As the line goes, the goal is to float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee – for obvious reasons. But as it turns, out we should be pumping iron like a butterfly, too.
The butterfly exercise is one of the most effective ways to target those pesky pecs and build up supporting muscle strength at the same time. The motion targets the pectoral muscles that wrap all across your chest, while also strengthening arm muscles that can be tough to zero in on. Plus, you can picture yourself transforming into a beautiful monarch butterfly – representing a stronger, healthier you – as you work out. (How’s that for motivation through visualization?)
This particular exercise can be performed in a few different ways, but that just means you have more room for customization. Many people choose to use dumbbells and an inclined bench, while others might opt for a resistance band to put more focus on the muscles that line the outer arms (and work around the distinct lack of inclined benches in their living room). If you are loyal to a local weight training spot, your gym probably even has a butterfly machine to provide even more support and customization.
Even with all these variations, the movement remains relatively the same. With whatever weights you’ve chosen – bells, bands, or otherwise – start with your hands curled in front of you, in line with your shoulders, with elbows bent to your chosen degree (all the way up against your chest is too close, mind). Imagine you’re holding a fishing pole leaning over each shoulder, and angle your hands accordingly.
Now, start to move your arms outward, making sure to rotate at the shoulder, not the elbow. Slowly widen your arms until your biceps form a 180° line, then begin moving back into starting position. Look at that, your first rep!
Continue to flap your wings like the beautiful butterfly you’re becoming, but keep your movements slow and controlled. Reps and weights depend on your own personal fitness level, but it’s a good idea to keep them similar to other arm and lifting exercises in your routine.
Want to add one more flutterby-themed facet to your gym routine? Grab a seat on the floor and sit up straight. With feet extended out in front of you, bend and widen the knees until the bottoms of your feet are firmly planted against one another. If your hamstrings allow you to pull those feet all the way in to your pelvis, you can flap, flap, fly away with some impressively flexible legs (and totally toned pecs) as your identifying colors.