The toes on the ground are important to achieving that maximum range of motion and for taking up some of your bodyweight. If you get your feet off the ground, your bodyweight will result in the bigger muscles of the back kicking in too much, defeating the purpose of the exercise. Your toes on the ground also allows you to push your body forward as you pull your elbows back.


Lower yourself back down to your knees, get the bar off the racking hooks then lower back to the bottom of the shoulder press position. Don't set the bar back down on the rails...keep it at shoulder level when you start the next rep.

Repeat until your rear delts are basically screaming :). They will be the continuous link between these two exercises and will get worked HARD.

You'll feel them when you finish the set and you will feel them likely as you never have before starting over the next day or two.

This is a GREAT rear delt exercise that utilizes two compound movements to push that smaller muscle they have in common to the limit.

I've got a video of this technique in action, posted on YouTube here...if you're interested in seeing more insane exercises like this definitely subscribe to my channel!


  1. jfdkjfksa

    March 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Great one, Nick – love it.

  2. Jimkarger

    March 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Great combo! With a rack at home, I can now train rear delts without going to the gym.

  3. Bryan Dorman

    March 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Great article: clear and thorough instructions that even I can follow. Thanks, Nick!

  4. Andy

    March 24, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Great man it really works .The rear delts rnare on fire after that . Thanks nick

  5. Chris

    March 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Looks like another good one Nick! Will use it.

  6. lars

    March 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Looks good. Will try it my next shoulder day and report back.

  7. Rob

    March 24, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Great! will do in my next shoulder workout!

  8. Tina71

    March 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    This sounds intense! Definitely trying these!! Will let you know how it does for me.

  9. Chris

    March 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    This is definetly an area that needs work for me, good stuff Nick.

  10. Carpaholic

    March 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Killer, as usual!

  11. Albertine

    March 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Are these exercises suitable for women to do

  12. Nick Nilsson

    March 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    This would actually be GREAT for women to do…the rear delts help with posture and keeping your shoulders back just in general, even when you’re not training. The way you spot yourself on the pull-up means pretty much any level of trainer can do it, too.

  13. matt

    March 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Another killer !!! Can’t wait to try this !

  14. Albertine

    March 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Can I do it without the rack?

  15. The muscle hut

    March 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    That sounds extremely effective! There is a reason why your programs yield such great results!

  16. Mike

    March 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Looking forward to trying this on Monday. Thanks for posting!n

  17. John munford

    March 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Will be trying this tomorrow. Nice one m8!

  18. Stef

    March 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    As usual, Nick Nilsson delivers. I did his Metabolic Surge program several years ago and it rocked. I’ve trusted his expertise ever since!

  19. Matt

    March 25, 2012 at 12:10 am

    This looks llike what i’ve needed to do due to the fact I have poor strength in my shoulders. Thanks for the info. Mike !!!

  20. LeAnn

    March 25, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Looks like another great combination Nick! Thanks for all the great info you impart, I love it all. :)

  21. waddaguy

    March 25, 2012 at 12:23 am

    this sure drew a lot of attention at the local gym first time I tried it. And I sure could feel it the next day.

  22. Maddman

    March 25, 2012 at 1:18 am

    This is pretty ingenious using the entire range of push to pull on the shoulders. I will test it out myslef on Monday morning at my regular gym.

  23. Barb in Portland

    March 25, 2012 at 1:39 am

    Looks amazing and as usual, innovative. I don’t have access to a rack right now, but I’ll give it a try when I do. More shoulder workouts, please. I have very weak shoulders and are the hardest to build up for me.

  24. poetryinmotion

    March 25, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Creative, intelligent post Nick (as usual). Someone should publish this stuff. Thanks for all you share.

  25. Bondman61

    March 25, 2012 at 2:20 am

    The Mad Scientist strikes again! Great stuff! Definitely going to give this a try. I can use it.

  26. Gprotein

    March 25, 2012 at 3:06 am

    This is crazy innovative! Wonder if I’ll get weird looks in the gym, hehe. Going to try this one out.

  27. rmg

    March 25, 2012 at 3:40 am

    nick – I will be adding this to my workout this week. thanks

  28. Renethecarguy

    March 25, 2012 at 4:18 am

    If I don’t have a rack can I use a smith machinenn

  29. Johnwillmac2003

    March 25, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Great idea. Do you have more of these. Getting tired of the same old same old in the mags?

  30. Blaauwsmeets

    March 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Great exercise Nick, keep them comming!


    March 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Cant wait to get to the gym and try this!

  32. Randy Prater

    March 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    That looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks Nick!

  33. Jimb

    March 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Nick – you would have done well in the Spanish Inquisition – you consistently invent new ways to torture the body – loving it. Will try these when my legs recover form the total leg workout you sent out recently.nCheers and keep ’em coming.nnJim

  34. Dan

    March 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks Nick…this looks great. Just what I need for my shoulder workout!

