Banded Reverse Fly Exercise Guide — How to, Muscles Worked, & Benefits

banded reverse fly and face pulls

The banded reverse fly helps you hit those oft-overlooked posterior delts. 

Many athletes prioritize training their biceps and core muscles, such as the abs. Unfortunately, they often neglect their rear delts and upper back, which can have detrimental effects. Overlooking these areas can result in an imbalance, causing back pain despite having a strong core. Addressing this imbalance is crucial to maintain overall strength and prevent discomfort. That’s where movements like the banded reverse fly come into play. 

The reverse fly is an exercise that effectively engages the muscles of your rear shoulders and upper back. However, in this guide, we won’t be utilizing dumbbells for the reverse fly. Instead, we’ll explore the banded reverse fly, which provides a distinct advantage and uses resistance bands.

Resistance bands are often perceived as inferior substitutes for free weights or cable machines. However, a study involving 29 men and women revealed that using a resistance band for the reverse fly exercise engaged the rear delts, medial delts, and traps more effectively than a dumbbell (1). Discover the benefits of incorporating this routine into your fitness regimen and explore its advantages below.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The banded reverse fly mainly works on your posterior delts while also engaging the lateral delts, lower traps, middle traps, infraspinatus, and teres minor. When done correctly, this exercise hits the posterior fibers of your shoulders and back precisely, strengthening and growing them. 

You can also keep a slight bend in your elbows when pulling back to increase your range of motion. This keeps your muscles under tension for longer, and research shows that more tension leads to even more growth (2)

Now, unlike the dumbbell reverse fly you do in a bent-over position, you can do the banded reverse fly upright. You’ll only need an anchor at chest height, which could be a door knob or handle, and a resistance band. Then, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Secure the band to the anchor that is around chest height. 
  2. Move about 3 to 4 feet away but remain facing the door, and then grab the band with both hands facing each other. 
  3. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, brace your core, and pull your shoulders down and back.
  4. At this point, your arm should be out straight in front of you. This is your starting position. 
  5. Maintaining straight arms, open your hands to pull the band behind you. 
  6. When you reach the end, pause and squeeze your shoulder blades together.   
  7. Then, slowly return your hands to the front to return to the starting position and complete the rep. 
  8. Repeat for multiple reps.

Benefits

The banded reverse fly can help improve functional fitness and make everyday tasks like walking and sitting easier. This routine is also a great way to reduce slouching and improve confidence. Read on to see how. 

Build 3D Delts  

Getting big biceps and a thin waist is the regular goal of many fitness enthusiasts. With banded reverse flys, you can get the elusive but powerful three-dimensional physique. One of the keys to this is building your anterior delts, which this exercise does exceptionally. 

Feels Natural

Resistance bands increase the load the more you stretch them. This is the natural strength curve of the human muscle, too, which allows you to hit the most power while in full contraction. Cable machines and dumbbells use different strength curves, which could lead to early fatigue. 

Versatile

With dumbbells and other free weights, you are stuck doing the reverse fly only in a bent-over position. Resistance bands will let you do this exercise in an upright or bent-over position, depending on which you prefer or how you want to target your muscles. For the bent-over position, put the band under your feet.

Effective Resistance

Getting your delts to the point of fatigue is easy, as they aren’t overly strong. With the banded reverse flys, you can easily adjust your resistance to get more reps. All you have to do is step closer to the anchor to lessen the intensity. 

Better Posture

The banded reverse fly strengthens your sitting, standing, walking, and lifting muscles. This helps you do these activities with the proper posture, as your muscles can carry you properly. You’ll also carry yourself better and look more confident. 

More Joint-Friendly

Due to the natural way that resistance bands load your body, they don’t stress your joints too much. This can be useful for athletes training around an injury. It also reduces your overall risk of injury when doing banded reverse flys.

Banded Reverse Fly Alternatives

The banded reverse fly is a great exercise and should be a part of your routine. However, there are other great exercises you can also use to target your rear delts and upper back. Here are three of them.

Face Pulls

Face pulls activate your rear delts, although not as much as the banded reverse fly. However, they hit that middle part between the shoulders, which is usually hard to hit. 

Reverse Pushups

Reverse pushups also hit the traps in the back. However, they work on your chest, delts, and triceps. This exercise is an effective way to build and strengthen your shoulder blades. 

Incline Barbell Rows

Incline barbell rows target your rhomboids, lats, traps, and rear delts. Leaning on an incline bench during this exercise lets you focus on using the proper form, making it even more effective. 

FAQs

What muscles do the reverse fly with bands work?

Reverse fly with bands are also called banded reverse flys. They work on your upper back and rear delts. Check the exercise guide for a more specific breakdown of each muscle worked. 

How do you do a banded reverse fly?

You can either do the banded reverse fly bent over or upright. For the bent-over version, you put the band under your feet. Attach the band to an anchor at chest height for the upright banded reverse fly. 

What muscles are you contracting the most during the reverse fly with resistance bands?

During the reverse fly with resistance bands, your rear delts get the most contraction. The band also follows your natural strength curve, which allows you to work that muscle effectively without getting tired too quickly. 

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References

  1. Bergquist, R., Iversen, V. M., Mork, P. J., & Fimland, M. S. (2018). Muscle Activity in Upper-Body Single-Joint Resistance Exercises with Elastic Resistance Bands vs. Free Weights. Journal of human kinetics, 61, 5–13. https://doi.org/10.1515/hukin-2017-0137 
  2. Mang, Z. A., Ducharme, J. B., Mermier, C., Kravitz, L., de Castro Magalhaes, F., & Amorim, F. (2022). Aerobic Adaptations to Resistance Training: The Role of Time under Tension. International journal of sports medicine, 43(10), 829–839. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1664-8701
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.