cable exercises for chest
Fitness

20 Excellent Cable Exercises for Chest

When it comes to getting an awesome pec pumping workout, cables are the way to go. They allow you to hammer your chest from every conceivable angle and to apply constant tension from start to finish.

With cables, you can also bring your hands to get her when pressing for a greater pec contraction.

In this article, I reveal 20 fantastic cable machine exercises and cable chest workouts for your chest muscles to allow you to blast your pecs into oblivion.

1. Cable Chest Press (Seated)

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin Cable Towers

Training Tip

Keep your forearms in line with the cable at all times. Forcefully contract your pecs in the end position of the movement. 

How to Do It

  1. Set the double cable pulley to shoulder level and position a back-supported bench about three feet in front of it facing away from the machine.
  2. Sit on the machine and grab the handles with an overhand grip. The start position has your elbows at shoulder level, angled 45 degrees to your upper body.
  3. Press both arms forward to full extension, bringing the handles together to meet in line with your sternum.
  4. Reverse and repeat.

2. Cable Chest Press (Standing)

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin cable towers

Training Tip

Maintain a neutral lower back position. Move your arms in a slightly downward motion to meet at the level of your sternum.

How to Do It

  1. .Set the pulleys to shoulder level and stand in front of the machine, facing away from it with a shoulder-width stance.
  2. Grab the handles with an overhand grip. The start position has your elbows at shoulder level, angled 45 degrees to your upper body.
  3. Press both arms forward to full extension, bringing the handles together to meet in line with your sternum.
  4. Reverse and repeat.

3. Cable Cross-Over

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Crossover Machine

Training Tip

Concentrate on getting a great stretch in the top position and forcefully contracting your pecs in the bottom position.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys on a cable pulley machine just above shoulder level. Grab the handles and stand in the middle of the machine. Walk out until the cable is taut when your arms are extended.
  2. From a starting position with your slightly bent arms up and out to the side, pivot from the shoulders to bring the cables down and across your chest until your hands cross over. 
  3. Reverse and repeat.

4. Cable Incline Press

Muscles Worked

Upper chest, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Crossover Machine

Training Tip

The bench angle is important. Set it at 30 degrees to keep the emphasis off your front delts and on your chest.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys on a cable crossover machine to their lowest position. Place an adjustable bench in the middle of the machine that is set to a 30-degree angle.
  2. Grab the handles and lie on the bench.
  3. From a start position with your elbows bent to a 45-degree angle at shoulder level, press the cables directly up to meet above your mid-chest.
  4. Lower and repeat.
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5. Cable Decline Press

Muscles Worked

Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin Cable Towers

Training Tip

As the weight gets heavier, you may want to stagger your stance for better balance.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys to their highest position and stand in front of the machine, facing away from it with an overhand grip.
  2. From a starting position with your elbows at your shoulder level, and your hands facing the ground, push directly down to fully extend your arms and bring them together at mid-thigh level.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

6. Flat Cable Flyes

Muscles Worked

Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin Cable Towers

Training Tip

Maintain a slight bend in your elbow throughout the entire exercise, with the entire movement coming from your shoulder joint.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys on a cable crossover machine to their lowest position. Place a flat bench in the middle of the machine.
  2. Grab the handles and lie on the bench.
  3. From a start position with your arms extended out to your sides and elbows slightly bent, pivot from the shoulders to bring the cables up to meet above your mid-chest.
  4. Lower and repeat.

7. Unilateral Cable Press

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Pulley Machine

Training Tip

Fully contract your pec in the full arm extension position. 

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulley to shoulder level. Stand in front of the machine with a staggered stance and grab a single handle with your right hand in an overhand grip. 
  2. From a starting position with your elbow at shoulder level at a 45-degree angle to your body, press your right arm forward and slightly down to full extension.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

8. Single Arm Seated Cable Press

Muscles Worked

Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Pulley Machine

Training Tip

This is an isolation exercise to allow you to concentrate on one pectoral muscle at a time. use medium weights in order to maintain unilateral tension. Keep your core tight as you perform the exercise. 

How to Do It

  1. .Set the pulleys to shoulder level and position a back supported bench about three feet in front of it facing away from the machine.
  2. Sit on the machine with your feet flat on the ground and grab a single handle with an overhand grip. The start position has your elbows at shoulder level, angled 45 degrees to your upper body.
  3. Press your arm forward and slightly inward to full extension.
  4. Reverse and repeat.

9. One Arm Cable Crossover

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Pulley Machine

Training Tip

Use a lighter weight that allows you to focus on unilateral contraction and extension of the pectoral muscles.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulley to its highest level. Grab a single handle with your right hand and stand facing away from the machine with a shoulder-width stance.
  2. From a starting position with your slightly bent arm up and out to the side, pivot from the shoulder to bring the cable down and across your chest. 
  3. Reverse and repeat.

10. Push Up to Chest Flye

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin Cable Towers

Training Tip

Maintain a straight line throughout your entire body when you are doing this exercise.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys to their highest level and lie on the floor between them in the start position of a push up, with the cables in your hands. 
  2. Pivot from your right shoulder to bring your right arms up and out to the side to fully stretch the pec. Lower and repeat with the left arm.
  3. Perform a standard push up. 
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11. Decline Cable Chest Pullover

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, latissimus dorsi

Equipment Used

Cable Pulley Machine, Rope attachment

Training Tip

Take a deep breath in as you extend your arms overhead. Breathe out on the return.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulley to its lowest position. Place a decline bench about two feet in front of the machine.
  2. Lie on the bench so that your head is nearest to the machine.
  3. Grab the rope handle and extend your arms overhead to full extension.
  4. Keeping your arms straight, bring them up and over to the level of your chest.
  5. Reverse and repeat.

