Pec Deck: How-to, Explanation, Common mistakes + FAQ

A machine exercise that is often done for the pecs is the pec deck. The exercise is quite easy to perform, making it ideal for a beginner when there is little or no guidance in the gym.

On this page, you will find an extensive explanation about the pec deck, which mistakes are often made and you can read about the distinction between different machines.

Which muscle groups do you train with the pec deck?

The pec deck can be categorized as an isolation exercise. This means that only one muscle group is really trained and that is the chest muscles. Because you only exhaust the chest muscles by doing this exercise, it is, for example, very suitable as the last exercise for your chest.

For example, you can start with a compound, which also involves other muscle groups, before doing an isolation exercise like the pec deck.

chest pec deck

Performance of the pec deck

View the step-by-step explanation of the exercise here. Since the exercise is quite simple, it will also be easy for a beginner to perform. Always start with a lightweight to ensure that you master the technique well.

1. Adjust the height of the bench

The correct height of the bench is extremely important for the successful implementation of the pec deck. Set up the seat, sit down. Place your arms in the supports and check that the height is correct. Make sure your elbows are level with the bottom of your chest.

2. Push the shoulder blades in

Sit on the bench with your back firmly against the backrest. Push your shoulder blades in so that your chest sticks out. Grab the handles or place your arms behind the supports. This is your starting position.

3. Move your arms inward

Push your arms in while continuing to push the chest forward and the shoulder blades in. Keep doing this to avoid using your shoulders too much. Do this in a controlled manner.

4. Move your arms back to slightly in front of the starting position

When you move the arms back, it is important that you do this in a controlled manner. In addition, make sure that there is tension on the machine and also on your pectoral muscles.

5. Repeat as many times as desired

Now you have done one repetition and you can repeat it as many times as you want. A good target to start with is about 8 to 12 reps. Can you get this easily and with good form? Then you can try to increase the weight. However, be careful not to put on too much weight.

Most common mistakes

As with any exercise, errors are still regularly made in the execution. Below are the two most common mistakes made while running the pec deck.

1. Chest is not enough forward

You will often see people performing the exercise with their shoulders forward instead of their chest. So they create a bulge in the back, as it were, instead of making a hollow ray. When this happens, the chest muscles will be used less and the shoulders will take over a part. This puts a lot of resistance on the shoulders, which can not only cause injuries faster but also make the exercise a lot less efficient.

So make sure you push the chest forward and your shoulder blades in. This protects your shoulders, as it were, and you will feel the exercise well in the chest muscles.

2. Wrong height set

Many people have the pec deck seat set too low. As a result, they cannot use the chest muscles efficiently enough and the shoulders take over a part. Often people adjust the seat, but as soon as they sit properly and push their shoulder blades back, they suddenly sit too low. Not everyone notices this and then you don't do the exercise efficiently. So make sure that the seat is not too low.

Difference between pec deck and machine fly?

The pec deck and machine fly are often referred to as separate exercises. However, there are also people who claim that it is actually the same exercise but with a different implementation. Because the differences are so large, we will elaborate on the differences below. This way you immediately know what the difference between the two machines is.

pec deck

The pec deck is often thought of as the machine where you keep the elbows fully bent. Your forearms point up and rest against the cushion with handles. Your elbow should be approximately level with the lower part of your chest and of course, your chest should be pushed forward.

machine fly

When people talk about the machine fly, they often mean the machine where you have the arms almost stretched. You grab the handles and keep your elbows slightly bent. Then move your arms inward until your hands almost touch. The shoulder blades remain pressed back in and the chest forward.

Frequently asked questions about the pec deck

We round off the information about the pec deck with some frequently asked questions. Do you still have questions about this exercise? Leave a message at the bottom of this page. We are happy to help you.

Is pec deck bad for your shoulders?

If you perform the exercise correctly, it is not bad for your shoulders. You need to focus well on pushing the chest forward and inward of the shoulder blades. This way you protect the shoulders while performing the exercise.

Is pec deck push or pull?

You can label the exercise as a push exercise. So if you are in doubt on which day you should add the pec deck to your push-pull schedule, then that is the day on which you do push exercises.

Can you use the exercise to build mass?

Yes, you can certainly use this exercise to build muscle mass, but a compound is usually more suitable for this. Since it is an isolation exercise, you may want to start with a compound first, such as the bench press or dumbbell press. Then you can do an exercise like the pec deck to complete the workout.

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