The Ultimate Guide to the Pec Deck Machine

If you want to build a Greek-god type upper body, you will have to isolate and exercise two different types of chest muscles; the upper chest muscles known as pectoralis major and the lower chest muscles known as pectoralis minor. 

Chest fly or pec fly is your best bet for targeting the pectoralis major muscles whereas decline bench press is highly effective for isolating and exercising the pectoralis minor muscle groups of the chest. Look at the below image for reference. 

Chest muscles

Image source: Breaking Muscles 

We have already created an extensive guide on how to do decline bench press the right way. In this article, we will brief you about pec flys, a type of exercise that you can do using pec deck machines meant for strengthening and building your upper chest muscles. 

So, let's get started!

What is a pec deck? 

pec fly using pec deck machine

As we mentioned above, pec deck is a machine meant for doing pec flys. The above GIF will show you how it works. Basically, it consists of a weighted platform with two levers that you need to pull towards your chest. This simple act will require you to engage your pectoral muscles majorly, along with some other muscles of the arms and shoulders. 

Wondering if it is actually necessary to buy a dedicated pec deck machine only for targeting the chest muscles? 

Well, yes, it is! 

Pec deck machines are so effective that the American Council on Exercise has ranked them as the number one workout for building check muscles. (1) Its study concluded that pec deck workouts are superior to most other upper body workouts including pushups, incline flys, and dips.  So, if you are an athlete who needs to have well-built upper body muscles that will help you improve your game, or if you are someone who just wants to have six-pack muscles, having a pec deck machine definitely makes sense. 

What we like the most about pec deck machines is that they are relatively easy and safer to use than exercising with free weights. If you feel like giving up at any point of time, all you need to do is to return the levers to their starting position. You don’t have to worry about dropping the loaded barbell on your chest. 

While pec deck machines are absolutely worth their price, you should know that they are not recommended for people who are suffering from shoulder pain or injury. That's because pec deck workouts require you to rotate your shoulders externally, which could be uncomfortable and may even worsen your condition. 

What muscles do pec deck machines work? 

As obvious from the above information, pec flyers are isolation exercises that use just one joint i.e. your elbow joint. If you do it using dumbbells or resistance bands (which we will brief later), you may have to utilize some balancing and stabilizing muscles but if you use pec deck machines, you will only be utilizing the below muscle groups: 

Pectoralis major 

This muscle group is known as the Pec muscles. It is the major muscle group of the chest that runs between the collarbones and the bottom of the breastbone. 

The pec fly exercises majorly target the lower region of the muscles and the upper muscles assist the lower ones during the action. Basically, pec muscles are the primary movers for this exercise. 

Pectoralis minor 

This is a comparatively thinner muscle group of the chest that lies underneath the pec major muscles. It assists the pec muscles during the fly movements and helps keep your shoulder shrugged upwards. 

Basically, Pec minor muscles do not do a lot of hard work but they help you maintain your correct form. If you want to target them, which is what you should, if you want to build properly defined chest muscles, make sure you include decline bench press in your workout routine. 

Serratus Anterior 

Serratus Anterior- side chest muscles

As you can see in the above image, these are basically the muscles located along the sides of your chest. These are the muscles that you use for swinging, punching, and other similar moves. During pec flys, the serratus anterior muscles expand and contract repeatedly to provide support to the pec muscles. 

As we mentioned above, pec machine workout does not involve the shoulder, arm, and core muscles. 

How to do pec deck workouts safely 

The above video should help you understand how to do pec deck workouts at home without professional assistance. Here are a few more safety tips that we have for you: 

Position yourself correctly on the pec deck machine 

Make sure your back sits flat on the backrest. Your mid-back must not curve up or else you could end up straining your spinal muscles. Once you have placed your hands on the grip, check the height of your elbows. They should be exactly at the shoulder level and your upper arms should be parallel to the floor. You may have to adjust the height of the seat to ensure this. 

Use your forearms not your hands 

If you use your hands, you will probably be able to lift more weight but you will end up utilizing the arm muscles instead of the chest muscles. So, make sure your forearms are well-rested on the arm pads when you try to squeeze your elbows together.  

Focus on your breath

Exhale as you pull the levers towards your chest and inhale when you return to the starting position. When you exercise with your breath, you basically follow the rhythm, which helps you exercise smoothly and minimize the chances of jerks and any sudden unwanted movement. 

