The 'pec deck', or chest fly machine as it's more formally known, is great for strengthening and lengthening your pectoral muscles. What if your gym doesn't have the right machine though? Coming from a fly-in, fly-out background - I'm aware that space is often a premium at remote mine sites, FIFO camps and offshore facilities. For this reason, I've come up with a list of 6 alternative exercises you can do instead of the pec deck. These will allow you to still work your chest muscles, even without the fly machine.
Pec Deck Alternative Number 1 - The Machine Chest Press
- 1Sit firmly in the seat, with your back against the machine's rest.
- 2Adjust the positioning of the handles so that they're in line with the midpoint of your chest.
- 3Using an overhand grip, press the handles away from you. Ideally, you want to avoid locking your elbows out.
- 4Control the weights as you lower the handles back to their starting position to complete one rep.
Fix your gaze on a point in the distance and focus on the press coming from the chest, not the shoulders.
Working your pecs without a chest fly machine? Try the BENCH PRESS
This exercise is more commonly performed with a barbell. However some gyms have a machine variation, so I'll cover both.
If you're using a fixed weight bench press machine instead of the chest fly:
- 1Lie flat on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor. You want your head to rest back on the bench.
- 2Extend your arms upwards until they are nearly locked then lower the handles to the start position.
If you're using free weights as an alternative to the pec deck:
- 1Assume the same starting position then take the bar from the rack. Ideally, you'll have a spotter ready to assist you.
- 2Lower the barbell under control, before pressing it back up to the starting position.
Don't let the bar rest across your chest on the lowering phase. Worse still, avoid bouncing it off your sternum.
Want a pec deck alternative with dumbbells? How about the DUMBBELL FLY
- 1Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inward.
- 2Extend your arms above your chest. Then lower your arms to your sides in an opening movement.
- 3The dumbbells should be roughly in line with either side of your head. There should be a slight bend at the elbow by the halfway point.
- 4Bring the dumbbells back to their starting point by 'closing' the arms.
Using free weights, you'll give your pecs a great workout. Additionally, since you're using them with your body's extremities (i.e. your arms), you'll recruit more muscle fibre.
If your gym has a cable machine you can try this pec deck alternative - the CABLE CHEST FLY
Many gyms have a cable machine or 'dual pulley' system. These offer a huge range of exercise possibilities, but the one we're interested in here is the cable fly.
- 1Set the handles so they are roughly level with your chest.
- 2Stand between the uprights, facing away from the machine.
- 3Take a handle in each hand and step forward so your arms are outstretched to the sides, even behind you a little.
- 4With a slight bend in your elbows, squeeze your chest muscles to bring your hands towards each other.
- 5Slowly open your arms to bring the handles back to their starting position.
Start with a light weight on each stack until you get used to the movement and its requirements.
Pec deck alternative exercise number 5 - the INCLINE CHEST PRESS
This exercise targets the chest muscles. However, if the bench is angled too steeply or too shallowly, other parts of the upper body can receive more emphasis.
Many bodybuilders advocate a bench angle of around 30 degrees. This concentrates the emphasis of the move on to the chest, where you want it.
You can use either a barbell or dumbbells for this exercise.
Those new to this move will immediately find it different from most other weights exercises. Gravity can take over and cause the weight to drop forward towards your hips.
This is different from what you might be used to. For example, with a flat bench press the weight moves linearly up and down.
As the weight moves further from your body, you could find yourself struggling to perform the exercise if you don't press the weight 'up' and above your nipple line.
Failing to keep pushing upwards means you'll be unable to support the weight. A best, you'll target the wrong muscles. At the worst, you'll sustain an injury.
Working the same muscles as the chest fly without a machine, use a bodyweight Push Up
Although a bodyweight move, the push up is also great for the chest muscles.
Why not perform a set of ten between your bench press or other chest moves to really get a burn going? This way, you'll involve more muscle fibre and continue to stimulate growth. Note: only intermediate and advanced trainers should try this type of training known as a 'super-set'.
- 1Lie face down on the floor.
- 2Place your hands around shoulder-width apart and support your weight on your toes and hands.
- 3Aim to keep bracing through your torso as you lower your chest to the floor.
- 4Push back up with your arms to complete one rep.
Keep your whole body straight. Your eyes should be looking on the floor in line with your fingertips. This will help keep your head and neck aligned.