15 Best Cable Chest Exercises (Powerful Pec Workouts)

Cable machines can give you a serious chest pump but which cable chest exercises are best?

You don't want to waste your time in the gym, so in this guide, we'll introduce the best cable chest exercises so you can get a killer upper body workout. 

1. Cable Crossover

Cable crossovers are one of the main chest exercises. They’re suitable for people of all abilities and can be performed standing up or sitting down.

You will need a two tower cable pulley machine to perform this one because the cables need to cross over the front of your body to provide tension.

Muscles Worked

Cable crossovers (sometimes called cable pullovers) are designed to target your pectoralis major, which are your lower chest muscles.

These chest muscles are really visible, so when you engage them with cable crossovers, you'll get a good pump. They're also important for upper chest development and will improve your shoulder joint stability.

How To

Set the cables to the highest setting on each tower. Stand in the middle, facing away from the cable pulley machine, and hold a handle in each hand.

Take a small step forward, and with a small bend in your elbows, pull the cables downwards in front of you, crossing your arms over in the middle. Hold for a second, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

This is one of the best cable exercises for chest development, and the key is to get the full range of motion throughout the entire exercise. This lets you engage your chest muscles properly and activates smaller muscle groups you wouldn't use as frequently.

Ensure that the cables are set above head height so that you pull downwards during the movement.

To maximize the benefits, you need to engage your chest muscles and keep the rest of your body out of it. By placing one foot slightly forward in a split stance, you can help support your body and ensure that your chest is doing all the work.

15 Best Cable Chest Exercises (Powerful Pec Workouts)

2. Cable Single Arm Rotational Chest Press

This one-arm cable chest exercise is a great upper chest exercise to give you an insane pump. It allows you to train one side of your body at a time and is great for anyone who only has a single tower.

Muscles Worked

This exercise targets your pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and triceps. It's an isolation exercise to help you target your chest muscles one at a time with just one arm, but you'll also feel the benefits across your upper body.

How To

Set the pulley to shoulder level and stand about 2 feet in front of it, with the cable pulley machine to the side of you.

Grip the handle in one hand, and rotate your body away from the cable machine, pressing the handle away from you as you go. Hold for a second, and then retract the cable and rotate your body back to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

There is a little more movement involved with this one, so it's important to take it slow at first and focus on your coordination. Your body needs to rotate without letting your arm drop, so make sure you've got it down before you up the weight.

Cable Single Arm Rotational Chest Press

3. Cable Fly

A cable fly is similar to a cable crossover, but the movement is more horizontal than vertical.

Many people use dumbbells for flys, but using a cable machine is much safer and can be more effective. You will need two cable towers to be able to do these properly.

Muscles Worked

Cable flys target your pectoralis major middle muscles, and your triceps. It’s one of the best cable exercises for chest and can improve your functional strength.

How To

Set your cable handles to just above shoulder height on each tower. Stand in the middle, grab a handle in each hand, and pull the cables forward in a smooth motion until your hands meet at the front of your body.

Hold this for a second and squeeze your chest before returning to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

With cable flys, you want to make sure your chest is doing all the work. Bend your elbows and take a small step forward so that your body is stable and your pecs are engaged throughout. If you feel the strain in your back or arms, your form is off.

Cable Fly

4. Cable Standing Chest Press

The cable crossover machine standing chest press is one of the best moves for beginners and makes a great alternative to a standard bench press.

It can be performed using a single cable tower (or dual cable towers if you want to train both sides at once), and the cables help to control the movement, so there's no risk of strain or injury.

Muscles Worked

The cable standing chest press primarily targets your pectoralis major, focusing on the top and middle of the muscle. Other muscles worked include your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and abs, giving you a well-rounded workout.

How To

Start with the cable handles set to shoulder height. Stand about 2 feet in front of the tower and grip the handle so it’s just in front of your shoulder.

Press forward with one or both hands until your arms are at full extension. Pause for a second, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

This cable press is very similar to the cable fly and other cable crossover chest exercises, but the key is to keep the movement straight out in front of you and not move it vertically. This will focus the effort on the upper chest and give you an excellent cable chest workout.

Related Article - Chest Press Vs Bench Press

Cable Standing Chest Press

5. Cable Seated Chest Press

The cable seated chest press is a good alternative for those with limited mobility or those carrying a lower-body injury.

