How to Do Machine Chest Fly: Muscles Worked & Proper Form

Machine Chest Fly exercise instructions

Muscles Worked in Machine Chest Flyes

Muscles worked in machine chest fly

Primary muscles worked:

Secondary muscles worked:

How to Do Machine Chest Flyes

  1. Adjust the back support and handles so that you can grip the handles at shoulder height and get a long range of motion.
  2. With just a slight bend in the arms, push the handles forward until they meet in front of your body.
  3. With control, let the handles go back to the starting position.

Text and graphics from the StrengthLog app.

Introduction to the Machine Chest Fly

The resistance curve in machine chest flyes is more evenly distributed than the dumbbell chest flyes, and you’ll have more of a constant load on your chest muscles throughout the whole range of motion. It’s easy to learn and suitable for lifters at all levels.

Which Muscles Do the Machine Chest Fly Work?

The machine chest fly primarily works your chest muscles, but the front deltoids get some activation as well.

Muscles worked in machine chest fly

Benefits of the Machine Chest Fly

  • Targeted muscle activation. The machine helps to isolate the chest muscles and lets you focus on that rather than stabilization and balance.
  • Constant tension. Compared to chest flyes with dumbbells, the machine chest fly offers constant tension during the entire movement.

Machine Chest Fly: Proper Form & Technique

machine chest flyes start position
Machine chest flyes start position
machine chest fly end position
Machine chest fly end position


Make sure to adjust the machine so that you have the handles of the machine in chest height. Keep you chest up and core braced, with a proud posture.

Your arm should be slightly bent, just so that your elbows won’t be overextended. Keep your arms in the same position during the entire movement.


Keep the movement slow and controlled. Make sure that you keep your back against the back rest at all times, and that you don’t use any momentum to get the weight moving.

Common Mistakes in the Machine Chest Fly

  • Incorrect seat position. It’s important to set the machine to the right height, so that the joint of the machine are aligned with your chest/shoulders. If it’s too high or too low, it can strain your shoulders unnecessarily.
  • Not keeping form. You should always keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise and keep your back pressed against the backrest. This is to avoid unnecessary strain on your joints and shifting focus from the targeted muscles.

Machine Chest Fly Variations

  1. Standing Cable Chest Fly
  2. Standing Resistance Band Chest Fly
  3. Dumbbell Chest Fly

1. Standing Cable Chest Fly

The standing cable chest fly offers more versatility in the movement and the range of motion than the machine chest fly since the cables allows for a more free range of motion.

The machine chest fly, on the other hand, offers a more guided and stable movement and supports your body and isolates the chest muscles more directly.

2. Standing Resistance Band Chest Fly

If you don’t have access to a a gym, you can also do standing chest flyes with a resistance band. Just attach it at chest height and work with one side at a time. The constant tension in the movement is similar to the machine version. The downside is that it’s harder to adjust the resistance with the banded version.

3. Dumbbell Chest Fly

The dumbbell chest fly is a classic chest exercise that only uses a bench and a pair of dumbbells. Because of this, the dumbbell fly is an accessible chest exercise that you can do in most gyms, and even in home chest workouts.

A drawback of the dumbbell chest fly is that the resistance curve is not as evenly distributed as in the machine chest fly, and your chest muscles are mostly loaded in the bottom position.

How Many Sets and Reps Should You Do in the Machine Chest Fly?

How many reps you should do of an exercise depends on your goal: do you mainly want to increase your strength or build muscle?

Generally, a lower rep range of around 1–5 reps is effective for strength gains, and a medium-to-high rep range of about 8–15 reps per set is effective for muscle growth.

For the machine chest flyes, using heavy weights and low reps feels uncomfortable in the elbows for many people, and using lighter weights and doing more reps can alleviate this. It’s a delicate exercise that isn’t very suitable for maxing out.

How many sets you do of an exercise depends on your training experience, how many times you work out in a week, and your other training. Still, around ten sets per week for a given muscle group is a good starting point, and you can go even higher when you are used to training or if you stop your sets short of failure.

Read more: How Many Sets per Muscle Group per Week?

To keep track of how many set and reps you’re doing for each muscle groups, it can be a good idea to write down your workouts. This can be done in our free workout log app StrengthLog, which you can download by tapping the buttons below:

Download StrengthLog Workout Log on App Store
Download StrengthLog Workout Log on Google Play Store

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