10/09/2012 08:24 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Fix Your Form: How To Do The Perfect Seated Fly

If you don't know your way around a weight room, heading to the gym can be intimidating -- and even dangerous. But paying attention to a few simple rules of proper technique can make you slimmer, stronger and healthier all over.

We spent an afternoon at Equinox with trainer and manager Rebecca Woll, learning the ins and outs of some of the most popular strength-training machines.

In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing Woll's thoughts on the biggest mistakes we all make while building muscle, plus her tips and tricks for better form. This week, we're perfecting the seated fly.

The Faux Pas: Like a number of other pieces of gym equipment, the seated fly machine (also sometimes called the pec fly or chest fly machine) isn't necessarily your best bet for working your chest and shoulders -- but it's a machine people continue to use, and often incorrectly. One common mistake is not adjusting the seat, so the handles (and by default, the knees) are positioned either too high or too low.

The Fix: First thing's first: "The seat height should be adjusted so that the handles are at chest height," says Woll, and so you can keep your feet firmly planted on the floor. Like on other machines, the middle of your back and lower back should be touching the back of the seat, and the head should also be in line with the spine. When bringing the arms forward, come to about shoulder-width apart, she says. And don't rush the move. "As with any of these exercises, if you move too fast you're only using momentum and not the actual muscle," she adds.

Tell us how it goes in the comments below, and be sure to check back over the following weeks to fix your form on the reverse fly, the row machine and more.

Check out more in our Fix Your Form series below:

Fix Your Form

Photos by Damon Dahlen, AOL

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.