  35. Aj

    March 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    i’ve been following nick for years. he comes up with the most unique and muscle specific exercises that i would never think of. i really like his stuff.nn thanks ajn

  36. Ttwarr

    March 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Nick, U Bas tard

  37. Tyron

    March 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    unique and interesting so many people get tired of the same old stuff great way to keep it interesting and stimulate some new growth

  38. Clarence Chaney

    March 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm


  39. Chris Cuadros

    March 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Nick, nyou continue being a legend with your training excercises. nThank you so much for all the help you have given me to reach my goals over the past 6-8 months. Im pretty much at my goal now, just want to do minor changes but im happy with what i gots now :) – so are the women hahahahhaha….nnah seriously though.. your an absolute legend. i had signed up to 3 different programs over the years but none of them were as good as yours due to the fact of your ongoing support without any extra cost or anything like that. nyour an absolute legend. nthanks for everything.nnChris

  40. Gimi2510

    March 26, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Thanks Nick,nnthats great Idea ,but how can i get shoulder size from this…?nplease tell me some more.nnnThxnGaurav

  41. fitchick

    March 26, 2012 at 1:37 am

    you are the master NIck…the innovator of awesomely original excercsies that burn and build….thankyou…

  42. SHM

    March 26, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Would you recommend Smith Machine as an alternative?!? No power racks at my gym…

  43. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:42 am

    This one actually puts tremendous tension on the shoulder muscles – go for tight form and sets of about 12 to 16 reps (total for both exercises).

  44. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Thanks man! Glad to be of service :)

  45. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:43 am

    The Smith would be an ok option. The shoulder press is a pretty much vertical movement so there isn’t as much torque on the joint with it – just don’t press behind the neck.

  46. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:43 am

    That sounds like someone who tried the exercise… :)

  47. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:44 am

    Thanks AJ! I appreciate that!

  48. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:44 am

  49. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:45 am

    A Smith machine would be ok since the press is very vertical movement.

  50. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I can pretty much guarantee weird looks :)

  51. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:45 am

    Will do, Barb! I’ve got some other shoulder stuff here, if you’re interested:

  52. Nick Nilsson

    March 26, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Yep, if you can find a place to set the bar in between the press and the pull-up. A Smith machine could work for it. Otherwise, an open squat rack could be an option, too.

  53. Bluebunny

    March 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Great stuff!

  54. Saintgeorgesday23april

    March 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    This is a move i really like as i love working my Delts and i’m always looking for something new.nnThanks Nick, keep ’em coming.

  55. Onnovandermeer

    March 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Yeah that was a great rear delt workout

  56. Jabu Coffee

    March 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

    cant wait to try it!!

  57. Derick

    March 28, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    So simple and yet genius. The mad scientist does it again.

  58. Tim Talley

    March 28, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    YOU are Awesome amongst AWESOME, After dumping 70 lbs as we’ve talked about Ive always had probs with Push ups and pull ups, Id found a way to modify my push ups that I can bang out as many as I need and NOW I can gradually build up my pull ups- Brilliant!nThanks Again

  59. Mattwev

    November 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    this sucks dick

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Blog Post

  • Why Your Big Toe Is Your Key To Great Calves!

    If you're looking to really build your calves, this one little piece of advice will help tremendously. Yet you rarely, if...

    Nick NilssonApril 6, 2016
  • Create Big-Ass Shoulders With Mike Rashid

    His motto “Train Your Mind as Hard as You Train Your Body,” may test your muscles and your mind.

    Iron Man MagazineMarch 21, 2016
  • The Workout and Happiness

    Happy New Year—a perennial cliché!  Can anything or anybody make you happy? To paraphrase a well-known line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,...

    John BalikFebruary 11, 2015
  • New Year Resolutions

    January first, the birth of a new year.  Time to reflect on the old and plan for the new! Historically, January...

    John BalikJanuary 15, 2015
  • Do You Know Squat ?

    Have you heard any of the following recommendations? “Don’t let your knees go over your toes when you squat, because it’s...

    Doug BrignoleDecember 30, 2014
  • Another Rewarding Olympia Weekend

    A couple of weeks ago I was at the Mr. Olympia competition, the 50th rendition of that iconic event. What started...

    John BalikDecember 15, 2014
  • Muscle Beach Breakfast Club

    I have been a part of Muscle Beach Venice since competing there in the mid ’60s. Much has changed in the...

    John BalikNovember 15, 2014
  • The Science Behind My 2 Week Body Transformation into a Mythological Minotaur

    Sometimes getting in shape can mean perfect timing.  In order to make a 2 week body transformation, science can play a...

    curtis.fisherNovember 14, 2014
  • Bodybuilding: Art or Mass Appeal

    With increasing frequency, we’re hearing a segment of the bodybuilding fan base speaking out against the trend toward ever more massive...

    Doug BrignoleNovember 13, 2014