How To Do Chest Flys

By: Chris Freytag, CPT


Chris Freytag demonstrating Chest Flies strength exercise

A chest fly is an excellent upper body move that uses dumbbells to strengthen the chest and arms muscles. The chest fly is unique because it strengthens the chest in a different and complementary way to push-ups or chest press. For some people, push-ups are not possible due to injuries or limitations.

The chest fly is a great alternative when a push-up doesn’t work. When you learn how to do a chest fly, you add to your portfolio of exercises for a more well-rounded upper body. For those who can do push-ups, doing chest fly right before or after your push-ups or chest press will help you cover even more of the chest and arms muscles and get a complete workout!

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We know about strength training that it is important to keep mixing up your challenges and trying new things. Push-ups will always be good, but you are sure to feel different results from the chest fly as soon as you try it. Chest Fly can be done lying on the floor or a weight bench for just a little more range of motion. The floor allows you to open your arms only so far, whereas the bench will let you go down just another inch or two for a greater challenge.

Like most strength training moves, you will want to focus on form before adding too much weight so that you don’t injure yourself. Keep a slight bend in your elbow and lower your arms slowly, as well as lift them back up slowly. This slow, controlled motion will give you better results and help to prevent injury. You can also experience great core and stability strength with chest flys. The key is to keep your rib cage pulled down and your back against the floor or bench. If your low back lifts, you aren’t using enough core strength.

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    How To Do Chest Flys

    Here are the steps to performing Chest Flys:

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    1) Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the floor and hold dumbbells straight up over chest.

    2) With a slight bend in the elbow, slowly open arms wide out to the side. Go until the back of your arms are just slightly above your chest level.

    3) Squeeze your chest as you bring the weights back together at the top. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    What Muscles Does A Chest Fly Work?

    Chest fly primarily strengthens your chest but also helps you reap benefits for your biceps and shoulders.

    Benefits of Chest Fly

    There are many reasons you should incorporate chest flys into your workouts. Here are just a few:

    Strengthens Chest Muscles

    The chest fly is a great way to strengthen your chest muscles and complete your upper body workout.

    Helps Protect Shoulders

    The chest fly is a move that has benefits for the inner part of the shoulder as well. Done correctly, you are helping to protect your shoulder, especially your rotator cuff.

    Strengthens Arms

    The chest muscles are your primary worker during chest fly. However, your arms work to hold on to the dumbbells and support the motion of the chest fly.

    How Many Calories Will These Exercises Burn?

    People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you work at a higher intensity. Bottom line – the harder you work, the more calories you burn.

    The chest fly is meant to strengthen the chest and upper body muscles. And though you will burn calories during strength training, remember that you also burn more calories throughout the day when you have more muscle mass.

    Other Exercises Similar to Chest Fly

    If you like chest flys and want to try similar exercises that compliment it, here are a few options:

    How To Do A Chest Press

    How To Do A Push-Up

    How To Do A Bicep Curl

    Incorporating Chest Flys Into Your Workouts

    The chest fly is a great exercise to do any time on its own. However, you could also incorporate it into other workouts to mix them up. Here are some ideas to make that happen.

    Use Chest Flys in an Upper-Body Workout

    Beautifully sculpted arms are the envy of everyone! Upper body strength training is a great way to achieve a stronger, more shapely upper body. Here is an upper body workout that you can do twice a week to get those results!

    Upper Body Strength Workout: Try each exercise below for the number of repetitions listed with just a few seconds in between to rest.

    Start with a brief warm-up and go immediately into your first round of push-ups!

    10 Push-Ups
    10 Chest Fly
    10 Bicep Curl
    10 Single Arm Row Right
    10 Single Arm Row Left
    10 Shoulder Front Raise
    10 Lateral Raises
    10 Tricep Overhead Extensions

    Repeat each move one more time.

    Use Chest Flys in a Full-Body Workout

    This is an excellent superset workout that strengthens your entire body. This workout includes chest flys for a more well-rounded chest and upper body!

    Total Body Strength Superset Workout: Start with a 3-4 minute warm-up using a dynamic range of motion moves such as arm circles, hip circles, inchworms, and jumping jacks. Then perform each pair of superset exercises twice.

    10 Alternating Side Lunges
    10 Push-Ups
    repeat

    10 Plie Squats
    10 Straight Arm Press Backs
    repeat

    10 Alternating Forward Lunges

    10 Chest Flys
    repeat

    10 Bridge Lifts
    10 Bicep Curls
    repeat

    10 Tricep Dips
    10 Ab Reverse Curls
    repeat

    Use Chest Flys in a Cardio-Strength Workout

    Combining cardio and strength is a great way to get a complete workout. Use chest flys in this cardio-strength combo and get full results in less time!

    10-Minute Cardio-Strength Workout: Start with a 3-4 minute warm-up using a dynamic range of motion moves such as arm circles, hip circles, inchworms, and jumping jacks. Then go through each move below for 45-seconds, each with 15 seconds to rest, and transition to the next move.

    Jumping Jacks – 45 seconds
    Squat Thrusts – 45 seconds
    Skaters – 45 seconds
    Forward Lunge Bicep Curl – 45 seconds
    Shuffle – 45 seconds
    Chest Fly – 45 seconds
    Jumprope – 45 seconds
    Renegade Rows – 45 seconds
    Power Skips – 45 seconds
    Sit-Up Press – 45 seconds
    Repeat if desired!

    Try One Of These Workouts That Incorporate Chest Flys

    At-Home Dumbbell Chest Workout with No Push-Ups

    20-Minute Upper Body Challenge

    Stability Ball Toner

    Targets: chest, biceps, and shoulders



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