11 Best Cable Chest Exercises to Build a Bigger, Stronger Chest

11 Best Cable Chest Exercises to Build a Bigger, Stronger Chest

Jan 15, 2024

Chest exercising on cable exercising machine RIPL Fitness

11 Must-Try Cable Chest Exercises to Build a Bigger, Stronger Chest

Cables are a versatile piece of gym equipment that can target your chest from new angles to build size and strength. This article will cover the 11 most effective cable chest exercises, with tips on proper form, muscles worked, and suggested rep schemes.

After reading, you'll have the knowledge to incorporate cable moves into your chest day programming for maximum gains. Let's dive in!

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What Makes Cables an Essential Chest Exercise Tool?

Before getting into the exercises, it's helpful to understand why cables should be a staple in your chest workouts. Here are some major benefits cables provide:

  • Constant tension: Unlike free weights which lose tension at the top contracted position, cables keep muscles under tension during the entire movement for greater muscle fatigue and damage to spur growth.

  • Unilateral or bilateral training: Cables allow you to train one or both sides of the chest at once to emphasize imbalances or increase load (as you'll see in the exercises below).

  • Multi-angle activation: The free range of motion cables permit lets you attack the chest at different angles to hit all fibers. Lower, outer, inner, and upper areas get trained for complete development.

  • Safety: The fixed path cables move in reduces injury risk compared to heavy free weight chest pressing, an important factor when pushing your limits. Machines also stabilize the body.

  • Time under tension: Executing moves slowly and controlling weight builds the mind-muscle connection. Cables lend themselves well to holds and squeezes that maximize time under load.

Now that you know the unique assets cables provide, let's break down how to perform all the best cable chest exercises correctly.

1. Cable Crossover

The cable crossover primarily targets the pectorals but also trains the shoulders and triceps:

How To Perform Cable Crossover:

  • Stand between two high pulleys, feet shoulder-width apart, core braced
  • Take one handle in each hand with palms facing down, arms straight out at shoulder level
  • Initiate movement by bringing hands together in front of chest, flexing pecs to adduct upper arms
  • Squeeze chest hard when handles meet below your chin
  • Slowly return to start position without letting tension leave chest
  • Breathe out lowering weight, breathe in raising weight

Cable Crossover Tips:

  • Keep elbows slightly bent; don't lock them
  • Limit shoulder movement by keeping shoulders down
  • Bring handles to just below chin, no higher, to keep tension
  • 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps is ideal

The crossover hits the pecs from multiple angles, allowing you to focus on the contraction. Adjust height to shift emphasis between upper and lower chest.

2. Incline Cable Chest Press

The incline cable chest press is superior for building upper pec mass and strength versus flat pressing:

How To Execute Incline Cable Chest Press:

  • Attach handles to cables at high setting
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width, knees soft
  • Keep chest up, abs braced, shoulders back
  • Bring handles to upper chest level, palms forward
  • Press handles straight out, flexing pecs to adduct arms
  • Squeeze upper pecs hard when arms are fully extended
  • Slowly return to starting position, maintaining tension
  • Breathe out pressing, breathe in lowering

Incline Press Tips:

  • Don't let shoulders round forward
  • Limit elbow range of motion
  • Press palms straight out, no arcing motions
  • Use shoulder-width, neutral grip for strict press
  • 4 sets of 6-10 reps builds strength and size

Inclined pressing strongly activates the clavicular head for fuller upper pec development. Use good form.

3. Decline Cable Fly

The decline cable fly brings a unique twist to cable flies for a killer lower chest pump:

How To Do Decline Cable Fly:

  • Attach handles to low pulleys
  • Lie perpendicular to the machine with feet braced, hips up
  • Keep palms facing inward, arms extended but soft
  • Initiate fly by bringing hands up and inward, flexing pecs
  • Squeeze pecs hard when handles are directly over lower chest
  • Slowly return to starting position, keeping tension
  • Inhale lowering weight, exhale raising weight

Cable Fly Tips:

  • Don't let arms dip too low or arc path
  • Limit shoulder movement
  • Squeeze pecs, not front delts
  • Go lighter than usual - 15+ reps recommended

Declines enhance chest activation while removing shoulders from the movement. Be sure to get full pec contraction.

4. Standing Cable Chest Press

The standing cable chest press brings greater core and shoulder stabilization demands for increased pec activation:

How To Do Standing Cable Chest Press:

  • Attach rope or short bar to high pulley
  • Stand sideways to cable tower, feet staggered
  • Keep chest lifted, abs braced, soft knees
  • Bring rope to upper chest level, palms neutral
  • Initiate press straight out by adducting upper arms
  • Flex pecs forcefully at full extension
  • Slowly return to start position under control

Standing Press Tips:

  • Don't let shoulders creep forward
  • Use only pecs to press, no leg drive
  • Pick a weight you can control eccentrically
  • Perform 6-10 reps for 2-4 sets

The instability standing places greater demand on your chest and shoulders to stabilize the movement. Excellent hypertrophy training tool!

