The Benefits of Incorporating Decline Dumbbell Flyes for Full Chest Development

decline dumbbell flyes

Performing dumbbell flyes at a decline hit the often overlooked lower pec muscles. 

To achieve a sculpted and defined look, it’s crucial to diversify your chest day workouts. Incorporating decline dumbbell flyes, a variation of the dumbbell fly, into your training routine effectively targets the often overlooked lower chest muscles. Expanding your range of motion and fully engaging these muscles can elevate your chest training to new heights.

The decline dumbbell fly is a variation of the standard dumbbell fly, which is an excellent exercise for your chest and shoulder muscles (1). One of the advantages of doing decline dumbbell flyes is that it further reduces the activation of your delts and upper chest, allowing you to focus on overloading your lower chest muscles, which we’ll dive into later. 

This exercise guide looks closer at the decline dumbbell fly and its many benefits. We also share how to do this exercise in proper form and other alternatives that you can use to vary your chest day exercises. Read on for essential things to know about the decline dumbbell fly.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

Decline dumbbell flyes work on your chest muscles, and due to the decline, they primarily work on your lower chest muscles. It also targets your delts and arms for stability. 

You need dumbbells and a decline bench to do the decline dumbbell fly. However, this exercise requires less load than other pressing exercises, so keep that in mind when choosing weight. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do decline dumbbell flyes.

  1. Set a bench to a decline angle of 30 degrees, and then grab two dumbbells of appropriate weight.
  2. Put your hand on your thighs and lie back on the bench with your head at the lower part with your feet firmly on the ground.
  3. Extend your arms to get to the starting position for a fly. (Your arms will look like you’re about to hug someone.)
  4. Bend your elbows slightly and then brace your core to get into the starting position. 
  5. Raise your arms to extend the dumbbells above your chest. Your palms should face each other, and the dumbbells should be directly above your upper chest at the top of the movement.
  6. Pause before your arms are fully extended, and then slowly lower the dumbbells in a wide arc to return to the starting position and complete the rep.
  7. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.

Benefits of Performing Dumbbell Flyes at a Decline

Decline dumbbell flyes can help you build a stronger physique. You can also use this exercise to support some of your heavier compound lifts. Below are more benefits of performing dumbbell flyes at a decline.

Increase Lower Chest Muscle Mass & Size

The decline dumbbell fly isolates your lower chest. It requires less weight, so it’s best to do more reps. Increasing the reps is a great way to induce hypertrophy and increase muscle mass and size.

Better Chest Definition 

Doing the dumbbell fly at a decline shifts the focus from your upper chest and shoulders. It targets the lower chest around the sternal head instead. This is a portion often neglected by other exercises because of the range of motion required to reach it. The decline dumbbell fly reaches this point, leading to better chest definition.

Better Range of Motion

Regarding range of motion, decline dumbbell flyes increase it. This leads to more muscle growth in your chest as your muscles spend more time under tension (2).

Improved Shoulder Stability & Mobility

Decline dumbbell flyes also work on your shoulders and the muscles surrounding them. This helps to improve your shoulder mobility. Strengthening those muscles also leads to better shoulder stability.

Better Posture & Performance

The angle of the decline dumbbell fly opens up your chest muscles. This can help to reduce tightness in your upper body and work on upper back pain. It also improves your posture and performance as a result. 

Better Isolation

The decline of this exercise better isolates and targets your lower chest. It also helps to prevent excess momentum when doing them. As a result, you have better focus and use your mind-muscle connection to encourage muscle growth (3).

Decline Dumbbell Flyes Alternatives

Ready to vary your chest exercises and hit those lower chest muscles some more? Below are other exercises that work similarly to decline dumbbell flyes.

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

The decline dumbbell bench press also works on your shoulders, chest, and arms. Plus, just like with the dumbbell incline fly, this routine focuses on the lower part of your chest around the sternal head.

Decline Barbell Pullover

The decline barbell pullover is an exercise for your chest and back. It also focuses explicitly on the pec muscles around the sternal head.

Decline Cable Fly

The decline cable fly is like the decline dumbbell fly, but you’re using a cable machine this time. As a result, fewer of your stabilizing muscles come into play with this exercise. 


What muscle does the decline dumbbell fly work?

The decline dumbbell fly works on your chest, arms, and shoulder muscles. See the guide above for a more detailed breakdown of each muscle. 

What are the benefits of dumbbell fly?

The dumbbell fly is an effective exercise for building your chest muscles. It also works on your arms and shoulders.

What is the difference between incline and decline fly?

The incline fly works the upper chest muscles, while the decline fly focuses on your lower pec muscles. Check the guide above for more information on how the decline fly can help you build muscle definition.

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  1. Welsch, E. A., Bird, M., & Mayhew, J. L. (2005). Electromyographic activity of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles during three upper-body lifts. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 19(2), 449–452. 
  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.
  3. Calatayud, J., Vinstrup, J., Jakobsen, M. D., Sundstrup, E., Brandt, M., Jay, K., Colado, J. C., & Andersen, L. L. (2016). Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training. European journal of applied physiology, 116(3), 527–533.
Terry Ramos
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.