Also, following your breath helps you pause for a few seconds between the movement, which helps maximize the outcome. 

Choose a weight that is lower than what you usually lift during bench press 

Pec flys are very simple exercises but they are quite challenging. That's because you will be utilizing your chest muscles and not the arm muscles. 

This is why we suggest that you should always start with lower weights, so you don’t end up exercising with a jerky motion, which could cause strain as well as injury. 

Best pec deck machines for your home gym 

Marcy MWM-988 Multifunction Steel Home Gym

Marcy pec deck machine

This is a multifunctional machine with a 150lbs weight stack, a LAT bar, an ankle strap, and a leg developer. 150lbs of resistance may not sound quite impressive but it is much more than what a beginner or an intermediate level trainer could train with. 

Despite being a low-priced product the Marcy MWM-988 pec deck machine provides a very smooth operation. Along with pec flys, you can do a wide range of workouts targeting your arms, shoulders, core, and legs. It is pretty easy to adjust and can even be used by people taller than 6’. 

The Marcy pec deck machine does come with assembly instructions but they are not quite easy to follow. However, numerous buyers have confirmed that putting it together requires just common sense and basic knowledge of assembly. 

Body-Solid GPM65 Plate Loaded Pec Machine

Body-Solid pec deck machine

With a compact footprint and a lifetime warranty, the BodySolid GPM65 pec machine is recommended only for people who already have well-established home gyms with weight plates. That’s because the machine itself doesn’t come with weight stacks. Instead, it has plate holders that can accommodate your already existing 1” or 2” plates, thereby helping you save a lot of money. 

However, the main issue with this machine is that it is totally dedicated to pec workouts and shoulder workouts. Unlike the Marcy pec deck machine that we have reviewed above, it has very limited use and that's why it is suitable only for people who are highly committed for crafting their chest muscles. 

As stated by numerous buyers, the BodySolid GPM65 pec deck machine provides a smooth, quiet operation. The only major challenge that you may face is the lack of detailed assembly instructions. 

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym

Bowflex home gym

If you have a small home gym, you wouldn’t really be interested in buying an extra machine exclusively for targeting the pecs or the upper body muscles. That’s why all-in-one home gym machines such as the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE are a better option. Instead of weight stacks or weight plates, this machine uses power rods i.e. highly flexible stretchy rods that you need to pull and form bow-shaped figures. Since the Bowflex home gym provides resistance training, it is much safer even for people who are suffering from bone and muscular diseases. 

As obvious from its name, it is a total home gym machine that you can use to target almost all major muscles of your body, which is why it is worth its high price tag. If you are looking for cheaper options, you can check out the Total Gym XLS, which is a high-compact foldable full-body workout machine suitable for small spaces. Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer is also a good option but it does require a decent amount of floor space. 

Pec deck alternatives 

If you don’t have ample space or budget to go for a dedicated pec deck machine or a more versatile machine, you can do the below-mentioned exercises. They won’t be as effective as a dedicated pec deck machine but they are still quite effective for strengthening your chest muscles so you can improve your overall game or training. 

Dumbbell pec flys

dumbbell pec fly

This is a pretty easy and safe exercise. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and a workout bench. If you don’t have a bench, you can do that on the floor but exercising on the bench will provide you with a better range of motion. Here are some of the best flat workout benches and best adjustable workout benches that we recommend. 

In case you are looking for dumbbells, do check out the Inspire Fitness 210 LB Rubber Dumbbell Set that comes with its own rack. 

Cable crossovers 

cable crossover for pec muscles

You can do it using the inexpensive cable pulley systems that you can set up just anywhere in your home. Or you can buy a dedicated full-fledged functional trainer/cable machine that you can use for doing numerous other workouts too. Here are some of the best cable machines that we recommend. 

If you are not really keen on building well-defined chest muscles but still want to strengthen them, you can use resistance bands instead. Here is an interesting guide on how you can build a home gym using only resistance bands

Wrap up 

We hope this article helps you understand what pec deck machines are meant for. If you are keen enough to get in shape, you should start including a 100% natural protein powder like the Naked Nutrition Chocolate Whey Protein Powder that we have been using for the past few months. You may want to include a fat burner supplement to accelerate the fat loss process

If you have any query or suggestion, please get in touch with us.