Cable chest exercises are exercises that target the muscles of the chest, specifically the pectoral muscles, using a cable machine. Cable chest exercises provide constant tension on the muscle throughout the entire range of motion, allowing for a more effective muscle contraction. These exercises can provide a variety of different movements, such as press, fly, and pull-down, allowing for a well-rounded workout that targets all parts of the chest muscles.
Did you know you can do a full chest workout targeting all the muscles that make up your pectoral muscle group, using one single machine? You can, and the machine that makes this possible is the cable machine. (See our recommended cable machines here).
This article is dedicated to informing you all about the best chest exercises that you can do on the cable machine. You will also find an example cable chest workout for you to try out on your next chest day.
If you’re looking to switch up the dumbbells and barbells with some new cable moves, read on!
- The 8 Best Cable Chest Exercises
- Example Cable Chest Workout
- What Are the Benefits of Cable Chest Exercises?
- Cable Chest Workout (Conclusion) – Yay or Nay
The 8 Best Cable Chest Exercises
Below you will find an introduction to some beneficial chest exercises that can be done on the cable machine! Included are a variety of movements that hit your pectorals from numerous angles, like when doing a workout that makes use of machines, dumbbells, and barbells.
Pay close attention to the notes provided on form, as form is key to yielding the best results and keeping you safe.
1. Cable Crossover Chest Exercise
The cable crossover chest exercise focuses our workout on the pectoralis major (lower) muscle group. Below are the seven steps to follow to perform the cable crossover chest exercise.
- Attach a single handle on the highest setting/above your head on each cable tower.
- With a handle in each hand, stand in the middle of the towers and step forward into a split stance. Have your weight in your front foot creating a slight forward lean through your torso.
- Start with your arms out wide, behind you enough to create a stretch feel through your pecs.
- With a small bend in your elbows, pull the cables downwards in front of you, crossing one arm over the other into full extension.
- Return to starting position slowly.
- Do your crossovers with alternating arms each rep. I.e. right arm over, left arm under/left arm over, right arm under
- Keep your torso mostly still and allow your chest to pull the weight forward rather than through created momentum.
More like this: Top 8 Lower Chest Exercises for Building Huge Pecs
2. Cable Fly (Middle Chest Workout)
The cable fly exercises your pectoralis major (middle) chest muscles. The cable fly exercise is done with the following five steps.
- Attach a single handle above shoulder height on each cable tower.
- With a handle in each hand, stand in the middle of the towers and step forward into a split stance. Transfer your weight onto your front foot by bending the front knee.
- Start with your arms out wide, creating a slight stretch feel through your chest and shoulders.
- Maintaining a small bend in your elbows and keeping your chest upright, pull the cables together in a sweeping motion so that your hands meet in front of your body with your palms facing each other.
- Hold in this position for a second and feel the squeeze in your chest, then go back to starting position, controlling the weight all the way.
3. Low Cable Fly
The low cable fly works the pectoralis minor (upper) chest muscles. Follow the five steps below to perform the low cable fly.
- Attach a single handle at the bottom of each cable tower.
- Holding a handle in each hand, stand in the middle of the towers and step forward into a split stance. Lean forward onto your front foot, bending that knee. Your back leg should be straight.
- As your arms are pointing downwards to start off with, you’re going to be pulling the cables upwards and together to meet in the middle of your chest. Keep a small bend in your elbows and an engaged core/still torso whilst doing so.
- When your hands meet at the top of the movement, your palms should be facing each other. For extra effect, tilt the bases of your palms together to create a ‘V’ shape with your hands/handles.
- Hold in this position for a moment before returning to the starting position.
More like this: Top 6 Upper Chest Exercises for Bigger, Stronger Pecs
4. Exercise Ball Cable Fly
The exercise ball cable flies are chest strengthening workouts that focus on the pectoralis major (lower to middle) chest muscles. The exercise ball cable fly workout comprises the four steps below.
- Attach a single handle to the bottom of each cable tower.
- Have an appropriately-sized exercise/swiss ball in the middle of the cable towers.
- With a handle in each hand, sit on the ball and then walk your feet outwards until your body is in a semi-horizontal position with your upper back and shoulders left on the ball. Your hips should remain upright and you should have a rough 90-degree bend in your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
- Start with your arms out wide and your hands just below the height of your shoulders. Maintaining a slight bend in the elbows, pull the cables up and together to meet over the top of your chest. Hold this position whilst your pecs are fully contracted for a second, and then release back to starting position.
Pro tip: do this exercise unilaterally for an extra challenge in stabilizing!