5. Seated Cable Chest Press

The seated cable chest press enables heavy loads to be handled safely while generating huge pec muscle growth:

How To Execute Seated Cable Chest Press:

  • Attach handles to high pulleys, take seated position
  • Keep chest lifted, shoulders pinned back
  • Bring handles to pec level, palms neutral
  • Press handles straight forward by flexing pecs
  • Squeeze pecs forcefully at full extension
  • Slowly return to start position under control

Seated Press Tips:

  • Don't flare elbows out
  • Lean back slightly to keep resistance on pecs
  • Press evenly, don't let one arm dominant
  • Perform 4-5 sets of 6-10 reps

With good form, the seated cable press allows you to move serious weight to spur muscle protein synthesis and size gains.

6. Single Arm Cable Chest Press

The single arm cable chest press prevents limiting loads, decreases imbalances, and provides a killer pec pump!

How To Do Single Arm Cable Chest Press:

  • Attach a handle to low pulley
  • Stagger stance, knees soft
  • Keep shoulder back of working arm
  • Bring handle to side pec level, palm neutral
  • Press straight out by adducting upper arm
  • Squeeze pec hard in extended position
  • 4-5 sets of 10-15 reps each arm

One Arm Tips:

  • Don't rotate or lean
  • Keep non-working hand on hip
  • Use slow, controlled form
  • Reset between reps

With unilateral work, you prevent your stronger side from compensating for the other to address weaknesses. Slower negatives boost results.

7. Cable Bench Press

The cable bench press allows for variable pressing angles to alter chest emphasis:

How To Do Cable Bench Press:

  • Choose flat, incline or decline angle
  • Lie down, plant feet firmly
  • Keep shoulders pinned, chest lifted
  • Grip attachment at chest level, palms neutral
  • Press attachment straight up above chest
  • Squeeze pecs forcefully above you
  • Slowly lower back to start position

Bench Press Tips:

  • Don't flare elbows out
  • Touch attachment to top of chest between reps
  • Lift chest to shoulders at top
  • 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Adjust bench height to shift tension across pecs for balanced development. It's easier to achieve greater muscle time under tension versus free weight bench pressing.

8. Cable Bear Hug

The cable hug brings an intense crush to the inner pec fibers:

How To Do Cable Hug:

  • Attach ropes or handles to middle pulleys
  • Stand facing machine, staggered stance
  • Bring attachments to sides of chest, arms bent
  • Initiate hug by squeezing arms together
  • Flex pecs to adduct upper arms
  • Hold and squeeze pecs at peak contraction
  • Return back to start under control

Cable Hug Tips:

  • Keep elbows fixed in slightly bent position
  • Limit shoulder movement
  • Focus on using pecs, not front delts or arms *perform 12-20 reps with peaks squeeze hold

This cable variation directly zeroes in on the sternal head for incredible pec contraction. Best done for higher reps.

9. Kneeling Cable Fly

The kneeling cable fly removes leg drive and hits the chest without shoulder assistance:

How To Do Kneeling Cable Fly:

  • Attach handles to middle or high pulleys
  • Kneel facing machine, back straight
  • Keep arms straight, palms inward
  • Initiate fly by bringing arms upward and inward
  • Squeeze pecs together above you
  • Hold peak contraction 2 seconds
  • Return to start under control

Kneeling Fly Tips:

  • Don't round shoulders
  • Allow for chest stretch at bottom
  • Use lighter weight than usual
  • Perform 15-20 reps

Kneeling forces you to use the pecs alone making this an excellent fly variation when shoulders are overdeveloped or injured. Work the negatives.

10. Seated Low Cable Pullover

The seated low cable pullover targets the lats, chest, and serratus muscles in a stretched position for greater activation:

How To Do Seated Low Cable Pullover:

  • Attach a straight bar to the low pulley
  • Sit reclined, knees bent, feet flat
  • Grip just outside shoulder-width
  • Keep core braced, maintain neutral spine
  • Initiate movement by pulling handle down and back
  • Stretch lats and chest at full extension
  • Squeeze back muscles at full contraction
  • Slowly return handle to start position

Seated Pullover Tips:

  • Use lats and chest to move weight
  • Don't let shoulders hunch forward
  • Choose a weight you can control eccentrically
  • Add pause and squeeze at full stretch
  • Can use rope attachment instead of straight bar
  • Great for back and chest hypertrophy

11. Flat Cable Fly

The flat cable fly isolates the pecs through a wide sweeping motion for maximum chest activation:

How To Do Flat Cable Fly:

  • Attach handles to cables at mid pulley height
  • Stand centered between both columns facing away
  • Hold arms straight out at shoulder level
  • Keep chest lifted, light bend in elbows
  • Initiate movement by sweeping arms out to sides
  • Flex pecs fully at peak contraction
  • Keep shoulders depressed and stable
  • Slowly return handles to start position

Cable Fly Tips:

  • Don't swing or use momentum
  • Allow deep stretch in pecs
  • Choose a weight you can control eccentrically
  • Perform 10-15 reps for 3 sets
  • Also called lateral cable crossover
  • Excellent chest isolation exercise

The cables provide constant tension through the movement for superior pec activation compared to dumbbell flyes. Target those middle pecs!

