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How To Do a Reverse Pec Deck Fly
Muscles Worked & Common Mistakes

Last updated: October 6, 2021

I know a lot of people at the gym who pay way too little attention to their rear delts, and most professional strength and fitness coaches will be able to see the effect from a distance.

While many people regularly do lat pulldowns and lateral raises, these may not be enough to provide a full shoulder workout.

And that's where the reverse pec deck fly comes in to transform those shoulders and provide maximum strength, which could even support your bench press efforts.

But before you just jump in and do what looks like a reverse pec workout, let me show you the right way to do it.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • The correct setup and proper technique are crucial when doing a reverse pec deck fly.
  • There’s one common mistake that many people make when doing this exercise.
  • You should plan the reverse pec deck in advance, and mix it up with other exercises.
  • Doing a reverse pec deck right can be beneficial for your body in several ways.

How Do You Do A Reverse Pec Deck Fly?

man doing a reverse pec deck motion in a gym

The first thing you need to do is head over to the pec deck machine at your gym that you'd normally use for a chest exercise. Make sure that you can adjust the handle position before you get started with your setup.

1. Correct Setup

Getting set up for reverse pec decks is easy.

Adjust the handles to the furthest back position and sit facing the machine with your body leaning against the rest.

If this is your first time, adjust the weight stack to a low setting to get used to the movement.

More on that shortly.

Now, grip onto the handles with each hand making sure that your arms are directly outstretched with your elbows straight.

The proper alignment should be with your hands slightly in front of your chest level and shoulder high.

2. Proper Technique

man using a pec deck machine

Step 1: With your palms facing up, you now push the handles as far back as possible to get the full range of motion.

Focus on pushing your shoulder blades together as tight as possible to ensure you fully engage the rear deltoids.

Step 2: Slowly release the tension back to the starting position.

The reason I suggest the palms facing up approach is that this makes it even more of a compound exercise by targeting your upper arms, especially the triceps.

3. Common Mistakes

The most common mistake I see people make is a thrusting motion with the head and chest.

As you go through the sets and reps, you'll notice some fatigue setting in, and you might feel like you should force a few more reps.

But if you use your body, head, or upper back to take some of the load, then you won't get the same results from this fitness exercise.

Aim to make it the same movement every time and if you hit your limits too early, then reduce the weight for the next workout set.

Good form will always beat forced reps.

Plan Your Reverse Pec Deck Sets And Reps

shirtless man using a pec deck machine

The first thing to plan is the day you're going to add this workout.

And ideally, you want to mix it in with exercises that target the back and shoulder muscle group.

When it comes to planning the number of sets, most professionals in the fitness industry would recommend sticking with the same number of sets you're doing for the muscle group you're targeting on the day.

So, if you're doing seated rows followed by a front and lateral raise with three sets each, then do the same for your rear delts [1].

"The delt head that you work first when your energy levels are highest is the one that will improve the fastest. " - Bill Geiger, Senior content editor at bodybuilding.com

Why Is The Reverse Pec Deck An Important Exercise?

It's an important workout exercise because many other back and shoulder exercises don't provide the right movement to fully engage the deltoids.

Having these muscles out of sync with the rest of your body could mean that you limit how much weight you can lift on the bench, for example.

And because the rear delts support the rotator cuff [2], it's also an important way to avoid injuries to your shoulders and tendons while you're doing other workout exercises.

FAQs

What Muscles Does the Reverse Pec Deck Work?

The reverse pec deck works the rear delts. These are muscles in the top part of your back that make up the triangle across your shoulders and shoulder blades. It's an important muscle group that supports many functions of the upper body, especially arm movements.

Do You Need a Machine to Do the Reverse Pec Deck?

No, you don't need a machine to do the reverse pec deck. You can do bent-over lateral raises with dumbbells or on a cable pulley machine. Or try a traditional dumbbell exercise by lying down on a weight bench facing down and then doing reverse flys.

Have You Started Adding The Rear Delt Fly To Your Routine?

Rear delt work is one of the most important ways to complete your body composition and provide your shoulders with the support to lift heavier loads in many different exercises.

If you've struggled on the bench or with deadlifts due to strain on shoulders or a lack of shoulder muscle support, then this is going to make a big difference.

Add this exercise to your fitness routine, and then report back to us in the comments or on social media how they worked out for you.


References:

  1. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Deltoid
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rotatorcuff-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20350225

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