Dumbbell flys are sometimes looked down on by serious strength athlete. The truth is that flys often help train the movement of the bench better than benching can. The act of squeezing the pecs together in the fly provides a very obvious muscular contraction. That same contraction is what should be felt in the bench press as well. If your press doesn’t feel like you’re squeezing your pecs together the fly movement will fix that issue very effectively.
DB Flys 101
Dumbbell Flys — Setup
1. Exercise selection
For the dumbbell fly, choose a light dumbbell that you can maintain perfect form with for the entirety of each set.
- For the cable fly, choose a weight that you don’t need to cheat with on the final reps and that you don’t slam back into the stack like an egomaniac.
Dumbbell Flys — Execution
1. Tight back
Lay on your back in a similar set up to the bench press, scapulae drawn in together.
2. Starting position
Start with the weights at the top of the movement with arms perpendicular to the ground, shoulders externally rotated (fingers facing midline).
3. Eccentric portion
Open the arms to the side in a “fly” motion, in a slow and controlled movement that engages the muscles eccentrically.
- Breathe in as the weights move down (the eccentric portion of the movement).
4. Concentric portion
When you feel the maximum stretch response at the bottom of the movement with soft elbows, begin the concentric portion of the movement by bringing the arms back to the starting position, up until just before perpendicular.
- Breathe out as your contract your chest while the weights are traveling upwards (the concentric portion of the movement).
5. Constant Tension
Maintain tension throughout the entire set and don’t bounce in the bottom portion of the exercise.
Dumbbell Flys — Coaching Cues
- The goal is constant tension throughout the entire movement.
- Don’t rest at the top
- Don’t rest out the bottom
- Full range of motion is exactly where you feel the chest engaged.
- Too far open allows you to rest
- Perfectly perpendicular to the ground at the top is a rest (because the joints are stacked).
- The arms don’t have to be perfectly straight.
- Conduct the movement with soft elbows.
Dumbbell Flys — Adjustments
If you find flys particularly difficult, switch to the pec dec.
These are an ancillary exercise and can be switch out for any other chest exercise that you prefer more.
Remember the primary chest developer in this program is the bench press. If you don’t feel that this variation is making you better/stronger in the bench press, then choose another variation.
Caveat: This exercise guidance should never usurp the advice of your medical professional. If there is a question in your mind as to the suitability of this exercise for you confer with your doctor. WATM is not liable if you do something ill-advised after reading any of our fitness content.
Dumbbell Flys — Further Resources
- Renaissance Periodization
- Incline Dumbbell Fly
- Cable Fly
- High Cable Fly
- Machine Chest Fly
- Cable Incline Fly
- Pec Dec Fly