pec deck

Is The Pec Deck a Valuable Chest Building Tool?

Q: What are your thoughts on the pec deck. Is it any good?

A: I receive this question a lot, since I don’t include the pec deck machine much in my programs. 

But to answer the question: yes, I do recommend people use it… sparingly. It does not have a lot of athletic carry-over though, so anyone who use it does so more for esthetic/physique-building purpose than strength or performance.

While I think the many different types of dumbbell flyes are much more effective for recruiting the pectoralis major, the pec deck is an acceptable alternative for variety’s sake. There are a couple of things I’d like to point out regarding the pec deck

The first thing is that the best machines have a pedal that enables the handles to come forward. This way, you don’t have to start in the fully stretched position, which can be hard on the shoulder joint. It’s also much safer if you plan to train to failure. Additionally, it prevents the jerking motion that many are tempted to do to overcome the inertia during the exercise.

The Nuts and Bolts Of The Pec Deck

It’s also worth mentioning that the type with neutral and pronation handles trumps the one with vertical forearm pads. This puts your humerii (plural of humerus) in external rotation, thus preventing the full activation of the pectoralis major, which is an internal rotator of the humerus. And before a pseudo-biomechanics buff chimes in that that the neutral (aka “hammer) handles also puts you in external rotation, that is a misconception. Your humerii are internally rotated, as evidenced by the fact that you point your elbows outward during the movement.

My preferred use for this piece of equipment is training the pecs to failure, whether with regular sets or by using methods such as super-sets and drop sets. One method you can use is the descending set style method. You simply do one set, take a short 30 seconds break, lower the weight, then do the same number of reps as on the first set. You repeat this process for a total of 6 to 10 sets of 3 to 8 reps. This is a high-power version of the classic 20 + reps sets. You only do one of those descending sets.

So it would look like this:

Set 1 – 6-8 reps

Take a 30 seconds break and remove enough weight to do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Set 2 – 6 reps

Take a 30 seconds break and remove enough weight to do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Set 3 – 6 reps

Take a 30 seconds break and remove enough weight to do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Set 4 – 6 reps

Take a 30 seconds break and remove enough weight to do to do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Set 5 – 6 reps

Take a 30 seconds break and remove enough weight to do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Set 6 – 6 reps

Take a 30 seconds break and remove enough weight to do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Set 7 – 6 reps

Take a 30 seconds break and remove enough weight to do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Set 8 – Do at least 3 but no more than 6 reps

Get off the pec deck machine and whatever you do, DON’T try a push-up… I don’t want to have your facial reconstruction surgery on my conscience.

Remember this:

1.The pec deck is for hypertrophy purposes.

2.Best to do at the end of free weight based workout of presses or dips.

3.Extended sets work best.

Enjoy the gains,

Coach Charles R. Poliquin