February 15, 2022 7 min read
The rear delt fly machine is a staple in every gym. Fly machines are almost always built to support a pec fly and a delt fly. A machine-based rear delt fly, also known as a reverse pec fly, is an alternative to free weight lateral raise exercises with dumbbells, which can be limiting if you’re ready to increase your weight.
The dumbbell rear delt fly is a great exercise, but heavier weights will severely limit your range of motion.
The fly machine is not a replacement for free weight deltoid exercises, but it does provide an excellent opportunity to engage the delts and pecs while utilizing the machine’s support to help you lift heavier loads.
The rear delt fly machine/pec fly machine is commonly known as a “pec deck.” It may also be referred to as a seated lever fly. The pec deck isn’t just for pec exercises, however. Any pec dec can be adjusted to turn into a rear delt fly machine. Most of the time, the instructions will be found on the seated lever fly machine. This article will primarily discuss how to use this machine specifically for the rear delt fly.
The rear delt fly is an effective and versatile upper back exercise thatcan be accomplished with dumbbells or a pec fly/delt fly machine. The rear delt fly with a fly machine specifically targets muscle groups in the upper back.
The rear delt fly effectively targets not only the rear deltoid, but also the traps, lats, and rhomboids as well.
This exercise is commonly done with dumbbells, usually with an arched back, hinging at the hips. Using the fly machine gives you an advantage in that you can make your delt flyes into even more of an isolation exercise.
Using free weights is an excellent option for those who feel comfortable with performing a delt fly with good form or those who are training with high repetitions and light weights.
If you want to increase the load without sacrificing your form, then the fly machine is going to be a hack that allows you to lift heavier while maintaining a substantial range of motion.
Range of motion is everything in the delt fly, especially when you cables and free weights. The fly machine gives you some flexibility in this area, and can even allow you to gain a benefit from partial range of motion exercises.
The rear delt fly machine can be intimidating to beginners, but it doesn’t have to be. When you walk up to a pec fly machine at a gym, it may or may not already be set for a rear delt fly. If not, don’t fret. You can adjust it.
To adjust the rear delt fly machine specifically for the delt fly, make sure that it’s set to 0. This is your delt setting. The handles should be directly behind the seat. Now that the machine is set from pec fly to rear delt fly, it’s time to perform the rear delt fly.
Here's how you perform the rear delt fly on a machine:
This exercise should be felt primarily in the shoulders, specifically the posterior deltoids.
You should also feel this in your traps, lats, and rhomboids. Keep in mind that excessive use of the fly machine could cause an imbalance between the upper traps and lower traps.
Much of the benefit of a rear delt fly with dumbbells is that it effectively engages the lower traps when you hinge at the hips. There aren’t a lot of isolation exercises for the lower traps, so it is best not to consider the fly machine to be a complete replacement unless it is absolutely necessary for your situation.
A pec fly machine is a form of an upper body exercise hack. You will most likely be able to lift heavier weight with the fly machine than with dumbbells. If your range of motion is limited with the pec fly machine, you may want to consider reducing the weight.
If you insist on staying with a certain weight but are still having range of motion issues, then try doing partial reps.
To do a partial rep on the delt fly machine:
The rear delt fly on the fly machine isn't the only effective upper back exercise. If accessibility to a fly machine is an issue with your gym,we've got you covered!
Whether you’re at home or you just can’t seem to find a fly machine that isn’t in use during the time that you need it, then there are plenty of alternative exercises to hit the back and shoulders.
As mentioned earlier in the article, the rear delt fly with the fly machine is an alternative to the common dumbbell fly. Just because you learned how to properly use the rear delt fly machine doesn’t mean you need to forsake this classic shoulder muscle exercise.
The rear delt fly can be done as a dumbbell bent-over raise, and it is a great exercise for everyone from beginners to bodybuilding experts.
How to perform a bent-over raise with dumbbells:
If you have access to a cable machine, then the rear delt fly can be an insanely effective time under tension exercise to help you get bigger, fast.
To use a cable for the bent-over cable rear delt fly:
The rear delt fly is going to look similar to a lateral raise, and they do have a lot of things in common, including which muscle groups they target. The lateral raise is a great deltoid isolation exercise, with some upper back benefits. So is the rear delt fly.
The main difference in a lateral raise vs. a rear delt fly, is that, in the rear delt fly, your arms are going behind your back.
In a lateral raise, they’re just going up and down to shoulder height. The critical form difference between the two is that the rear delt fly involves bending your back and hinging at the hips.
In case you ever wondered why you sometimes see people hinging at the hips while doing a lateral raise at the gym, this is probably why. Bringing the weights behind your back targets the back even better. The lateral raise is more of a deltoid isolation exercise than the rear delt raise is, although both are generally considered isolation exercises.
The primary muscle group for both is the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids. The rear delt fly just incorporates more synergist muscles from the back.
You can use any pec fly machine to turn it into a rear delt fly machine. This reverse fly exercise isolates the rear deltoids, or posterior deltoids, while incorporating the lats, traps, and rhomboids as muscle synergists.
The primary benefit of using the fly machine is to increase the resistance without sacrificing your form.
Cables and free weights also provide a great deltoid training modality, but these exercises are usually limited to, and best conducted with lighter weights.
If you have trouble with form during your shoulder exercises, there are several shoulder stability exercises that can be done to help. Although it should not be relied upon solely to engage the shoulders and back, the fly machine is a handy tool to isolate the deltoids and simultaneously target the muscle in the upper back.
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