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 Shoulder Flys: Grow Your Shoulders With 
The Dumbbell Shoulder Fly

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Shoulder Flys Masterclass - Table of Contents

1: Introduction

2: The Medial Deltoids

3: How Good is Your Shoulder Fly?

4: The Shoulder Fly Master Class

5: Variation 1

6: Variation 2

7: Shoulder Fly - aka

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Introduction: Do This If You Want Wide Shoulders


If you want thick wide-ranging shoulders, get the most from your Shoulder Flys by improving your form and execution with this shoulder fly master class.

While the Shoulder Press is the king of the Deltoids, the Shoulder fly is the crown prince of the medial deltoid region and an integral part of any muscle-building shoulder workout. In our Reverse Dumbbell Fly article, we showed you how to thicken out your rear-delts with the rear delt fly, aka dumbbell rear delt flys .

In this new article, we'll keep things simple by concentrating on improving this expansive exercise. I will show you how to get the best action by tweaking a few areas. Next, I will share a few different variations with bands and a band/dumbbell combo so no matter if you train at home with minimal equipment; you can still grow as wide as a house.

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shoulder fly workout

First, Let's Talk About the "Shoulder Fly Muscles"  

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shoulder fly workout

The Shoulder Fly Muscles aka - the Medial Deltoid starts at the acromion of the shoulder blade and inserts on the upper arm bone called the Humerus. As the insertion and the origin points are in line with each other, the medial deltoid doesn’t have the same rotation role as the Anterior and Posterior deltoid. Its main functions are securing the arm in place when lifting or carrying heavy loads as well as shoulder abduction.

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db side raises
lean away lateral raise

Chest Supported Rear Delt Row

Dumbbell 5 Day Split

How Good Is Your Shoulder Fly?

There are two ways of performing the Shoulder fly. The first method is the way you see most people attempting the exercise. They start with the dumbbells leaning against the thighs.

While this may seem the correct way to start any shoulder fly movement, the first 15-degrees of the exercise isn't initiated by the side delts.

When starting the shoulder fly with the dumbbells down by the thighs, the Infraspinatus and Supraspinatus muscles of the rotator cuff instigates the first portion of the movement.

Lift the dumbbells higher than shoulder height and now the traps are involved. This only leaves a very small portion of the movement for the medial deltoid heads to get involved.

Are Your Shoulder Fly Muscles Doing Most of The Work?

At first thought, this may seem a small and irrelevant matter. Who cares if the rotator cuff and trap muscles get involved?

As the shoulder fly is an isolation movement, other muscles must not come in and rob the medial deltoid head of much of the work. When this happens, the exercise quickly becomes less valuable to the medial deltoid head.

Unlike the rear deltoids that get a good amount of work during back movements as well as from rear delt exercises and presses, the medial deltoid head is an island all on its own. If this muscle is being robbed by other muscle groups every time you do a substandard shoulder fly, there are not many other exercises that directly involve the medial deltoid head.

The second problem that can arise from starting the exercise with the dumbbells resting on the thigh is that we can often start jerking front and back and using momentum.

When this happens, not only are we taking even more work away from the medial delts, but we get fooled into thinking that we're much stronger than we are.

Along with the heaving of heavier weights comes the likeliness of shoulder impingements and injuries. Once this happens, you're on the sidelines where muscle doesn’t get built.

In the following Shoulder Fly exercises and variations, I'm going to show you what I consider to be the best way to execute the movement to get more stimuli on the side delts. It may mean that you use less weight, but on the flip side, you build more muscle.

Check Out These Dumbbell Lateral Raise Variations

Rear Deltoid Dumbbell Flys

The Shoulder Fly Exercise

How Do You Do A Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Fly?

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Fly are by far the most popular shoulder fly variation, and an exercise we're going to upgrade and get the most out of.

Items Needed:

Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells

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shoulder fly workoutEnd Position

Cue 1: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with dumbbells in hand and palms facing each other.

