Reverse Pec Deck

What is The Reverse Pec Deck?

The reverse pec deck is an exercise performed on an adjustable pec deck machine that targets the upper back, predominantly the rear delts. 

The movement is similar to a rear delt dumbbell fly but it allows you to isolate the back muscles without engaging the core. 

If you are lucky enough to have a reverse pec deck in your gym, make sure that you are making full use of it!

Reverse pec deck

How to set it up

To set up the machine, you firstly need to adust the arms by unpinning them at the top of the machine and adjusting them into the rear fly position. 

The next set is to adjust the seat so that you can mount the machine backwards with your chest resting against the backrest. 

Once you have selected your weight from the stack, you are ready to go. 

How to perform a reverse pec deck fly

After following the above steps to set up your machine, sit on it with your chest against the seat backrest and hold the lateral handles in front of you with an overhand grip. 

Take a deep breath and upon exhaling, push the hands away from each other so that they 'fly' out to your side. 

Keep your back straight and your arms rigid throughout the movement.

When arms are fully spread, squeeze the scapula together and hold the position for a couple of seconds before returning to the start position. 

Repeat this movement for the required number of reps and sets. 

How to use a reverse pec deck

It is impossible to train heavy with this exercise and keep good form so the best method is to go for lighter weight and place emphasis on time under tension. 

Use a very slow movement with a long squeeze at the top of each rep. Make sure that you can feel a connection with the rear delts and that the traps are fully contracted with every movement. 

Muscles targeted on the reverse pec deck

This is a great exercise tool that can help you build mass in your rear delts, boost your metabolism and improve your posture. 

Muscles worked on a reverse pec deck

The main muscles targeted are the rear delts, traps and lats making it a great movement for overall back development. 

No other exercise isolates these muscles without the assistance of the core, lower back or biceps. 

Reverse pec deck vs. rear delt flys

The reverse pec deck and rear delt flys are essentially the same movements as they both work the same muscles with the same motion. 

There are a few advantages to either exercise. The rear delt fly allows you to train with a heavier weight and adjust the angle of the raise so that you can really connect with the rear delts. 

The downside to the rear delt fly is that you are relying on core muscles to stabilise the movement which may take the focus away from the target muscles. 

The main advantage to using the reverse pec dec is that you can isolate the target muscles without bringing in supporting secondary muscles. 

It is also great for promoting strict form and a good range of motion. You can not train as heavy as you would with dumbbells but you can put a lot of emphasis on controlled motion and time under tension. 

There is also the issue of grip. If you have bad grip strength or wrist mobility issues, the reverse pec deck is going to be a better option than rear delt dumbbell flys.

Alternatives to the reverse pec deck

The rear delt fly

Rear delt fly

The rear delt dumbbell fly is the closest comparison. It is a great way to build strength and mass in the upper back. For the best results, superset rear delt flys with lateral raises to build those cannonball shoulders. 

To perform a rear delt dumbbell fly, grab a moderately light pair of dumbbells and sit on the edge of a dumbbell bench. 

You can perform this exercise from a standing, bent over position but, by using a bench, you are minimising any cheating by swinging from the hips.

Lean forwards with the dumbbells hanging downwards. Keep the arms slightly bent but rigid, take a deep breath and then raise the dumbbells to your side as you breathe out. 

Repeat the movement for the required number of reps and sets. To really get a pump in the shoulders, superset rear delt flys with front raises or lateral raises. 

As you can not train with a heavy load for this exercise, focus on strict form and maximum time under tension wt lighter weights. This can be done by using five-second holds at the top of the movement and five-second negative motion.

Rear delt cable flys

Reverse cable fly

Rear delt cable flys are another great alternative. You can't really use too much resistance with rear delt cable flys without compromising on form s keep it light and controlled.

You will need a twin cable machine with stirrup attachments to perform rear delt cable flys. If you are training with a very light load, you can usually get away with holding the ball stops instead of stirrups. 

Set the cable pulleys at a relatively high position, select a light weight from the weight stack and stand in between the pulleys. 

Cross over your arms and grab the cable from the opposite side. Take a step backwards and follow the motions for a reverse pec deck fly. 

the main advantage of using a pulley for rear delt flys is that you can change the angle of the resistance. Have a play around with it and find which pulley height allows you to get the best connection with the target muscles. 


The reverse pec deck is great for developing the muscles in your upper back. Bodybuilders can benefit from hypertrophy in the rear delts, traps and upper lats ensuring a better lat spread and V taper. 

Strength athletes will find reverse pec deck flys beneficial as an accessory movement after a deadlift session to assist with pulling exercises. Stronger lats and traps will lead to bigger numbers on the deadlift platform.

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