The incline butterfly, also known as the incline fly, sounds like a nice dainty exercise, but after including it in a few workouts, you'll find that it's anything but. The exercise targets your chest in a movement that strengthens and lengthens your muscles. The purpose of incline butterflies is to develop strength and flexibility in your chest.
Incline Butterfly Technique
To perform an incline butterfly, begin by lying face up on an incline bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward and your arms extended above your chest. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the joints. Stabilize your abdomen and inhale as you slowly lower your arms to horizontal. Exhale and squeeze your chest muscles to bring your arms back up to the vertical position.
Incline butterflies target several muscles in your upper body. The exercise is effective for concentrating the work on the clavicular head, or upper portion, of the pectoralis major muscle. The anterior deltoids and the short head of the biceps brachii assist the pecs in moving the arms. The biceps, brachialis, triceps and wrist flexors work continuously throughout the exercise to stabilize the shoulders, elbows and wrists.
Because it's a resistance exercise, the incline butterfly can help improve upper body strength. To avoid the risk of tearing your pec muscles, never perform this exercise with heavy weights. Instead, opt for higher repetitions using light to moderate weights to safely achieve strength gains.
The incline butterfly is more commonly used to improve flexibility in the chest and shoulders. During the downward phase, the exercise uses the weight of the dumbbells to stretch the working muscles. According to the book "Strength Training Anatomy," the incline butterfly is a fundamental exercise for developing flexibility and expansion of the rib cage.
While the incline butterfly can help build and strengthen muscles to some extent, if you're after a large, strong upper body it would be wise to add a few additional exercises to your routine. The variations of the bench press, parallel bar dips and cable crossover flys can all effectively work your chest muscles. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise three nonconsecutive days per week, allowing at least 48 hours between workouts for adequate muscle recovery.
- Strength Training Anatomy, Second Edition; Frederic Delavier
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Incline Fly
- Photo Credit Marili Forastieri/Digital Vision/Getty Images