How to Perform Back Fly Exercises: Proper Form, Benefits & More

How to Perform Back Fly Exercises: Proper Form, Benefits & More

Authored by Audrey on July 14, 2021

Ready to learn about back fly exercise? P90X and other fitness methods have popularized this workout—and we’re all for it! Read on to learn more about the many benefits of back fly exercises: they’ll strengthen your shoulder muscles, improve posture, and more!  Whether you want to try a reverse back fly, a standard dumbbell version, or another variety, your friends at Jack City Fitness are here to explain the back fly workout.

What Is Reverse Fly Exercise? 

Reverse fly exercise, also known as “rear delt fly” or “back fly exercise” is a type of resistance workout that strengthens the back. In fact, many athletes recommend performing the reverse fly exercise as a way to specifically target the deltoid muscles. Additional upper body muscles, like trapezius and rhomboids, also benefit from a back fly workout. 

Although the best-known version of this workout is the dumbbell back fly, there are several variations for athletes to choose between. This is handy for those who prefer alternative equipment to a classic set of dumbbells or like to switch things up from time to time.

Before we jump into the varieties of reverse fly exercise, let’s tackle the basics.

What Is a Reverse Fly? 

The reverse fly workout is categorized as resistance training. It is straightforward for athletes of all levels to learn and do. It can be easily incorporated into your larger back and shoulder workout routine—but first, you need to know how to perform it properly. 

As the name suggests, a  classic dumbbell back fly involves the use of weights. We recommend that you perfect your reverse fly game at the gym under the helpful eye of a fitness coach. Once you’ve nailed it, you can take it to your home gym, the beach—anywhere you can carry your set of weights. 

To perform a classic dumbbell reverse fly:

1. Begin with a dumbbell in each hand.

2. Plant your feet about hip-width apart. Your knees should be slightly bent.

3. Use your hips to bend forward—your arms should be hanging down towards the ground. Be sure you are gripping your dumbbells so your palms face inwards, towards you.

4. It’s time to fly: while squeezing your shoulder blades together, lift your arms out to your sides like they’re a set of wings. 

5. Bring yourself back to your starting pose. That was one rep.

6. Repeat for 12-15 reps. This is one set.

How Can I Perfect My Reverse Fly Form?

Like with any workout, proper form is essential when performing reverse fly exercise. Once you’ve nailed down your form, it will work across varieties; regardless of equipment, the cornerstones of proper reverse fly form remain consistent. 

A few key tips for nailing your back fly form:

  • Keep Your Back Straight

This workout calls for a straight back—be mindful of arching it or slouching. 

  • Engage Your Upper Back Muscles

With a reverse fly workout, the muscles need to be in control of your movements. Engage them to ensure that your arm motion is precise and stable—you shouldn’t be “swinging” the weights. 

  • Make Yourself Comfortable

A standing reverse fly doesn’t work for every athlete. Does that mean this workout is off-limits to them? No way! Back fly exercise can also be performed from a lying position. Some athletes perform a reverse fly while laying on a bench, while others prefer to use a yoga ball.

What Are the Benefits of Reverse Fly Exercise?

There are several enticing benefits of back fly exercise! 

Athletes who engage in regular reverse fly exercise enjoy:

  • More stability and balance
  • Less risk of injury
  • Better posture
  • Easier daily movements
  • Decreased pain in the neck/shoulders
  • Longer stamina and increased athletic performance 
  • Well-balanced muscles

What Types of Reverse Fly Workouts Exist?

Once you’ve perfected the dumbbell back fly, you may want to try your hand at another variety. Lucky you; there are several forms of back fly exercise for athletes to choose from. 

Some of the most popular non-dumbbell back fly workouts are:

  • Cable Back Fly

The cable back fly operates on the same principle as the dumbbell variation—it simply uses different equipment. Cable machine lovers, this one’s for you.

To perform a cable reverse fly: 

1. Establish your standing pose: a cable back fly begins with your arms crossed. So, your right hand should be gripping the left pulley of the cable machine and vice versa. 

2. Carefully bring your arms out to the sides, ensuring that they are straight the whole time. Don’t let go of the pulleys! 

3. Return to your starting position. This is one rep.

4. Repeat for 10-12 reps.

  • Back Fly, Bench Style

For athletes prone to back pain, doing a reverse fly with a bench provides a more comfortable workout. This variation is also referred to as an “incline prone reverse dumbbell fly.” 

To perform a  back fly, bench-style:

1. Set your workout bench to a 45-degree angle.

2. Lay frontwards on the bench; you should be facedown, facing the upward slant of the bench. Your head should poke over the bench, so you are looking at the floor from an angle.

3. In each hand, hold a dumbbell. Allow your arms to hang down, away from your body.

4. While squeezing your shoulder blades inwards, bend your elbow slightly and bring your hands apart. 

5. Lift your arms, so they are aligned with your shoulders.

6. Carefully return to your starting pose. That was one rep.

7. Repeat 11-15 times.

Looking to explore even more versions of a reverse fly workout? There are more where these came from. Some athletes like to step up their dumbbell reverse fly game by increasing their weight load or standing in a more challenging position. At Jack City, some of our partners prefer to do their reverse fly workout from a lunge pose. This works the core and legs along with the upper back and shoulders!

What Back Fly Workout Is Best for Me?

Wondering what type of back fly workout will suit you best? This will depend on several factors, like your unique physical health, goals, and equipment preference. 

For athletes who prefer to exercise on the go, a classic dumbbell reverse fly may be your best bet. After all, dumbbells are fairly portable and reasonably priced, allowing you to do your reverse fly workout anywhere from a tiny apartment to a makeshift hotel room gym. 

For athletes with chronic back problems, a seated back fly workout is probably the best bet. If you prefer back days at the gym, though, an incline-prone reverse dumbbell fly is probably your best bet. For those who want to work out at home, a yoga ball might make a better choice. Many athletes switch it up by doing yoga ball reverse flys at home and bench reverse flys at the gym. 

We suggest perfecting a cable back fly for athletes who prefer to do all their working out in a gym. Your gym will have a professional-level cable machine for you to use—at Jack City, you can come and use it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Where Can I Practice a Back Fly Workout in Boise?

Boise, if you’re looking to step up your back day game, there’s only one place to go: Jack City Fitness. Here, we’re all athletes—and your needs are number one. We want you to meet your goals and see results, whether you’re beasting your way through reverse flys, deadlifts, or any other workout. 

Ready to join us? Get in touch with our team today by calling (208) 999-1111. We’ll invite you over for a FREE fitness consultation. While you’re here, you can also poke around our facilities to see our equipment and space, meet our amazing coaches, and preview one of our famous classes. Once you’ve signed up with us, you’ll have immediate 24/7 gym access, options for custom training, a fleet of enthusiastic coaches to help you progress, and much more. 

We can’t wait to welcome you to our community and help you reach your goals! Results, here you come…visit Jack City Fitness today!



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