Reverse Dumbbell Fly Weight Standards (beginner to advanced)

Reverse dumbbell fly strength standards.

Gaining the full benefits from doing reverse flyes using dumbbells requires you to lift the correct amount of weight. However, this can vary greatly between individuals. Below, are reverse dumbbell fly weight standards for you to benchmark your performance.

A good reverse dumbbell curl for the average male beginner is around 5% of body weight for a single repetition. In contrast, intermediates and advanced lifters should be able to lift around 45% and 75% of their body weight for 1 rep, respectively.

The weight standards in this post will help you determine what is a respectable weight to be lifting based on your gender, body weight, and training experience.

My dumbbell reverse fly weight standards are based on my 5 years of lifting experience.
These reverse fly strength standards are based on my personal 5-years of training experience.

How To Use These Weight Standards

How to use these dumbbell reverse fly weight standards.

1) Determining your training level:

  • Beginners have practiced the reverse fly for 1-12 months.
  • Intermediates have practiced the reverse fly for 12-36 months.
  • Advanced lifters have practiced the reverse fly for 4 years or more.

2) Choosing your rep range:

The weight standards are given for:

  • 1-rep max (1RM)- this is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a single repetition. It’s often used as a strength standard.
  • 6-10 working reps- this is generally considered to be the ideal rep range for building muscle.

3) Selecting your gender and body weight:

  • Average reverse fly weight standards are revealed for common body weights.
  • Male reverse fly weight standards are given.
  • Females can use a 60% conversion (multiply the weight standard by 0.60).

4) Reading the charts:

  • Weight standards are given as lbs on the top and kg on the bottom.
  • If you’re reverse flying at or above the weight standard for your given training level, body weight, and gender, then you are lifting a respectable amount of weight.

Beginner Dumbbell Reverse Fly Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting on the dumbbell reverse fly as a beginner:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
4lb
2kg
3lb
2kg
3lb
1kg
3lb
1kg
3lb
1kg
3lb
1kg
150lb
68kg
8lb
4kg
7lb
3kg
7lb
3kg
6lb
3kg
6lb
3kg
6lb
3kg
200lb
91kg
16lb
7kg
13lb
6kg
13b
6kg
13lb
6kg
12lb
6kg
12lb
5kg
250lb
113kg
24lb
11kg
20lb
9kg
20lb
9kg
20lb
9kg
19lb
8kg
18lb
8kg
300lb
136kg
30lb
14kg
25lb
11kg
25lb
11kg
25lb
11kg
23lb
11kg
22lb
10kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, beginners should be able to dumbbell reverse fly 3 to 10% of their body weight for a single repetition (1-rep max).

Intermediate Dumbbell Reverse Fly Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting on the dumbbell reverse fly as an intermediate lifter:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
54lb
24kg
45lb
21kg
44lb
20kg
43lb
20kg
42lb
19kg
39lb
18kg
150lb
68kg
68lb
31kg
57lb
26kg
56lb
25kg
54lb
25kg
53lb
24kg
50lb
23kg
200lb
91kg
90lb
41kg
76lb
34kg
74lb
33kg
72lb
33kg
70lb
32kg
66lb
30kg
250lb
113kg
108lb
49kg
91lb
41kg
89lb
40kg
86lb
39kg
84lb
38kg
79lb
36kg
300lb
136kg
124lb
56kg
104lb
47kg
102lb
46kg
99lb
45kg
97lb
44kg
91lb
41kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, intermediates should be able to dumbbell reverse fly 40 to 45% of their body weight for a single repetition.

Advanced Dumbbell Reverse Fly Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting on the dumbbell reverse fly as an advanced lifter:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
104lb
47kg
87lb
40kg
85lb
39kg
83lb
38kg
81lb
37kg
76lb
34kg
150lb
68kg
124lb
56kg
104lb
47kg
102lb
46kg
99lb
45kg
97lb
44kg
91lb
41kg
200lb
91kg
152lb
69kg
128lb
58kg
125lb
57kg
122lb
55kg
119lb
54kg
111lb
50kg
250lb
113kg
176lb
80kg
148lb
67kg
144lb
65kg
141lb
64kg
137lb
62kg
128lb
58kg
300lb
136kg
196lb
89kg
165lb
75kg
161lb
73kg
157lb
71kg
153lb
69kg
143lb
65kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, an advanced lifter should be able to dumbbell reverse fly 65 to 85% of their body weight for a single repetition.

