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Reacquaint Yourself With the Dumbbell Flye

Rediscover an old-school favorite by varying your angle of attack

Rob Fitzgerald
Reacquaint Yourself With the Dumbbell Flye

We’re calling it secondary exercise syndrome (SES), and it’s a disease we’ve all caught at some point. On chest day, for example, you attack your bench-press sets with all you’ve got and then proceed to perform half-assed versions of three or four more moves just for the sake of doing them. And the one exercise that always gets short shrift on chest day is the dumbbell flye.

It’s a shame, because SES deprives you of the full benefit of perhaps the best builder of the pectoralis major among all your options for chest- assistance work. You’re also leaving yourself susceptible to injury and failing to take advantage of a unique twist that makes this movement more effective.

The twist here is, well, the twist. Rotating your pinkie fingers inward engages your pectoralis major from a different angle than returning to the start position with a neutral grip—and in this case, different means more: more motor units, more muscle fibers, and more growth. Add this version of dumbbell flyes at the end of your next chest day and you’ll feel the difference immediately.

Straighten Up, Flye Right

To perform dumbbell flyes correctly, take the following four-step approach:

  1. Lie back on a flat or incline bench holding a pair of dumbbells over your chest with your elbows slightly bent and your palms facing each other.
  2. Separate your hands and lower the dumbbells directly to each side until you feel a stretch in your chest. At the bottom of the move, your palms should face the ceiling or slightly inward.
  3. Reverse this motion, raising the dumbbells along the same path while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  4. When you’re halfway through your range of motion on the way up, rotate your wrists and shoulders inward so the dumbbells are touching at the top with your palms facing your head.

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