The stability ball dumbbell fly is similar to the fly on the flat bench except that here your body works harder to keep you stabilized. This single joint movement directly works your chest and front shoulders, but it also challenges your stabilizing muscles. So it’s actually a balance exercise that’s disguised as a strength exercise.
Exercise instructions for the stability ball dumbbell fly
Follow these steps to perform the stability ball dumbbell flyes safely and effectively.
STARTING POSITION (SETUP):
- Lie back with your shoulders on a stability ball, keeping your neck and head off the ball.
- Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward.
- Start with your arms out to the sides. Your elbows should have a slight bend (150-degree angle between the upper arm and the forearm).
- Keeping your elbow angle fixed, slowly bring the dumbbells together above your chest using a wide semicircle motion.
- Return to the starting position by slowly lowering your arms out to your sides until your wrists come to about shoulder level or slightly above.
- Maintain the angle of your elbows throughout the entire exercise.
Muscles engaged in Swiss ball dumbbell flyes
Swiss ball dumbbell flyes target your pectoralis major. However, they will also hit your front deltoids and abdominal muscles since these muscles assist in just about every version of the movements.
- Primary muscles engaged: Pectoralis major
- Secondary muscles engaged: Anterior deltoid, sternocleidomastoid, rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, serratus anterior.
Additional tips & performance pointers for the stability ball dumbbell flyes
Here are some useful tips you should pay attention to while doing this chest exercise.
- Lie back on a stability ball so that it is supporting your upper back, shoulders, and head.
- Ensure the ball is positioned so that your head is supported, to avoid neck strain.
- Remember to keep your elbows consistently bent throughout the movement.
- Spread your arms wide until you feel a stretch across your chest, and then bring your arms back to your starting position.
- If you bend and then straighten your elbows, you will change this from a fly exercise to a press. A press introduces the triceps to the exercise, which makes it easier, thus reducing the challenge.
- Bring your arms back toward the midline of your body, focusing on using your pec muscles to draw them back together.
- Spread your feet apart wider for more assistance from your legs, or pull them in closer together to make this more challenging.
Perform the exercise by lying back on a stability ball while keeping your feet on the soft side of a BOSU (as shown). This destabilizes you further, requiring even more core stabilization. To increase the challenge, flip the BOSU so the soft side is facing down and your feet are on the hard side.
Replacement exercises for the stability ball dumbbell flyes
There are many other flying movements to target your middle chest area. Each exercise works the middle pecs and supporting muscles slightly differently.
- Flat bench dumbbell flyes
- Machine flyes (pec-deck fly)
- Flat bench cable flyes
The stability ball dumbbell fly takes a basic chest fly (performed on the flat exercise bench) and moves it onto the stability ball to strengthen not only the muscles of the chest but also to give you a great core workout. This is possible because the Swiss ball makes the classic dumbbell fly more challenging since the surface you are lying on is very unstable. We recommend including this exercise in your chest workouts only when you’ve mastered dumbbell flyes on the exercise bench.