Dumbbell Shoulder Fly: How to Do and Muscles Worked

The shoulder fly or shoulder raise is a fundamental weight training exercise that is great for people who want to build strength or create more definition in the shoulders.

While a dumbbell fly primarily engages your shoulder muscles, it works the muscles in your arms and back. You can do the delt fly with a cable machine, but it’s easiest to do with a dumbbell.

Shoulder fly should be included in upper-body strength training routines and performed after compounds of exercises, such as incline dumbbell press, shoulder press, push-ups, or pull-ups.

There are many ways to do delt fly such as lateral fly, front fly and reverse delt fly.

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Dumbbell Lateral Fly

Dumbbell Shoulder lateral fly, also known as lateral raises, is an exercise that primarily targets the lateral deltoids (Side shoulder muscle).

This laser focus allows you to build side deltoid muscle mass. This results in wider-looking shoulders.

Strong lateral deltoids aren’t just about aesthetics. They help keep your shoulder joint stable during a wide range of movements like weight lifting or throwing a ball.

Lateral Raise

Muscles Worked

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bring the weights together in front of you. The palms should be facing each other.
  2. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and engage your core for stability.
  3. Lift the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms parallel the floor. Don’t just swing your arms.
  4. Pause briefly at the top, feeling the contraction in your lateral deltoids.
  5. Lower the dumbbells back to their starting position.
  6. Perform a warm-up with 50% weight for 1-2 sets. Always use weights that you can handle comfortably.

Standing Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

The bent-over dumbbell reverse fly, also known as the bent-over rear delt fly, is a great exercise for building a complete set of shoulders.

Many lifters utilize the bent-over dumbbell reverse fly to target the rear delts, an often lagging muscle for many lifters alike.

Strengthening the rear delts with the bent-over rear delt fly can improve posture and greater strength on other lifts.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

Muscles Worked

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your hips and knees until your body is parallel to the ground.
  2. Your back should be straight, your arms should hang in front of you, and your palms should face inward.
  3. Keep your elbows slightly bent and raise your arms to the sides until the dumbbells align with your shoulders.
  4. Do not swing the dumbbells upward. Keep your back straight and your body still.
  5. Hold for a count of two and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Read More for How To Do Seated Rear shoulder Fly Properly

Head-supported Rear Dumbbell Fly

The head-supported reverse dumbbell fly is commonly called the head-supported bent-over dumbbell lateral raise.

It is a variation of the bent-over rear delt fly. Some lifters find that placing their heads on an incline bench helps them isolate their rear delts.

Head-supported reverse dumbbell fly

Muscles Worked

  • Primary: Posterior deltoid.
  • Secondary: Lateral deltoid, trapezius, rhomboids, infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major.

How To Do

  1. Place an incline bench at about 70–80 degrees.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, bend at the hips, and rest your forehead on the edge of the bench.
  3. You should have a straight back and arms hanging in front of you.
  4. Keep your elbows slightly bent and raise both arms to the sides until you reach the same height as your shoulders.
  5. Hold for two seconds, then slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

Set, Reps And Frequency For Dumbbell Shoulder Fly

LevelDescriptionSets per workoutRepsFrequency (Per week)
BeginnerStart with lighter weights and focus on mastering proper form and technique.2-38-12 1
IntermediateOnce you’re comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the weight and intensity.3-4 8-12 1-2
AdvancedAdd more sets, higher weights, and advanced variations to your dumbbell shoulder fly workouts.4-5 8-15 2-3


Are reverse flyes for the back or shoulders?

The reverse fly targets the muscles in the upper back but focuses on the rear deltoid (the backside of the shoulder).

Are shoulder flys effective?

Yes, shoulder flys can be very effective for targeting and developing the muscles in the shoulders, specifically the deltoids. Moreover, shoulder flys can help improve posture and make a well-rounded physique.

Should I do shoulder flys sitting or standing?

Both seated and standing shoulder flys have their benefits, and the choice depends on your preferences and specific goals.

Seated shoulder flys

  • Give you more stability and support, so you can focus on strengthening the shoulder muscles.
  • Reduce the involvement of other muscles, such as the lower back and legs.
  • It can be helpful for people with lower back problems or who want controlled movement.

Standing shoulder flys

  • Engage more muscles for stabilization, including the core and lower body, to provide a more integrated workout.
  • It may offer a greater range of motion and challenge.

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