The bench press is a powerful compound movement that works the chest, shoulder, and triceps muscles but cannot effectively target a single muscle group.
For those looking to focus more on the pectoral muscles specifically, the dumbbell flye is an isolation exercise that emphasizes isolation of the pecs.
The overall demand placed on other muscles during this exercise is lower than the bench press, making it preferable if general fatigue or recovery time is a major factor.
Additionally, because of its greater range of motion relative to other exercises, gravity provides an even greater challenge on the muscle fibers during their eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift which makes this ideal for building strong muscle definition.
How to Do A Dumbbell Fly
Step by Step Guide How to do a Dumbbell Chest Fly:
Step 1: Lie on a flat bench with your head and shoulders supported by the back of the bench and your feet firmly planted on the ground.
Step 2: Holding two dumbbells directly above your chest with both palms facing each other, extend your arms.
Step 3: Brace your core muscles to ensure proper form throughout the exercise.
Step 4: With your elbows slightly bent, slowly lower the weights out to the sides as far as is comfortable for you while maintaining control of the movement throughout.
Step 5: At this point, you should feel a stretch in your chest muscles before reversing back to the starting position with those same muscles until both arms are nearly straightened out again (but not locked).
Step 6: Throughout this time, avoid arching your back or moving any part of it away from the bench, and be wary of any sudden jerking movements that could throw you off balance or cause injury.
Step 7: Repeat for the desired number of reps, keeping proper form throughout all sets and reps for maximum efficiency and effectiveness!
Dumbbell Fly Benefits
One of the great benefits of the dumbbell fly is that it offers a good challenge for your pecs in both the eccentric and concentric portion of each rep.
This combination of a stretching motion combined with an intense contraction can help you to build muscle size quickly.
Another benefit worth mentioning is that this exercise allows you to focus tension on the muscle at its lengthened range.
This can be achieved by taking two to three seconds to lower the weight and really emphasize that stretch by doing so, increased muscle protein synthesis could be triggered. All of this makes it an excellent option when it comes to chest workouts.
Muscles Worked by the Dumbbell Fly
The dumbbell fly is an isolation exercise that focuses maximum tension on the chest, though smaller muscles like the anterior delt and biceps are also recruited.
This works both to provide support for the pecs and to put those muscles under tension as well.
The pectoralis major is engaged throughout the entire duration of the exercise, while slightly bent arms during the motion ensure that other muscles are safely activated as well.
A regular program incorporating dumbbell flies can result in significant gains in both upper body strength and aesthetic definition of one’s chest.
Dumbbell Fly Tips
Don’t arch your Back
When attempting to strengthen and build your chest muscles, refrain from arching your back.
What works for elite-level powerlifters is not necessarily appropriate for the rest of us while they are focused on maximizing their force output in order to move weights from A to B, the general bodybuilder’s focus should be on targeting muscle fibres to provoke growth and development.
To that end, it is crucial that proper form which does not involve an arched back be observed when performing exercises like the bench press.
Keep your elbows bent
Keeping your elbows bent while lifting is an important part of keeping proper form.
By not straightening your arms fully or locking them out, the tension remains focused on the pectoral muscle fibres while limiting the risk of injury.
Additionally, this technique helps to activate your chest more effectively ensuring you are getting the most out of every rep.
Don’t overextend yourself
Stretching your limits is an important part of staying healthy, but you must be careful not to overdo it.
When beginning any exercise, make sure your elbows are in line with your torso. This ensures that you don’t overstrain your muscles while exercising.
If you push yourself past your natural limit, you risk tearing and straining the muscles in your shoulders and torso, which could result in a long-term injury.
In addition to safety, it’s critical that the pec muscles do their job; if they’re stretched out too much by overstretching, they won’t be fully worked during the exercise, rendering it ineffective and defeating the purpose of engaging in physical activity.
Dumbbell Fly Variations
Gym ball dumbbell fly
The gym ball dumbbell fly is a variation of the traditional dumbbell fly exercise that requires engaging multiple muscles and can be more challenging.
To perform this exercise, it is recommended to select lighter weights than those used for regular dumbbell flies, as it will require your core muscles to exert extra force to stabilize your body.
Your shoulders should be rested on top of the gym ball and you should remain with your feet placed firmly on the floor.
Incline dumbbell fly
The incline dumbbell fly is an effective exercise for targeting the top of the pecs.
To perform this exercise, set up a weight bench at an incline of around 30 degrees and lie back. As you press the dumbbells out to the side, pay extra attention to your form in order to avoid overstretching.
For an added challenge, you can also do this exercise on a gym ball instead of a flat bench this will require more balance and stability from you while performing the motion.