10 Most Effective Chest Exercises with Cables
Cables are one of the easiest ways to train your chest. You can perform different kinds of chest exercises with cables.
In this article, I will show you a variety of exercises specifically targeting each part of your chest making it look thick, muscular, and three dimensional which everyone likes, especially women!
There will be a cable chest workout which I will share with you at the end, which you can apply to your chest day. So read the entire article and don’t miss any exercise. After reading this article, you will be able to implement various cable chest exercises into your workout program.
Chest Exercises With Cables
1. Cable Chest Press
This is the easiest way to perform a chest press with cables. You just need a cable machine to perform this.
Muscles targeted– Pectoralis major ( mostly mid chest)
How to do
1. Attach both pulleys in line with your mid-chest. Grab both handles and stand in between the cable machine with one leg forward stance.
2. Look straight without bending your neck and roll your shoulders back. The angle of your elbow should be similar to the angle of a cable i.e if cables are going up during the exercise, your arms should also go at that same angle.
3. Press forward with your arms while squeezing your chest throughout the movement. Don’t lock your elbows at the end and come slowly back to the starting position.
Make sure that your shoulders are retracted and are not coming forward while pressing. This will not engage your front shoulders and will keep constant tension on to the chest.
2. Cable Incline Press
Another great alternative to an incline bench press. This is a great isolation exercise for your upper chest. You can create a better mind and muscle connection with cables instead of barbell because it cables puts constant tension on the chest throughout the movement. But that doesn’t mean that barbell exercises are bad.
Muscles targeted– Pectoralis major ( upper chest)
how to do
1. Place an incline bench in between the cable fly machine. Attach both the pulleys down and hold both handles from each hand.
2. Lay down on a bench with your feet back and knees pointing out. Then start pressing up while squeezing your chest and keep your chest up and the shoulders retracted.
3. Focus on your upper chest while pressing up. Bring your arms down to the starting position. Remember not to overextend your shoulders or go too far down.
Your arms should move up in line with the upper chest. Don’t lock your elbows at the end. Don’t go too heavy on this exercise otherwise, you could injure your shoulders.
3. Cable Crossovers
Another great isolation exercise for the chest! If you want your chest to be in good shape, then this workout is for you. It will make your chest well defined and makes your lower chest in much better shape. Some people have saggy chests due to extra body fat or underdeveloped lower chest. This will help you to remove such problems.
Targeted muscles- Pectoralis major (lower chest)
How to do
1. Attach both pulleys on top of the cable tower. Hold the cables and stand in between the machine with one leg forward.
2. Roll your shoulders back and lift your chest. Don’t bend too much and maintain the upright position.
3. While maintaining this position, move your arms forward and take them across each other. Both hands should look like a cross.
4. Return to the starting position slow and steadily. Always concentrate on the muscle you are targeting to hit.
Mistakes to avoid
- Don’t roll your shoulders forward. It will engage too much of shoulders which you don’t want it when you are targeting ting your chest
- Don’t use too heavy weights which you can’t handle properly. Choose the weights which you could perform without messing your form.
- Don’t bend too much. Stay upright.
4. Flat Cable Flyes
Another great exercise to give an amazing shape to your chest. This exercise will allow you to stretch the chest completely. If you are new to this exercise, then don’t overstretch to a point where your joints are not comfortable.
Muscles targeted- Pectoralis major ( inner chest)
How to do
1. Lay on a flat bench with pulleys attached down on the cable towers. Hold the cables and mimic the fly movement.
2. Bring both arms together at the top and contract your chest at the top. Make sure to breathe out on the way up.
3. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat the exercise.
Fly movement is like giving a hug to someone. Mimic that movement and focus on your chest. Don’t overstretch during the negatives. Also, remember to squeeze your chest hard and concentrate on the right muscle.
You don’t have to lock your elbows at the top to have constant tension on the chest.
5. Unilateral Cable Press
This is a unilateral movement to hit your chest with cables. Here, your abs and other stabilizer muscles will also get activated making it a more challenging exercise than the regular bilateral presses.
Muscles targeted- pectoralis major (lower and middle pecs)
How to do
1. Attach a pulley that is at the shoulder’s height. Hold the cables and stand with one leg forward, with most bodyweight on your front legs.
2. Take your shoulders back, chest up and be in an upright position. From here, start pressing forward like you are punching somebody! You don’t have to lock your elbows.
3. Come back slowly to the starting position. Don’t overstretch when you return. Set weights that you can handle properly without losing form.
You can add this exercise as an alternative to the cable press to create some changes in your workout program. Make sure that you are also training your chest with dumbbells and barbells to build strength.
6. One Arm Cable Crossovers
Muscles targeted- Pectoralis major and minor ( mid and lower chest)
How to do
1. Attach a pulley at the highest part of a cable tower. Grab a handle from one hand while the other hand on the thighs for support.
2. Stand on a split stance and don’t bend too much. Your shoulders should be back with your chest and neck upright.
3. Start the exercise by bringing your arms down without bending your back. Maintain the upright position. Your shoulders should not come forward.
4. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat the movement.
Take your hands across the midline of the body to stimulate your chest more. That’s the benefit of this exercise because, in most other exercises, you can’t bring your hands passing the midline of the body.
