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Cable exercises can be a great way of isolating a specific muscle group, and the chest muscles are no exception.
If you immediately think of cable flys, then you’d be right.
However, the cable crossover machine is much more versatile than you may think.
Recommended Reading – Supercharge Your Inner Chest Workout With These 6 Top Exercises
So, if you want to add some versatility into your chest workouts, continue reading to discover some of the best cable chest exercises.
What Are The Four Muscles That Make Up The Chest?
Your chest is made up of several different muscles:
The pec major is the larger of the two and is located across the upper chest and runs from your breastbone (sternum) to the upper arm bone (humerus).
It allows for a large range of motion across your upper body functioning around the shoulder joint.
This muscle also creates the overall surface shape and sits just beneath the skin.
This muscle can be further broken down as follows:
The clavicular head forms your upper chest and originates from your clavicle (collarbone) and inserts into the upper part of the humerus (upper arm bone).
The sternal head makes up your lower chest and originates from the sternum (breastbone) and also inserts into the upper part of the humerus.
When compared to the pectoralis major, the pec minor is significantly smaller and sits just beneath the pec major.
It attaches from your ribs and up to your shoulder blades.
Whilst it doesn’t contribute much to overall chest development, it still plays an important role by way of shoulder stability and movement along with impacting shoulder and upper body posture.
This muscle is located to either side of your chest and has a jagged appearance which is much more noticeable in someone with low body fat.
Together with the other chest muscles it helps with many shoulder and arm movements.
The subclavius takes its name from being a small muscle being located just underneath the clavicle bone.
It’s a long and thin muscle which helps with shoulder stability and prevents excessive upward movement or displacement of the clavicle during certain shoulder movements, particularly those that involve raising the arm overhead.
Together, these four chest muscles play a significant role in various upper body movements, including pushing, pulling, and lifting.
The pec major tends to be the muscle most targeted in strength training with exercises like bench presses, push-ups, and chest flyes to develop overall chest strength and size.
Cable Chest Exercises For Improved Pec Development
Let’s jump into some of the best exercises you can incorporate into your cable chest workout.
Cable Chest Fly
The chest fly is by far one of the best chest exercises to develop your pectoral muscles.
One of the great things about this movement is that you can alter the height of the pulleys allowing you to pull the weight stack from different angles.
How To Cable Chest Fly:
- Set the pulleys to around shoulder height and attach a couple of stirrup handles.
- With your back to the machine, take hold of each handle.
- From a standing position, take a large step forward so you adopt a split stance. This will help with stability.
- Hold your arms out to the sides and parallel to the floor. Keep a slight bend to your elbow.
- Rotating your shoulders, bring your arms out in front of your body.
- Squeeze your chest muscles and move your arms back to the starting position.
High-To-Low Cable Fly
This is performed in much the same way as the regular cable chest fly with the main difference being the location of the pulleys on the cable pulley machine.
For this one, you’ll want to position the pulleys above shoulder height.
Pull from this angle will allow you to target more of your upper pecs.
How To Perform The Exercise
- Ensure both pulleys are at the top of the machine.
- Face away from it and then grab hold of each handle.
- Standing with one foot in front of the other, lean your torso forwards slightly.
- Start with your arms out to the sides and a bend to your elbows.
- Engage your chest to bring your hands down and together.
- Use control to lower the weight back to the starting position.
Low-To-High Cable Fly
This is another variation of the standard cable fly but this time you’ll want to position the attachments low down which is an effective way of working the low muscles of the chest.
How To Perform The Low To High Cable Fly
- Position the pulleys to around shin height and attach your preferred handles.
- With your back to the machine, take hold of the handles and adopt a split stance.
- Maintain a bend to your elbows and hold your arms out to the sides.
- Keep your shoulders back and lead with your chest muscles to pull the cables up and together.
Incline Cable Chest Fly
The incline cable chest fly is a great alternative to regular dumbbell flys which will keep the tension constant on your muscles.
To do it, you’ll need to position an adjustable bench in the middle of the cable crossover machine and set the back rest to around 45 degrees.
When performed through the entire range of motion, it will work your entire chest with a particular emphasis on your upper chest muscles.
How To Carry Out The Exercise:
- Ensure the pulleys are positioned at ground level with a suitable handle attached.
- Take hold of both handles and sit on the bench.
- Lie back so that your back and head are fully supported.
- Bring your hands together with palms facing, and directly above your chest.
- With your elbows slightly bent, rotate your shoulders out to lower your arms down by your sides.
- Don’t go too far as this can put a lot of stress on your shoulder joints.
- Exhale and bring your hands back up and above your chest.
Bent Over Cable Crossover
This exercise will work all major muscles of your chest but also engage your shoulders and triceps to a lesser degree.
By altering the position of your upper body, you can target different muscles.
How To Perform:
- Place the pulleys at shoulder height and take hold of the handles with a pronated grip (your palms should face the floor).
- Take a step or two forwards to create some resistance in the cables.
- Push your hips and lower your torso towards the ground until it’s around parallel to the floor.
- From here, pull the handles down and together. Make sure to keep a bend to your elbows.
- Use control to allow the cables to move back to the start.
Cable Chest Press
The cable chest press is very similar to the barbell bench press with the difference being you’ll perform it from a seated or standing position and on use cables.
It’s a great option for adding overall thickness to your chest muscles.
How To Perform The Cable Chest Press:
- Place an adjustable bench just in front of a dual adjustable pulley machine.
- Position to the pulleys to around shoulder height once you’re in a seated position and attach a couple of D handles or stirrups.
- With the back pad in an upright position, grab the handles and take a seat so that your back is fully supported.
- Keep the handles close to your body and just in front of your armpits.
- Make sure to keep your shoulder blades fixed with your head and chest up.
- Drive your arms straight out in front of you. At the top of the movement, your palms should be facing the floor.
- Hold briefly before using control to lower the weight back to the start.
Are Cables Good For A Chest Workout?
Cables keep constant tension on your muscles making them highly effective for a good chest workout.
This is different to using free weights where resistance is only felt during the concentric part of the movement as you push or pull against gravity.
One thing you may notice when performing cable chest exercises is how much shoulder activation takes place.
It’s perfectly normal to feel tension across your anterior deltoids with many chest exercises.
Tips For Your Cable Chest Day Workout
- Try and stick to a high rep range with lower weights as this ensures your form will stay on point.
- Exhale as you push to increase core engagement and reduce intra-abdominal pressure.
- Maintain a straight back throughout with your core muscles activated to help with stability.
- Perform the eccentric phase of the movement slowly to maximize muscle hypertrophy.
- Make sure to perform each exercise with a full range of motion for ultimate chest gains and muscle growth.
Cable exercises are a surefire way of adding thickness and size to your chest muscles.
But remember, for best results, keep things varied.
By incorporating different exercises into your chest training, whether that’s using resistance bands or free weights, will ensure you continue to increase mass and strength.
Also, for a well balanced physique make sure to do plenty of exercises to target your back muscles.
With that in mind, why not take a look at our suggested dumbbell back workout.