The shoulder fly, also known as the dumbbell shoulder fly, is a highly effective exercise for targeting the medial deltoid region and building stronger, broader shoulders. Not only does it improve the aesthetics of your shoulders, but it also offers a range of practical benefits such as better posture, improved performance on other lifts, and greater resistance to injury.
If you want to achieve thick, wide-ranging shoulders, it’s important to focus on proper form and execution when performing shoulder flys. While the shoulder press targets the deltoids overall, the shoulder fly specifically targets the medial deltoid region and is an integral part of any muscle-building shoulder workout.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on how to properly execute the shoulder fly and avoid common mistakes, so you can get the most out of this exercise and achieve your desired shoulder strength and definition.
How To Do Shoulder Flys With Proper Form
The dumbbell shoulder lateral fly, also known as the lateral raise, is an effective exercise for targeting the lateral deltoid muscle, which is responsible for the width of the shoulders. It is also used to build the middle head of the deltoid muscle. According to studies, this activity targets the infraspinatus and subscapularis muscles in your rotator cuff, allowing you to do many shoulder motions, such as internal and external rotations
It’s important to maintain good form during this exercise to avoid injury and ensure that the target muscle is effectively activated. It is often recommended to use a moderate weight and focus on controlled movement rather than using heavy weights and swinging the dumbbells. Here are steps on how to perform this exercise.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing each other.
- Begin by lifting your chest, tensing your core, and flaring your lats. Move the dumbbells away from your thighs and lean forward slightly to help transfer the majority of stress onto your medial deltoid head.
- Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, lift the dumbbells out to your sides at a 45-degree angle until they reach shoulder height.
- Hold briefly at the top before lowering the dumbbells back to the start position in a controlled manner.
- Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions.
You can target specific deltoid and synergist muscle groups by making slight adjustments to your lateral raise technique. Research has shown that rotating your humerus (upper arm bone) externally (outwards) and internally (inwards) during the lateral raise can target different muscle groups. This was determined through an electromyographic analysis which measures muscle activation during exercises.
The primary muscle worked during dumbbell shoulder lateral fly (lateral raise) is the lateral deltoid, which is responsible for the width of the shoulders.
In addition to the lateral deltoid, the exercise also works the anterior deltoid, which is responsible for shoulder flexion and is located on the front of the shoulder. The posterior deltoid, which is responsible for shoulder extension and is located on the back of the shoulder is also worked.
The trapezius, which is a large muscle that runs from the back of the neck to the middle of the upper back and shoulders, is also worked to a lesser extent. The supraspinatus, a small muscle located on the top of the shoulder, is also involved in the movement and gets worked during the exercise.
Benefits Of Doing Dumbbell Shoulder Flys
There are several benefits to incorporating dumbbell shoulder lateral flys (lateral raises) into your workout routine:
- Targeted muscle development: The exercise specifically targets the lateral deltoid, which is responsible for the width of the shoulders. It also works the anterior and posterior deltoid, trapezius and supraspinatus.
- Improved posture: By strengthening the shoulders, this exercise can help improve posture by pulling the shoulders back and down.
- Increased strength and power: By strengthening the deltoids, this exercise can help increase upper body strength and power, which can be beneficial for activities such as lifting and pushing.
- Reduced risk of injury: By strengthening the shoulders, this exercise can help reduce the risk of injury in the shoulders.
- Variety: This exercise is a great addition to your workout routine as it works on a different muscle group than traditional exercises like press or pull-ups.
- Great for both men and women: Dumbbell shoulder flys are great for both men and women and can be modified to suit different fitness levels.
Common Mistakes To Avoid While Doing Shoulder Flys With Dumbbells
Here are some common mistakes to avoid while performing dumbbell shoulder lateral flys (lateral raises):
- Using too heavy weights: Using weights that are too heavy can lead to improper form and increase the risk of injury. It’s important to use a weight that you can comfortably control throughout the entire range of motion.
- Swinging the weights: Swinging the weights in an effort to lift more weight can take the focus off the target muscle and increase the risk of injury. It’s important to use a controlled movement throughout the entire range of motion.
- Shrugging the shoulders: Shrugging the shoulders while performing the exercise can take the focus off the target muscle and engage the wrong muscle group. It’s important to keep the shoulders down and back throughout the entire movement.
- Arching the back: Arching the back can cause strain on the lower back. it’s important to keep the core engaged and maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
- Not fully extending the arms: Not fully extending the arms at the top of the movement can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and limit the range of motion in the shoulder.
- Not squeezing the shoulder blades together: Not squeezing the shoulder blades together at the top of the movement can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and limit the range of motion in the shoulder.
Dumbbell Shoulder Fly Variations
There are several variations of the dumbbell shoulder flys or lateral raises that you can include in your workout routine such as the Egyptian Lateral Raise, Machine Lateral Raises, and Cable Lateral Raise. Each variation targets the lateral deltoid muscle in a different way. To learn more about these variations and how to perform them with proper form, we recommend checking our articles on each exercise for in-depth information.
In conclusion, dumbbell shoulder lateral flys, also known as lateral raises, is a compound exercise that targets the lateral deltoid muscle, which is responsible for the width of the shoulders. It also works the anterior and posterior deltoid, trapezius, and supraspinatus. The exercise can help improve posture, increase upper body strength and power, and reduce the risk of injury in the shoulders.
There are different variations of this exercise like the Egyptian Lateral Raise, Machine Lateral Raises, and Cable Lateral Raise which can be included in the workout routine to target the specific muscle groups.
The exercise can be performed by making slight adjustments to the technique like rotating the humerus externally and internally. It’s important to use proper form, control the weight and engage the right muscle groups during the exercise to avoid injury and get the most out of the workout.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.