HomeExercise LibraryHow To: Flat Dumbbell Flies

How To: Flat Dumbbell Flies

Flat Dumbbell Flies
The dumbbell fly is an excellent exercise for adding both size and strength to the chest.
Dumbbell flies, regardless of whether they're being performed on a flat, incline or decline bench target the outer portion of the chest.

There's a fine line between good form, poor form and a potential injury when it comes to performing dumbbell flies, as strict form is near impossible to maintain with heavy weight, often resulting in shoulder and rotator cuff related issues.

If you take one thing from this instructional article for dumbbell flies be it this:

Forget the weight, focus on your form, a nice slow tempo and hold that contraction at the top of bottom of each repetition momentarily - save the heavy lifting for your pressing movements.

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Chest

Required: Dumbbells

Optional: N/A

Flat Dumbbell Flies Form:

Sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Rest the dumbbells on your thighs with your palms facing each other.

Using your thighs kick the dumbbells up one at a time.

Once the dumbbells have been loaded into place ensure your palms are facing towards each other.

Maintain a slight bend in your arms as you proceed to slowly lower the dumbbells down to your sides, keep your arms as straight as possible without having them locked out.

See also
How To: Weighted Bench Dips

Squeeze and contract your chest at the bottom of the repetition for 1 second.

Maintaining the same slight bend in your arms proceed to fly the dumbbells back up to the starting position. The best analogy I have heard (which helped me finally get the right form!) for dumbbell flies is to imagine you're hugging a tree - practising this movement standing up without weights and familiarise yourself, then take it to the bench with your dumbbells.

Flat Dumbbell Flies Variations

Incline Dumbbell Flies

Utilizing the same form described above, the only difference here is you'll be performing your dumbbell flies on an incline bench. Incline places more emphasis on the upper chest.

Decline Dumbbell Flies

Utilizing the same form described above, the only difference here is you'll be performing your dumbbell flies on a decline bench. decline places more emphasis on the lower portion of the chest.

Here Are The ONLY Pair of Dumbbells I'll Ever Recommend...

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weights

Instead of buying multiple sets of dumbbells or messing around screwing weight plates on and off your dumbbells between sets and exercises the Bowflex adjustable dumbbell makes progressing with your routine and exercise so much easier and efficient.

Adjustable in 2.5lb increments all the way up to 52.5lbs per dumbbell, ideal for the beginner or intermediate gym-goer

You can invest in a pair of these dumbbells that'll last you forever here.

Common Flat Dumbbell Flies Mistakes

Utilizing A Partial Range Of Motion

As you maintain a slight bend in your arms you must allow the dumbbells to pull your arms back until you feel the stretch in your chest.

See also
How To: Foam Roll Lats

Not Maintaining A Bend In Your Arms

With dead straight arms you'll find that you're not only failing to get the same stretch and contraction in the chest, but you're also placing yourself at greater risk of elbow/shoulder injuries.

Failing To Contract The Chest On Each Repetition

At the top of the movement you must squeeze your chest muscles together in order to get a full contraction, if you're merely going through the motions but not taking the time to squeeze on each repetition you're going to fail to see the results you're after.

Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Wide Grip Barbell Presses (Flat/Incline/Decline)
  • Pec Dec
  • Wide Grip Push-Ups
  • Cable Crossovers

Any Questions Regarding The Flat Dumbbell Flies? Ask Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

Stay in Touch

To follow the best weight loss journeys, success stories and inspirational interviews with the industry's top coaches and specialists. Start changing your life today!

Related Articles