Are Dumbbell Flys Good?

Dumbbell chest flys or make good work with your upper body and help strengthen your chest and shoulders. While you can do a lot of dumbbell exercises with your dumbbells, a lot of people incorporate dumbbell flys in their workout routine. With all its popularity, are dumbbell flys good?

Are Dumbbell Flys Good? 

Yes, dumbbell flys are good. They target your chest, shoulder, and arm muscles. If you want to build strength then adding dumbbell flys to your workout routine helps a lot. You don’t have to start with heavy dumbbells and start light to practice proper form. 

Man sitting down performing dumbbell exercises

You should combine dumbbell flys with other chest exercises like:

  • Pushups
  • Chest press
  • Planks
  • Seated decline cable press

Combining dumbbell flys with other chest exercises ensures that a lot of muscles in your body get worked on so you won’t get muscle imbalance. Make sure you also get ample rest to help your muscles recover. One or two days of rest will ensure your muscles grow and ready for the next workout. 

What Are Dumbbell Flys?

Dumbbell flys focuses on isolating your chest muscles and performed after doing big compound lifts like bench press and incline press. Most powerlifters consider the dumbbell fly as the finishing move for every chest workout after doing a lot of pressing exercises. 

In the dumbbell fly, you don’t focus on the weight. Instead, you focus on the form and proper grip for every rep. This gives your muscles time to cool down after doing a lot of pressing exercises. 

What Muscles Does the Dumbbell Fly Work?

Dumbbell fly works the following muscles:

The dumbbell fly mainly focuses on working your chest. However, it also works your shoulders, back, and arms by helping with stabilizing the weight during your exercise.  

Dumbbell flys work both your pectoralis major (the larger chest muscle) and the pectoralis minor (the smaller chest muscle). If you continue to develop these muscles, you will notice chest separation that most people want when they do chest workout.  

How Do You Do a Fly with Just Dumbbells?

Follow these steps if you want to do the dumbbell fly with the correct form and technique so you target those important muscles.

Woman holding a pair of dumbbells at chest level
  1. Sit on a flat bench while holding a dumbbell in each of your hands. Your hands should rest on your thighs with your palms facing each other. 
  2. Lay down on the bench on your back and lying flat. With your dumbbells close to your chest. 
  3. Press the dumbbells above your chest and this will be your starting position. 
  4. Slightly bend your elbows, lower your arms laterally until you feel your chest stretch. Do not lower the dumbbells below the level of your chest. The lowest level of your dumbbell should be at chest level. 
  5. Return your arms back to the starting position. Your arms should be steady throughout the exercise and squeeze your pecs as your arms return to the starting position. 
  6. Don’t let your dumbbells touch each other and hold the contracted position for a second. Repeat the steps until your desired repetitions. 

If you want to try heavy dumbbells, you should have a spotter just in case you need additional support. You should lift the dumbbells with your chest and not with your arms. If you’re lifting it with your arms, you should lower the weight of your dumbbells to properly utilize the exercise. 

Are Dumbbell Flys Good for Chest?

Dumbbell Flys stimulates chest fibers across your chest muscles giving you that well defined “chest separation” look. You also don’t need to use heavy weights in order to work on your chest with dumbbell flys. 

The dumbbell fly also targets your pectorals, more specifically the sternal fibers. Developing these muscles leads to the development of your well-toned and separated chest muscles. 

Do Dumbbell Flys Work Biceps?

Biceps plays a limited role in dumbbell flys. You do a move with your body called the shoulder flexion that involves the biceps. It does not significantly work the biceps and you mainly focus on lifting the weights with your chest. 

Woman performing dumbbell flys

The dumbbell fly uses the pectoralis major to move your arms (with dumbbells) horizontally forward. The biceps only acts as a support to facilitate the motion while the pectorals do all the heavy lifting. 

If you want to work your biceps, you should do exercise that mainly focuses on working your biceps with dumbbells. Adding bicep exercises to your workout routine also helps with resting your chest muscles. 

Can You Do Dumbbell Flys on the Floor?

If you don’t have a spotter to support you, the floor can act as your support. While you can do dumbbell flys on the floor, it isn’t as effective as the regular bench dumbbell fly. 

Once you perform the dumbbell flys on the bench, Your arms have nothing that can support it from the gravity pulling it down. Therefore, you are forced to exert more energy to maintain a proper position. 

When you lie on the floor, your arms can rest on the floor during the dumbbell fly. This gives you time to rest your arms especially if you’re lifting heavy dumbbells. 


You should add dumbbell flys to your workout routine if you want to get that “chest separation” look. Dumbbell flys make a great cool-down exercise especially after a set of heavy pressing exercises. Make use of light dumbbells first to get the proper form and go up in weight if you find it less challenging.

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.