How Good Is Your Dumbbell Reverse Fly Vs Others?

Here’s the average percentage of people who can reverse fly their own body weight using dumbbells:

Dumbbell Reverse Fly 1RM Weight (as a fraction of body weight)% Of People Who Can Do It
0.10x93%
0.20x82%
0.30x69%
0.40x56%
0.50x44%
0.60x33%
0.70x24%
0.80x17%
0.90x12%
1.00x8%
1.10x6%
1.20x4%
1.30x2%
1.40x2%
1.50x1%
1.60x0.7%
1.70x0.4%
1.80x0.3%
1.90x0.2%
2.00x0.1%
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

This allows you to compare your standards with others and determine how good your numbers are.

To calculate your reverse fly as a fraction of your own body weight, simply divide the weight of your 1RM by your body weight.

For example: if you weigh 200lbs and your reverse fly 1RM is 20lbs, then you’re lifting 0.10x your body weight (20lbs ÷ 200lbs).

The above chart indicates:

  • 75% of people can reverse fly using dumbbells 0.25x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the lower quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for beginners to achieve.
  • 50% of people can reverse fly using dumbbells 0.55x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the median quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a realistic target for beginners to aim towards with enough training.
  • 25% of people can reverse fly using dumbbells 0.70x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the upper quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a realistic target for intermediates to aim towards with enough training.

5 Reasons Why Your Dumbbell Reverse Fly Strength Is Below Average

According to a poll I conducted, the main target muscle for the reverse dumbbell fly- the rhomboids- are some of the easiest muscles to grow. Yet untrained beginners often find this exercise hard.

Here are 5 common reasons why you may find it difficult to perform reverse flyes using dumbbells, and why your weight standards are below average.

I’ve also shared solutions for each problem.

These solutions can help to improve your dumbbell reverse fly.

1) Training with dumbbells that are too heavy.

Dumbbells that are too heavy can impair strength development on reverse flyes.
Dumbbells that are too heavy can promote cheat lifting and partial reps on the reverse fly (both are bad for muscle activation).

Most people find the reverse dumbbell fly difficult for two reasons:

  • Unnatural movement. This movement pattern is not replicated a lot in daily life.
  • Underdeveloped rear delts and rhomboids. As a result of the above point.

Therefore it’s essential, especially for beginners, to reduce the weight to a manageable load.

Two things can happen if you use too much weight on the reverse fly:

  1. Cheat reps. Using body momentum to help you lift the dumbbell.
  2. Partial reps. Not moving through the full range of motion.

Both of these mistakes will reduce rhomboid and posterior delt activation. As a result, muscle growth and strength gain benefits will be negatively impacted.

Solution:

Start with light dumbbells to perfect your form.

Brace your mid-torso and bend your legs slightly to prevent your hips from opening up and using the momentum generated to help you “swing” the dumbbells upward.

This type of cheat rep defeats the purpose of the exercise; which is to work the rhomboids and posterior delts for growth.

Additionally, move through a full range of motion. This is achieved by bringing the dumbbells all the way up to the furthest point possible before bringing them back down.

For more information, you can check out my other guide on choosing the ideal weight to lift to build muscle.

2) Hyperextended wrists.

Keep a neutral wrist to lift the most weight when doing the reverse fly with dumbbells.
What a hyperextended, neutral, and hyperflexed wrist looks like.

A hyperextended wrist is bent too far upwards (revealing the palms).

This should be avoided because it puts excessive strain on the wrists, thereby increasing injury risk and decreasing exercise comfort.

As a result, you won’t be able to lift as much weight or reap the strength-gain benefits of the reverse fly.

And this could be why your reverse fly is not getting stronger or improving.

Solution:

Hold your wrists in a neutral position for the entire duration that you’re performing the reverse dumbbell fly.

This means your wrists should be in line with your forearms, as if you were holding a hammer. They should not be bent backward or forwards.

Beginners looking to get big may also be interested in my other post for a skinny to muscular timeline of expected results.

3) Using body momentum when performing the reverse fly.

