What Is a Butterfly Press Exercise?


Quick Answer

The butterfly press is an exercise done on a weight machine that targets the pectoralis major muscles, the muscles on the front upper portion of the chest. The butterfly press, also known as the "fly," also provides a slight workout for the upper back and arm muscles. The exercise is named after the opening and closing motion of the arms, which copies the motion of a butterfly flapping its wings.

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Full Answer

Before doing a butterfly press, set the resistance high enough that the user reaches fatigue after 8 to 12 repetitions. Set the height of the machine's seat so that the arms remain parallel to the floor during the exercise.

To do a butterfly press, sit on the seat of the fly machine with the back flat against the machine's back pad. Hold the handles with the arms parallel to the floor. Push the handles together while squeezing the chest muscles and exhaling. After holding the pushed position for a second, release slowly, stretching the pectoralis muscles and inhaling. Maintain proper form to get as much benefit as possible from this exercise.

If a butterfly press machine is not available, do the exercise using dumbbells, pulleys or resistance bands. If using dumbbells, do the fly press while lying on the back on a weight bench. Start with the weights held over the chest, not quite touching each other.

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