A fly (or flye) is a strength training exercise in which the hand and arm move through an arc while the elbow is kept at a constant angle. Flyes are used to work the muscles of the upper body. Because these exercises use the arms as levers at their longest possible length, the amount of weight that can be moved is significantly less than equivalent press exercises for the same muscles (the military press and bench press for the shoulder and chest respectively).


Flyes can be performed using any weight that can be held in the hand. The simplest equipment to use is a dumbbell, though they can also be performed using a cable machine and sitting or standing upright. When using a cable machine, the hands and arms move through the same anatomical plane as the dumbbell version.

Shoulder fly

The shoulder fly (also known as a lateral raise) works the deltoid muscle of the shoulder. The movement starts with the arms straight, and the hands holding weights at the sides or in front of the body. Arms are kept straight or slightly bent, and raised through an arc of movement in the coronal plane that terminates when the hands are at approximately shoulder height. Weights are lowered to the starting position, completing one "rep". When using a cable machine the individual stands with the coronal plane in line with the pulley, which is at or near the ground. The exercise can be completed one shoulder at a time (with the other hand used to stabilize the body against the weight moved), or with both hands simultaneously if two parallel pulleys are available.

Inverted fly

The inverted fly (also known as a bent-over lateral raise) works the posterior deltoid. The exercise is performed with the torso parallel to the ground, facing down, with the hands in front of the face. Arms are moved through the transverse plane in an arc until parallel to the ground (or the limit of the range of motion of the shoulder is reached), then returned to the starting position and repeated. A variation involves sitting upright and using a cable machine; the machine is next to the shoulder opposite the muscle being worked (in line with the coronal plane), and the hand moves through the transverse plane across the front of the body at approximately eye level.

Chest fly

The chest or pectoral fly works the pectoral muscles, as well as the biceps and deltoid to a lesser extent. The movement is performed lying on the back on a bench, starting weights extended above the chest, meeting at the midsagittal plane. Arms are kept straight or slightly bent, and are lowered through an arc passing through the transverse plane, terminating when the arm is roughly parallel to the floor, then returning to the starting position and repeating. Do not lock the joint with the arms out straight. If using a cable machine, the body leans forward to counterbalance the weight moved, with the feet braced and the elbows are positioned slightly below shoulder height. The arms move the same arc as a bench fly, relative to the torso.

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