The butterfly machine is a strength-training machine used to isolate and build the chest muscles.
It is also known as the chest fly machine or peck deck machine.
Also, it is a great way to target your chest muscles without having to struggle to maintain body balance as you would if you were using a ball or a bench.
It is also ideal for people with lower-body injury who prefer not to stand while working out.
HOW TO USE IT
- Begin by adjusting the machine. Almost every machine has a seat pad which lifts or lowers. Lift or lower this machine accordingly.
- Adjust the seat pad height until its handles rest at chest height. Make sure it is positioned in such a way that when you are seated on the pad, you can plant your feet comfortably on the floor with enough spinal support from the back pad.
- When you reach out with your arms to the sides to grab on the handles, your wrists and elbows should be at the same height as your shoulders.
- If you have longer or shorter arms, make sure you adjust the arm levers to suit your arm length.
- Next, choose a weight setting. If you are using the machine for the very first time, it would be better for you to choose a weight that feels comfortable and easy until you get used to the movement.
This movement is often described as a butterfly movement because it involves opening and closing your arms simultaneously like a butterfly.
HOW TO PERFORM THE MOVEMENT
- Sit on the seat pad with your back straight and your neck relaxed.
- Plant your feet on the floor. Your soles should be flat.
- Grab the handles of the machine, making sure your arms face forward. Note that there are certain machines that have a foot bar which you need to push so that you are able to release the handles and bring them forward.
- With a slow and controlled motion, put your arms in front of your chest then press them together. As you make this motion, your elbows should be slightly bent and your wrists should be relaxed.
- Pause in this position for a second once your arms are fully pressed together (or “closed”) in front of your chest.
- Slowly, bring your arms back to your starting position.
- For a start, 2 sets of 7-8 reps each should suffice. As you get more comfortable with this movement, you can add a few reps to each set.
Your posture should be upright throughout this movement. Also, be sure to take short breaks between sets to prevent fatigue.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE BUTTERFLY MACHINE WORK?
The butterfly machine helps isolate, strengthen and build the pectoralis muscles on your chest. By performing the opening and closing motions, you activate these muscles and cause them to increase in mass and strength.
BUTTERFLY MACHINE BENEFITS
INCREASES CHEST STRENGTH AND MASS
You have two groups of muscles on your chest; the pectoralis minor and pectoralis major. The butterfly machine primarily targets your pectoralis major and increases it in strength and mass.
This can be particularly helpful if your day-to-day activities involve lifting and carrying heavy things or if you are looking to develop upper body strength for more vigorous workouts.
The butterfly machine makes it easy for you to develop better posture and form since it supports your back muscles and spine while you are using it.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE BUTTERFLY MACHINE
The banded fly makes for a great alternative to the butterfly machine movement. It also targets the chest muscles, but it places a bit more emphasis on the pectoralis minor since it is performed standing up.
How to do it:
- Get a rack or anything else you can use to anchor the band.
- Anchor the band to the rack at chest height.
- With your back to the rack, hold a side of the band in each of your hands.
- Take a split stance to create more stability.
- If necessary, you can move a bit further to increase tension from the band.
- Lift your arms upward and outward so that your arms are almost parallel to the floor.
- Then, pull your arms towards each other against the resistance provided by the band.
- Push your arms back to the starting position.
- Repeat as many times as you desire.
Although it is more of a compound exercise, the push up also does a pretty good job at working your chest muscles.
It is a great option if you do not have access to any equipment but you still want to fire up those muscles on your chest.
It is also ideal for people with a history of shoulder injury as it puts less strain on your shoulders.
How to do it:
- Assume a plank position on the ground. Your spine should be neutral so that your hips stay at the same level as your shoulders.
- Ensure your elbows are at a 45-degree angle with the rest of your body.
- Using your arms, push your body downward until your nose touches the ground.
- Once you get to the ground, tighten your core and retract your shoulder blades.
- Then, using your arms and chest, push your body away from the ground and return to the starting position.
- Do as many reps as you desire.
BUTTERFLY MACHINE MISTAKES TO AVOID
HOLDING YOUR BREATH
As you use the butterfly machine to work your chest muscles, you might be tempted to take a deep breath and hold it in while you bring your arms together.
This technique is commonly referred to as ‘bracing.’
Don’t give in to the temptation; holding your breath may hinder the activation of your chest muscles and render this movement ineffective.
Instead, make sure you exhale as you bring in the handles together using your arms, and then inhale as you return them to their original position.
USING YOUR LEGS
Most people find themselves pressing their feet on the floor to provide them with stability and give the closing motion more power.
This is not a good idea; it shifts the focus from your chest muscles to your leg muscles, and your chest muscles might end up not benefitting from the movement at all.
If you notice you are starting to use your legs a bit too much, you can reduce the weight you are lifting.
ARCHING YOUR BACK
Arching your back during this movement can cause injury to your lower back.
Make sure you maintain a good posture while doing this exercise by pressing your back on the back pad to keep it straight.
The motions you use to lower and lift the weight should be slow and controlled. If you move too quickly, you will be focusing on using momentum instead of training your chest muscles.
The butterfly machine is a fantastic way to build and isolate your chest muscles as you keep your spine and lower back protected.
It also helps improve your posture by providing back support while you perform the movement.
If you do not have access to the machine, the alternatives provided in this article will be just as effective in getting you the desired results.
However, make sure you consult your doctor before using this machine in case you have a history of shoulder or chest injury.