Resistance bands are enjoying increasing popularity as a workout tool due to their affordable price, portability, ease of use and overall effectiveness. In this exercise overview we will describe how to properly use resistance bands to perform the chest fly exercise.
Muscles Targeted: The chest fly exercise primarily targets the pectoralis (chest) muscles, the anterior deltoid (front shoulder) muscles and the triceps (rear upper arm) muscles. This exercise operates under the basic principles of concentric and eccentric muscular movements. A concentric movement contracts the target muscle(s) when a weight is lifted during a repetition while an eccentric movement elongates the target muscle(s) when the weight is lowered or returned to the starting position of the repetition.
Exercise Instructions: The chest fly has different variations which basically stem from the same movement but using different angles. First you need to get a resistance band specific to performing chest flyes that also fits your body type (correct arm length) and individual strength level. Low tension resistance bands tend to favor toning the chest muscles by making it easier to perform a higher number of repetitions. Conversely, the use of higher tension resistance bands increases the strength of the target muscles because more effort is needed to complete fewer repetitions.
The next step is to get a secure mounting point for the band (door, tree, pole) and wrap it around it securely. Then, take a few steps away to create tension in the band and position one of your feet ahead of the other to provide additional stability when you perform the exercise. As stated earlier, chest flyes can be performed in different ways and this has to be factored in when choosing or installing a mounting point. The inclined chest flye’s end position sees your hands at a 45 degrees angle from your head. The flat chest flye’s end position creates a right angle where the hands connect to the upper body. A complete repetition involves standing in front of a band already wrapped around a mounting point and pulling the two ends toward each other in a hugging motion. Some people describe how to perform the concentric portion of this exercise movement as visualizing themselves hugging a tree trunk.
Things To Avoid: The effectiveness of the chest fly exercise depends greatly on the tension of the resistance band in relation to your personal goals. As previously described, if your goal is to achieve a lean and toned look, then a relatively low tension resistance band is what you want to use to perform a higher number of repetitions. However, if your objective is to increase strength, then select a higher tension resistance band to force your muscles to work harder while performing fewer repetitions. Regardless of your individual objectives with this exercise, always make sure that you do not stand too close to the band. Instead, try to get a reasonable distance between you and its mounting point to give the band optimal tension. When pulling the band to the front, minimize the bend of your elbows to flex your chest more. A bad posture could cause unnecessary strain so stick to shoulder height when it comes to arm positioning. Always hold the band’s handles securely with both hands to avoid losing control and having the band snap back at you.
Reps and Sets: If you choose a low resistance band, you should be able to do a relatively high number of repetitions. For beginners, we recommend two to three sets of 20-25 repetitions per set. Alternatively, if you choose a thicker resistance band, we recommend two to three sets of 8-10 repetitions, if possible. The number of sets should be dictated by how long you’ve been working out and your individual capability. A good starting point for beginners is two to three sets while intermediate and advanced individuals should complete at least three to four sets. Of course, you can always increase or decrease the number of sets and repetitions according to how you feel on any given day.
Other Exercises To Use: Dumbbell flyes are a great alternative to resistance band chest flyes and may even be performed as a complement to them during the same workout routine. To perform a dumbbell fly repetition, start by grasping a dumbbell of the same weight in each of your hands. Next, lie on your back on a workout bench (flat, incline or decline) and raise/press the dumbbells to meet overhead. Next, slowly lower your hands until your elbows/upper arms are parallel to the ground. As previously mentioned, visualize yourself hugging a tree trunk. Flat bench cable flyes are also great to use. Place a bench between a pulley machine with a pulley on each side. Place your hands on the pulleys and lift the pulleys until they meet above you, very similar to dumbbell flyes. Slowly return your hands to the starting position (hug that tree trunk). Narrow grip push-ups are the perfect bodyweight chest exercise to use. Assume the push up position and draw in your hands towards your chest. Perform as many repetitions as you can until failure.