Incline Dumbbell Fly: How to, Pro Tips, Variations & More!

The incline dumbbell fly is a staple exercise for anyone looking to develop a well-defined and sculpted chest. It’s known to everyone that along with pressing movements like bench press, incline dumbbell press, seated chest press etc., one also needs to perform fly movements like dumbbell fly, machine fly, cable fly etc. For maximising chest gains. Incline dumbbell fly places greater emphasis on not only the upper chest but also the outer pectoral muscles. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the benefits of the incline dumbbell fly, discuss proper technique and form, offer variations to target different areas of the chest, and provide professional tips for maximizing your chest gains so that you can achieve a big, rounded and muscular chest that can make you look supremely attractive with or without any shirt!

Benefits of the Incline Dumbbell Fly

Before diving into the proper form and technique, let’s discuss why the incline dumbbell fly is an essential addition to your chest workout routine. Here are some key benefits of this effective chest exercise.

Upper Chest Development

The incline angle of the bench places more stress on the upper chest muscles, helping to develop a full and rounded chest appearance. In fact, among all the upper chest exercises, incline dumbbell fly is considered as one of the best!

Outer Pectoral Engagement

By allowing for a greater stretch and range of motion, the incline dumbbell fly targets the outer pectoral muscles, contributing to a wider and more defined chest. People who suffer from gynecomastia can be benefitted from exercises like this as it targets the outer pecs greatly.

Increased Muscle Isolation

Unlike compound chest exercises like the bench press, which engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, the incline dumbbell fly isolates the chest muscles, leading to more focused and targeted muscle activation in the chest especially the upper pecs.

Shoulder Stability

Performing the incline dumbbell fly requires stabilizing muscles in the shoulders and upper back, helping to improve overall shoulder stability and reduce the risk of injury. Not only this movement will teach you how to balance and stabilise your shoulders during movements like this but also it will provide you an easy way to learn more advanced exercises later. For example, if you can master this one, you can easily learn to perform incline cable fly which is an advanced version of this exercise.

Step-by-step Guide to Perform Incline Dumbbell Fly with Proper Form

Now, without further ado, let’s delve into the proper technique and form for performing the incline dumbbell fly. Here’s the detailed step-by-step guide that can help you to learn the movement with perfect form while minimising the risk of injury and maximising the benefits.

Smith machine bench press

Setup the Bench & Select Appropriate Dumbbells

Adjust an incline bench to approximately a 30 to 45-degree angle. Ensure the bench is stable and secure before beginning your exercise.

Choose a pair of dumbbells that allow you to perform the exercise with proper form. Start with lighter weights if you’re new to the exercise or gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable and experienced.

Position Yourself & Engage Your Core

Sit on the incline bench with your back flat against the pad. Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor for stability. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip (palms facing each other), arms fully extended above your chest.

Before starting the exercise, engage your core muscles to stabilize your body throughout the movement. Keep your spine neutral and avoid arching your back excessively.

Initiate the Movement

With a slight bend in your elbows, inhale and lower the dumbbells out to the sides in a controlled manner. Lower the dumbbells until you feel a gentle stretch in your chest muscles. Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the movement to prevent excessive strain on the joints.

Maintain Control

As you lower the dumbbells, focus on maintaining control and stability. Avoid using momentum or swinging the weights to complete the movement. Keep your wrists straight and avoid allowing the dumbbells to drift inward or outward.

Squeeze Your Chest

Once you reach the bottom of the movement and feel a stretch in your chest, exhale and slowly bring the dumbbells back together in a wide arc. Imagine hugging a large barrel as you bring the weights together. Focus on squeezing your chest muscles at the top of the movement to maximize muscle contraction.

GIF of Incline dumbbell fly

Control the Eccentric Phase

As you return to the starting position, control the descent of the dumbbells to emphasize the eccentric (lengthening) phase of the movement. Avoid letting the weights drop too quickly, as this can increase the risk of injury and reduce muscle activation.

Pro Tips to Avoid Mistakes and Master Incline Dumbbell Fly!

Maintain Proper Alignment

Throughout the exercise, ensure that your wrists, elbows, and shoulders remain aligned. Avoid excessive internal rotation of the shoulders, as this can increase the risk of shoulder impingement and injury. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout the movement to avoid strain on the joints and keep tension on the chest muscles.

Perform Controlled Repetitions

Try your best to perform each repetition with smooth, controlled movements. Avoid jerky or erratic movements that can compromise your form and increase the risk of injury. Use a weight that allows you to perform minimum 8 to maximum 12 repetitions with proper form, adjusting as necessary to maintain control throughout the set. Focus on quality over quantity, and prioritize proper technique throughout your set.

Focus on Muscle Mind Connection

Concentrate on feeling the tension in your pec muscles throughout the exercise. Visualize the muscles working and focus on establishing a strong mind-muscle connection to maximize muscle activation.

Monitor Your Range of Motion

Pay attention to your range of motion and avoid overstretching your chest muscles at the bottom of the movement. Find a comfortable range of motion that allows you to feel a stretch in your chest without experiencing discomfort or pain in the shoulders.

Breathe Properly

Remember to coordinate your breathing with the movement. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells and exhale as you lift the weights back to the starting position. Avoid holding your breath, as this can increase intra-abdominal pressure and compromise stability.

Gradually Increase Intensity by Utilising Progressive Overload

As you become more comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the intensity by either increasing the weight of the dumbbells or performing additional repetitions or by lowering your rest time. This method is called progressive overload. Progressive overload is key to continued muscle growth and strength development.

Cool Down and Stretch

After completing your set, take a moment to cool down and stretch your chest muscles. Perform gentle chest stretches to help alleviate tension and promote flexibility.

Don’t Forget to Add Other Effective Chest Exercises

Along with incline dumbbell fly, you can add other beneficial chest exercises to make a perfect chest workout routine for the best chest development possible! Some of the best as well as most effective chest exercises to include in your chest day are: bench press, incline dumbbell press, standing cable fly, pec deck, seated chest press etc.

Variations of Incline Dumbbell Fly

There are not many effective variations of this exercise although you can try other type of fly movements for chest which are as good or maybe better than this.

Incline Cable Fly

This is an advanced version of incline dumbbell fly. You can try it after mastering with the dumbbells. With incline cable fly, you can maintain constant tension on the chest muscles throughout the movement leading to a greater amount of muscle growth.


Chest Fly/Machine Fly/Pec Deck Fly

This exercise is called by many names but whatever you call it, you can’t call it useless because it’s one of the best isolation chest movements to do! Moreover, it’s easy to perform, beginner friendly and safe. A beginner can easily start doing machine fly before trying out incline dumbbell fly.


The incline dumbbell fly is an effective exercise for targeting the upper chest and outer pectoral muscles, helping to create a full, rounded, and sculpted chest. By incorporating this exercise into your chest workout routine with proper technique and form, you can maximize muscle activation, promote balanced chest development, and ultimately achieve your chest-building goals. With patience, consistency, and attention to detail, mastering the incline dumbbell fly can take your chest workouts to the next level and help you build a stronger, more defined chest.

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