One of your breast day braces needs to go. It’s time to say goodbye to the dumbbell fly.
The fly isn’t just that worst Exercise, but for decades the general strength training community has blindly relied on using dumbbells and a bench to get that firm push on our pecs. But just because everyone at the gym does the move doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you.
There are better and safer fly alternatives than that overrated dumbbell pull, loud men health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, and MH Advisory Board Member David Otey, CSCS
The problems with the dumbbell fly
risk of injury
“In dumbbell flying we want to focus primarily on emphasizing the muscle and not emphasizing the stress in the joint, which adds up to a safety and risk situation, which is why you shouldn’t fly the dumbbell,” says Otey.
A common problem for many people (especially those new to strength training) is that they mistake a pec stretch for overextending their shoulders. This unnecessary range of motion can be enough for shoulder problems to develop later, says Samuel.
Not optimal for a chest squeeze
Another problem with using dumbbells for the fly is that the adduction (moving your arms toward the midline of the body) isn’t as effective as when using other machines. According to Samuel, the exercise’s goal of using your pecs to squeeze at the top of the movement is severely compromised by the lack of gravity at the top.
If you bring your arms together once your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are stacked, you lose the maximum tension you’re aiming for when using dumbbells. This issue also makes choosing an appropriate weight problematic, and even five pounds can make a difference when we’re talking about shoulder loads.
Dumbbell fly alternatives to train your chest
But there are many better ways to still perform the fly without the dumbbells, like these:
Dumbbell Floor Fly/DB T-Bench Fly
3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions
Dumbbells can be used for a fly, and then use an anchor (like the floor or a bench) to prevent overextending your range of motion. Because of this, you can get a little heavier with the weight when you do the dumbbell floor or bench fly, making it a great finish to your chest workout.
cable bow tie
3 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps
Using a cable machine allows you to hit the central chest fibers that you were originally targeting with the dumbbell fly. What makes these more effective is that the cable pull system allows you to work against a more consistent source of resistance that moves throughout the movement.
Fly resistance band
3 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps
This underused option is possibly the most effective of the exercises because bands offer the most resistance when they are stretched the most. This means that peak resistance is at maximum pectoral contraction – which decreases with cables and free weights – and you’re able to get the most out of the focus point of the exercise.
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