9 Effective Dumbbell Chest Fly Alternatives and Substitutes (With Pictures)

If you want to perfectly develop your chest muscles, only benching over 225 pounds won’t be enough. Adduction is the prime function of your pecs and to develop a big and round chest you will have to perform exercises that allow your pecs to do it.

The dumbbell chest fly is one of the most basic exercises that target the chest muscles. It allows your pecs to adduct perfectly which contributes towards their gains. You must have seen many old-school bodybuilders advocating its benefits. But at the same time, the typical DB chest flys also puts your shoulders in an unsafe position. For someone who lacks mobility in the shoulder region may find performing the regular DB chest flys quite risky.

To counter that issue, here we will let you know about 9 different safer alternatives to dumbbell fly. They will not only target your pecs but will also keep your shoulders in a safe and sound position. So without further ado, let’s get to know about those exercises in detail.

9 Dumbbell Chest Fly Alternatives

Dumbbell Chest Fly Alternatives and Substitutes

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In order to train your pecs with a fly movement, you don’t necessarily need to rely on free weights. You can do so by using cables, TRX or even your bodyweight. Just make sure to fully stretch and contract your chest muscles while going through the following exercises. The peak contraction that you will get from these exercises will allow you to experience chest gains like never before.

Banded Chest Fly

If you are looking out for a chest fly alternative that can be performed with resistance bands, the banded chest fly will serve you pretty well.

Why is it important?

Banded chest fly targets your pecs just like the regular DB chest flys. However, it puts more stress on the pec minor. The use of resistance bands in this exercise provides your chest muscles with continuous tension throughout the movement.


  • Anchor the resistance band to any stationary object (like a squatting rack, pulley station, or a tree) at your chest height.
  • Turn your back towards the anchor point and hold one side of the band in each hand.
  • If you want to increase the tension on the band for added resistance, step away from the anchor point.
  • Now raise your arms until they are parallel to the floor keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Pull your arms close together in a hugging motion.
  • Make sure to squeeze your chest to facilitate maximum peak contraction.
  • Then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Cable Fly

Serving as a chest fly substitute, cable flys are one of the most popular chest exercises. If you are unable to establish a mind-muscle connection with your pecs, this exercise can serve your best interests.

Why is it important?

Cable fly allows you to train your chest muscles from different angles. If you perform this movement with strict form, you will notice that it aids in targeting your pecs specifically without over involving your shoulder joint.


  • Initiate the movement by setting up two D-bar cable attachments at your chest height on either side to the pulley station.
  • Then hold a D-bar in each hand and step a little bit forward to subject your pectoral to a decent stretch. Your arms must be in line with your body.
  • Now, keeping a slight bend in your elbows, pull your hands together in a hugging motion. You must ensure that your hands don’t touch each other in the concentric phase of this movement. This will keep your pecs under tension throughout the movement.
  • Squeeze your chest muscles at this point and hold this position for a second.
  • Now slowly get back to the starting position maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

While performing this exercise don’t make the mistake of extending your arms excessively. This will put unnecessary stress on your deltoids.

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Wide Grip Bench Press

Even though the wide grip bench press doesn’t replicate the regular chest fly motion, it targets your outer pecs to a great extent. This exercise not only builds fuller pecs but also promotes strength gains.

Why is it important?

Being a compound movement, bench press works on developing your upper body strength and musculature. When you perform it with a wider grip, your pectorals receive a greater stretch as they usually receive while performing a dumbbell chest fly. This is the reason why wide grip bench pressing acts as a chest fly substitute.


  • Lie down on a flat bench press station and grip the bar wider than your shoulder width.
  • Keeping your shoulder blades retracted, unrack the bar, and maintain a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Now lower the barbell down to your lower chest line. At this point, you would feel a decent stretch in your pecs.
  • Push the barbell back up until your arms are fully extended. Don’t make the mistake of locking your elbows while performing this exercise.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

TRX Chest Fly

TRX allows you to perform multiple exercises with them. TRX chest fly serves as a replacement for dumbbell fly by providing you the option to train with your bodyweight.

Why is it important?

When you perform a TRX chest fly, you not only train your pecs. Your core and glute muscles also work optimally to keep your body in a plank position throughout the exercise.


  • Place your hands in the TRX straps and angle your body by pivoting on your toes. The more horizontal your body is, the more challenging this exercise will be for you.
  • Keep your hands at chest level and slowly extend your arms in an arc-like motion until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Make sure to have a slight bend in your elbows. Keep your chest puffed up throughout the movement.
  • Now slowly bring your hands closer to each other and firmly contract your pecs.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

This exercise also targets your core and glute muscles to a great extent as you have to maintain a strict plank position while performing this exercise.