Tips– You can also do this exercise in place of other flys which we discussed by using a single arm. Make sure that you don’t use to heavyweights on this because it’s not meant for that purpose.
7. Close Grip Cable Press
Muscles targeted- Pectoralis major (inner chest)
How to do
1. Attach both pulleys in line with your chest height. Stand straight without bending your spine. The shoulder should be back and the chest should be up.
2. By holding the handles, join both hands together. Your hands should be placed just below the lower chest and your elbows should be out.
3. Start pushing your hands forward while keeping your hands together. Don’t lock your elbows at the end and squeeze your chest throughout the exercise.
4. Return slowly to the starting position. Exhale as you push forward and inhale while you return.
You should never use heavyweights in this exercise otherwise you can injure yourself. Also, this exercise is meant to isolate the muscles and is not a strength-building exercise. It is good to train your weaknesses and to create a better shape.
- This is an advanced exercise and without a proper mind and muscle connection, you should not perform this exercise. People just beginning to work out at an intermediate level should stick with the basic exercises.
- You can include this exercise in your workout program every once or twice a month. Once you get experience and have built a solid mind and muscle connection, then you can do this exercise quite often.
8. Low Cable Flyes
This exercise is a great exercise for your upper chest. You can perform this as a finisher exercise or can superset it with cable crossovers which will be an awesome finisher at the end.
Targeted muscles- Pectoralis minor (upper chest)
How to do
1. Attach the pulleys at the bottom end of the cable machine. Hold two handles of the cables and stand in between the machine. Stand with one leg forward while maintaining a proper balance.
2. Roll your shoulders back and maintain a neutral spine. Your hands should be down on the sides and this will be your starting position.
3. From the downward position, take your arms up and stop at chest height. Pause for a second and squeezing your chest at the top.
4. Return to the starting position slowly while breathing in and repeat the rep.
Your elbows should be in so that you can stimulate your chest more. Also, it will put your shoulders in a safe position.
Mistakes to avoid
- Don’t take your hands too far behind the body. Your chest should be stretched and not your shoulders so don’t go too far back.
- Shoulders should not move or come forward during the exercise
- Don’t go too heavy on this!
9. Decline Cable Chest Pullover
This is a great cable version of pullovers where you can create a perfect mind and muscle connection. You can feel an amazing pump after this exercise, so try it out!
Muscles targeted- Pectoralis major (mid and upper chest)
How to do
1. Place a bench fixed at a decline angle at about 2 feet apart from the cable machine and attach a rope at a lower pulley of the cable machine.
2. Hold both ends of the rope and lay down on a bench and this will be your starting position.
3. While keeping your elbows slightly bent, take your hands behind the body and stretch your chest at the bottom.
4. Stop until your chest is fully stretched and then bring your hands up toward the starting position and then repeat the movement.
While performing this exercise make sure that you are squeezing your chest harder during the concentric phase and keep your elbows in on the way up.
10. Push Up To Chest Fly
This is an advanced exercise which will be a great exercise for those who want to challenge themselves with some unique exercises. This is the combination of a push up and cable flys which is good to develop not only the strength, but also the shape and definition of your chest.
Muscles Targeted- Pectoralis major and minor
How to do
1. Place an exercise on the floor in between the cable machine and attach both the handles to the top pulley of the cable machine.
2. Hold both the handles and go down onto the knuckle push-up position on the mat. Here your body should be straight and your hips and stomach should not go down.
3. While keeping your abs tight and hips engaged, lower your body down and stop until your chest is just above the floor.
4. Push your body up and back to the starting position and then take one arm back just like a cable flys.
5. Stretch your chest at the top and then bring your knuckles down to the starting position. Do the same and this time, bring the other hand up.
Make sure that you set lighter weights for this exercise because it an advanced movement that requires a lot of stability and balance. There is a great chance of injury if not done properly, so beginners should stick with the basic exercises and should avoid this.
All these chest exercises with cables which we discussed above are never complete without a proper workout program. So here we go!
Chest Workout With Cables
Do cable incline press 3 sets of 15 reps. Use light weights and just feel the muscle. Don’t fatigue the muscle. Just get the blood flow into your chest for the main set.
1. Cable bench press – 4 sets of 12 reps
2. Cable incline press + Flat cable flyes ( superset) – Do 3 sets of 15 reps each. Combine both exercises together. This will hit your upper and mid-chest together.
Take 1-2 minute rest in between
3. Cable crossovers- Do 4 sets of 12 reps. Take 1-2 minutes of rest in between. You can replace it with unilateral cable crossovers after some time ( after 8 weeks)
4. Low cable flyes + close grip cable press- Do 3 sets of 20 reps. Use light weights on this. Low cable fly is a good upper chest exercise and close grip cable press is for the inner chest.
Note – Beginners should ignore close grip cable press and do a regular set of low cable flyes.
It is always recommended to consult with your physician or other health care professionals before starting any exercise.
So here we are, at the end part of this article. I will recommend you to add those exercises into your chest day. You will see great results from it.
Also remember that cable exercises are good, but is incomplete without those compound exercises like bench press, push ups and many other exercises done with dumbbells and barbells.
Cables will help in shaping your chest but you cannot ignore those basic exercises like the bench press.
If I missed any exercise, then please let me know in the comment section below.
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Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.