Muscle group:   The back muscles, the shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Trapezius, deltoid, middle back muscles, upper back muscles

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises, free weight exercises, machine exercises


Reverse flys represent an extremely effective exercise for the trapezius and rhomboideus, the middle and back part of the deltoid, and the upper and middle part of the erector spinae. There are different variations and intensity levels we can choose from performing reverse flys.

Reverse flys – lying

Reverse flys can be exercised in lying or sitting position. In lying position you could either work out on a bench, the floor, or similar. We start in prone position. On a bench please make sure to fix your legs under the seating surface. The head faces downward. Our upper arms could either rotate inward or outward. The inward rotated reverse flys exercise is more effective for the upper and middle parts of the back and (in most variations also) the deltoid. Outward rotated reverse flys are more effective for the trapezius. But still, all versions of the exercise represent a good workout for all mentioned muscles.

Reverse flys outwards rotated

Reverse flys outwards rotated

Reverse flys inwards rotated

Reverse flys inwards rotated

To exercise reverse flys move your arms as far as possible to the back at highest muscle tension. The shoulders pull towards each other. Bring your arms back forward onto shoulder level to complete one repetition. Intensify the exercise by working out with extra weights, like dumbbells or weight plates. Further increase the intensity by remaining in the area of highest muscle tension performing small up and down movements.

Reverse flys on bench, inward rotated

Reverse flys on bench, inward rotated

Reverse flys on bench, outward rotated

Reverse flys on bench, outward rotated

Reverse flys – sitting

Reverse flys in sitting position can be exercised in the same way. Here, you either work out on the machine or freely on a bench, the floor, or similar. Keep your back straight up and your abdominal muscles tensed.

Reverse flys, seated on bench

Reverse flys, seated on bench

Reverse flys on the machine

Reverse flys on the machine

The seated version can also be exercised reversely on the chest machine for flyes. Both arm alignments (inward and outward rotated) are possible. The intensity of the free variations can also be increased by having a training partner apply pressure on the arms from behind (sitting) or above (lying).

Reverse flys variations

Raising the upper body and tilting the pelvis (hyperextensions) when we perform reverse flys in lying position would activate the lower back significantly. If we now combine this with back leg lifts we would get a very complex exercise that works out almost the entire backside of your body. Furthermore we could perform rowing in reverse fly execution.

Reverse flys and back leg lifts in combination

Reverse flys and back leg lifts in combination

Reverse flys, variations

Reverse flys, variations


Antagonist: Chest muscles

Stretching: Upper back stretches

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