Arnold Schwarzenegger, the most famous bodybuilder and the man with the best chest in bodybuilding says his massive chest growth came from doing Chest Flys.
There’s a good reason he puts so many Chest Flys in his famous bodybuilding program, The Arnold Blueprint to Mass.
But, a ton of people have recently come out saying that Chest Flys are bad- and it’s been a controversial topic in the bodybuilding/fitness world for the past few years.
So, are chest flys bad?
No, actually. Chest flys are NOT bad! Chest flys provide a really good stretch and work out for the pecs. In fact, most people who regularly do them will see chest growth they’ve never seen before. However, Chest Flys become a problem when people do them with bad form or range of motion- which can destroy the shoulder and elbow joints. But as long as you use good form, they are a great exercise!
Let’s explain this a little more in-depth, and answer the question fully: Are Chest Flys bad?
The Good: Chest Flys Are One of the BEST Exercises to EXPLODE Your Chest Growth
Let’s start out by talking about the benefits of Chest Flys. Then, we will move onto the ugly.
Chest Flys are one of the best exercises to explode your chest size and growth.
There, I said it- the truth. Chest Flys are one of the best, honestly- probably THE BEST, exercise to explode your chest growth.
Look, Rich Piana said it himself- if you want to grow your chest, stop benching all day. Start doing cable flyes, slowly, max tension, 20 reps pyramiding all the way down to 4.
Your pecs will literally feel like they’re going to pop out of your chest. Anytime you move your arm, you will feel your pecs aching.
And that’s a good thing- because that muscle soreness is often a great indicator that you’re working out your muscles hard enough to grow them.
Arnold Schwarzenegger attributes his massive chest to Chest Flys. So, it’s clear these things are crazy good.
But, how do chest flys grow your chest so well?
Chest Flys Stretch Your Sternal Fibers, Giving You That Defined Chest Seperation.
One of the greatest benefits of Chest Flys is that they stretch your sternal fibers- the muscles of your pec that connect directly to your sternum.
This forces them to grow, which gives you that incredible chest separation. It really makes the center of your pecs look stunning and gives that ‘Hollywood body’ vibe, and chances are if you are missing this- it’s time for you to do some Chest Flys.
But- that’s not the only reason Chest Flys are such a great exercise.
Chest Flys Give an Incredible Tension That is Unmatched
Chest Flys give an incredible tension on your pec muscles that is just simply put- unmatched by any other exercise.
Even when you bench press, there is a lot of time that tension isn’t really put on your chest. And for many people that are bench pressing for competitions or to try and PR- you may be activating your chest for mere seconds at a time.
Meanwhile, Chest Flys emphasize that tension on your chest. You are told to do them basically as slow as possible to make your pec muscles basically scream under the amount of tension they are put under.
This forces incredible chest growth, which is just simply unmatched.
Now that we’ve covered the good parts of Chest Flys, let’s talk about the bad.
Chest Flys are Bad If Done With Bad Form
You’ve probably already seen some YouTube videos or other articles talking about how Chest Flys are bad.
Those videos talk about the severe damage Chest Flys can do to your shoulder and elbow joints.
Chest Flys revolve around using your shoulder and elbow joints as ‘support’ to stretch out the chest. It’s no different than a bench press- it uses these groups as support.
The problem is, when people do Chest Flys with bad form- then it extends the shoulder and elbow into DANGEROUS positions that can lead to not only just ligament or tendon injuries, but the whole rotator cuff possibly being dislocated.
So, how do we avoid this?
Only Do Chest Flys Parallel to Your Shoulder, NOT FURTHER!
To help avoid serious injury, only do chest flys paralell to your shoulder, and NOT any further.
Typically, when you do a chest fly, your starting position is at your side- this is where you’re getting the most extension of your muscle, the pectoralis major.
You then normally contract your pecs and bring the dumbbells to the center of your chest. Then, you bring them back out to the starting position.
The problem comes in when people move those dumbbells (or the machine) too far backwards and the range of motion extends behind the person’s chest, shoulders, and back.
Some people have been told to do this as ‘it gives a better stretch’- but this is simply wrong. In fact, your chest muscles become nearly completely deactivated at that point and your shoulder joint is at serious risk of being permanently damaged.
And that’s not to mention that if you fail that rep, that heavy dumbbell is going to bring your whole arm down to the ground with it.
So, bring it parallel to your shoulders, and not further. Basically, you want it to be in the same spot (just a tiny bit lower) than a Barbell would lay on your chest when Bench Pressing.
Always Keep a Slight Bend in The Elbow
A big mistake I see a lot of beginners make is not having that slight bend in the elbow.
While an elbow injury is super rare when doing pectoral flyes- it can happen.
But, if you’re someone who doesn’t feel a lot of chest activation when doing pectoral flyes, it’s 99% likely that you don’t have that bend in your elbow. As soon as that bend happens, you’ll feel much more in your chest.
Try Chest Flys While Laying On The Ground To Prevent Injury
Here’s a great way to make sure you do Chest Flys the safe way- do chest flys while laying on the ground!
Many people do Chest Flys while laying on the ground for two important reasons:
- It makes it impossible to go too far in the Range of Motion
- It makes injury nearly impossible if you fail the rep
So, let’s say you’re doing chest flys with dumbbells. It’s all good and fun, but then you fail a rep. In this instance, your arm has to go with the dumbbell all the way to the ground unless you can throw the dumbbell in time- this ins’t always possible.
But, if you’re doing the chest flys on the ground, if you fail the rep, your hand travels roughly 1 inch in distance, basically making it impossible to injure yourself.
Plus, doing it on the ground makes sure that you don’t go too far in the range of motion, as it is virtually impossible to move the dumbbell behind your back that’s planted on the ground (unless you’re some form of demon).
The Bottom Line? Do Chest Flys- But Only WIth Good Form
Here’s the bottom line:
Do chest flys, as they are a great chest exercise. But ONLY do them with good form, or you’ll be sitting there explaining to the hospital staff exactly how your shoulder joint is torn in 14 different places.