Butterfly Chest Exercise

The butterfly is an excellent exercise to tone and boost the area around your chest. The anatomical components of the chest are the pectoralis major and minor. Also known as the fly, the butterfly targets the pecs and is generally done seated at a weight machine. To protect your shoulders from injury, perform the exercise properly and with control.


Function of Exercise

The pecs take up a lot of surface area on the chest. Because of this, workouts are centered on exercises that target the upper, middle, lower and inner chest for full development. A butterfly chest exercise, or butterfly chest press, targets the pectoralis major while also working the biceps and deltoids slightly.


The butterfly chest press is performed on a cable machine from a seated position. Start by adjusting the seat so your arms parallel the floor then extend your arms out to your sides and place your hands on the handles. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, push the handles straight in front of your body. Once your knuckles are close together, squeeze your chest forcefully and slowly move the handles back out. Keep you elbows lifted as you open and close your arms as if mimicking a butterfly flapping its wings in a slow and controlled manner. You also have the option of doing this exercise from a standing position inside.


To make the most progress with a butterfly chest press, you need to tax your muscles with an adequate resistance. Aim for a resistance level where you can feel fatigued after 8 to 12 repetitions. Maintain proper form throughout the repetitions.

Alternative to Machine

If you do not have access to a butterfly or cable machine, or simply do not like machines, you have the option of doing a similar exercise with dumbbells. Pec flyes work the same muscles the butterfly does, except your body is in a different position. Dumbbells also cause you to contract more stabilizing muscles to remain balanced. Begin this exercise from a face-up position on a weight bench while holding the weights directly above your chest with your palms facing each other. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, lower your arms down to your sides until you feel a good stretch in your chest. Steadily move the dumbbells back to the starting point and repeat. Stop the weights just short of each other when you push them up.


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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.