Dumbbell Fly

  • Alternative Names: Dumbbell chest fly, flat dumbbell fly, flat bench dumbbell fly, lying dumbbell fly
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Dumbbells
  • Muscles Targeted: Chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Average Number of Sets: 3-4 with 8-12 reps each
  • Variations: Incline, reverse, rear delt, standing, decline, underhand dumbbell fly
  • Alternative: Incline dumbbell flyes, cable crossover, butterfly

The dumbbell fly is a traditional bodybuilding exercise used for isolating the chest muscles, promoting growth in the pecs thereby helping you to build an aesthetic physique. It can be added as a finishing exercise in your chest workout routine after performing compound movements like incline presses and bench presses.

Dumbbell Fly Vs Bench Press

Muscles Worked

The dumbbell fly is an isolation movement that targets only your shoulder joints and engages the chest muscles. Conversely, the bench press is a compound exercise that works multiple joints, including your elbows and shoulders.

Movement Pattern

Dumbbell flyes involve drawing your shoulders and chest muscles towards the middle of your body while the bench press works on your ability to push the weight overhead.


  • Allows you to keep up the intensity in your chest, shoulders, and arms throughout the movement.
  • The horizontal plane of movement along with the support provided by the bench helps in targeting your chest directly.

How to do Dumbbell Fly

Lie supine on a horizontal bench, holding a pair of dumbbells (weighing about 25-45 lbs) with a neutral grip and keep them in a resting position on top of your thighs. Raise the weights to your chest level by pushing them with your thighs and hold them at shoulder width. Lift the dumbbells by pressing them and pause just before the lockout position. Slightly bend your elbows to lower your arms laterally in a wide arc until your chest is stretched. Squeeze your pectoral muscles to reverse the movement and go back to the initial position.

Dumbbell Fly

Dumbbell Chest Fly Tips

  • Make sure to keep your arms still throughout the exercise, as the movement should occur at your shoulder joints.
  • Do not squeeze the dumbbells too tightly because it will engage your biceps and forearms more and reduce the effect on the pecs.
  • Prevent the dumbbells from touching one another at the top so that you can consistently keep tension on the desired muscle groups.
  • Retract your shoulder blades slightly if you feel pain particularly at the front of your shoulder joints.

Flat Dumbbell Fly Variations

  1. Incline Dumbbell Fly: Performed by lying back on a bench inclined at an angle of about 30 degrees.
  2. Dumbbell Reverse Fly: Involves hinging from your hips and pulling the dumbbells upwards with the help of your rear deltoids.
  3. Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly: Performed by bending at the waist while sitting on the end of a flat bench, and then lifting the dumbbells to the side.
  4. Standing Dumbbell Fly: Requires you to stand upright with a pair of dumbbells at the sides, and then to lift the weights laterally.
  5. Decline Dumbbell Fly: Involves the same movement but on a decline bench.
  6. Underhand Dumbbell Fly: Performed by holding the dumbbells with an underhand grip and then lifting the right dumbbell to the center of your chest followed by the left one.

Alternative Exercises

  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes
  • Cable Crossover
  • Butterfly

Stay Connected

Get access to the latest health and fitness insights, tools and special offers to keep your career moving.