Poor posture is a very common problem that people usually ignore and take for granted. Especially now, that we are so much more dependent on technology, we tend to spend most of our days slouching in front of the computer or our heads buried into our mobile phones. Over time, these mannerisms contribute to the problematic posture that we have and brings strain to our shoulders.
If you have ever experienced constant or sudden discomfort around your shoulder area, this may indicate that you have a bad posture. The good news is you can easily do something about it. Consider adding workouts that focus on your chest, back, and shoulder area to begin. The bent over fly is one of workouts that you can try to fix your posture that is not very extensive and can be used as a beginner workout.
What muscles does the bent over fly work on
Doing the bent over fly regularly focuses on the muscles at the back of your shoulders which is also known as posterior deltoids. Apart from that, this exercise also works your rhomboids and traps which are the major muscles on your upper back.
What benefits will you get from the bent over fly
In the past, the bent over fly was used by bodybuilders to improve their back muscles and to have better back poses when competing on stage. However, the bent over fly has so much more benefits to offer than just the amazing build and aesthetic that it can give. Here are some of the most common ones:
○ Posture and balance
○ Strength and stamina
○ Overall well-being
○ Performance of daily activities
○ The risk of injuries
○ Pain and discomfort around your neck, back, shoulder area
○ Muscle imbalance
How to properly do the bent over fly
The bent over fly is very easy to follow and all you’ll need is a couple of dumbbells or kettlebells. You may want to start lifting lighter or no weights in the beginning and gradually increase the weights as you get more comfortable with the workout. Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to properly execute this exercise:
- With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet as far apart as your shoulder width.
- Slightly bend your knees for balance, bend forward from your hips giving a little angle to your body.
- Let your dumbbells hang straight down in front of you with your palms facing each other.
- Breathe out and lift both arms to your side squeezing your shoulder blades in the process. The motion is the same as though you are flapping wings.
- Breathe in and slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. This completes one rep. Do the exercise for 8-12 reps.
Some things to remember:
- While doing the exercise, keep your core tight, your back straight, and your knees slightly bent
- Do not arch your shoulders up when lifting the weights
- Maintain a neutral spine by keeping your eyes on the ground and your chin tucked. This ensures the correct position of your neck
- Practice proper breathing as you do the workout and focus on how it feels when your shoulder blades come together every rep
What are the common mistakes done when doing the bent over fly
Like any other exercises, there are some mistakes that people tend to overlook when doing the bent over fly. While the workout itself aims to strengthen your shoulder and back, doing it wrong can lead to injuries. So to ensure you get everything right, let me enumerate the most common mistakes you should try to avoid.
As mentioned earlier, you should keep your spine aligned when doing this exercise. When you do this routine with a rounded back, you put too much pressure on your lower back. Keep a straight posture through these tips: tuck your chin, eye on the floor, keep your core tight, and your back straight.
Lifting the weight by swinging
Your goal is to strengthen your muscles. That being said, gently lift your weight to the side instead of swinging it up. When you swing the weights, you are using momentum to lift it up as opposed to doing it in a controlled manner which really uses and exercises your muscle strength.
Starting out too heavy
As advised earlier, when you are just starting on this exercise, you can use lighter weights or even choose not to at first. Once you start getting more comfortable with the process, you can then start to add weight and gradually increase it depending on your ability. Lifting too heavy than what you can can cause stress to your neck, arms, and back which is very unnecessary and can be unsafe.
What variations can be done with the bent over fly
The bent over fly can be performed in a variety of ways depending on your level of tolerance and endurance. If you are a beginner in working out, you may want to consider the following variations:
Upright stance with resistance bands
If you are one of those people who find it difficult to bend at an angle, you may try this workout on an upward stance instead. In place of the dumbbells, you can use resistance bands. Hold your arms straight in your front, and slowly pull the resistance band to your side. This variation works best for people with lower back issues.
Sitting on a bench or stability ball
This variant is basically the same as the regular routine. However, instead of standing on your feet with your knees bent, you can stay seated on a bench or even on a stability ball for support. While seating, bend your body from the hip at an angle and do the routine as usual. The sitting position should be of help to those who are not comfortable on doing the bent knee.
Proning on a bench or stability ball
Even if you have back problems that hinder you from doing this routine standing or sitting, you can still do it if you lie face down on a bench or stability ball. Once in the prone position, you can do the flying movement the usual way.
This variation is more applicable for people who are already comfortable with the regular routine and is looking for ways to up the challenge. The pterodactyl stance has less stability and is therefore harder to perform. This is done by putting your strong foot forward in a lunge position while maintaining the position of your upper body as in a regular bent over fly. This position does not only work your core more, but also challenges your leg strength.
Increasing the weight of the dumbbells
As you get more and more acquainted with the routine, you may feel that the weight of the dumbbells you use or the resistance bands are not cutting it for you anymore. In that case, you can start increasing the weight of the dumbbells to keep challenging your muscle strength.
The bent over fly is a very effective resistance exercise if you are able to execute it properly. It is fairly easy to do and can be done even if you are just a beginner in working out. However, as with any resistance training, you can get injuries if you do it wrong or push yourself too hard.
Modify the workout depending on your own strength and always give yourself enough time to adjust. Any increase in the difficulty of the workout should be gradual. Focus on the strain you are giving your body and make sure that you are not pushing yourself too hard when working out. If you can, consult an expert on what your body can and cannot endure.