Chest Fly are a great isolation exercise in any chest workout and resistance bands offer several great ways to do chest flys as well. In this article here we will show you how to do them right and give you also different levels of difficulty to give you the variation that you need to really work your chest with flys (including multiple tips that we developed over the years training with resistance bands).
In the first part of this article, we will show you how to execute a chest fly with resistance bands properly and in the second part, you find some tips to make the chest flys harder and more effective to get you the pump you’re looking for.
Chest Fly With Resistance Band
Let’s jump right into how you do the basic chest fly with resistance bands.
Band VS Weights & Machine
Doing your chest fly with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with a cable machine.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With a cable machine, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
- Fewer Injuries & Home Workout! You probably don’t have a cable machine at home and doing chest flyers with dumbbells is risky in terms of injuries – with resistance bands you can do chest flyers at home without any additional equipment.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights or machines, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing a chest fly, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and bodybuilding, check it out here.
How To Chest Fly The Right Way
The main purpose of chest flys is to bring your arms in within the full range-of-motion and you will do that by attaching the resistance band to a door with a door anchor or attach it to a bar, rack or anything else. (Make sure to follow our guide for door anchors here to not get it snapping into the back of your head, this hurts!)
You can do chest flys with both hands at the same time, but you will need two bands of the same resistance to set it up. You also will need quite a lot of space to set it up in the correct angle. That is why I recommend doing the chest flys one arm at a time. This will also ensure that you build a good technique and develop the mind muscle connection.
Grab the band with one hand and take as many steps away from the anchor point until you feel a nice stretch in your starting position with your arm open. You will get in line with the band so the band will be an extension of your arm when you put it into the starting position, you can even slightly face away from the anchor point to get an even larger range of motion. Now bring in your arm and focus on keeping your upper body straight. This will also work a lot more on your core muscles (which is good, right). Keep in mind to stick your chest out and keep it stuck out throughout the motion. This will activate the full chest during the chest fly and give you full tension during the range-of-motion.
Also, this set up lets you increase or decrease the resistance of the band a little easier by simply stepping away more or less from the anchor point or grabbing the band a little narrower or wider.
Doesn’t sound too complicated but there are many tweaks to this exercise that I have listed below so make sure to check them out 🙂
Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!
⓵ Chest Out, Shoulder Blades Together – this is the most common mistake with this exercise and might get you into working more with your shoulders and triceps during this exercise that is actually meant to work your chest isolated.
It helped many people to think of it like putting the shoulder blades together and “sticking” them into their back pocket of their pants. Sounds a little weird but if you do that you will immediately feel the difference. Now stick your chest out as much as you can and you will feel the full contraction of your chest during the chest fly.
⓶ No Slack – when you’re in the starting position of your chest fly, there shouldn’t be any slack in the band. The band should already be stretched a little bit so you feel a force pulling you back a little bit. If you have a slack here you will lose a lot of time under tension!
If you’re not possible to get the band into a full contraction with the fly without having a slack you need to use a lighter resistance band (below you find tips how to increase the force with a lighter resistance band)
If you have problems doing chest flys as shown above, please check below some alternative ways that will help you find the perfect chest fly with resistance bands for you.
Alternative Ways To Chest Fly With Resistance Bands
With every version of an exercise, you will find people that really like it and others that don’t like it that much. If you have problems with the traditional way of doing the chest fly as shown above (while executing it the right way), you might want to try one of the alternative ways.
An awesome thing about chest flys is that you can simply change up the angle you’re doing this exercise with and will change the muscles you’re targeting. With this you can shift the focus slightly and keep it interesting.
Chest Flys From Above – in this version you will attach the band to an anchor point which is above your shoulders and pull to the level of your belly button. This will put more stress in your pecs especially your lower chest and will keep your shoulders almost out of play.
Chest Flys From Beneath – this is the reverse to the previous version. You attach the band to an anchor point which is close to the floor and pull shoulder level. This will focus more on your upper chest and will also involve quite some shoulder work.
No Attachment Point – if you’re training somewhere where you don’t have a door or anything else where you can attach your resistance band (or you’re training with a short band), you can also wrap the band behind your back and do the fly with the resistance of your own body.
However, this should rather be a work-around than a permanent solution because you will not get that much chest activation in this position and the band will not feel super-comfy 😉
Get Your Pump
If that doesn’t get you that pump and feeling that your chest is basically exploding, here are some tips that will help you work that muscle to the ground.
Shorten The Band – many people make the mistake to use a band with a resistance level that’s simply too high for the exercise. The full effect of bands results from getting the right resistance and if you use a band that’s too heavy you can’t get a clean range-of-motion and clean reps and get lower progress.
Instead of taking a stronger band simply shorten the band, you use and you can do that perfectly by wrapping it around your hand once or twice and get the extra resistance without losing the ability to do clean reps.
That’s also one reason why I don’t like the resistance bands with handles attached to it and prefer the loop-style bands.
No Arm Extension – especially when you do your chest flys one-handed you will get to a point where the force will drag you so much to the side that it will be hard for your core to keep your upper body in a fixed position. This can be crucial when you will start doing your flys in a bad form just because your core doesn’t hold the resistance.
A good way to lower that force on your core is to not extend your army and simply push your arm in a 70-90 degree angle. The main movement of your chest (which is bringing the arm from the outside to the inside) is the same but your core has less lever force from the resistance band. You can use more resistance with this variation and work that chest muscle harder.
I also like this variation because you can get easily into full peak contraction and you will feel this from the first rep.
Time Under Tension – compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
Full Chest Workout
Simply doing chest flys is not a full chest workout as there are multiple muscles working in your chest – we have here a full chest workout with different exercises that will give you the strongest pump you can ever think of – check it out here.