What Is a Reverse Fly?


The reverse fly is an exercise that targets the upper back and shoulders while using barbells or even the body's own natural resistance to build muscle. As with any weightlifting exercise, practice proper form to prevent injury or strain.

Basic Motion

The reverse fly can be performed when sitting, standing or even lying face down on a weight bench. When lying face down and using dumbbells, a person holds a dumbbell in each hand. With your elbows slightly bent, slowly lift the weights to where the hands reach shoulder level or a little before shoulder level. You should feel tension or a pinch in the upper back when you have reached the shoulder position. Then, lower the weights back to the floor. If you perform this exercise while upright, lift from the waist, then lift the barbells from the waist level backward (a typical fly moves the weights forward).

Muscles Worked

The reverse fly uses a number of muscles found in the shoulders and back. These include the posterior deltoid, rhomboid and middle trapezius muscles. The rhomboid muscles, which are located in the upper back and shoulders are the primary muscles used during the reverse fly.

Proper Form

To practice proper form when performing a reverse fly, keep the back straight, not arched or hunched. Also, the weights should be controlled when they are lifted and returned to the starting position, not swung. Concentrating on the upper back muscles will help keep this motion controlled.


Perform reverse fly exercises in sets of 12 to 15, beginning with three sets and a lighter dumbbell weight to begin. The muscles built while performing this exercise will help prevent shoulder injury as well as make the shoulders more balanced and proportional in appearance.


If dumbbells are too heavy or cumbersome to utilize while performing a reverse fly, use an elastic band. Holding an elastic band in front of you with your hands held shoulder-high and your hands shoulder-width apart, pull the band backward, ultimately making a T-shape with the hands.