Dumbbell Reverse Fly: Perfecting Form for Maximum Results

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: July 29, 2023
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The dumbbell reverse fly is a powerful exercise that focuses on strengthening the upper back muscles.

With its wide range of motion and activation of stabilizer muscles, this exercise is highly effective in building upper body strength and promoting better posture.

Drawing on my expertise as a fitness professional, I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of incorporating dumbbell reverse fly exercises into fitness routines. In this article, I will share my experience with this exercise and guide you through the proper technique to maximize its effectiveness.

Quick Summary

  • The dumbbell reverse fly is an upper-back exercise that targets and strengthens the muscles of the upper back.
  • It involves raising the arms out to the sides while holding dumbbells, engaging the upper back muscles.
  • Dumbbell reverse flys promote upper back strength, muscle development, and improved posture.

How to Perform Dumbbell Reverse Fly

Person performing a reverse dumbbell fly

To correctly perform a dumbbell reverse fly, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your body.
  2. Bend forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and core engaged. With a hinge forward hip position and neutral spine, let your arms hang in front of you, slightly flexing your elbows.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms out to the sides in a wide arc. Maintain a slight bend in your arms and focus on using the muscles of your upper back region to lift the dumbbells.
  4. Continue raising your arms until they are parallel to the ground or slightly higher, feeling a contraction in your upper posterior muscles. Pause briefly at the top of the movement.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled manner, feeling a stretch in your upper back muscles. Repeat the exercise for your desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining control and proper form throughout the movement.

What Is Dumbbell Reverse Fly?

Person performing a reverse dumbbell fly

The dumbbell reverse fly is a highly effective exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the upper back, specifically the rear deltoids (posterior deltoids) and rhomboids, and trapezius.

It is performed using dumbbells and involves a motion where you raise your arms out to the sides in a wide arc.

The dumbbell reverse fly can be performed in a standing position or a seated position.

Reverse fly seated provides additional stability and support to the body, allowing for a more focused and controlled movement.

In the seated variation of the dumbbell reverse fly, it's important to maintain a straight back body position.

Maintaining a straight-back body position provides a solid foundation for the movement and engages the target muscles more effectively.

This position also helps to stabilize your core and promote proper alignment throughout the exercise.

The reverse fly seated exercise can help improve posture, strengthen the upper back, enhance shoulder stability, and promote overall upper body strength and development.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast, the dumbbell reverse fly can be a valuable addition to your training program.

Read More: Reverse Pec Deck Fly 101 Guide: Proper From and Benefits

Muscles Trained With Reverse Fly Exercise

Muscles trained by doing a reverse dumbbell fly

The dumbbell reverse fly is a highly effective exercise for targeting and developing the major upper back muscles, posterior deltoids, and shoulder muscles.

While these specific muscle groups are the primary focus of the exercise, several secondary muscles also come into play, providing additional support and contributing to the overall movement.

Posterior Deltoids

The posterior deltoids, also known as the rear deltoids, are the main muscles targeted during the dumbbell reverse fly.

These muscles are located at the back of the shoulder and are responsible for shoulder extension and horizontal abduction.

By performing the reverse fly, you engage and strengthen these muscles, helping to enhance the appearance and function of your shoulders [1].

Learn More: Best Rear Delt Exercises: Grow Posterior Deltoids Fast


The rhomboids are muscles located in the upper back between the shoulder blades. They play a crucial role in retracting and stabilizing the shoulder blades.

During the dumbbell reverse fly, the rhomboids are actively engaged to maintain proper shoulder alignment and scapular stability, promoting healthy posture and improving upper back strength [2].



The trapezius is a large muscle that spans the upper back and neck region.

It consists of three distinct sections: the upper trapezius, middle trapezius, and lower trapezius.

While all sections of the trapezius are involved to some extent during the dumbbell reverse fly, the middle and lower trapezius muscles are particularly targeted.

These muscles assist in shoulder retraction and scapular stabilization, aiding in the execution of the exercise [3].

Rotator Cuff Muscles

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, providing stability and facilitating smooth shoulder movement.

During the dumbbell reverse fly, the posterior deltoids and other muscles involved in the movement work with the rotator cuff muscles to maintain proper shoulder mechanics and prevent injury.

This exercise can help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, promoting overall shoulder stability and reducing the risk of shoulder-related issues [4].

The Benefits

Person performing a reverse dumbbell fly

The dumbbell reverse fly is an exceptional exercise that specifically targets and develops the major upper back muscles, including the rhomboids and trapezius.

Additionally, it engages the posterior deltoids and shoulder muscles, resulting in a comprehensive upper body workout.

Incorporating this exercise into your workout routine can provide a range of advantages that contribute to your overall fitness and strength goals.

Improved Posture

Many people spend hours sitting at desks or hunching over electronic devices, leading to rounded shoulders and poor posture.

The dumbbell reverse fly helps counteract this by strengthening the muscles that retract and stabilize the shoulder blades.

This can result in improved posture and a more confident, upright stance.

Increased Range of Motion

The wide arc motion of the dumbbell reverse fly allows for a greater range of motion compared to other back exercises.

This can help improve flexibility and mobility in the shoulders and upper back.

Stabilizer Muscle Activation

Stabilizer muscle

The dumbbell reverse fly engages the stabilizer muscles responsible for maintaining proper joint alignment and stability during movement.

This exercise can improve overall strength and reduce the risk of injury in other exercises or daily activities.

Targeted Muscle Development

By performing the dumbbell reverse fly, you can specifically target and strengthen the muscles of your upper back, including the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and trapezius.

This exercise helps to build muscle definition and increase overall strength in the upper back region.

"The dumbbell reverse fly not only strengthens the posterior deltoids but also engages the muscles of the rotator cuff, which can contribute to improved shoulder joint stability and reduced risk of impingement."

- Dr. Andrew Thompson, Orthopedic Surgeon


Is the Dumbbell Reverse Fly an Effective Exercise?

Yes, the dumbbell reverse fly is considered an effective exercise for targeting and strengthening the muscles of the upper back. It engages multiple muscle groups and can lead to improved posture and upper body stability.

Are Reverse Flys Bad?

Reverse flys are not considered bad exercises when performed correctly and with appropriate technique. However, as with any exercise, it's important to use proper form, start with manageable weights, and listen to your body to avoid injury.

Supplement Your Dumbbell Reverse Fly for Better Results

Dumbbell reverse flys are a highly effective exercise that offers a range of benefits, including improved range of motion, enhanced muscle balance, and increased engagement of the stabilizer muscles.

From my personal experience as a fitness expert, incorporating dumbbell reverse flys into your workout routine can yield remarkable results.

It can significantly enhance the development of your upper back muscles, improve overall upper body strength, and contribute to a more balanced and visually appealing physique.

In addition, combining the exercise with a great protein powder supplement for building muscle can further promote post-workout recovery.


  1. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/the-deltoid-muscle
  2. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/rhomboid-muscles
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518994/
  4. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/the-rotator-cuff
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