The seated position helps you isolate your upper body and focus all the effort on your pecs. You'll need twin cable towers for this exercise.

Muscles Worked

The exercise engages your pectorals, anterior deltoids, and your triceps. It's great for building a solid chest and will leave your upper body looking visibility pumped

How To

Set the pulleys to shoulder level (when sat down) and position a seat or bench about 3 feet from the machine. Grap the handles using an overhand grip and keep them at shoulder height.

Put your elbows at a 45 degree angle, and extend both arms forward until they meet in the middle. Pause, and then lower back to a neutral position.

GGP Training Tips

The key to this cable press is focusing on form. Try to find a chair or bench with a solid back so you can brace yourself without transferring the effort to your back or core.

Also, try to keep your forearms in line with the cables throughout to maximize the tension in your pecs.

Cable Seated Chest Press

6. Low Cable Fly

The low cable fly is surprisingly different from a high cable fly, but it shows how valuable a cable machine can be.

By altering the angle and pulling upwards, you change the muscles worked, and you'll see greater benefits across your upper chest. You will need two cable towers to perform it properly.

Muscles Worked

The low cable fly engages your pectoralis minor, which is the upper part of your chest. This cable fly won’t give you as big a pump as a different cable chest workout, but it will help you to build functional strength.

How To

Start by attaching the handles to the bottom of each tower. Stand in the middle with a handle in each hand and a split stance so your weight is leaning slightly forward.

Hold the handles at waist height, pointing downwards, and then pull the cables upwards and forward until they meet in the middle of your chest. Pause, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout the movement, so you're only engaging your chest. You'll also help to flex and grow your pecs if you keep your palms facing towards each other when they meet in the middle.

Low Cable Fly

7. Exercise Ball Cable Fly

Exercise ball cable flys force you to stabilize your body throughout the movement. This means there is a greater benefit to your smaller muscle groups, and you'll build a more functional body.

They can be tricky at first and require a bit of coordination, so they're best performed by more advanced lifters.

Muscles Worked

This movement engages your pectorals, deltoids, triceps, and core. The focus is very much on the middle of your chest, but the exercise ball engages smaller muscle groups to keep you stable throughout.

How To

Set your pulleys to the lowest position and place your exercise ball in the middle. Lie back, grab the cables, and extend your arms out to the sides.

Keep a slight bend in your elbows and move your shoulders until your arms meet in the middle. Pause, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Keep your feet flat on the floor to focus the effort on your chest, and try to arch your back like you would on a flat bench press.

Exercise Ball Cable Fly

8. Cable Bench Fly

Cable bench flys require a dual cable tower and a bench. The entire movement provides constant tension on your pectorals, and they're a great way to build a massive chest. They can be pretty challenging at first, so make sure you keep the resistance low.

Muscles Worked

Cable bench flys work your pectoralis major, the upper part of your chest. They also engage your biceps and deltoids, which stabilize the movement.

How To

Start with your handles set to the lowest setting and your bench in between the towers. Lie back and grip a handle in each hand, holding it at chest height.

Engage your chest and pull the handles upwards and across until they meet in the middle. Pause, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

This exercise makes it easy to get your arms involved more than you should. Make sure you keep a slight bend in your elbows to provide constant tension to your pecs.

Cable Bench Fly

9. Cable Incline & Decline Bench Fly

This cable chest exercise mirrors the cable incline bench press and cable decline bench press.

This workout routine stimulates muscle activation and muscle growth by using the cable pulleys at different angles. The body positioning helps with pec activation so that you can get more from chest day.

Muscles Worked

This cable crossover machine exercise works your upper pectorals, similar to when you do an incline cable bench press.

The decline bench fly will work your inner pectoral muscles and lower pecs. By combining both of these exercises, you'll work your whole chest.

How To

Set your pulleys to the lowest setting and position your bench in the middle of the towers. Set your incline bench to the right position, lie back, and grip the handles.

Keep your elbows slightly bent and pull the handles across your chest until they meet in the middle. Pause, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Don't expect to be able to lift the same weight for both incline and decline flys. The cable incline bench press and fly tend to be easier, so make sure you are lowering the weight load for your decline fly.

