When it comes to shoulder exercise, most guys overlook their rear deltoids! Presses and lateral raises are all about the front and medial deltoids, but the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach seems to apply when it comes to the rear (posterior) deltoids!
Most competent strength and fitness trainers will be able to notice the effect from a distance. Now that’s where the reverse pec deck comes in to change those shoulders and deliver maximal strength, which may even help you with your bench press.
Because stabilizing muscles are not engaged on weight machines like the pec deck, the enhanced stability delivers more attention and energy to the targeted muscles. Why? Because your move is predetermined aka range of motion is fixed. In essence, you can focus on a specific muscle for increased volume and activation, which is beneficial to hypertrophy.
In this post, we will discuss the right way to do a reverse pec deck
But First, What’s A Pec Deck Machine?
The pec deck is a chest fly-based machine. The American Council on Exercise has ranked pec deck as one of the best exercises for building chest muscles. Since you are doing reverse pec deck on the chest fly machine, it’s referred to as a machine fly or seated lever fly. Your elbows are held at the same angle as your arms travel through an arc that targets the pecs and delts while you sit in the seat with your back against the pad and your elbows are kept at the same angle as your arms move through an arc that targets the pecs and delts. The purpose of this equipment is to isolate the chest muscles in order to increase their size and strength. The backrest stabilizes your shoulder blades while you do the fly, and the lever mechanism lets you to maintain/control a safe range of motion while you swing your arms back.
Got It, And What’s A Reverse Pec Deck Fly?
The Reverse Pec Deck Delt Fly is a shoulder and upper back exercise that targets the rear head of the shoulder muscle, also known as the deltoids. It’s a reversal of the machine chest fly, and it’s done on the same machine as the machine chest fly, but in the opposite direction.
This exercise is frequently done with light weight for high reps, such as 10-15 reps per set or more, because it targets such small muscles.
Sweet, Now Tell me How to Do Reverse Pec Deck Fly
- Sit on the pec deck fly machine with your stomach against the pad.
- Ensure your upper arms are parallel to the floor when you grasp the pec deck handles.
- As you contract your back and squeeze your shoulder blades, bring the handles back together.
- For 1 second, hold this contraction.
- Rep until you’ve completed the appropriate number of repeats.
What Does Reverse Pec Deck Work – Muscles Targeted
The rear delts, teres major, infraspinatus, rhomboids major and minor, and to a lesser extent the middle traps are the key muscles targeted by the reverse pec deck. Because all of these muscles act together to bring the arms back and the scapular together, this machine is designed to target these upper back muscles through scapular adduction.
Although the rear delts and upper back are smaller muscle groups than the lats and chest, they play a significant role in the performance of the big three as well as overall health.
The upper back is essential for maintaining a neutral spine and excellent posture when doing the squat and deadlift.
When deadlifting or squatting, keep your upper back tight and your shoulder blades pushed together to keep your body upright against big loads, which is important for good technique and lower back health.
Because it supports and regulates the bar path, a strong and engaged upper back provides a good foundation for bench pressing. This is necessary for proper technique, maintaining the health of your shoulders, and, hopefully, pushing greater weight.
Benefits Of Reverse Pec Deck Fly
By training your posterior deltoids, the rear delt fly machine develops your shoulder muscles. The rear delt fly machine, while only an auxiliary exercise, can help you improve your effectiveness in complex exercises like the overhead press, barbell bench press, and deadlift.
Shoulders that are strong play an important role in a range of workouts, so train them accordingly!
Lesser Risk Of Injury
The reverse pec deck or rear delt fly machine provides significantly more stability than free weight exercises like the bent over reverse fly.
Your lower back isn’t put under as much stress, and your core doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your torso stable. You also don’t have to worry about your hands’ path because the machine limits your range of action.
As a result, you may concentrate on strengthening your rear delts without risking damage. This choice is ideal for novices or those who have had shoulder problems in the past.
Long periods of sitting in a chair, combined with muscle weakness, can cause you to hunch over and round your shoulders. Thankfully, one of the best workouts for improving it is the rear delt fly machine!
If you have back pain and are continually slouching, the rear delt fly machine can help you cure this problem by tightening your rear delts.
Reverse Pec Deck Common Mistakes
Too Tight Grip/Holding The Handles Too Tightly
Many lifters are often instructed to exercise with a strong grip at all times. Although depending on the situation, this is frequently true, it can also be harmful at times.
Some people rely on their traps to bring the handles back on the rear delt fly machine because they grasp the handles tightly.
Instead, keep your grip a bit light on the handles and finish the exercise action solely with your rear delts.
Shrugging The Shoulders Upward
Shrugging your shoulders upwards is another classic reverse pec deck machine form issue. This mistake is most commonly made when people attempt to carry greater weight than they are capable of.
Then they have no choice but to shrug and use their traps to reclaim the handles. While there’s nothing wrong with working up your traps, this exercise is specifically meant to target rear delts, so go figure!
Lower the weight and concentrate on maintaining your shoulders down and back during the exercise motion to enhance your rear delts.
Rushing Through The Motion
Finally, there are way too many people rushing through the rear delt fly machine. While some workouts benefit from a relatively fast movement, the rear delt fly machine should be done slowly and under control.
Rushing through the move lessens the tension on your rear deltoids and hence reduces your gains!
Should You Do Bent-Over Rear Lateral Raise or Reverse Pec Deck?
The bent-over rear lateral raise and the reverse pec deck are two workouts that are often used to strengthen the rear delts. Both are excellent in isolating the rear deltoids, although they target different types of training. If you’re having trouble deciding, try alternating them week to week: practice the reverse pec deck for a few sessions, then switch to the bent-over rear lateral raise for the next few. As a result, you’ll profit from both workouts’ subtleties.
