Reverse Dumbbell Fly Benefits

Young lady showing her muscular shoulders and biceps

Reverse dumbbell flyes strengthen the posterior shoulder and upper back. Strength and development in the rear shoulders and thoracic spinal muscles improves upper body posture, function and movement. Correct technique is vital and more important than the amount of weight. Incorporate this resistance exercise as part of a whole body anaerobic fitness program.


Reverse dumbbell flyes, also known as posterior deltoid raises, develop several key muscles areas. They strengthen the posterior aspect of the shoulder muscles called the deltoid. They work the supraspinatus, infraspinatus and the teres minor, which are the posterior muscles of the rotator cuff. Reverse dumbbell flyes also target the upper back muscles which pull the shoulder blades toward each other.


The posterior aspect of the deltoid muscle originates on the scapula and merges with the fibers of the anterior and lateral sections of the deltoid to attach to the upper arm bone. When contracted the posterior deltoid pulls the upper arm backward toward the spine. The supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor muscles originate on the posterior section of the shoulder blade and attach to the upper arm. They work as a unit to raise and pull the upper arm backward toward the shoulder blade. The muscles that originate on the spine and attach to the scapula are the rhomboid major, rhomboid minor and the middle and inferior aspects of the trapezius. These important muscles retract the shoulder blades toward the spine.


The correct balance of strength between the muscles that pull the shoulder backward and the muscles that pull the shoulder forward are necessary for proper posture and correct functional movement. Proper posture and function is essential to a pain-free performance of activities of daily living and increased athletic performance.


Reverse dumbbell flyes can be performed either seated, standing or lying prone on an incline bench. Start light and perfect your technique before adding weight. If seated or standing bend forward to a 90-degree angle. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand with your wrists straight and elbows bent. Begin with the weights close to the floor and almost touching each other. Exhale and simultaneously raise your shoulders backward at 90-degree angles from the body toward your spine. Keep your elbows bent and lift your shoulders as high as you can. Inhale and lower the dumbbell in a controlled manner.


Reverse dumbbell flyes are best performed after your heavier lifts. Focus on your technique and begin with one set of 10 to 30 repetitions. Once your form is perfected, gradually add a second and third set. Progress in weight slowly and feel the correct muscles working throughout the exercise.