Ban the Pec Deck

It was only the other day that I was designing a program for one of my clients and was just writing out the first of many gruelling chest exercises for my client, when I heard my darling wife exclaim: “I hope you’re not going to get one of your clients to do that exercise are you?” She was referring to the all too familiar piece of gym equipment, the Pec Deck. Not being a defensive person (not much ) and wanting to learn more I asked my wife to explain.

Why is the Pec Deck so bad?

There is only one reason but it is a very major one. The Pec Deck is bad because of the angle between your arms and the pad. Let me explain: if you are sitting on the machine you have to make a goal post shape with your arms, so that they are out to the side with your elbows at shoulder level and your lower arms pointing vertically up . It is this goal post impression that puts the shoulder joint in its weakest position. Many shoulders have been dislocated from this position. Now you should be aware that the chest is one of the strongest muscles in the body and is also the main muscle mover on the Pec Dec. As the chest contracts, your arms are brought inwards in front of you all the time with your shoulder joint in this very weakened position. This basically means that you may complete the exercise and suffer no injury, but it may also mean that you could dislocate your shoulder or badly damage the rotator cuff muscles. Either way it is a risk that I would not want to take or risk with my clients. It is now off my exercise program list and it should be off yours.

Personal Trainer Malta person in position to use the Pec Deck

What are the alternatives?

There are many alternatives that train the chest giving better results and being much safer. They are as follows:

Bench Press
Seated Bench Press
Dumbbell Flyes
Cable Flyes
Press Ups
Actually the list could go on for quite a while but I hope you get the idea that any other chest exercise is a better alternative to the Pec Dec.

There is another machine made by Nautilus (the Nitro range fly machine) that is the only Pec Deck machine that I have come across that actually addresses the situation and works a way around it that not only avoids injury to the shoulders but actually gives the chest a better workout by allowing the movement to run in line with the muscle fibers, thus activating more of the muscle during the movement. A very good machine, learn more about it here

Another company that has avoided the injury part of the Pec Deck is Life Fitness who have developed the fly machine. This design has been around for a while now in different guises and whilst not as good as the nautilus machine is a decent alternative for injury free training. Learn more about it here


Whilst I don’t mean to alarm everyone, if you don’t have access to the Nautilus or Life Fitness machine then I would avoid the Pec Deck at all costs, it offers no benefits over any other chest exercise and the disadvantages should be obvious by now. If you have come across any other machines made by different companies that you consider deal with the problem, then please let me know about it so I can review them. Good luck with your training and be safe!