The dumbbell flying exercise movement is a great exercise which targets the working of the outer portions of the chest muscles.  Just as with dumbbell bench presses, this exercise requires an exercise bench and two equally loaded dumbbells and can be adapted to be performed on an incline, flat, or decline bench orientation to emphasize work being performed by the upper, middle and lower portions of the chest muscles respectively. 


When performing dumbbell chest flies you will use far less weight than when performing dumbbell bench presses as you will not be pressing but pulling with your chest.  To begin the movement, you will grab the two equivalent dumbbells and get into the position where you are lying on the exercise bench with the dumbbells supported upward by your arms.  Your hands may be positioned such that your palms (if opened, which here they are not as they are grasping the dumbbells) would be facing each other which is most common or such that your palms (if opened) would face towards your feet.  You will then lower the loaded dumbbells down and outward towards your sides with elbows in a slightly bent (but locked in place), stretched position to the degree that is comfortable for the chest muscles while still working them.  In the fully stretched (downward) position, the arms should not stretch more than what allows the elbow joint to lower slightly below the top of the chest muscles.  You will then raise your arms in the upward (positive) portion of the movement, but be sure not let the dumbbells come closer than shoulder width apart as this will shift the work away from the chest allowing the muscles to rest during the repetition.  You will then repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.


While this movement is a chest exercise it will require the use of the bicep muscles for proper movement.  Since the elbow joints must remain slightly bent and locked during the exercise, the biceps are needed to achieve this.  During the movement, it’s important to not allow arms to become straight as this can either allow too much stress on the elbow joints or an increased pressure on the bicep muscles.  On the other hand, after performing several sets and repetitions of this exercise, as the chest becomes tired, fight the tendency for the biceps to heavily contract when the arms are coming together and the chest as pulling as this will start to work the bicep muscles more.


Consult with a physician prior to starting a resistance training program so that your ability and health to begin performing these exercises can be safely assessed.  It is advisable to have a physical trainer work with you to teach you the proper techniques for this or any other exercise to reduce chances of injury during the movement.  Caution should always be used when performing this or any other exercise, especially if it is an exercise you are unfamiliar with.  When beginning a new exercise, start with lighter weight and work your way up as you become accustomed to it.




Kennedy, Robert. (1998). Basic Routines for Massive Muscles. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company.