The chest fly or bench fly is an upper body strength training exercise that is performed on a bench. You can either perform this move with a pair of dumbbells on a flat, incline, and decline bench. All of these chest fly alternatives are effective in building strength in your chest muscles. Doing chest fly on bench is easier than other variations like pec fly and machine fly.
Chest flys muscles worked: The chest, shoulders and triceps are the primary muscles. Your core and lats are the secondary muscles that supports the movement.
If you’re a beginner try doing the bench chest fly on a pec deck machine to build the foundational strength. Doing chest fly regularly helps in opening up your chest muscles which improve flexibility and agility. It may lower the risk of upper back pain, reduce tightness in your upper body muscles and increase range of motion.
If you’re new to this move or your goal is to tone your chest muscles then consider using light weights or no weights in case of machine fly. Using lighter weights helps in improving your form and develops a full range of motion without overextending your pecs. Overextending your chest muscles can lead to injuries.
Benefits Of Doing Chest Fly
Here are the 10 best benefits of adding chest fly to your workout routine. These benefits are genuine and backed by research.
1. Primarily Targets Your Chest Muscles
Your pectoralis muscles are the primary chest fly muscles worked. Doing this exercise improves your functional strength and endurance which helps in doing everyday tasks. Your chest has two sets of pectoral muscles that are called pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The chest fly primarily works on your pectoralis major, the larger one. This muscle is responsible for the movement of the shoulder joint.
Training your pectoral muscles is important as you need them in day-to-day activities such as picking up groceries, cleaning dishes, moving heavy objects, etc.
Building a strong chest also improves your athletic performance in different sports activities.
2. Targets many muscle groups
While the main focus of this move is on your chest and shoulder muscles, it also engage your triceps, upper back, and core for stability. During this exercise, 5 upper body muscles are activated which increases the efficiency for muscle building. Training multiple muscle groups in one exercise is called compound movement. Doing these types of exercises helps in building a stronger and toned physique.
Compound exercises also improve your performance in other weight lifting exercises as most of the upper body muscles are being trained. Some famous compound exercises are deadlift, barbell squats, and bench press.
3. Helps In Weight Loss
Compound moves like dumbbell fly are known for boosting your metabolism. A higher metabolic rate burns a large number of calories even when you’re at rest. Losing excessive fat helps in toning your muscles which gives you an aesthetic physique. A higher rate of metabolism also improves your digestive system and energy levels.
4. Improves Flexibility In Your Chest
This move is known as a chest opener as it stretches your pectoral muscles. Working on your muscle flexibility also improves your range of motion. A better range of motion allows your muscles to extend further in an extension position. Extending your chest muscles reduces soreness which makes other exercises more effective.
With better flexibility there’s less risk of muscle strain and injuries as your muscles will be ready to support the load and stresses.
5. Strengthens Your Core
While performing the dumbbell fly, your abdominal muscles are activated to maintain the form and support your lower back muscles. Training your core helps in maintaining a good posture which reduces the risk of lower back pain and injuries. A strong core improves your performance in sports activities like basketball, tennis, football, swimming, and combat sports.
Strengthening your core gives you better stability and balance which is crucial for both daily and sports activities.
Step By Step Instructions
Below is the step-by-step guide to know how to do chest fly exercise with the correct form.
1. Get on a flat bench with your back straight and feet flat on the ground. Keep your head and back pressed against the padded bench. Ask someone to hand you the dumbbells or carefully pick them up from the ground. Extend your arms above your body while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing each other. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.
2. Activate your chest muscles and brace your core. Slowly lower the weights in an arc motion till they’re in line with your chest. Don’t drop your arms lower than your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower the dumbbells.
3. Pause the exercise when the dumbbells are at your shoulder level. Raise your palms back to the start in a reverse motion. Breathe out while extending your arms. This is one repetition of the chest fly exercise.
4. If you’re a beginner then try doing 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions with weights according to your strength. Keep increasing the number of repetitions and weights as you master this exercise.
1. Locking Your Elbows
While doing dumbbell fly, many lifters lock their elbows. With heavyweights, locking your elbows can cause major injuries. When you lock your elbow joints it activates your shoulder joints to support the weights and reduces focus on your chest. It also makes the exercise ineffective.
To avoid this mistake always keep a slight bend in your elbows to fully engage your chest muscles.
2. Lifting Too Heavy
Another common mistake that a lot of people make with this move is lifting heavy dumbbells. Many fitness experts believe that the dumbbell fly is a finisher move and should be performed after other compound exercises like the bench press. Lifting too heavy may cause major shoulder injuries.
Avoid this by choosing weights according to your strength and fitness level. The weights that allow you to do this exercise without losing your form are the ones to select.
3. Fast Motion
Doing the dumbbell fly with quick motion reduces the effectiveness of this move. Too fast motion can make you lose your grip and drop the dumbbells in the middle of the exercise. You’re also increasing your risk of injuries with quick repetitions.
Perform this move in a controlled motion to avoid this mistake. The slower movement will stimulate your muscles more effectively.
Variations Of Chest Fly
Below are some of the best chest fly variations that you can try to add variety to your workout routine. These variants of lying chest fly targets different areas of your chest muscles.
1. Machine Chest Fly (Pec Fly)
The machine fly or pec deck fly is a strength training variation of the standard dumbbell chest fly. This exercise is performed on a pec deck machine which is available in a gym. The movement of this exercise is similar to the standard exercise, the only difference is the position. Pec fly muscles worked are your front shoulders and upper chest muscles. During the dumbbell fly, you’re lying on a flat bench while in this move you’re sitting upright. This method of training your chest muscles is great for beginners as it’s easy, effective, and safe.
2. Cable Fly
The cable fly or cable crossover is a dynamic variation of the standard dumbbell fly that targets the pushing muscles of your upper body. These muscles include your shoulders, triceps, and chest. You need a cable crossover machine to perform this exercise. This equipment is mostly found in a gym or fitness center. Adding this move to your workout routine will build strength and muscle mass in your chest muscles. The cable fly is known for toning your inner chest which gives you an aesthetic look.
3. Banded Chest Fly
Using a resistance band instead of a cable machine is more accessible as you can also perform this exercise at home. Resistance bands are much safer than using dumbbells as there is no external weight to lift. The procedure to do this exercise is similar to the cable fly.
The lying chest fly is a great move to train your pectoral muscles. Your shoulders, upper back, triceps, and core are the muscles worked in chest fly. There are many famous variations to this move like the machine fly and cable crossover. This exercise fits perfectly with other chest exercises like pushups, bench press, and decline press in a workout. Adding the chest fly exercise to your workout routine is beneficial for building a toned upper body and improving your range of motion.