Front Raises for Chest

The name of this exercise might make you assume that this is a front deltoid movement. Even though it engages the front delts to some extent, its execution primarily targets your pec fibers in a different manner.

Why is it important?

Apart from providing your pecs with a decent contraction, this exercise also hits your upper chest fibers to a great extent. If you are looking out for building upper chest, this can be your go-to exercise.


  • Stand erect and hold a dumbbell in each hand with a supinated grip.
  • Initiate the movement by lifting your arm keeping your elbow slightly bent towards the midline of your body.
  • Once your hand reaches your shoulder height, pause and contract your upper pecs.
  • Lower down your hand slowly and repeat the movement with the other hand.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

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Plate Squeeze

If you have shoulder mobility issues and are looking out for a safer dumbbell fly alternative, the plate squeeze exercise can serve you pretty well. It keeps your arms elevated in front of your body which not only facilitates shoulder flexion but also targets your inner chest fibers.

Why is it important?

This exercise mimics DB chest flys to some extent by generating force in the direction of horizontal adduction. While performing this movement, you can certainly feel a great contraction in your pecs.


  • Initiate the movement by holding 5-10 lbs plates.
  • Press the plate in between your hands and keep them at your chest height.
  • Now squeeze the plate together with your hands by applying force.
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and your shoulder blades retracted.
  • Start moving the weight away from your body, pressing it as hard as possible. Your hands should move in a slightly upward direction.
  • The weight must be in line with your nose once your hands are fully extended.
  • Keep squeezing the weight as hard as you can.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Floor Fly

This is by far the most effective dumbbell fly alternative. If you have a pair of dumbbells with you and you want to hit your pecs with a fly movement, floor flys will perfectly get the job done.

Why is it important?

Floor fly is a great exercise that you can add to your chest training routine. It serves as a safer replacement for a dumbbell fly. The best part about this exercise is that it keeps your shoulders in a safe position.


  • Lie down on the floor with your knees bent holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Now lift the dumbbells above your chest, keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells in an arc-like motion keeping your elbows slightly bent until your triceps almost touch the floor.
  • Now using your pectorals bring your arms back to the starting position in the same arc-like motion.
  • Once you are in the starting position, exhale and squeeze your pectoral muscles as hard as possible.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

While performing floor flys you must ensure to keep your chest puffed up. This will minimize the involvement of front deltoids while executing the movement.

Sliding Pushup

If you want to hit your pecs with a fly motion and that too by incorporating a bodyweight movement, the sliding push-up is going to be your go-to exercise.

Why is it important?

A sliding push-up not only serves as the perfect alternative for a dumbbell fly but also gives you the liberty to perform it with no equipment. All that you need to perform a sliding push-up is just a pair of hand pads and you would be ready to go.


  • Place both of your hands on hand pads. In absence of hand pads, you can also use socks to perform this exercise.
  • Now attain a push-up position keeping your hands close together.
  • Start the movement by inhaling and sliding your hands to the sides as you lower your body towards the floor. Make sure to keep your back straight.
  • Once your chest is almost touching the floor, get back to the starting position by sliding your hands inwards. Exhale and squeeze your pecs in this position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

If you find this exercise too challenging to be performed with strict form, you can perform it by keeping your knees on the ground.

Swiss Ball Push-Ups

This movement mimics a regular push-up to some extent. It comprises a pressing movement but it acts as a bodyweight alternative to dumbbell fly.

Why is it important?

Apart from hitting your pecs, swiss ball push-ups also work on building up your core strength. It works on enhancing the stability of your body as well.


  • Place your hands on a swiss ball slightly wider than your shoulder width.
  • Pivot on your toes and get in a plank position. Tighten up your core and glute muscles.
  • Now initiate the movement by lowering your chest until it almost touches the swiss ball.
  • Once you feel a decent stretch in your pecs, press yourself back up to the starting position squeezing your pecs as hard as you can.
  • Repeat this movement for the desired number of reps.

The fly movement in general is an isolation movement for the chest muscles. Hence, you must ensure to focus on peak contraction while performing it. For that purpose, use a weight that feels challenging to your muscles. Using an excessively heavier weight on isolation movements not only gets the exercise form compromised but also minimizes the stress on the target muscle.

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Final Words

So now you have a plethora of exercises that you can incorporate in your training program to develop your pecs. Just make sure to combine those exercises with some compound movements in your exercise routine. This will allow you to train your pecs in a manner that will promote both strength and hypertrophy gains.