Decline Bench Dumbbell Fly Exercise
A flye movement is when the arms are bent and are drawn across the front of the upper body in a hugging motion. Performing a decline fly means lying on a a bench where your head is below your knees. Using the decline bench to perform the dumbbell fly exercise focuses more on the lower portion of the chest and front portion of your shoulders known as the anterior deltoid.
The dumbbell fly is not an ego lift. The purpose of the movement is to overload the pecs through the principle of isolation. Isolation movements have fallen out of vogue with some so-called functional training experts. This is a mistake if the objective is to maximize muscular development or even create a balanced physique.
How to Perform Decline Bench Dumbbell Fly?
STARTING POSITION: Set an decline bench at a 30- to 40-degree angle. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on your back on a decline bench. Secure your feet under the ankle pads. To start, raise the weights directly above the lower half of your chest so that your arms are nearly straight (elbows slightly bent), your palms face each other and the dumbbells touch.
EXECUTION (ACTION): Keep your elbows bent slightly throughout and begin lowering the dumbbells out and down to your sides in an arc. When your upper arms are in roughly the same horizontal plane as your torso (your upper arms are parallel with the floor), your palms should face the ceiling. Raise the weights back up in an wide arc, retracing the path of descent. Squeeze the weights up and together by forcefully contracting your chest muscles. Try making a big hugging-type movement without bouncing at the bottom.
Tips & Tricks
- If you prefer to use significantly heavier weight (not recommended), bent your elbows more than normal as you lower the dumbbells. The resulting motion is a cross between a press and a fly.
- As with all flye exercises, don’t let the dumbbells drop too low at your sides; this could easily strain your chest muscles.
- Always try to keep your arms slightly bent at the elbows; if you lock them, you make the exercise easier on your pecs. Maintain this angle of your elbows throughout the entire exercise (range of motion).
- The fly exercise works best when the dumbbells are held with a neutral grip (palms facing together), but a pronated grip (palms facing forward) can also be used as a variation.
- The lower the dumbbells descend, the greater the pectoral stretch, but also the greater the chance of injury.
- When you bring your arms back toward the midline of your body, focus on using your pec muscles to draw them back together.
In contrast to incline flyes, it is the lower fibers that do most of the work in this exercise.
- Primary: Lower pectoralis major (sternal head)
- Secondary: Anterior deltoid, triceps
Decline Bench Dumbbell Fly Variations
- Pronated Grip Decline Bench Dumbbell Fly. The fly exercise works best when the dumbbells are held with a neutral grip (palms facing each other), but a pronated grip (palms facing forward) can also be used as a variation.
- Variable Grip Decline Bench Dumbbell Fly. Hold the dumbbells with a pronated grip (palms forward) at the bottom of the movement and then rotate the dumbbells during the lift so that your palms face each other (neutral grip) at the top of the movement.
Substitutes – Recplacement Lower Chest Exercises
- Decline bench cable fly
- Cable crossover
In theory, this lower chest exercise (just like the flyes performed on the flat and incline bench) helps the expansion of the chest, especially in young athletes who are still growing. The gains are less for older people, although there is evidence that dumbbell flyes may elongate the intercostal cartilage. In reality, it is almost identical to the decline bench dumbbell press, at least with regards to the pectoral muscle.
People tend to gravitate towards flye movements because these types of exercises allow them to “feel it more in the muscle”. Flyes are an isolation exercise and when performed intensely they seem to produce a more focused effect on the chest muscles because of their isolated nature.
Even though flyes may feel like they’re hitting your chest really hard, the isolated, unchallenging nature of these movements produce only a fraction of the overall anabolic effect that heavy pressing movements will produce.
Flat and decline flyes are great for building the outer chest and for carving that clean line that separates the chest from the torso.