12. Close Grip Cable Press

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin Cable Towers

Training Tip

Keep your hands close together throughout the movement and forcefully contract your inner pectoral muscles.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys on a cable pulley machine just above shoulder level. Grab the handles and stand in the middle of the machine with feet about shoulder-distance apart.
  2. From a start position with your elbows at shoulder level and your hands touching each other, push your arms directly forward to full arm extension.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

13. Low Cable Flyes

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin Cable Towers

Training Tip

Maintain a slight bend in your elbows, with the only movement coming from the shoulder joint.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys on a cable pulley machine to their lowest level. Grab the handles and stand in the middle of the machine with your feet at shoulder-width distance. 
  2. From a starting position with your arms down and out from your sides, bend your elbows slightly and keep them locked in that position. Pivot from the shoulders to bring the cables up and across your body to full arm extension.
  3. Lower and repeat.

14. Cable Iron Cross

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Twin Cable Towers

Training Tip

This exercise is similar to the cable crossover but you start with your arms slightly lower. Also, the extended palms position activates more muscle fibers. You can go heavier on this exercise than the cable crossover.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys on a cable pulley handle above shoulder height. Grab the handles and stand in the middle of the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. From a starting position with your arms directly in line with your shoulders, stretch out your palms and bring the cables directly down to the meet in front of your body.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

15. Exercise Ball Cable Flye

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Crossover Machine

Training Tip

Set your feet solidly on the floor and arch your upper body over the fitness ball throughout the movement. 

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys to their lowest position. Position an exercise ball in the middle of the machine and lie on it.
  2. Grab the cables and extend your arms out to the sides. Maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, pivot from the shoulders to bring your arms up and together to meet above your chest.
  3. Lower and repeat.

16. Standing Cable Push Press

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Pulley Machine

Training Tip

Maintain a neutral position in the back throughout. Do not twist your torso.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys just below shoulder level and stand side on to them in a split stance, holding the handles in overhand grips. Extend the right arm out to full extension and hold your left arm at shoulder level.
  2. Simultaneously extend your left and arms and pull back your right. Continue this rhythmic action to complete your rep cunt.

17. Incline Cable Flye

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

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Equipment Used

Cable Pulley Machine

Training Tip

Do not set the angle of the bench too high or the focus will shift from the pecs to the anterior deltoids.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys on a cable crossover machine to their lowest position. Place an adjustable bench in the middle of the machine that is set to a 30-degree angle.
  2. Grab the handles and lie on the bench.
  3. From a start position with your arms extended out to your sides and elbows slightly bent, pivot from the shoulders to bring the cables up to meet above your mid chest.
  4. Lower and repeat.

18. Cable Bent Over Flye

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Crossover Machine

Training Tip

Do not round your back; rather maintain a slight arch in your lower spine. Keep your elbows locked in a slight bend.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys to their highest level and stand in between the machine with the cables in your hands. Bend at the waist to bring your upper body parallel to the floor.
  2. Extend your arms out to the sides with elbows slightly bent.
  3. Bring your arms down and together to fully contract the pecs.
  4. Reverse and repeat.

19. High Cable Chest Flye

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Cross-Over Machine

Training Tip

Maintain a slight bend in your elbow throughout the movement.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulleys to their highest position and stand between them, holding the cable handles with an overhand grip. Extend your arms up and out to shoulder level.
  2. Move your arms down and across to meet in front of your navel.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

20. Single Arm Decline Cable Chest Press

Muscles Worked

Pectoral, anterior deltoids, triceps

Equipment Used

Cable Pulley Machine

Training Tip

Do not use heavy weights on this exercise. Avoid Twisting your torso.

How to Do It

  1. Set the pulley to its highest level. Stand in front of the machine with a split stance and grab a single handle with your right hand in an overhand grip. 
  2. From a starting position with your elbow at shoulder level at a 45-degree angle to your body, press your right arm down and slightly down to full extension.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

Conclusion

The 20 cable chest exercises that have been presented in this article are everything you will ever need to develop massive, complete, and striated pec muscles.

Combine a chest pressing move with 2 or 3 angled movements to target the chest fibers from every angle. Do 3-4 sets for each exercise, with reps pyramiding down from 15 to 6.

Perform your chest workout every 5th day and, with 3 months, you should expect to add up to an inch on your chest muscles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cable exercises better than free weights?

Yes, cable exercises are better than free weights. They provide constant tension throughout the entire range of motion of an exercise. Cables also allow you to hit a muscle from a range of angles and to follow the ideal strength curve with more resistance at the beginning of the movement.

Can you build muscle with cable machines?

Yes, you definitely can build muscle with cable machines. Cables allow you to overload a muscle through its full range of motion and bring your hands together to fully contract the muscle, which you cannot do with barbells. That makes them a very effective muscle builder.

How can I reduce my chest fat?

The only way to reduce chest fat is to burn off more calories than you take in. You can achieve this with a combination of reduced caloric intake and cardio exercise to burn calories from all over your body.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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