Reverse Pec Deck vs. Bent-Over Lateral Raise
Both moves work the rear delts, but which is a better isolation move?
By: Jimmy Peña, MS, CSCS; Photography by: Kevin Horton / Jason Mathas; Models: Chris Genkinger / Jonathan Ward
Reverse Pec Deck
Probably not the most popular move in your arsenal of exercises, but the reverse pec deck can be a useful tool in your routine. You have a few simple yet critical adjustments to make when approaching the machine. First, the chest pad often moves back and forth, so you’ll want to make sure it’s out far enough to allow your arms to extend at the start of each rep. You also need to adjust the seat to ensure that your arms are parallel to the floor throughout the move, perfectly in line with your rear delts. And finally, most machines allow you to limit the range of motion of the arms themselves, and in this case, you want complete freedom so that the repetition begins when your arms are directly in front of your face. It’s important to keep your arms slightly bent throughout. Oftentimes, you’ll see guys extending their elbows (straightening their arms) at the end of the range of motion, which calls the triceps into play, and therefore reduces the focus from the rear delts.
Bent-Over Lateral Raise
This single-joint rear delt move probably falls toward the end of your delt routine following your overhead presses, upright rows and lateral raises. The great thing about the bent-over lateral is its versatility. You can use dumbbells or cables, and you can do the move either with one arm or both arms at a time. To keep yourself in a safe position, maintain a slight bend in your knees throughout and keep your back arched with your chest up. Try to avoid the tendency to look at yourself in the mirror, which causes you to curve your cervical spine. Many guys make the mistake of overextending their necks, causing undue stress and strain in this area. Best to keep your eyes fixed a few feet in front of you with a neutral head and spine.
Advantage: Reverse Pec Deck
When it comes to isolating the often-neglected rear delts, few exercises do a better job than the reverse pec deck. When compared to the very effective bent-over move, the reverse pec deck eliminates the need to focus on anything else other than the rear delts. Whereas the bent-over version requires overall balance, the reverse pec deck can completely isolate the delts without using energy for anything else. You can also try to do the move using one arm at a time. So while we embrace the bent-over lateral raise as a go-to rear delt move, we encourage you to incorporate the reverse pec deck from week to week for complete isolation of arguably the least developed bodypart on bodybuilders everywhere.