Reverse flys, also spelled flyes or flies, target the muscles on the back of the shoulders. The posterior deltoids are the main muscles on the back of the shoulders. Reverse flys also work the muscles of the upper and middle back, particularly the rhomboids and traps. Bodybuilders can perform reverse flys with dumbbells, resistance bands and a cable machine. Because bodybuilding requires lifting heavy weights to stimulate muscle growth, heavy dumbbells, a machine or thick, heavy resistance bands are necessary.
Bent-over Seated Reverse Flyes
Bent-over seated reverse flys require a flat exercise bench and a pair of dumbbells. Each arm is responsible for lifting a weight by itself so that neither posterior deltoid lifts more weight than than the other, which can happen with exercises that use a barbell, such as bent-over rows. Muscular symmetry is important for bodybuilders. To perform a bent-over reverse fly, sit on the edge of a bench with your feet on the floor and bend forward toward your knees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand facing the outside of your feet and then raise your arms laterally up until they are parallel to the floor. The palms face the floor at the top of the movement. Lower the arms to complete the exercise.
Kneeling Reverse Flyes
The kneeling reverse fly also works your core muscles to hold your back straight in the correct position. The abs, glutes and lower back support your lumbar spine. To perform a kneeling reverse fly, wrap the center of a resistance band around a sturdy object at waist height and kneel facing it. Hold the ends of the bands in your hands with your palms facing inward and point your arms at the object. Then, open your arms out to the sides and pull your shoulders back. The palms face forward at this point. Reverse the motion. While pulling the arms back against resistance, have your abs and glutes tightly contracted to brace your torso. To best achieve muscle growth for bodybuilding, perform eight to 12 repetitions. The only way you achieve muscle growth though is if you work your muscles to fatigue so use a resistance cable heavy enough to achieve fatigue on the last rep.
Incline Bench Reverse Flyes
Another way to perform a reverse fly is to do an incline bench variation. This option provides you with maximum support. By lying on a bench, you can lift heavy weights without relying on your core and stabilizer muscles to hold you body in place -- that is job of the incline bench. To perform an incline bench reverse fly, straddle the bench facing the seat and lay your chest and abdomen against the bench with your head above the top of the seat. Hold your arms straight in front of you and perpendicular to the bench with the palms facing each other and then open your arms out to the sides.
Cable Machine Reverse Flyes
Cable machine reverse flys use a twin cable machine with a weight stack and low pulley on each side. The exercise targets the rear shoulders from a bent-over, standing position that is different from the seated bent-over reverse flys. To perform this exercise, grasp the hand grips and cross them so your left hand has the right handle and vice versa as you stand in the center between the two pulleys. Bend over with your back flat and perpendicular to the floor. Hold a hand grip in each hand with your arms held straight at the floor, palms facing each other. When in this position, squeeze your abs to protect your lower back and maintain a neutral position. Raise your arms out to your sides until your palms face the floor and then reverse the motion.
- American Council on Exercise: Kneeling Reverse Fly
- Furman University: Dumbbell Reverse Fly
- ExRx.net: Cable Reverse Fly
- NASM Program Design Concepts, Chapter 13; National Academy of Sports Medicine