Photo of the machine

The gym has the above contraption I use alternating with the crossover station for upper back isolation.

I’m at a loss however how I should adjust the seat and chest support; when I set it so my thighs are parallel to the ground that was too low, it just felt awkward and my wrists would do something unsettling when pulling back. (Like a tendon slipping over a knuckle or something? A painless cracking sensation.)

Sitting higher made this mostly comfortable, but I have no clue which of the million machine names this has and how I should be setting it up right.

  • I don't know machines, but assuming you're correct: all you need to do reverse flies is a pair of light dumbbells. Don't make things harder and less effective at the same time
    – Raditz_35
    Sep 9, 2020 at 10:08
  • @Raditz_35 if you don’t know machines, why are you here? You don’t know my overall routine and have no good reason to believe this exercise is out of place, dropping in to give your “well actually free weights are best” is just condescending and a waste of time. I shouldn’t have to litigate my way to an answer to a fairly simple and specific question through bad-faith tangents. I also fail to see how free weights are supposed to make an isolation movement either easier or more effective at all.
    – millimoose
    Sep 9, 2020 at 11:26
  • That's such a cheap and angry comment. I mean nothing bad, just here to help. If you can't deal with me, please do not visit other parts of the internet.
    – Raditz_35
    Sep 10, 2020 at 7:41
  • @Raditz_35 I am dealing with you right now, by telling you that making the patronizing assumption that I’m too dumb to realize I shouldn’t be using the machine to justify delivering a cliche sermon is rude. It’s also not helping, because it’s obviously not helping with the problem I have - adjusting the machine - but a tangentially related problem I don’t have. If I had that problem I’d have asked about it, and you didn’t bother asking a single question to clarify whether I have that problem and not this one. That I’m annoyed at this is an entirely coherent reaction.
    – millimoose
    Sep 10, 2020 at 9:39
  • That's what you read into my comment. Here are a lot of users that don't know such things. I'm terribly sorry if I insulted you, but please try to reflect a bit. This is an anonymous stack exchange. How on earth should I know that you feel about trying a very simple frame challenge. This is none of my business, but please just read my comment again. If you really think that your comments and interpretation are justified, fine, but I completely disagree.
    – Raditz_35
    Sep 10, 2020 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


From the picture, I would describe this machine as an supported (wide) row. There is nothing ‘wrong’ per se about any particular adjustment, but we would generally assess its ‘correctness’ or otherwise by its comfort, freedom, safety, and fitness for purpose.

The purpose of isolation exercises is, as the name suggests, to isolate a particular movement, and hence group of muscles—in this case, the shoulder girdle retractors (trapezius, and rhomboids major and minor), the humeral extensors (latissimus dorsi and teres major), the horizontal abductors/extensors of the humerus (posterior deltoid), and elbow flexors (principally the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis). So your adjustment should first limit your movement and posture to the targeted joints and muscles. Most notably in this case, the machine is intended to eliminate the involvement of the lumbar extensors (erector spinae) and enforce a wide path for the elbows which, incidentally, is still not guaranteed. (Novices commonly drop the elbows and pull with a combination of the elbow and wrist flexors! Don't do that.)

The seat should be adjusted to a height that places the chest squarely on the chest support, generally around the mid- or lower sternum, and that support should be retracted to a distance that allows you to reach the handles at a stretch in order to horizontally abduct/extend the arms—“at a stretch” because that allows the chest support to pre-stretch and hence activate the shoulder girdle retractors more. You should feel stable and supported throughout the movement. The degree of knee bend in inconsequential, other than to assist your feeling of stability and security.

As a side note, isolation machines are often inappropriate for certain users due to the assumptions that they make about body geometry. It is quite possible that you will never feel comfortable or secure on certain machines. And this is one reason why ‘free’ weights are generally superior to machine weights: they afford an infinite degree of adjustment.

I hope that helps.

  • 1
    Right, so more or less: 1. seat so that my chest is against the guard; 2. chest thingie close enough that I can just barely reach the grips; 3. keep forearms and wrist straight and grips “below” this plane; 4. keep elbow along this plane. This kind of matches my observation that adjusting the seat so that my hips were above my knees made the thing more comfortable - since my arms were higher up I probably stopped dropping my shoulder; could explain the wrist weirdness too.
    – millimoose
    Sep 8, 2020 at 0:55
  • 1
    One last thing that can change is where to hold the grips, any particular position to aim for? When in doubt, I default to “forearm should be at right angle with upper arm when upper arms form a line.”
    – millimoose
    Sep 8, 2020 at 0:58
  • 1
    My routine uses free weights or cable stations for say 80% of the volume, at a guess the few sit-down machine exercises are because say doing a perfect DB rear raise when fatigued would be tricky, and whoever designed figured the “fresh” slots in a day are better spent on exercises where other parts of a group happen to be dominant.
    – millimoose
    Sep 8, 2020 at 1:10
  • @millimoose: Yes, that summary is pretty much spot on. I always used to say, “keep your elbows behind your wrists, and your wrists behind the bar.” The shoulders should be relaxed, except in the direction of pull (retraction). And again, yes, the forearms should be at right angles to the upper arm. This will aid your engaging the muscles of the back rather than dominating the movement with the elbow flexors. It sounds as though your instincts were spot on.
    – POD
    Sep 8, 2020 at 4:40

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