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In Summary...Key Takeaways

Cables offer versatility standard equipment can't match. With multi-angle and unilateral movements, you can directly target every area of the chest without the need for a spotter. Use cables to enhance mind-muscle connection and chase the pump!

Here are key takeaways:

  • Cables keep constant tension on pecs better than free weights or machines for greater results
  • Mix uni and bilateral exercises to address imbalances
  • Emphasize time under tension with squeezes and slow negatives
  • Adjust heights to shift emphasis across upper, lower, inner pecs
  • Use cables to safely progress pressing strength
  • Combine with flys, crossovers to fatigue fibers from multiple angles

The next time chest day comes around, incorporate several of these cable variations into your programming. Cables build well-rounded pec development!

Young strong man in gym doing chest cable workout Young strong man in gym doing chest cable workout with high intensity chest exercise cable RIPL Fitness

Frequently Asked Questions on Cable Chest Exercises

What is the best cable chest exercise?

There is no single "best" cable chest exercise. The cable crossover, incline cable chest press, and decline cable fly are excellent for targeting different areas of the chest from multiple angles. Combine several cable moves like seated press, flies, and unilateral work for complete chest development.

What muscles do cable chest exercises work?

Cable chest exercises target the pectoralis major muscles of the chest. They also activate supporting muscles like shoulders, triceps, and upper back. Proper form keeps tension on the pecs as the prime movers.

How can cable machines build chest muscle?

The cable machine allows you to directly isolate the chest muscles with exercises like cable fly and cable crossover flexion. The resistance curve of cables enables constant tension through the pecs' range of motion for superior chest activation compared to machines or free weights.

What does a cable chest workout hit?

A well-programmed cable chest workout will train all areas of the pectorals. The various exercise angles cables provide let you hit lower, outer, inner, and upper portions of the chest in one training session for balanced development.

Can you replace dumbbell chest with cable exercises?

Yes, you can build an effective chest workout using the cable machine instead of dumbbells. Cable presses, flyes, crossovers, and unilateral work train the pecs through multiple planes without needing a spotter. Use good form to keep emphasis on the chest muscles.

How should you structure chest day with cables?

On dedicated chest days, focus on pressing (incline/flat/decline), fly and crossover variations to target the pecs. Perform 3-4 pressing moves followed by 2-3 fly/crossover exercises in the 10-20 rep range with cables to fatigue every fiber.

What are the benefits of cable chest exercises?

Benefits are constant tension through long muscle ranges, flexibility for multi-angle/uniateral training, ability to safely use higher weights compared to flyes, reduced injury risk with fixed paths versus free weights, and peak muscle contraction emphasis.

Why are cables recommended for best chest workouts?

Cables enable you to directly isolate the pec muscles, adjust paths/resistance to sculpt the chest aesthetically, and take sets to muscular failure without a spotter. When programmed alongside presses, flies, and crossovers, cables build the complete chest.

How can I incorporate more cable moves for bigger chest results?

Check out the 11 must-try cable chest exercises outlined above. Substitute a flat bench press for the incline cable press, standing cable flyes for dumbbell flyes, low-to-high cable flyes instead of regular cable flyes. Get creative with cables!

Handsome sporty man works out pushing up exercises on cable crossover in health club Handsome sporty man works out pushing up exercises on cable crossover and flexing muscles in health club chest exercise cable ripl fitness


Cable Crossover:

  • Kraemer, WJ, et al. "Effects of training with multiple vs. single sets of high-resistance exercise." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 26.6 (1994): 651-656. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20300012/)

Incline Cable Chest Press:

Decline Cable Fly:

  • Schoenfeld BJ, et al. "The effect of scapular positioning on muscle activation during common pulling exercises." Journal of strength and conditioning research 22.6 (2008): 1672-1680. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36872601/)

Standing Cable Chest Press:

Seated Cable Chest Press:

Single Arm Cable Chest Press:

Cable Bench Press:

  • Escamilla RF, et al. "An electromyographic comparison of four shoulder exercises for rehabilitation." Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 78.7 (1997): 657-662. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22919499/)

Low-to-High Cable Fly:

Cable Hug:

Kneeling Cable Fly:

  • Escamilla RF, et al. "An electromyographic comparison of four shoulder exercises for rehabilitation." Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 78.7 (1997): 657-662. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22919499/)

Young fitness woman exercising on multistation at gym for arm and shoulders muscles. Young fitness woman exercising on multistation at gym for arm and shoulders muscles. chest exercise cable ripl fitness

Best Cable Chest Workout With Cables

Chest Exercises To Build A Upper Body

Chest fly exercises are a staple in many upper body workout routines, particularly for those aiming to target the chest muscles, including the upper chest.

