One of the most popular chest building exercises is the chest fly. This is a truly highly potent classic that has given rampant breast growth to hundreds of bodybuilders, professional athletes, and regular gym goers who have used it regularly as part of their workout routines. It’s also not uncommon for both personal fitness trainers and weightlifting trainers to recommend it to their clients.
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, the legendary owner of one of the largest chests of all time, said the flat bench dumbbell fly is the most effective exercise he’s ever done for his chest. He owes the popularity of this great move to him as he was a deeply staunch advocate of chest flying for building massive pectoral muscles.
Nonetheless, The Austrian Oak made his personal tweaks that further increased the effectiveness of the exercise and enabled him to make extraordinary gains. Read the rest of this article to learn how to build a Golden Era Chest like previous generation legends!
Why Arnie loved Chest Flys
A more detailed research of all existing training recordings from Arnold’s golden days (together with the material that was not used in the production of Pumping Iron) makes it clear that dumbbell flying, when performed correctly, is an extremely effective and even transforming exercise, especially when on the flat bench is running.
And in his experience, if you let the flat bench dumbbell fly as the central movement in your chest exercise program, you could unleash a previously invisible path of growth potential and sculpt your pecs to look maximally powerful and aesthetically muscular.
In a nutshell, Arnold claims that the flat bench chest flies are possibly the best exercise for reshaping the chest muscles and significantly increasing their amount of high quality muscle mass. And we should definitely take his advice because he was one of the best bodybuilders of all time, training brutally and often making ingenious improvements to standard movements (hint: the Arnold press).
That’s why it’s really sad to see people rely too much on machines – no great body has ever been built without a lot of free weight work. That’s why we’re so eager to give you a few tips on breast chiseling from the star of pumping irons!
Keep these rules in mind while pounding your chest with dumbbell flies to make sure your pecs have received the stimulus they need to develop fully:
1. Perform chest flies first in training
Arnold explains that one of the keys to getting most of the benefits of this exercise is getting the barbell all the way forward from the back end of the chest workout. Treating this exercise as your primary breast development movement and not just as an afterthought to your chest workout can cheaply reshape your pectoral muscles and significantly increase the amount of high quality muscle mass there.
2. Go deep
As deep as possible, more precisely. Everyone in Arnold’s era was obsessed with doing really deep, heavy chest flies, with Arnold in the lead, of course. If you stick to half-hearted repetitions, you are actually shifting focus from your chest to your shoulders. As well as trying to keep the correct shape, try adding a little more depth with each consecutive rep – this will allow you to stretch your chest fibers to the maximum.
3. Let your elbows drop
If you are doing flies with an improvised shape and at the wrong angle, better not to bother doing them. Not dropping the elbows is another very common mistake beginners make that prevents them from getting a good stretch on the muscle and can cause shoulder problems. You should lower your elbow like an arrow instead of making a “T” at the bottom.
4. Start lightly with 3 x 10 reps, then build up
To really get your chest up, do flat bench dumbbell flies 3 times a week, starting out lightly and doing 3 sets of 10 reps, then work your way up and focus on getting to maximum depth as often as possible.
Last words of wisdom
If you are interested in building a monster chest, remember that shape and technique are crucial when performing breast flies. Most importantly, if you try to get that super deep stretch on every rep, you can make great strides in no time.
Arnold often described the fly’s movement as “hugging a tree”. As his training material shows, he was lying on a flat bench with his arms slightly bent, then took a deep breath and lowered the dumbbells very slowly and in a controlled manner away from his upper body. Then, with an explosive exhalation, he lifted her back through the exact same arch and contracted his pecs completely.
At the end of the movement, when the tension on his chest muscles eased, he stopped his movement, kept the dumbbells a dozen inches apart, and then lowered himself further from there. Pure magic, driven by the desire to cause maximum muscle damage with every movement and by all means.