Reverse Fly vs. Lateral Raise

Reverse Fly vs. Lateral Raise

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Lateral raises strengthen the deltoids and promote flexibility.

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Both reverse flies and lateral raises target back and shoulder muscles, focus on alignment and can help improve posture. You can use free weights, light kettlebells or resistance bands for either exercise. There are a couple of primary differences between the reverse fly and lateral raise, including the body position you use to perform the moves and the specific parts of the body that each exercise engages.

Lateral Raise: The Basics

To do a lateral raise, stand straight and tall, holding a weight in each hand with hands alongside your thighs. While keeping your core tight, engage your shoulder and back muscles to raise the weights to the sides of your body with control. You should end up in a "T" position, with the weights at shoulder height or slightly below. Pause briefly and lower the weights with control back to start.

Reverse Fly: The Basics

To do a reverse fly, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hinge forward at the hips, slightly bending the knees but keeping a flat back and engaged core. Hold weights at knee or shin level, with palms facing each other. While keeping a strong stance, engage your upper back and shoulder muscles to raise the weights out to your sides until your elbows reach shoulder height. Pause briefly and lower the weights with control back to start.

Compare Body Position

There is an obvious difference in body position for the lateral raise and reverse fly. Both require working against gravity, but in slightly different ways. When you perform a lateral raise, you're standing straight up, so gravity is acting only against your arms as you try to raise them to your sides. When you perform a reverse fly, you're bent over at the hips, so gravity is acting against both your torso and your arms as you try to raise your weights out to the sides.

ID the Muscles

A lateral raise primarily works the lateral deltoids, or sides of the shoulders. Some upper back and shoulder muscles, including the trapezius and supraspinatus, also activate to complete the move, but they're not the main drivers. In contrast, a reverse fly primarily works the back of the shoulders (the posterior deltoids) and muscles in the upper back, including the trapezius and rhomboids. Additionally, because of the posture required to perform the reverse fly, it engages leg muscles, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes and adductors, none of which are required to work in the same way for the lateral raise.


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