In elite strength and hypertrophy circles a large, well-developed “hood” is a status symbol — at the local community pool it garners prolonged feminine stares and masculine admiration.

Bottom line: a well-developed chest is an important part of physical culture for the stage or for throwing around some serious pig iron on the bench press.

Shoulder Pain

Dumbbell flyes are a brutally-effective exercise used by many of the all-time greats for building a strong, massive chest. So why doesn’t everyone just do heavy flyes, build a massive chest, and be happy? Shoulder pain, which is caused by the strain in the stretched position at the bottom of the fly.

Chains Change the Game

For decades, strength athletes have reaped the benefits of using chains on squats, presses, and pulls. What about bodybuilders? Let’s look to the campaign slogan of country singer and failed Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman — “Why the hell not?”

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I am going to show you an unconventional fly exercise that will provide massive overload throughout its entire range of motion and save your shoulders. I have used this exercise with an assortment of clients ranging from bros to top pros.

The exercise is the chain fly.


Chain flyes are performed by attaching chains with a carabiner to the same handles you use to perform cable flyes.

The benefits are that you are able to get some of the stretch (lacking in cable) that you feel with a dumbbell. As you go out to the stretched position, the chains unload on the floor. This removes much of the strain from the shoulders. As you squeeze the handles back to the starting position, the chains start to lift off the floor again, giving you the continuous tension and peak contraction advantage of the cables.

The result is you are forced to recruit more muscle fibers. This means more growth and, of course, more strength!

Tyrus Hughes, Performing Chain Flyes

Key Points

  • Use a full range of motion and go as heavy as possible
  • Keep elbows at 15-20 degree bend
  • The movement is a squeeze, not an extension or press
  • Do this movement after presses
  • Can be done for time or reps

Final Thoughts

Everybody wants some a big ol’ hood but no one wants shoulder pain! You have the will, now here is your way. Please share with us on social media what you think of the movement after trying it.

Here is an added bonus: IFBB Pro Branch Warren performing chain flyes.

WATCH: 9 Exercises That Will Help Build Your Bench Press