- Chest: Small pectoral muscle
(Musculus pectoralis minor)
- Chest: Anterior sawtooth muscle
(Musculus serratus anterior)
Incline Dumbbell Fly is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in upper chest training or as a supplement to various training plans.
Incline Dumbbell Fly: Basics and alternatives
Involved main muscle groups:
Incline Dumbbell Fly
You can do flyes not only for the mid-chest but also for the upper pectorals. On an incline bench, the muscle focus shifts slightly upward, making the exercise a great supplement to the flat bench press.
Another variation targeting the upper chest is incline cable flyes. If you don’t have the right equipment, you can do flyes on the floor with just a dumbbell, but the primary muscle focus shifts to the middle chest. The counterpart to incline bench flyes is decline flyes, which focus on the lower chest.
Like flat bench flyes, incline flyes are highly effective for pectoral training and provide a good muscle feel thanks to the stretch.
The exercise isn’t too difficult but requires concentration, especially for beginners. On the incline bench, you can see your movement a bit better in the mirror than on a flat bench, but looking forward changes your body tension slightly. So, after checking the mirror, focus on performing an even, symmetrical movement with both arms.
Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise. Your hands shouldn’t twist, stretch, or bend at any time. Controlled execution is more important than heavy weights.
Set the incline bench to about a 30-degree angle. If it’s too steep, flatten it a notch.
Grab the dumbbells and sit on the bench seat. Place the dumbbells on your thighs near your knees. If the dumbbells are too heavy to lift, alternate lifting your knees upward with momentum to help raise the dumbbells when lying down.
Lean back and lie on the bench’s backrest. Hold the dumbbells close to your chest. Once you’re safely lying on the bench, push the dumbbells straight up.
Pull back your shoulder blades.
Angle your elbows and lower the dumbbells outward in a controlled manner, spreading your arms. In this final position, the chest is stretched. Don’t lower your arms too far, and avoid straightening your elbows or causing pain.
Raise the dumbbells again by rotating your arms upward. Keep your elbows and shoulder blades in the same position (elbows bent; shoulder blades pulled in).
At the end of your set, lower the dumbbells back down towards your chest and then raise your torso with a bit of momentum.
The incline bench might tempt you to look forward and check the mirror to see how evenly you’re performing the exercise. This is fine for starters, but make sure to rest your head on the incline bench and look up most of the time. Otherwise, this can put unnecessary strain on your neck and harm your body tension.
Also, ensure your elbows are bent at the same angle throughout the exercise. The flyes movement comes from the rotation of the shoulders, not the elbows. Additionally, your shoulder blades should be tucked in and stay tucked in even when the dumbbells are at the top.
Don’t lower the dumbbells too far, as this can hurt your shoulders and compromise your form. Lower your arms only as far as your pulled-back shoulder blades allow and without feeling any pain. However, a slight stretching of the pectoral muscles is fine.