Chest Flyes – a Useless Exercise Or a Mass Builder?

| by Truth Seeker |

Chest flyes are one of the most popular exercises in the universe. On Monday, the International Chest Training Day, people perform tons of chest flyes in the name of the Chest God – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

However, popular things are not always popular because they are good (e.g., smoking cigarettes). This makes us question the validity of the chest fly.

If it’s so good, why are so many people doing it? {evil laugh}


The chest fly is a part of the mainstream bodybuilding tradition since the 70s when the movement I-Want-Big-Pecs-Like-Arnie was born.

On paper, the chest fly isolates the pectoral muscles and makes them work directly without limitations induced by the anterior deltoids and the triceps, which are the other primary movers during pressing exercises. That’s why chest flyes are usually done as a finisher or a pre-exhausting exercise.

Most of the time, each set of chest flyes is followed by an intense flexing of the chesticles in front of the mirror in the gym.

The King Of Pecs doing chest flies

The King Of Pecs doing chest flies


Everybody has a plan until they tear a tendon.

Tendon injuries take forever to heal because the connective tissues have a pathetic blood supply. In addition, tendons recover slowly from training sessions too.

This is bad news for the chest fly lovers because the stress on the pec tendon during this sexy exercise is pretty intense even with a relatively light weight. One of the best ways to pop your pec open and see it roll towards your sternum is to do heavy chest flys to failure.

But Scooby Werkstatt a.k.a. the guy with the biggest pecs on YouTube shows great love for the chest fly. He has an enormous chest and in many videos recommends the chest fly. You mad, brah?

Undoubtedly, the man has inflated pecs, but that doesn’t mean that chest flyes are his secret. He performs many exercises and has a highly questionable natural status – the older he gets, the bigger he becomes. Weird, isn’t it?


It depends.

The chest fly prohibits you from of lifting a lot of weight, and yet places a decent amount of stress on the pec tendons, the rotator cuff and sometimes the biceps tendons. That’s why the exercise is safe only if you have strong, flexible shoulders, don’t overtrain, and progress very slowly.

To summarize: The chest fly is simply an isolation exercise with some therapeutic value. You can do it as a warm-up/mobility movement, but in the long term, the true chest power and growth will come from push-ups, dips and bench presses. The classic pectoral exercises are technically easier on the shoulders (if you do them correctly) and stimulate just as much, if not more, growth. Don’t give the chest fly more credit than it deserves.

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  1. Paul

    When I was 16 I steped in a bodybuilding gym for the first time. The trainer at that time saw me doing chest flys and hurry to help believing I’m close to injuries. He was surprise of the loads for my age. Similar to adults with 1-2 years of training. He told me that I have very good shoulder joint and he was true. Since then the chest flys are one of my best exercises for pecs. So, for me chest flys are very good. And I know many other guys good at it. Of course, not the majority of people that train but around 10-20 %.

  2. Abhishek Shah

    You claim that the chest fly puts stress on the rotator cuff but I fail to grasp your reasoning behind it. Which rotator cuff muscle are you talking about? The subscapularis is responsible and the pectorial muscles are responsible for the internal rotation of the arms and by experience I can tell you that even at 135 degree on the pec dec machine, I can feel my pecs taking over most of the movement. The rest of the rotator cuff muscles are involved in external rotation of the humerus. This leaves me curious as to how you arrive at your conclusions.

  3. Alex Cavuto

    another example of how each body is different…most people tear pecs doing heavy benches not flyes…but biceps and shoulders are in a vulnerable position in chest flyes…besides, the chest fly results in a rounded pectoral, much like a female breast although genetics has a lot to do with it…notice that until arnold came around pecs were proportional and afterward ridiculously huge…why…is it necessary?..arnold’s competitors i.e dave draper, bill pearl, didn’t have huge pecs and their physiques were considered some of the best.

    1. Renato

      I agree, Arnold’s chest sometimes looked like women’s breast when relaxed.
      The dumbbell fly can make the ches to wide and big.
      Depending on genetics that is.

      Scooby Werkstatt said in one of his video’s that his shoulder joints were according to his doctors half word away.
      His knees were on the other hand in good condition.
      His main exercise for chest was flyes. So I contribute his shoulder damage to flyes.
      And from experience I can tell that flyes are hard on the shoulder joints , just like dips.
      Push ups on the other hand are way more comfortable and easy for the shoulder joints.

      The bench press is also known for tearing pec muscles. But i think it’s mostly in steroid users.
      I don’t consider Scooby natural. Despite what he tries the crowd to believe.
      Let him go off TRT for a year, we’ll see how he’s looking then.

  4. Anuj Saini

    Final verdict – Chest fly is excellent exercise if done with moderate weights especially on Machine and bad if you do it very heavy with Dumbbells and over-train yourself.
    thank me later 🙂

  5. Roger Dodger

    Chest fly is poo, don’t do, it’s poo.

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