Dumbbell chest fly - how to

Move of the week: open up desk-bound chests with dumbbell chest fly

Posted by for Workouts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: dumbbell chest fly.  

If you sit down at a desk all day, you probably know that you’re making posture mistakes. As you lean into your laptop, your shoulders rise ever higher towards your ears. That’s not a good thing, and it can be difficult to undo bad posture habits when you’re working from home. One exercise that can help, however, is the dumbbell chest fly. It can help open up your chest muscles and reduce upper back pain.

It’s simple but effective and doesn’t require you to have heavy weights at home to reap all the benefits.

What exactly is a dumbbell chest fly?

A “fly” is a common strength training exercise which involves the hand and arm moving through an arch, while the elbow stays still. Above the elbow, the body remains static.

It’s great because:

  • It opens up the chest muscles: These tend to become weak from desk-working. We do plenty of back exercises but few moves to target our chest muscles.
  • It strengthens the chest and shoulders: Lying on your back means being able to isolate the necessary muscles, ensuring that they do the work rather than relying on the lower back or glutes to help out.
  • It doesn’t require big weights: We’re working quite small muscles here so you don’t need to lift a lot to reap the benefits. If you’re not used to moving in this plain of motion, you could even do this exercise without weights.
  • It can be done easily at home, as well as in the gym: All you need is a pair of light dumbbells and a floor. 

What MUSCLES DOES THE DUMBBELL CHEST FLY WORK?

A dumbbell chest fly works the upper body muscle, including:

  • Pectoralis major (the muscles in front of your rib cage)
  • Deltoids (on your shoulder caps)
  • Biceps (front upper arms)

HOW TO DO A DUMBBELL CHEST FLY

  1. Grab your dumbbells and arrange them so that they’re either side of your mat.
  2. Lie down on your mat, pressing your lower back into the floor.
  3. Take a dumbbell in each hand, engage the core, and bring them above your head so that your arms are straight.
  4. Bending from the elbows, move the dumbbells away from each other until your arms are in a wide arc (as if you’re going to hug someone).
  5. Slowly return the arms to the centre and repeat.

Keen to improve your form? Check out our How To library to see exactly how the experts do over 100 of the most common strength training exercises.

Image: Stylist

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Miranda Larbi

Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.

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