Strong chest muscles help you carry and lower heavy items and also contribute to a toned, defined chest. One exercise to target these muscles is the dumbbell fly. While the traditional exercise may be performed using a flat weight bench, you also can increase the angle to perform an incline fly. This exercise targets a higher muscular aspect of the chest than the traditional flat-bench fly. Always speak to your physician, however, before beginning any weight training program to ensure you do not have any injuries that would keep you from safely exercising.
About the Exercise
Incline flies are performed using a weight bench, typically at a 45-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Use a weight heavy enough so you can perform 10 to 12 repetitions, the last rep with difficulty. Lie with your back against the weight bench and feet flat on the ground. Lift your dumbbells in the air, palms facing each other, keeping them at chest height. Bend your arms slightly to prevent locking your elbows, which can strain your arms. Breathe in and take a breath out as you open your arms, maintaining your bent-arm position. Stop when your arms make a T-shape with your torso and shoulders. Breathe in as you lift your arms back to your starting position. The return movement should look like you are hugging someone.
Chest Muscles Targeted
Changing the bench angle to an incline means greater pressure is placed on the upper portion of the chest muscle. Specifically, the incline fly targets the clavicular portion of your pectoralis major muscle. This muscle is located just below your collarbone and is responsible for rotating your arms inward, lifting and lowering your arms and moving your arms forward and backward.
Incline Fly Versus Flat-Bench Fly
The flat-bench fly and incline fly target different aspects of the chest muscles. Each exercise can have a place in your regular weight training routine. The traditional, flat dumbbell fly typically targets the sternal head of your pectoralis major muscle, which is the muscle that makes up most of your chest wall. By targeting the clavicular portion, you increase the load on the smaller chest muscle.
Incline dumbbell flies can be easy to move through quickly as you open and close your arms in quick succession. To truly target the clavicular pectoralis major muscle, however, you must perform the exercise slowly using a full range of motion. Focus on the upper chest muscles as you control the weights while raising and lowering them. If needed, you can count to five while opening your arms and five while returning your arms to your starting position to further target your chest.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.