5. Unilateral Cable Chest Press
The unilateral cable chest press works the pectoralis major (lower to middle) muscles of your chest. Below are the five steps to follow when performing the unilateral cable chest press exercise.
- Attach a single handle to one of the cable towers at shoulder height.
- Holding the cable in one hand, take few steps out from the cable machine and step into a split stance with your weight in your front foot. You should have opposite leg forward to the arm that you are using.
- Start with the cable in your hand, palm facing down and a 90-degree bend in the elbow. Think the start of a chest press position, but single-sided.
- Whilst keeping your torso still, press the cable forward until your arm reaches full extension then return to starting position – be sure not to allow your arm to go too far back in the eccentric phase. Always maintain tension on the cable.
- Repeat all reps on one side before changing sides and don’t forget to change your front leg when changing arms.
6. Cable Flat Bench Press
The cable flat bench press exercises the pectoralis major and minor (lower, middle) chest muscles. Follow the four steps below to perform the cable flat bench press.
- Attach a single handle to the bottom of each of the cable towers.
- Take a handle in each hand and lie on a flat bench in the middle of the cable towers. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your arms in line with your chest with a 90-degree bend in your elbows.
- From here, push the cables up and together onto extended arms, fully contracting your chest.
- Take your time in the eccentric phase coming back to starting position and allow minimum time at the bottom before pushing up into your next rep.
Pro Tip: Use cable wrist straps attached to each wrist with a dumbbell in each hand for this exercise – double pain, double gain!
7. Cable Incline Bench Press
The cable incline bench press focuses on the pectoralis major and minor (middle, upper) chest muscles. The following are the five steps for exercising your chest muscles with the cable incline bench press.
- Attach a single handle to the bottom of each of the cable towers.
- With a handle in each hand, set yourself up on an incline (45-degrees) bench in the middle of the cable towers.
- Have your feet flat on the floor and your hands in line with your chest with a 90-degree bend in your elbows to start off with.
- From here, push the cables up and together onto extended arms, feeling your upper chest working.
- Return to starting position slowly without allowing your arms to go too far back and create over-stretching through your deltoids.
8. Cable Iron Cross Chest Workout
The cable iron cross chest workout exercises the pectoralis major and minor (inner) muscles. The cable iron cross chest workout comprises the four steps below.
- Attach a single handle to each of the cable towers on the highest setting/above head height.
- Stand in the middle of the cable towers with a cable in each hand. Your feet should be together and your chest and head upright.
- Start with your arms out wide either side of you with a slight bend in your elbows. Maintaining the bend in your elbows, pull the cables downwards to meet close in front of your body with your palms facing each other. You should feel your inner pectoral muscles doing the work at this point.
- Allow your arms to go back up to starting position and be sure you are straight and upright before going into your next rep.
Pro Tip: Do this exercise with one arm at a time to concentrate on balanced left/right strength.
Example Cable Chest Workout
I have put together a collection of the above-introduced exercises to form a ‘Cable Chest Day Workout’ that you can try out! If there are some of these you haven’t performed before, watch the video links provided in the exercise descriptions to give you some extra guidance.
The workout below is a general chest workout designed with shaping, toning and muscular endurance in mind.
Instructions: There are 3 supersets in this workout consisting of 2 exercises each. Each superset is to be done on its own for 3 rounds with 1-minute rest in between each round, before moving onto the next superset.
Cable Iron Cross x 12
Cable Crossover x 12
Unilateral Cable Press x 12
Exercise Ball Cable Fly x 12
Cable Incline Bench Press x 12
Low Cable Fly x 12
What Are the Benefits of Cable Chest Exercises?
Below are the five benefits of cable chest exercises.
- Constant tension on the muscle throughout the movement, leading to better muscle activation and growth
- A variety of different exercises and movement patterns to target all areas of the chest
- The ability to adjust resistance and angles to target different areas of the chest
- The ability to work the chest muscles in different planes of motion
- Can be easily modified for different fitness levels and goals
Incorporating cable chest exercises into your chest muscle workouts provides a more well-rounded approach to upper-body training, improving overall chest strength, muscle definition, and balance. These exercises can also be used to add variety and challenge to your workout routine, preventing boredom and plateaus. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, cable chest exercises are a powerful tool for chest training.
Cable Chest Workout (Conclusion) – Yay or Nay
The cable machine is a fantastic workout tool for any part of your body, especially your chest.
There are alternatives for all dumbbell and barbell chest exercises that can be done on the cable machine that are just as good, if not better.
Doing the exercises provided in this article will give your chest a complete workout, focusing on equal parts on each section of your pectorals for improved performance and aesthetics.
What is your ‘go-to’ cable chest exercise? Let us know in the comments section below!