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Dumbbell Pec Flys

Dumbbell Pec Flys

Let us be honest. Even if your primary goal is strength, packing on a bit of size in all the right places is an added bonus. Except for maybe your guns, there is no better place for bulging muscle than your chest.

Is there a better feeling than at the end of a chest workout, when you pump out some dumbbell flys – whether it be flat, incline or decline – and feel the old pectorals get engorged with blood. The old pecs practically start bouncing themselves.

If you are new to training and feel the need for some showboating, you need to get one thing straight. Dumbbell flys are great for pumping blood into the muscle and adding some shape. But you cannot do either of these if you have no muscle to begin with.

Impressive pecs are built with pressing. Save your energy for pushing hard on these exercises. Doing heavy dumbbell flys with terrible form is a waste of time.

That is why it is important to know how to perform this exercise with proper form and avoid mistakes which can lead to injury.

The movement:

- Choose the variation you would like to perform.

- Maintain the arch in your upper spine.

- Place your feet in front of your knees.

- Grab a light pair of dumbbells.

- Your arms are supposed to be slightly bent.

- Think of the movement as hugging a tree – your arms should move in an arc-like motion.

- Bring the dumbbells down until you feel a light stretch in your pecs, don’t go all the way down for the first few reps.

- Bring the dumbbells back to the top.

- Rotate your palm inwards and squeeze your pec at the top of the movement.

Should you touch the dumbbells?

Sadly, touching the dumbbells together at the top will bring you nothing but attention in the gym. While you should be seeking for the tension on the muscle.

By touching the dumbbells together, you would lose the tension on the muscle, even though it does not increase the risk of injury it does make you leave some gains on the table.

How to get a peak contraction?

The most known way is to bring the dumbbells as close to each other at the top of the movement and squeezing your pecs.

We asked Mr Universe Winner Lee Priest if there was a better way to do it. Surprisingly, there is!

Rather than just squeezing the pecs at the top, try rotating your palms inwards and then squeezing your pecs. This way you will be able to achieve the best muscle contraction and reap the optimal results.

How wide should you go?

There is a limit of how much you can stretch your pec before other muscle groups take over. So, even though you might feel like you are getting a great stretch on your chest, chances are it is the other muscle groups which are giving you that sensation.

Keep your elbows slightly bent and do not bring the dumbbells all the way down. If you straighten your arms you will put too much pressure on your biceps tendon.

Foot position?

Keep your feet in front of your knees and push yourself up. This way you will be able to keep the tension in your whole body and focus on training the muscle.

You should not perform this exercise with your feet up on the bench, dumbbells are far more unstable than your straight barbell. One wrong move and you will either get injured or fall off the bench. Either it will result in a trendy YouTube fail video!

Flat/Incline/Decline

Ideally, you would work you the whole three variations, but not necessarily in the same workout or training block! Variations are an important key to muscular development. If you do the same task for a period, your body will become efficient at that movement. If you vary things occasionally, you will be able to reap the optimum results from your training.

Bench Angle for the Incline Dumbbell Fly?

The optimal angle for the incline dumbbell fly’s would be between 35°-45° angle. Anything higher and you will activate too much of your shoulders. Anything lower and you will defeat the purpose of performing incline fly.

How many reps should you perform?

This is an accessory exercise, so you should choose a lighter weight and opt for somewhere between 8-15 repetitions with a correct form.

The most common mistakes:

Going too wide and putting too much stress on their biceps tendon and shoulders.

Not locking their chest into the plate and using their front delts and arms to complete the repetition.

Some will go too heavy and instead of performing a pec fly, they transition into dumbbell press.

Linas Valuckas
Posted by Linas Valuckas

My name is Linas, I moved to Australia from Lithuania to study. I work part time at Sam's Fitness as a Digital Media Specialist which involves uploading and managing the content on the many platforms we operate on. So this combines my two passions - weight training and computers! 

 If you have any questions about bench pressing I am more than happy to share my Soviet era bench regimes - all the secrets from behind the Iron Curtain!