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This chest exercise shifts your spot on the bench for bigger weights within a safer range of motion.
When it comes to chest-developing exercises, the fly ranks as one of the most popular among gymgoers. But there’s a lesser-utilized variation that may just give you better—and safer—gains.
The T-bench fly may be one of the better free weight fly options for helping develop the inner part of your chest. What makes this approach a more reliable variation of the fly, according to Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., and fitness editor Brett Williams, N.A.S.M., is you’ll be able to get the chest-pumping gains of the standard free-weight fly without compromising your shoulder joints.
“It’s why I really love this move,” Samuel says. “It's very simple to execute once you learn it, but we want to hit the nuances.”
To start, Samuel says, you want to duplicate a floor press or fly (using the surface of the bench to limit your range of motion). Only this time, you’re placing your shoulders on a bench (forming the shape of the letter T, hence the name) and getting into a glute bridge position, which will add plenty of lower-body activation to this chest exercise.
Once you’re in position, setting up is as simple as placing the dumbbells on your thighs, then kicking them back as you shift your shoulder blades onto the bench. From there, press the weight straight up over your shoulders.
Before you even start your first rep, you’re going to want to drive your shoulders into the bench, setting your shoulder blades, which will help protect them during this fly, a benefit you wont get from traditional free-weight flys.
Finally, squeeze both your glutes and abs. Think about creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders without arching your back while keeping your pelvis in neutral. “One of the of the advantages we get here is that with a floor fly we don’t really have to activate our core, which makes it easy for us to get lazy,” Samuel says. Now we’re in a strong position.”
Once you're set up, you want to focus on opening your elbows and maintaining that angle. Keep a slow, controlled pace here, especially focus on maintaining control of the weight on the eccentric (the way down)—aim for four seconds before hitting your next rep. Since you're coming to a stop once you hit the bench with your elbows (but not resting; you should maintain tension even in the bottom position) this variation makes it much easier to work with heavier loads as well.
The T-bench fly is best used toward the end of your workout for 10 to 12 reps with about 60 seconds rest.
That's not all. Once you work up to more weight, Samuel adds, you can add a pressing variation. You can push the weight up before returning in fly pattern. “This gives you a really powerful contraction, but it makes getting the weight back up easier. So we get to overload the eccentric, and that's a really, really good way to blast your muscle fibers in a way that you don't normally tackle.”
Want to master even more moves? Check out our entire Form Check series.