Butterfly Workout for Chest: How to Do Exercise & Tips

Butterfly workout owes its name to the most beautiful insect on Earth. The movements of the athlete performing this exercise really strongly resembles the flapping of the wings. The Butterfly is designed for isolated training of the central part of the chest. This exercise is popular in many gyms around the world despite its narrow focus. Now we will figure out how and why we should include this chest exercise in our training programs.

What Muscles Do the Butterfly Workout Work on?

The Main Muscles: pectoralis major or rather its middle part. This area works in conjunction with the shoulder muscles and is responsible for bringing the arms to the torso.

The Auxiliary Muscles: front deltoids and serratus anterior muscle.

The Stabilizing Muscles: Pectoralis minor muscles, latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius and rotator cuff muscles.

The Butterfly Workout Machine

“Butterfly” does not belong to the basic exercises so the equipment for it is not available in every gym. You will need a Pec Deck Fly Machine to perform the workout. What is it like? The “Pec Deck” consists of a bench with a vertical back, a rack with weights and two “levers” with vertical handles which you have to bring together.

The machine exists in two types: for working with bent elbows and elongated arms. The difference between them is that when you are performing the exercise, different amplitudes are used.

How to Correctly Do a Butterfly Workout?

Sets: 3-4

Reps: 10-12

Adjust the Pec Deck Machine to your height before starting the exercise. Then sit on the bench and put your hands on the handles. Your shoulders should be parallel to the floor and your forearms should be perpendicular. There should be a right angle between them. Change the seat height (or the height of the handles) if these conditions are not met.

So, we begin to “flap our wings” by doing the following:

  1. Sit on the bench, keep the body straight, press your back and the back of your head firmly against the back support. Wrap your hands around the handles, and rest your forearms and elbows on special pillows. Place your feet fairly wide to maintain stability during the butterfly chest workout;
  2. Take a deep breath. With a powerful but smooth movement, bring your hands together in front of you, pushing the levers together. At the end point, exhale and hold for a moment, tensing your chest muscles intensely, as this will increase the blood flow and promote more growth;
  3. Return your hands to the starting position slowly without jerking. The negative phase of the exercise is also important, as you should return back to the starting position slowly;
  4. Go back to step 2 and perform the movement again for the required number of times.

Butterfly Workout: Pros and Cons


The Butterfly workout gives the bodybuilder the following benefits:

  • The pectoral muscles become more proportional (many people have the lower part of the chest developed more than others due to presses on a horizontal bench), there is a clear relief, the separation of the right and left pectoral muscles.
  • Deep areas of the chest are worked out, which cannot be “reached” by other exercises.
  • The pectoral muscles stretch well when performing butterfly exercise. Because of this, they increase blood circulation and accelerate the muscle growth.
  • The load in all phases of the exercise is uniform, unlike exercises performed with free weights.
  • “Butterfly” is a good exercise to restore the tone of the upper torso after an injury.
  • The Butterfly workout is useful for women because it is able to bring the breast into tone and make it more elastic and defined.

Many inexperienced athletes spread rumors that “butterfly” is a completely useless exercise. We don’t want you to fall into such a delusion.


First, you need to understand what goals you want to achieve at this stage of body building. If you are a beginner (less than 1 year of experience), then you should not even spend time on Pec Deck Fly Machine. In your thoughts about training, there should only be a “golden three”: bench press, deadlift and barbell back squat. The “Butterfly” is absolutely not designed to build up the bulk: this is an isolating exercise on the chest muscles to increase the blood flow and promote definition and endurance.

Butterfly workout is a tool for professionals who want to “polish” their large, but not yet processed muscle mass. So if you have a big check and are looking for a more defined look, the “Butterfly” will be most suitable for you.

When we have eliminated all the ambiguities, we can proceed to consider the cons:

  • The trajectory of movements in the “Pec Deck” is strictly fixed, which does not always allow you to work out the chest at the right angle.
  • The maximum lifting weight of the machines is in the range of 100-120 kg. This may cause some inconvenience to experienced bodybuilders who require heavier weight.
butterfly chest workout

Butterfly Workout Tips from The Experts:

  1. Do not put your elbows far behind your back and do not straighten your arms completely. This is traumatic for the joints and could cause injury.
  2. Keep control of the projectile object in any position and do not relax your muscles completely when pulling your arms back, keeping constant tension is the key to keep the muscles pumped.
  3. Proper breathing during the butterfly exercise stabilizes the body.
  4. Increase the working weight only when you learn to do the exercise smoothly without jerks or “bouncing”.
  5. Keep your back straight and your shoulder blades pinned back and together so that your legs and large back muscles do not “steal” the load from your chest.
  6. The levers should not move by themselves, but under your constant control.
  7. The phase of returning to the starting position should be performed 1.5-2 times slower than the phase of bringing the hands together.
  8. Do not throw your elbows and always keep your shoulders parallel to the floor.
  9. Perform the “butterfly” after heavy basic exercises.
  10. If your right or left torso is stronger than the other, then you can do the exercise with one hand gripping the seat with the other hand.


The “Butterfly” is an indispensable exercise for the formation of evenly developed and prominent chest muscles. It is suitable mainly for professionals and athletes who are conducting a recovery cycle after injuries.

It is also useful for beginners to master the technique of performing butterfly workout as these skills will be useful to them in the near future. Don’t forget to follow our tips to train safely and effectively. Remember, the technique is key, isolating the chest muscle will make it grow, not more working weight. When you have mastered the correct technique and you can feel that only your chest muscles or pecks are burning, then you may work with a higher weight load. We wish you great success with this exercise and a good workout!


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