The cable chest fly, for instance, is a popular variation that uses a cable machine to provide a constant tension throughout the movement, effectively working the inner part of the chest.

Cable Incline

This exercise can be performed in different variations such as the cable incline chest fly, which specifically targets the upper chest muscles, and the standard cable chest fly for overall chest development.

Cable Flys

Incorporating cable flys into your routine is a great way to enhance chest strength and build a bigger chest. The beauty of using a cable pulley machine lies in its versatility; you can adjust the cable set to perform movements like the cable incline chest press, which not only targets the upper part of your chest but also engages the entire upper body.

Side view of a strong sportsman pulling weights on a cable machine in a gym. Side view of a powerful shirtless bodybuilder doing strength exercises for the back and arms on a cable machine in a gym. A strong weightlifter is practicing on a cable machine in a sports center. chest exercise cable stock pictures ripl fitness

Cable Press

By adjusting the center of the cable, you can ensure your chest is perfectly aligned with the resistance, maximizing the effectiveness of the exercise. Another advantage of using a cable workout for training the chest is the ability to work each side of your chest independently.

Seated Cable Press

This can be achieved by performing exercises like the single-arm cable fly, where you focus on moving one side at a time, ensuring balanced development and strength on both sides of your chest. The cable pulley system also allows for variations in height and angle, offering a range of exercises to target different parts of the chest, from the upper to the lower regions.

Best Cable Chest Workouts

For those seeking a comprehensive approach to chest exercises, incorporating a mix of 11 cable chest exercises can be highly effective. These exercises can range from the cable chest fly to the cable incline chest press, each focusing on different areas of the chest.

Muscular bodybuilder handsome men doing cable fly exercises in gym with naked torso. Strong athletic guy with abdominal muscles and biceps. Muscular bodybuilder handsome men doing cable fly exercises in gym with naked torso. Strong athletic guy with abdominal muscles and biceps. chest exercise cable ripl fitness

Conclusion For The Best Chest Workout with Cables

By combining these exercises into your chest workout routines, you not only build a muscular chest but also ensure a well-rounded development. Lastly, the dumbbell fly is another excellent exercise to target the chest. While it's not a cable exercise, incorporating it alongside cable machine chest exercises can provide a well-rounded approach to chest training.

The inner chest can be effectively targeted with cable machine exercises, which are essential for those looking to build a bigger and stronger chest. A classic cable chest exercise is the cable chest press, which can be done by setting the cable machine to about chest height.

This exercise not only helps in building a defined chest but also focuses on the center of your chest, ensuring balanced muscle development. For a variation, try facing away from the cable machine with feet shoulder-width apart; this stance helps in aligning the resistance directly over your chest, engaging the upper portion of your chest more intensely.

Handsome sporty man works out pushing up exercises on cable crossover in health club Handsome sporty man works out pushing up exercises on cable crossover and flexing muscles in health club chest exercise cable stock pictures, ripl fitness

To further define the chest at the top and stretch the chest muscles for a full range of motion, incorporating exercises that target the upper chest is crucial. The cable machine provides an excellent platform for this, allowing you to adjust the pulleys to various heights.

For instance, setting the cables to the bottom of the cable machine can help in performing exercises that target the lower portion of your chest, while setting them higher can focus on the upper chest.

Incorporating a variety of chest workout routines with cables ensures that every part of your chest is worked. This includes exercises that stretch and contract the chest muscles, contributing to a strong and defined upper body.

The beauty of the cable machine is in its versatility; it allows for a full range of motion and constant tension on the muscles, which is essential for building a defined and muscular chest. By integrating these chest exercises into your routine, you can ensure a well-rounded approach to developing a bigger, stronger, and more defined chest.

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PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Chest Training Guides:

The 10 Best Chest Exercises for Building Muscle

10 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises for Building Your Pecs

The 5 Best Chest Exercise Machines for Maximum Growth in 2024

16 Best Kettlebell Chest Exercises: Pump Up Your Pecs

6 TRX Chest Exercises for a Bigger Chest - Best TRX Workout!

14 Common Chest Expander Exercises

5 Best Compound Chest Exercises for Building a Bigger Chest