Push-ups and chest presses are common and popular upper body workouts. But doing only these will not help you get a sculpted body or even give your shoulder stability to do common activities. Pulling exercises are also needed as it helps to work out all the muscle groups. One pulling exercise that strengthens the upper body is the reverse fly. Read below to learn how to do it, its benefits, and the various forms of reverse fly.

What is Reverse Fly?

The reverse fly is also called a dumbbell reverse fly or dumbbell bent over reverse fly or rear delt raise. It is an exercise that uses weights like a dumbbell and targets the shoulder and upper back muscles. The main target of this exercise is the back of the shoulders or rear deltoids, which is often not reached by most exercises. It is a preliminary exercise to prepare for compound-complex exercises like inverted rows, bench presses, or deadlifts.

When the right reverse fly form is done, it activates the scapular muscles, triceps, and other muscles near the shoulder blades. There are many variations of the reverse fly where barbells, kettlebells, or fly machines are used. Irrespective of the type, ensure that the reverse fly form and posture are good to get all the benefits.

How to do the Reverse Fly?

The dumbbell reverse fly or the reverse back fly is an exercise done using weights. Choose weights that help you maintain the right technique throughout the repetitions and sets. Start the reverse fly workout with 8 to 12 reps of 2 to 3 sets and proceed further.

  • Stand with your feet at hip-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Take a pair of dumbbells of suitable weight.
  • Position your shoulders such that it is over the hips. Keep the head and neck in a neutral position. Tuck your chin as if there is an egg under it.
  • Stand firmly on your feet to have a stable position.
  • Push your hips back with a neutral spine and keep your upper body at 45 degrees.
  • Place the arms with a slight bend at your elbows, the shoulders should be rotated outwards, and the shoulder blades retracted. This is the start position of the reverse back fly workout.
  • Now make the upward movement, squeezing your upper back muscles. Next, lift the upper arms until it is level with your back. The hands should be lower than the upper arms. Hold in this position for a few seconds.
  • Slowly lower the arms to get back to the start position. When the dumbbells are lowered, the shoulder blades should be protracted. Pause for a few seconds and repeat the DB reverse fly.

Forms of Reverse Fly

There are many forms of this standing reverse fly that can be done as home workouts or in special machines at a gym. Here are some of them:

Bent over reverse fly

This is also called reverse delt fly and is an excellent workout to build your shoulders. It targets the rear delts and leads to better posture and strength. Select a weight and move your hips parallel to the ground to do the reverse delt fly. Pull the weights upwards, taking deep breaths. Lower the weights back to the start and repeat the desired number of times.

Seated reverse fly

This variation is for people who cannot do the dumbbell bent over reverse fly or the standing reverse fly. The seated reverse fly is done by sitting on a bench, with the hip forward and a neutral spine. All the other steps remain the same.

Incline Dumbbell Reverse Fly

This incline dumbbell reverse fly is done on an incline bench using a dumbbell as a weight. It is an integral part of a dumbbell workout. Lie on your chest on the bench with weights in each hand. Extend the arms with palms facing and elbows bent slightly. Now raise the dumbbells to the sides until the arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly lower the weights to the start. Repeat the incline reverse fly.

Standing Cable Reverse Fly

This is a variation of the reverse fly exercise and makes the rear delts stronger. It also helps in overhead movements. The cable reverse fly is done using cables or with a handle. The reverse fly resistance band is also similar to this. Stand with the cables placed at chest height. Reach for the cable across your body with a neutral grip. With the elbows bent slightly, pull the cables laterally. Ensure that the shoulder blades are not squeezed. Lower the handles slowly back to the start. Repeat the standing cable reverse fly as many times as desired.

Reverse Pec Deck Fly

The reverse pec deck fly is done to train the rear deltoids. It is done using a peck deck fly machine and is a variation of reverse shoulder fly. The pad should be placed against the stomach and grab the handles so that the arms are parallel to the ground. Bring the handles together by squeezing the shoulders and contracting the back. Hold for a few seconds and return to start. Repeat this reverse fly alternative a few times.

Benefits of Reverse Fly

The reverse fly exercise is a workout that you do with weights and aims to work out the upper back muscles. The reverse fly resistance band is also a variation for the reverse chest fly if weights are not a good option for you. The various forms of this exercise, in general, provide the following benefits.

  • Exercises like the reverse chest fly are suitable for the chest, shoulders, and back. It strengthens the upper back and boosts shoulder health.
  • The DB reverse fly and incline bench reverse fly promote better posture.
  • The reverse shoulder fly prevents injuries due to other movements.
  • The bent over reverse fly provides better stability and body coordination as it uses many other muscle groups. It stabilises the core, back, and trapezius muscles.
  • Performing various reverse fly alternative forms boosts your functional fitness. It also promotes a healthy spine and better stance giving you more self-confidence.


The reverse fly is an excellent pulling exercise with movements similar to flying. It benefits the upper muscles and creates more aligned and stable shoulders. If you are looking for a balanced and strong body, a reverse fly is a good exercise to start with. While most people can do it, those with shoulder injuries should do it with caution or do a reverse fly alternative.

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