If you’ve got the office slump – rounded back and caved-in chest – the reverse dumbbell fly can help to combat poor posture. It’s an isolation exercise targeting your upper back and the rear muscles of your shoulders. By building these muscles, you can balance the strength in your shoulders, which shields the shoulders from injury and straightens out your back.
Start the exercise in a squat position with your feet hip-width apart. Holding dumbbells and allowing your arms to hang directly below your shoulders, bend forward at the waist. To support your lower spine, contract your abs. Use your rear delts, or shoulder muscles, and upper back to lift your arms in an expansive arcing movement like a butterfly spreading its wings. Raise the weights until your elbows are on the same plane as your shoulders. Slowly lower them back to the starting position. Begin with light weights so you feel a slight burn in your muscles after 12 to 20 reps. Aim to complete three sets. As you grow stronger, gradually increase the amount of weight in the exercise.
To boost instability, you can add a Swiss ball, increasing the difficulty of the exercise and activating your core stabilizing muscles. The simplest version is to lie with your chest on the ball. Use the same form as you would for the standing reverse fly, keeping your legs straight and extended behind you. You can also place the ball on a wall at chest height and lean against the ball with your body. In this variation, step back with your left foot. Keep your right foot on the ground and beneath the ball.
Use an Incline Bench
If you use an incline bench, you can isolate your rear deltoids to a greater extent because you don’t have to focus on stabilizing your body. This variation is typically easier than the standard reverse dumbbell fly from a standing position. Lie face down on a bench set to about a 45-degree incline. Your hips should form a 90-degree angle to your trunk. Bend your knees and allow your toes to rest on the ground on the sides of the bench. Allow your arms to hang directly below your shoulders. Using peripheral vision, you can monitor your arm movements.
Tips and Considerations
Dumbbells offer the flexibility of using different grips to target regions of your shoulders and back. For example, if you use a neutral grip in which your palms face each other, you can strengthen the whole of your upper back. While an underhand grip will put stress on the rotator muscles in the shoulders, an overhand grip will condition your rear delts. Avoid rounding or arching your back during the exercise. Use slow and controlled motions, avoiding the use of momentum or a swinging movement to raise the weights.
- 101 Ways to Burn Fat on the Ball: Lose Weight With Fun Cardio And Body-Sculpting Moves!; Lizbeth Garcia
- The Ultimate Body Shaping Bible: Get in the Best Shape of Your Life with Targeted Workouts That Tone and Tighten Everything; Karon Karter
- Bodybuilding.com: Reverse Dumbbell Fly
- The Mayo Clinic: Reverse Fly with Dumbbell
- Precision Exercises; Brian P. Lambert
- The Men’s Health Home Workout Bible; Lou Schuler and Michael Mejia
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.