Here is a fair comparison of pec deck to cable crossover.

Is the cable crossover better than the pec deck for building chest muscles?

Though the cable crossover and “pec deck” target the chest muscles, these two pieces of equipment have unique properties.

Cables do allow for more of a freestyle motion, and that  increases the likelihood of preventing imbalances and poor lifting technique.

Cables provide you with a greater overall awareness of the muscles you’re using.

But be careful with the cable crossover; because it has more to offer than the pec deck, it also offers more potential for rotator cuff injury.

Start with light weights; don’t dive in with super heavy stacks of weight, even if you can bench press heavy.

Shutterstock/Jasminko Ibrakovic

It’s tempting with machines to shove and push, leading to other body parts getting activated without realizing that you’re cheating.

This is especially true with the pec deck.

I can’t begin to tell you how often I see men of all ages cheating like mad on this machine.

The most observed cheat move is when the man pitches his entire trunk forward in an attempt to move his arms towards each other to get that weight stack up.

He tricks himself into thinking that his chest is much stronger than it actually is, because ultimately, the weight stack gets up.

But look at how he accomplished that: leaning way forward, rather than keeping his back fixed against the back support.

And a secondary cheat move is that of bending his arms to 90 degrees (this depends on the equipment; this exaggerated bend is done on the machine that doubles as a posterior shoulder machine).

But regardless of a machine’s make and model, the big cheat move is pitching the torso way forward.

This de-isolates the chest muscles and gets other muscles involved, and hence, Mr. Strongman can move up that big stack of weights.

Sometimes the user has a weak side when performing this exercise, and is imbalanced when doing the reps.

This can cause an injury down the line, but also cause an obvious lack of symmetry.

Once a visual imbalance becomes noticeable, it can take time, patience and consistency to work it out.

You may be better off from the get-go by sticking with cables, dumbbells and other natural implements that also engage the core more, and focusing on your form and awareness of your body.

This isn’t to say that the pec deck should be avoided. It’s a good machine for novices, and it’s a good machine to take a break from the cable crossover; you don’t want your muscles adapting too much.

The pec deck is also useful when the cable systems are occupied, which they frequently are. But remember, don’t cheat on the pec deck!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


Top image: Shutterstock/Dusan Petkovic