Exercise of the Month: Flat dumbbell flys
The first thing you need to do is forget what you've read about building a muscular chest. Most chest workouts you read about or see people use in the gyms revolve around the bench press. I'm here to tell you, the flat barbell press, and especially the incline barbell press, are not what they're cracked up to be.
Here's one for ya. Take barbell bench presses out of your program for at least three months and see what happens. Barbell presses are not an effective chest exercise anyway. Take flat barbell presses out of my training program you say? Why, that's like saying there's no God. Which some people do believe. Anyway, most of the best bench pressers in the world have largely developed anterior deltoids and triceps with minimal chest development. The only other exercise that will aggravate a shoulder more than bench presses is behind the neck presses. Both movements do not follow the natural biomechanics of the body. Now, I'm not saying to never do these movements, just don't build your training programs around them. Dumbbells are much less restrictive on the shoulder joint and allow you to find joint angles that suit your anatomical needs.
Now you're really going to be shocked! Start your chest workout with flat flys. And I want you to do them as heavy as possible. I know right now you're in utter amazement that I would even suggest such a thing. As you've been told by all the so-called experts in all the other mags in print and online, "flys are a shaping exercise." What a load of crap! We already know that we cannot change the shape of our muscles, only the size. Remember this, all exercises are size and strength builders. Where exercises differ is in their capacity to put tension on the muscle being worked. The stronger you get, the more tension on the muscle. The more tension on the muscle, the greater the growth response. Flat dumbbell flys will help you gain a growth response more effective than you could imagine.
While performing flat dumbbell flys first, you will find your chest will be targeted like never before. Because maximum weight is going to be involved, you are definitely going to need a spotter. It is imperative that you perform this exercise correctly.
Lie flat on a bench with the dumbbells at arms length directly above your chest. You should have a slight arch in your lower back. Your shoulders should be as far back toward the bench as they will go and should be locked in this position throughout the movement. Your scapula should remain retracted and stabilized. Do not at any time allow your shoulders to move forward. Take a deep breath and begin to lower the dumbbell slowly taking four seconds to reach the bottom, which is just above your chest. In any movement involving your arms with maximum weights, your hands should always remain in front of your body. Do not go for a big stretch while performing heavy flys. The farther your arms go behind your chest the more vulnerable your shoulder joint becomes.
Now slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting position, taking four seconds. Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of not allowing your shoulders to move forward as you push the dumbbells back to the starting position. If the shoulders come forward, the stress will be diverted toward them and off the chest.