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The Pec Deck, also known as the Chest Fly Machine, is a popular piece of equipment that is used to work the chest muscles. Just about every time I enter the gym, I see someone using this machine So, why am I suggesting an alternative?


The Pec Deck can put you at risk for impingement syndrome, a painful condition of the shoulder. Improper use of this machine is common and can lead to an overstretching of the muscles in the front of your shoulders and a tightening around the muscles of the back of the shoulders. And that is a prescription for impingement.

Recovery from this condition can take a significant amount of time. So why put yourself at this risk? A great alternative to this exercise is the Standing Cable Fly.

Equipment: high-pulleys, cable cross-over set up on cable machines

Major Muscles Used: pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, coracobrachialis
When hands are fully pronated or crossed over, these muscles are also engaged: Pectoralis minor, seratus anterior, subscapularis, teres major








Position: attach two handles to the high-pulley cables on a cable cross-over station. Stand with feet staggered. Your shoulders should be depressed and retracted (down and back), abdominals contracted, elbows and knees slightly bent, wrists are in neutral and arms are outstretched/open.

Movement: with abdominals contracted, lean slightly at the hips, exhale and move arms (without changing the angle of the elbows) in one of the following positions:
– forward, hands come together similar to clapping, palms stay at mid-pronation (face outward)
– forward, shoulders internally rotate, thumbs touch and palms are fully pronated (face up)
Pause, inhale and slowly return to the original position.

Variations: (these variations allow for greater range of motion)
– Standing Bilateral Cable Cross-Over: handles come down and together and cross in front of your body
–  Lower Pec Cable Cross-Over – from a high pulley: leading with the elbows (not the hands), alternate arms and cross over diagonally from one side of the body to the other.
– Upper Pec Cable Cross-Over: from a low pulley: leading with the elbows (not the hands), alternate arms and crossover diagonally from one side of the body to the other.


Common Errors:
– using too much weight which can lead to a lack of control
– performing the exercise too quickly which can lead to excessive range of motion and injury
– using momentum instead of the chest muscles
– hiking of the shoulders
– rounding the back and pushing through the torso
– wrist breaking

Would you like more information on the Cable Fly exercise or its progression? Please leave a comment…