Cable Incline & Decline Bench Fly

10. Unilateral Cable Chest Press

A unilateral cable chest press is great for those with a single tower cable pulley machine. You can train one side at a time, and it’s a useful exercise for advanced lifters looking to push themselves and get a serious pump.

Muscles Worked

This chest press works your lower and middle pectoralis major, giving you greater muscle activation than a regular bench press.

How To

Set your cable to shoulder height and grip it in one hand. Take a step forward and put one foot out in front of you to stabilize yourself. Press the handle straight forward, hold for a few seconds with your arms at full extension, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Keep your torso still during the movement and your palms facing forward to maximize the chest gains and keep your back out of the equation.

Unilateral Cable Chest Press

11. Cable Bench Press

This cable flat bench exercise is one of the best cable chest exercises for those who aren’t as comfortable with free weights because you don’t need a spotter to do it safely. It’s one of two main chest exercises and a great option for beginners.

Muscles Worked

Your cable bench press works your pectoralis major and triceps. This helps you build a broad chest, and the consistent tension of the cables helps to give you a better pump than a regular bench press.

How To

Start with the pulleys set to their lowest setting. Position your bench in the middle, lie back, and reach down to grip each handle. Press the handles upwards until your arms are at full extension, then pause, and return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

The key to this exercise is to push the handles forward, so don't let yourself automatically move into a fly position. If you find your arms shifting, you should lower the weight load until your form is right.

Cable Bench Press

12. Cable Iron Cross Chest Workout

This is one of the best dual cable cross chest exercises, and it's quite similar to a cable crossover. The key difference is that the cables are positioned slightly differently, so you should be able to lift more weight.

It's one of the best cable chest exercises to finish your session with and will leave you with a big pump.

Muscles Worked

The iron cross chest workout targets your pectoralis major and minor, giving you well rounded chest muscles. It also activates smaller muscles in your arms and back.

How To

Start with the pulleys set to about shoulder height and stand in the middle. Plant your feet flat on the floor and pull the handles down in front of you until your palms meet. Pause, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

This exercise has your hands slightly lower than a regular cable crossover which activates more muscle fibers. This makes the movement easier, so up the resistance to maximize your gains.

Cable Iron Cross Chest Workout

13. Cable Standing Fly (High to Low & Low To High)

Standing cable flys help you grow a lean chest, and by mixing in some low to high and high to low variations, you can target all the different muscle groups.

You'll need two cable towers for this exercise and an adjustable bench so you can move from incline to decline. This exercise makes a great finisher to maximize your pump at the end of a session.

Muscles Worked

Standing cable flys target your pectorals, triceps, and upper back. If you're performing a high to low variation, then you'll engage the upper pectorals, and if you perform the low to high, you'll engage the lower pectorals.

How To

Set your cable handle to the highest or lowest setting and stand in the middle of the towers. Grip the handles and pull them up or down (depending on the setting) while pressing away from you. Pause when your hands meet, and then lower it back.

GGP Training Tips

The key to this exercise is the vertical movement. Keep your elbows slightly bent and your back straight throughout to force your chest muscles to do the work.

Lower chest cable exercises, like the low to high cable chest pull, can be more challenging than cable upper chest exercises because of the angle of the lift.

Don't expect to be able to lift the same amount for both because you could end up causing damage to your shoulder joint.

Instead, adjust the weight with each exercise and choose a suitable resistance that challenges you without straining your body. 

Cable Standing Fly

14. Cable Bent Over Fly

This cable fly variation lets you lift heavier and push your chest muscles. They’re great for advanced lifters and will help you build a strong chest, back, and shoulders.

Muscles Worked

Bent over cable flys target your pectorals, triceps, deltoids, and rotator cuffs in one movement.

How To

Set the pulleys to the highest setting and stand in the middle. Bend over into the rowing position with your torso parallel to the floor.

Grip the handles and pull the cables down and in towards your chest. Contract your pecs, and then slowly return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

It’s easy to round your back with this lift, but don’t. Keep your back straight and focus the tension on your pectorals so you can maximize your chest gains.

Cable Bent Over Fly

15. High Cable Chest Fly

This variation of a cable chest fly allows you to control the movement more effectively. This works your chest and core muscles to improve your posture and stabilization. This exercise is useful for beginners, but you may need to keep the weight light at first.

