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Pretty much every lifter does some sort of bench pressing in their chest routine. This is really no surprise as compound movements like the bench press are such good strength and muscle builders. However, you also often see lifters doing dumbbell flies. Have you ever wondered why? Below is a list of three reasons why dumbbell flies should be a part of your chest routine.
As good a mass and strength builder as compound exercises such as press variations and (weighted) dips are, this fact is also what hamstrings them. In other words, you can lift more weight with the bench press because you’re not just using your pecs. Instead, you’re also involving your triceps and shoulders. Using three muscle groups lets you train harder and heavier than using just one.
However, your pecs are a much bigger muscle group than the shoulders and triceps. As a result, they’re capable of much more. This can become a problem because when doing heavy pressing movements, your shoulders or triceps may fatigue before your pecs do. This can result in not being able to fully work the pecs to sufficient fatigue.
This is where an exercise like dumbbell flies comes into play. Because they’re an isolation exercise that works only the chest, you have a way to continue working the pecs even when your smaller surrounding bodyparts are already taxed. This lets you do your heavy compound exercises while everything is fresh, but then finish off a chest isolation exercise once everything else is tired.
Every serious lifter knows the importance of having a good mind-muscle connection during your workouts. Compound exercises can be difficult for this as you have to concentrate on so much at once. However, isolation exercises let you put all your focus into just one muscle group. Since dumbbell flies are an isolation movement, this means a better potential mind-muscle connection. This, in turn, means potentially better gains.
Isolation movements plus a better mind-muscle connection usually results in improved muscle quality. This is the biggest reason most lifters like to include dumbbell flies in their chest routine. By not going heavy and implementing a little slower rep speed, you radically increase the quality of the movement.
First, because of the movement pattern of dumbbell flies in general, you can get a quite significant stretch through the pecs. Concentrate on really letting the weight pull your arms wide, spreading the chest and stretching your pecs (which some believe can lead to bigger muscles).
Keep constant tension during the rep, and really squeeze the contracted position hard for a count of two. This is the sort of thing that can lead to more muscle hardness as well as more striations through the pecs once you get lean. All of this means better muscle quality overall compared to just pressing heavy.
Adding dumbbell flies to your program usually won’t get you much stronger, but it can get you a deep stretch through the pecs and is a good way to pump the chest full of blood at the end of a workout. Keep the weight light, form on point, and you’ll not only remain injury free, but be stimulating new growth and improving muscle quality.