If you do choose for the bent-over row, make sure to keep your head and neck neutral to avoid straining your muscles and jeopardizing your form. Instead of inspecting your muscles in the mirror, move your gaze a few steps forward at the floor.
Consider The Concept Of Stability
There’s a lot going on in the bent-over rear lateral raise. You’re either seated or standing, holding the weight in your hands, while your hips are pivoted, and your arms open and close to push your shoulder blades together. To get the most out of your rear delts and upper back, your balance and body angle must be perfect.
You’re seated backward in the reverse pec deck resistance machine, with your face and torso turned to the back rest. Place your upper arms or elbows in the lever pads at shoulder height and push them back to draw the shoulder blades together. To train the back delts, you only need to concentrate on pressing your shoulder blades against the machine’s resistance. You put very little to minimal effort to maintain good alignment.
Depending on your training goals, the pec deck’s stability could be considered a disadvantage. The balance and stability of the hinged posture of the bent-over rear lateral raise increases the workout’s value for those who are looking for more functional strength rather than single muscle growth. Stabilizers include your triceps, wrist extensors, hamstrings, erector spinae, glutes, and adductors — or inner thighs. There are no significant stabilizers engaged by the reverse pec deck.
The reverse pec deck is less versatile than the bent-over rear lateral rise. Instead of relying on a single machine, try a variant of this routine with dumbbells, resistance bands, or a cable machine to target the backs of the shoulders.
However, you may prefer a machine that offers you the convenience of a pec deck. Simply adjust the seat and arm levers, adjust the pin to the proper weight, and start working out. There are no big weights to haul about, no pulleys to adjust, and no worries about your form being off.
One approach to target the backs of your shoulders is with the reverse pec deck. Some machines allow you to work one arm at a time, although doing so while seated in the machine can be difficult. You have more options with the bent-over rear delt fly which you can do while standing or sitting. Or maybe work one arm at a time or both.
Top 5 Reverse Pec Deck Alternatives
If you don’t have access to a reverse pec deck machine, these are the five options that isolate the rear delts and upper back quite well.
1. Reverse Bent-Over Fly
Because of its simple setup, this exercise takes the #1 spot on our list. You’ll only need a pair of dumbbells to do this exercise. This exercise is an excellent substitute for the reverse pec deck fly. When executing this action, make sure to utilize low or moderate weights. This will allow you to reduce momentum, allowing you to fully stimulate your target muscles.
This exercise can successfully target your rear delts and upper back muscles if you don’t have access to a reverse pec deck machine but do have a pair of dumbbells.
How To Do:
- Begin by lowering your torso to the floor by hunching your hips and bending your knees softly while holding dumbbells in your hands.
- Your palms should be facing each other and your hands should be hanging down. Make sure your elbows are somewhat bent as well.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you raise your hands to the sides.
- Pause for a second after your hands are parallel to the floor.
- Then slowly return your arms to their original position.
This movement can be done in 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. Select a weight that will allow you to complete the movement without cheating.
2. Horizontal Band Pull Aparts
Reverse pec deck flyes can be replaced with horizontal band pull apart. All you need is a resistance band to do it.
By putting all three heads of the deltoids through their full range of motion, this exercise hits them all. It also improves your shoulder joint’s and rotator cuff’s overall mobility.
How To Do:
- With your hands shoulder-width apart, grab a resistance band.
- Pull the band apart by pulling your shoulder blades together until your hands are fully extended.
- Return to the starting position slowly.
- Rep until you’ve completed the required number of reps.
3. Face Pulls
Face pulls work the same muscles as the reverse pec dec and will assist your rear deltoids and upper back grow in size, strength, and endurance. This exercise can be done with a band or a cable machine, and both will target the rear delts and upper back muscles well. The external rotation at the end of this movement helps draw the shoulders back into a better position for improved posture and reduced injury risk.
How To Do:
- Stand with the rope attachment around shoulder height, facing the cable stack.
- Lightly grasp the rope’s tops on each side and step back until your arms are straight and you feel tension.
- Pull the rope towards your face while keeping your shoulders down and chest up until you feel a contraction in your upper back.
- Bring your arms into the stick them up posture to do a shoulder external rotation.
- Reset and repeat, slowly returning to the beginning position with arms straight.
4. Rear Delt Rows
Rear delt rows can be used in place of the machine reverse fly. You’ll only need a pair of dumbbells to do them.
The best part about rear delt rows is that they let you to use more weight than a reverse pec deck machine would allow. Although this exercise does not specifically target your rear delts, it is a terrific way to work on your general upper back muscles.
How To Do:
- Bend your upper body towards the floor, hingeing at your hips with a slight bend in your knees, while holding dumbbells in your hands.
- Your thumbs should be facing each other and your hands should be dangling down.
- Pull your shoulder blades together and row your arms back until they’re parallel to or slightly behind your torso.
- Your elbows should form an 80-degree angle with your body.
- Pause at the top, engaging your upper back muscles and rear delts.
- Return to your original starting position.
- Repeat until you’ve completed the required number of reps.
5. Seated Bent-Over Fly on an Incline Bench
The bent-over reverse fly is a version of this exercise. The main difference is that it is done on an incline bench instead of a flat bench.
When practicing bent-over flys, this exercise eliminates the factor of momentum. This workout will benefit you if you want to give your rear delts and upper back muscles a more three-dimensional appearance.
- Begin by lying down on an incline bench set at a 45-60 degree angle.
- Your palms should be facing each other and your hands should be hanging down. Maintain a modest bend in your elbows as well.
- Lift your arms until they are parallel to the floor, pressing your shoulder blades together. You must always maintain your chest pressed against the bench.
- Return to the starting position by progressively lowering the weights.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.