What Is the Machine Reverse Fly?The machine reverse fly is an upper-body exercise that primarily trains your posterior deltoids or “rear delts,” the muscles behind your shoulder joints on your upper back.
You perform the machine reverse fly using a piece of equipment called a reverse fly machine, which typically comprises a seat, a chestpad, and two handles.
Machine Reverse Fly: BenefitsMany weightlifters train their rear deltoids less than their front and side delts.
Over time, this can lead to strength and size imbalances between your shoulder muscles, which may blight your upper-body aesthetics and increase your risk of injury.
Research shows the machine reverse fly effectively trains your rear delts, making it ideal for ensuring your shoulders develop proportionally and remain healthy.
Furthermore, many find the machine reverse fly more comfortable and stable than similar free-weight exercises, such as the dumbbell rear lateral raise and rear delt row.
Using a machine also prevents you from using momentum to “cheat” the weight up, ensuring your rear delts do the lion’s share of the work.
These reasons are why I often include the machine reverse fly in my training and recommend it in my programs for men and women, Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger.
(And if you’d like even more specific advice about which exercises to include in your training to reach your health and fitness goals, take the Legion Strength Training Quiz, and in less than a minute, you’ll know the perfect strength training program for you. Click here to check it out.)
Reverse Fly Machine: Muscles WorkedThe main muscles worked by the machine reverse fly are the . . .
- Rear deltoids
- Teres major and minor
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Machine Reverse Fly: FormThe best way to learn how to do the machine reverse fly is to split the exercise into three parts: set up, fly, and protract.
1. Set upAdjust the handles and seat on the reverse fly machine so that when you sit and grip the handles, the handles align with your shoulders and your hands are as close together as possible.
Sit on the seat with your chest against the pad and plant your feet on the floor, then reach forward and grip the handles with your palms facing down.
2. FlyWhile keeping slightly bent elbows, push your hands away from each other. Continue pushing until your arms are directly out to your sides (or slightly behind your body).
3. ProtractReverse the movement, return to the starting position, and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Don’t let the weight yank your arms back to the starting position or try to return to the starting position slowly. The entire “protraction” should be controlled but only take about a second.
Here’s how it should look when you put it all together:
The Best Machine Reverse Fly Alternatives
1. Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise
The dumbbell rear lateral raise trains the same muscle groups as the machine reverse fly; the only difference is it uses dumbbells instead of a reverse fly machine. Given that both are equally effective, you can use them interchangeably in your routine.
2. Cable Machine Reverse Fly
Like the seated machine reverse fly, the cable machine reverse fly keeps constant tension on your muscles throughout each set, stimulating them slightly differently from similar free-weight exercises. As such, the cable machine reverse fly is a viable alternative to exercises like the dumbbell rear lateral raise and rear delt row.
3. Barbell Rear Delt Row
The main benefit of the barbell rear delt row is it allows you to lift heavier weights than similar rear delt exercises, which is generally better for gaining muscle and strength. However, the downside of using a barbell is that it limits the range of motion, negating some of the exercise’s muscle- and strength-building potential.