Chest Fly

A classic exercise that targets the chest.

  • Main muscles worked: Chest (pectorals)
  • Other muscles: Shoulders (deltoids), arms (triceps)
  • Exercise type: Isolation, Push
  • Equipment: Dumbbells

The chest fly is an isolation exercise that mainly targets the chest. This exercise also helps to open up the chest and shoulders which can improve posture, increase range of motion, and combat the muscle tightness that comes from hunching over a desk all day.

Chest exercises don’t tend to be top of the list for many women. However, it’s important to include chest training in your workout routine to prevent muscle imbalances (which can lead to pain or injury), for better overall posture, and to build a balanced, healthy body.

To perform the chest fly with proper form, imagine hugging a tree. Your arms should be moving in an arc motion.

Choose lighter dumbbells and focus performing the exercise slowly, correctly, and with control. Start by practicing the chest fly without weights to help you get used to the movement.

Chest Fly Variations

  • Cable fly. Using the cable machine is more challenging because you have to work against a more constant tension throughout the movement.
  • Resistance band. This is a very effective variation, as the bands offer the most resistance when stretched at the peak of the movement.
  • Bench. Perform the chest fly on a flat bench or incline bench. The incline chest fly targets the top of the chest more, than when performed on a flat bench.
  • Stability ball. You can do this exercise with your back resting on a stability ball, which makes it much harder, requires balance, and works a lot more muscles including your core.
  • Standing. This variation targets the muscles of the back of your body more.

When performing the chest fly on a bench or stability ball, be careful not to lower the dumbbell past the level of your body, as this stresses the shoulder joint and can cause injury.

The advantage of performing the chest fly on the floor is that the floor acts as a natural backstop, reducing the range of motion and risk of shoulder injury. It also makes this variation more suited for beginners.

How to add it to your workout: Add the chest fly to your upper body workout, or a chest or shoulder focused workout.


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