A bench can prevent cheat lifting and improve strength gains on the reverse dumbbell fly.
A weight bench is one of the best ways to maximize muscle activation from the reverse dumbbell fly.

Using body momentum to help you complete an exercise is considered cheating. And cheat reps should be avoided if you’re looking to improve your reverse dumbbell fly.

There are two common ways people cheat:

  • Extending the legs and opening your hips.
  • Banging the dumbbells together at the bottom of the movement.

Both of these actions will help you generate momentum and make the reverse dumbbell fly easier to perform. But this also decreases muscle activation in the rhomboids and posterior delts.

This is counterproductive if you’re aiming to strengthen the rhomboids and posterior delts, and it may be why you’re finding it difficult to improve your reverse fly.

In fact, lifting with good form and technique is essential for achieving the fastest muscle transformation possible.

Solution:

Bend your legs slightly, brace your core, and keep your back straight and rigid at all times. Make an active effort to not open up your hips as you perform the reverse fly.

For best results, the angle between your hips and thighs should be maintained throughout the movement.

Alternatively, you can sit on a weight bench or a chair. This prevents you from using leg drive to generate momentum, and can really help to maximize target muscle activation.

I use the Flybird FB149 (link for my full review) folding weight bench. It’s affordable and extremely space-saving.

4) Not activating target muscles.

Target muscles worked by the reverse dumbbell fly.
Remember this is primarily a back exercise (red) and secondarily an arm exercise (blue) so make you actively contract the back muscles!

A common mistake beginners make when doing reverse flyes with dumbbells, is focusing too much on the arms and not enough on the back.

Even though the reverse fly works the posterior delts in the rear upper arm/shoulder, remember it is still primarily a back movement working the rhomboids.

If you aren’t activating the back muscles effectively, then you will find the reverse fly more difficult and your strength will be compromised.

Solution:

Actively contract your back to lift the dumbbells up.

A good form cue to implement this is to retract your shoulder blades as you lift the dumbbells, and pinch them together at the top of the exercise.

Additionally, making a conscious effort to contract your back will also help you to develop the mind-muscle contractions required to maximize the weight lifted on the reverse fly.

Beginners may also be interested my other post on the main signs of strength gain. Spotting these signs can help you to determine if you’re doing the exercise correctly.

5) Insufficient calories and protein.

A bulking diet meal should be high in calories and protein.

Any successful muscle and strength-building endeavor require some form of bulking diet.

This requires you to eat enough daily calories to fuel growth (hypertrophy), and protein to provide the raw materials to build and repair muscle.

Speaking from research and experience, not going on an effective bulk is one of the most common reasons that people fail to get bigger and stronger.

Solution:

Aim to take in 5-15% more than your daily maintenance calories. Combine this with a protein intake of at least 1g per lb of body weight.

Bulking can be difficult if you’ve never tried it before.

A good way to start is to simply eat more calorie-dense foods such as fatty meats, carbs, and milk.

Additionally, find ways to include more high-protein foods in your diet. Ingredients such as red meat, poultry, and eggs are good examples.

For a complete guide on how to bulk up as a skinny guy, you can check out my home training and dieting routine.

Other Weight Standards For Dumbbell Reverse Fly Muscles

Reverse flyes are a horizontal isolation-type movement that primarily works the rhomboids and posterior deltoids in the mid-upper back and rear shoulder. Here are weight standards for other exercises that hit similar muscle groups:

  • Pull-ups– vertical compound pulling exercise with emphasis on the lats and biceps.
  • Row with dumbbells– horizontal compound pulling exercise that works all back muscles.
  • Dumbbell deadlift– full-body compound pulling movement that works all of the back muscles.
  • Shoulder press with dumbbells– vertical compound pushing exercise that works all shoulder muscles including the posterior delts.

Conclusion

I’ve shared reverse dumbbell fly weight standards based on my personal 5-years of experience in weight training.

Beginners should be able to do 1 rep using around 5% of their body weight. Intermediates should be able to lift approximately 45% of their body weight, and advanced lifters approximately 75%.

If you’re lifting at or exceeding these strength standards, then you’re doing a good and respectable job.

I’ve also shared common problems and solutions to a reverse fly strength that is below average.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Kal

I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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