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Dumbbell Reverse Raises

By RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Mike Clausen, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

Dumbbell reverse raises target the rear deltoids, the muscles wrapping around the backs of your shoulders. They're also adaptable—for increased intensity, try the flat bench and standing variations below.

Muscles Worked
Shoulders (rear deltoids)

Starting Position
With a dumbbell in each hand, sit straddling an incline bench facing the elevated end. Adjust the incline so that, when your chest is resting on the bench, your upper body is bent forward at a 45-degree angle. Your knees should be bent and your toes resting on the floor behind you for balance. Extend your arms toward the floor with palms facing each other (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, angle your hands slightly by bringing your thumbs up toward your wrists, so that you lift with your pinky as you raise your arms. Keep your back flat as you raise both arms straight out to the side, until they are parallel with the floor. Your elbows should be soft as you do this—avoid locking the joint. Be careful not to “shrug” your shoulders by raising them up toward your ears; instead, raise your arms using the back of the shoulder (see Photos 2 and 3).
  2. From the top of your lift, maintain the same angles through wrist, elbow, and back as you lower your arms back to the starting position (see Photo 4).
Flat Bench and Standing Variations
To add intensity to this exercise, graduate from using the incline bench. Instead, sit on a short end of the flat bench with your feet flat on the floor. Bending at the hip, lean forward with your shoulders until your back is angled at 45 degrees, with your chest near your thighs and your arms extended straight down toward the floor. From this position, perform the reverse raises, supporting your upper body position from your core (see Photos 5 and 6). For the most difficult version, do the exercise standing with your feet together. Angle your upper body forward until your back is parallel to the floor, again bending at the hip and keeping your back as flat as possible. Press your hips back and bend your knees slightly to support this position, and engage your center. Extend your arms toward the floor, and repeat the reverse raises, being careful not to let your upper body rock or bounce (see Photos 7 and 8).

About Mike Clausen: Clausen is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. He has been actively involved in sports and weightlifting since high school, and continues to use that knowledge when training his clients. Clausen is both A.C.E. and N.A.S.M. certified and has been training clients professionally for six years. He enjoys making his clients stronger, both physically and mentally, giving them the tools to create an efficient body and to do things they thought were not possible.