Muscles Worked

The high cable fly targets your pectoralis major, core, and anterior deltoids. You can perform this exercise with a single tower and isolate one side of your body at a time and maximize the gains.

How To

Set the pulleys to the highest position and stand slightly in front of the tower. Hold the handle in an overhand grip at shoulder height, with a slight bend in your elbow.

Press forward and in towards your chest, but don’t move the cable down. Pause when it reaches the middle of your body, and return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

This exercise isn't about vertical movement, and it's important to only press forward. Keep your arms straight as you perform the chest press, and try to keep the strain on your chest muscles. It's also good to adopt a split stance to help keep your body stable.

This should help prevent you from spreading the work across your back and core muscles, and help you isolate your pectorals. 

High Cable Chest Fly

Benefits Of Doing Cable Chest Exercises

Cable chest exercises aren't always everyone's go-to choice. However, there are a lot of benefits to cable machine exercises that make them worthwhile:

Consistent Load

Cable machines provide consistent tension throughout the movement, which is why many people choose to do a rope chest workout instead of using free weights.

Chest exercises with cable are more challenging, and you'll be forced to push yourself harder. This is why you can get a much more noticeable pump with cable machines.

Related Article - Best Resistance Band Chest Exercises

Wider Range Of Movement

Cable machines offer a much more comprehensive range of motion than free weights. This lets you target different muscle groups and can improve your functional strength and flexibility.

By performing cable exercises over a prolonged period, you should see improved performance across the board. This will aid your fitness development and help you make significant gains in the long run. [1]

Smooth Motion

A good quality cable machine provides smooth motion. This reduces the strain on your joints and makes cable machine chest exercises better for those recovering from injury. 

Cable presses are also a lot more controlled than regular press movements. This makes it easier for beginners to perform exercises correctly, and there's much less room for error.

Safety

Free weights are the traditional way to work out, but they aren't the safest. Cable chest exercises remove the risk of a weight dropping on your head, and you won't need a spotter. This makes them the better choice for those who work out alone.

benefits of cable chest exercises

Example Cable Chest Workouts To Try

Cable Chest Workout Plan #1

This beginner workout plan is made up of 4 exercises. Just remember to keep the movement controlled and don’t try to load up too much resistance onto the cable machine until you’re comfortable with the form:

  • 3 x 10 seated cable press
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 seated chest incline fly
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 cable machine decline bench fly
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 cable single arm rotational chest press

Cable Chest Workout Plan #2

This is a complete workout for advanced lifters with a bit more experience. It can be quite intense, but it will improve the muscular endurance across your entire body:

  • 3 x 10 cable crossovers
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 cable incline bench press
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 cable standing fly (high to low)
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 cable standing chest press
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 unilateral cable chest press
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 x 10 cable iron cross chest workout

Frequently Asked Cable Chest Exercises Questions

Are cable exercises better than free weights?

Cable machines are much smoother than free weights and have much less risk of injury. You can also work out faster and get a good pump.

Many people prefer the old-school feel of free weights, but you can get just as ripped by using a cable machine, and many experts say it's the only machine you need. [2]

Can you build muscle with cable machines?

Yes, a cable machine provides constant tension throughout the exercises, which will help you to build lean muscle more quickly. That's why some of the best chest exercises are performed using cables.

Why is cable chest press harder?

Cable chest presses can be more challenging than free-weight chest presses because of the constant tension. This puts more strain on your pectoral muscles compared to a standard bench press but will lead to greater gains.

What are the disadvantages of cable machines?

A cable crossover machine can be expensive and can take up a lot of space in your gym. They can also be more challenging to use if you're trying to isolate smaller muscle groups.

How do you hit middle chest with cables?

A cable crossover or a cable decline bench press is usually a good way to target your middle chest, but performing a cable fly will also be effective.


Conclusion

A cable chest machine can help you get the most from your workout and build solid pecs. The constant tension throughout the movement will give you a greater pump than you'd usually get with free weights, and using a cable machine regularly can help you improve your physique.

Hopefully, this guide has introduced some new exercises for your next cable chest workout, and you're looking forward to chest day.

References:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6977096/

2. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/workouts/g754952/the-only-gym-machine-you-need-cables/

Last Updated on August 30, 2022