Cue 2: Lift your chest, tense your core, flare your lats and move the dumbbells away from your thighs. Lean forward just a little to help transfer the majority of stress onto your medial deltoid head.

Cue 3: Lift the dumbbells out at a 45-degree angle to shoulder height. Hold briefly at the top before lowering the dumbbells back to the start position.

The Health of Your Shoulders

For the health and fitness of your shoulders, always warm up, warm down and do regular mobility work. One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to shoulders and their general health is not to warm up adequately.

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Standing Shoulder Fly with Resistance Bands:

This shoulder fly variation does a great job of applying pressure to the medial deltoids at just the right height where the ascending tension of the bands does its best work.

Items Needed:

Items Needed: Two light bands and a power rack or anchor.

The Setup: Loop one band around the base of each stand.

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shoulder fly workoutEnd Position

Cue 1: Take the left band with the right hand and the right band with the left hand so that the bands cross in front of you using a pronated grip.

Cue 2: Step back so there is a little tension in both bands. Start with arms straight in front of you a little higher than your waist. Lift your chest and tilt forward just a little.

Cue 3: Bring the bands up at a 45-degree angle to shoulder height and briefly pause before returning the bands to the start position. 

Remember The Health of Your Shoulders

For the health and fitness of your shoulders always warm up before undertaking any of these exercises.

Rear Delt Row

Seated Shoulder Flys With Band and Dumbbells:

Be warned, the stress on the medial deltoid head is almost too much to bear; and that's why you don't need a lot of weight to get the best out of these exercises. This exercise is similar to the Face Forward Lateral Raise. The addition of bands makes this a different prospect.

Items Needed: 2 Light resistance bands, two dumbbells, one power rack or 2 upright anchors, and one incline bench set at a 75-degree angle. If you don’t have a power rack or upright anchors, you can space two heavy dumbbells a little wider than shoulder-width on the floor and loop your bands around both dumbbell handles. Place another set of dumbbells on top to keep the banded dumbbells in place during the exercise.

The Setup: Loop one band around the base of each stand. Place the bench with its back facing the bands a few feet away from the rack or anchors.

Cue 1: Grab the left band and dumbbell with the palm of the right hand and do the same for the right band/dumbbell with the left hand. Slide down on the bench with your chest resting on the back pad.

Cue 2: Start with the bands in front of the bench and raise them out to the side at a 45-degree angle until they reach shoulder height. Hold briefly before returning the bands to the start position.

Master True Dumbbell Lateral Raises and the 7 Variations to Develop King-Kong Side Delts

If you found this Dumbbell Lateral Raises article helpful, don’t hesitate to link to and/or share this piece by using the social share buttons at the top or the bottom of this page – it would be greatly appreciated.

@missionjacked If you can't feel your Side Delts when you do a Lateral Raise, try using a thumb-less grip. By doing this, you take stress away from the forearms and transfer it to the Side Delts. #sidedelts #lateralraise #gymtok #fittok #missionjacked #shoulderworkout #shoulders ♬ original sound - Mission Jacked
@missionjacked If it's your mission to get jacked side delts, add in the Gironda Swing to your workout. Follow me for more movements you can add to your home 🏠 workout #sidedelts #homeworkout #girondaswing #delts #dumbbellworkout #missionjacked ♬ original sound - Mission Jacked
@missionjacked The Lateral Throw is a powerful exercise that you can use to overload the medial deltoid head. #lateralthrow #sidedelts #shoulders #missionjacked #bodybuilding ♬ original sound - Mission Jacked
@missionjacked If you train at home, don't be stuck with just the Dumbbell Lateral Raise. Here's 3 Lateral Raise Variations you can add to your exercise tool box. #lateralraise #lateralraises #dumbbelllateralraise #widerdelts #bodybuilding #missionjacked #homeworkout ♬ original sound - Mission Jacked

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