What’s the Ideal Bench Press to Chest Fly Ratio? (Explained!)

So, you want to know the ideal bench press to fly ratio?

Obviously, these are two fantastic exercises for your chest.

Therefore, if you’re looking for pumped up pecs, there aren’t many better moves that you can do in the gym.

However, should you be able to perform chest flyes with a certain weight when compared to bench press?

Or is there no real comparison between the two exercises?

Allow me to reveal all.

Bench Press to Fly Ratio

There’s no actual “ideal” bench press to fly ratio. This is because bench press is a compound exercise, which mainly targets the pecs, delts, and triceps. However, flyes are more of an isolation exercise for the pecs. That being said, a good standard to aim for is for flyes to be approximately 25% of your bench press, or the bench press to fly ratio to be 4:1. Therefore, if you can bench press 200lbs, you should aim to perform flyes for the same number of reps with two 25lbs dumbbells.

1. What’s a Good Weight For Chest Flyes?

A Man Performing Dumbbell Chest Flyes

To be honest, I actually view bench press and chest flyes as two completely different exercises.

Therefore, I personally wouldn’t want to compare one to the other.

What I mean by this is, just because I can bench press a certain weight, this doesn’t mean that I should be able to perform dumbbell flyes with a very specific amount of weight.

I’ll explain why this is in more detail in a moment.

Yes, I totally understand that both exercises will activate the pecs as the primary muscle group.

But, in reality, this is where the similarities between the two movements ends.

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However, for now, I know that you want to know a general ratio between bench press and chest flyes.

In truth, most people should be capable of bench pressing 4 times as much as they can fly.

Therefore, you could say that the “ideal” bench press to fly ratio is 4:1.

Another way to look at it is that your chest flyes should be approximately 25% of your bench press.

So, as an example, if you’re able to bench press 200lbs for 10 reps, you should be able to perform chest flyes for the same number of reps with 50lbs.

However, don’t forget that this is the TOTAL weight that you should be using for flyes.

Therefore, this means that your 10 reps of flyes should be performed with two 25lbs dumbbells.

That being said, this might not always be the case, but this typically comes down to how you train both exercises.

Personally, I view bench press as more of a strength exercise, so I’ll usually be benching in the 1-5 rep range.

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However, I view flyes as more of a “pump” exercise, so I would perform flyes with a much lighter weight for high reps to really get the blood flowing to my pecs.

But, as I say, this is just me, and how you choose to train flyes could be completely different.

2. Do Flyes and Bench Press Work the Same Muscles?

I guess I’ve sort of covered this already.

However, I’ll repeat, I view the bench press as a compound exercise, whereas flyes are more of an isolation exercise.

Realistically, when it comes to benching you’re usually looking to lift as much weight as possible.

The main reason for this is that you also have your shoulders and triceps “helping” your chest to bench more weight.

However, your shoulders and triceps are removed from the equation when you perform flyes.

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That being said, flyes do actually put an enormous amount of stress on the shoulder, but not in the same way as bench press.

You could in effect experience some major shoulder growth by benching heavy and regularly.

But, the “stress” placed on the shoulders during flyes is more to do with stretching the pecs, as your arms go out to the side.

So, depending on your shoulder health, you may actually really feel chest flyes in the rotator cuff or even in the serratus anterior areas.

And this isn’t always a good thing, as both muscles are stretched and almost placed in an unstable position.

You’ve probably even noticed this yourself, as if you ever “fly too wide” you can really feel it in your shoulders and rotator cuff.

So, as I say, even though both exercises primarily focus on the pecs, one is a compound movement and the other is typically for isolating the chest.

3. Should You Go Heavy on Flyes?

I think this is where a lot of people may disagree with me.

However, when it comes to training, we may often have differences in opinion with each other.

Plus, what works for one person may not work for another.

You must remember that we have individual bodies, which may react in different ways to each other when we exercise.

That being said, for me, you should never go heavy on chest flyes.

Firstly, as I’ve mentioned above, bench press and chest flyes target slightly different muscles.

And I would always view flyes as more of an isolation exercise than the compound movement that is the bench press.

Furthermore, dumbbell flyes typically have a fairly high rate of injury.

I guess this comes down to the fact that your shoulder joint is in a far more precarious position

And this can be made even worse if you choose to allow your humerus to travel past 90 degrees.

Personally, I generally use flyes as a burnout, high-rep set, and I really want to feel that squeeze on my pecs.

I know for a fact that when I go heavy on flyes, I am more concentrated on not wrecking my shoulders, as opposed to really feeling the burn in my chest.

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In other words, for me, I feel as though heavy dumbbell flyes are a complete waste.

Basically, the exercise is intended to really isolate the chest, but the heavier I go, the less I seem to work the chest.

As I say, this may not be the case for everyone, but I will still say that going heavy on flyes may eventually cause you some shoulder issues.

So, I would always want to do my “heavy work” with actually pressing movements, and then finish off my chest workout with some burnout chest flyes.

The Only Way You Should Be Doing a Dumbbell Fly

Final Thoughts

So, I hope you understand that there is no “ideal” bench press to fly ratio.

This is simply because they are two very different exercises.

The bench press is a compound movement, typically performed as a strength exercise.

Plus, the bench press works your shoulders and triceps, as well as your chest.

That being said, flyes are generally used for much higher reps, plus they isolate the pecs to a far greater degree.

That being said, if you are looking for a specific ratio then this is usually 4:1 in the favour of bench press.

Therefore, if you’re able to perform 200lbs on the bench press, your aim should be to perform the same number of reps of flyes with two 25lbs dumbbells.

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