Cable Workout For The Chest: 14 Best Cable Exercises

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Last Updated on December 19, 2022 by admin

Man or woman, a strongly defined chest is always a winner. Although, sometimes you have no choice but to go to the gym at peak times and deal with there being no benches. 

Well, a good chest press isn’t the only way to get those muscles working. You can get an intense, muscle pumping workout by using only a cable machine.

That’s right, the cable machine can do more than work triceps and kickbacks. 

Below are 14 of the best cable exercises for the chest on the cable machine and an effective workout routine. No longer will you have to change your entire workout routine because there are no benches available.

We have got you covered. 

Let’s get into it! 

The Main Muscles Worked 

Before you can begin training your chest, it is important to know that there are certain muscle groups within the muscle group. 

Pectoralis Major 

The largest and most superior muscle of the anterior chest wall is the pectoralis major. The anterior wall of the axilla is formed by a thick, fan-shaped muscle that lies beneath the breast tissue. 

This is defined as ‘the pecs’. It is often the most popular muscle group to train when training the chest. For women it is located behind the breast tissue and can provide a natural lift when trained effectively. 

Pectoralis Minor 

The Pectoralis Modest is a tiny muscle in the anterior chest wall that attaches from the ribs to the coracoid process of the scapula.

It helps to protract the shoulders, stabilize the shoulder complex, and has a minor role in lifting the ribs during inspiration.

Due to the tissues that are beneath or deep to the muscle and its tendon, the pectoralis minor is significant clinically and as a surgical landmark.

The pectoralis minor muscle’s deep blood supply and nerves lead to the upper limb.

Serratus Anterior 

The fan-shaped serratus anterior muscle inserts along the superior angle, medial border, and inferior angle of the scapula.

It arises on the superolateral surfaces of the first to eighth ribs or the first to ninth ribs at the lateral wall of the thorax.

Because it is mostly responsible for the protraction of the scapula, or the tugging of the scapula forward and around the rib cage, that happens when someone throws a punch, the serratus anterior is also referred to as the “big swing muscle” or “boxer’s muscle.”

When lifting a weight overhead, for example, the serratus anterior is crucial in the upward rotation of the scapula. It does this in coordination with the upper and lower trapezius fibers.


Between the clavicle and the first rib, there is a tiny triangle muscle called the subclavius.

The subclavius muscle is a part of the anterior axioappendicular muscles, often known as the anterior wall of the axilla, together with the pectoralis major and minor muscles.

Essentially the Subcalvius muscles help protect the collarbone as our shoulders move and work to raise and lower the collarbone when we breathe in and out. 

These 4 muscles are the main muscles worked when training the chest. There are other muscles such as the back, shoulders, and biceps that are all engaged throughout various movements.

The most progress will be seen throughout the 4 main muscles mentioned above. 

Growing The Chest With Cable Exercises 

The muscle that makes up the majority of your chest, the pectoralis major, can be built and strengthened using cable workouts for the chest.

You may work all of the pec muscles with the cable machine from a variety of angles and actions.

The cable machine is great as you can easily alter your weight, the attachments, grip, and your body positioning in order to target the muscles differently. All without needing to move to another machine. 

Using wires for chest exercises will give your muscles a smooth, steady strain, increasing the amount of time they are under tension and, thus, the potential for muscle growth.

With a cable machine, you may perform all the varieties of free weight chest presses and flyes in addition to others while standing, sitting, or lying down.

14 Best Cable Chest Exercises 

Now that we know why we are using the cable machine and which muscles we are working, it is time to get into the best exercises! 

1. Cable CrossOver 

When finding an effective cable exercise to hit the chest, the cable crossover is a classic. This movement keeps constant tension across the chest allowing you to build muscle throughout the pecs. 

The lower and inner pectoral muscles can be developed and defined with the standing cable crossover exercise.

By applying the necessary stress to the lower and inner pecs, cable provides consistent resistance and aids in the development of the lower and central chest muscles.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin in a standing position holding a handle in each hand from overhead cables on each side. 
  • Moving one foot forward, bending forward slightly, extend both arms until there is a nice stretch to create tension in the chest. 
  • Keeping elbows slightly bent. 
  • Pull both handles until directly in front of you. 
  • You can cross the center to get a full Pec contraction, unlike chest flies.

This exercise works the pecs along with the biceps, lats, rhomboids and delts. However, it is important to breathe in as you release the weight and breathe out when contracting. 

Make sure to squeeze the chest at the top of the movement for a good muscle pump. 

2. Standing Cable Chest Press 

This exercise is similar to the cable crossover however, this movement calls for an overhand grip instead of a neutral grip. 

The standing cable chest press allows you to have a deeper range of motion compared to the bench press and engages the core more intensely to stabilize the weight. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin in the same position as the cable cross over. 
  • Bring your hands to below the shoulder as you would for a conventional bench press. 
  • Push forward, extending through the elbows until your palms meet in front of you. 
  • Squeeze the chest muscles and slowly release to starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

This exercise requires a lot more engagement than the traditional bench press. The head should remain high, core engaged to stabilize the entire body.

Cable Workout For The Chest: 14 Best Cable Exercises

3. Cable Flat Bench Press 

On the days where you can get your hands on a bench but can’t get a barbell or dumbbells, the cable flat bench press will be your best friend. 

Simply because the strength curve of the cable pulleys more precisely resembles that of the movement/muscles, cable chest pushes include far more continuous tension than the majority of typical free-weight chest presses.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Attach hands to low cables with a flat bench in front. 
  • Lie flat on the bench with feet on the floor. 
  • Grab the handles in each hand, lift the arms from the shoulders, the cable should be directly over the chest. 
  • Slowly lower the handles until the hands are just above the chest muscles. The arms should remain slightly bent until parallel with the floor. 
  • Focus on using your pecs muscles to draw your arms back together as you move them toward your midline.
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

While you may be comfortable performing a free weight bench press, this variation requires a lot more focus and stability. Ensure you do not over stretch when lowering the weight as this can hurt the chest muscles. 

You should always have the elbows slightly bent to protect the shoulder joint

4. Low Cable Fly 

The standing low to high cable fly is a cable exercise that works the pushing muscles in the body, such as the chest, biceps, and shoulders. It is a variation of the chest fly. Constant tension helps to develop upper pecs.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Attach handles to 2 low cables. 
  • Start in a standing position, facing away from the cable machine, grab a handle in each hand with an underhand grip. 
  • Place one foot forward and bend slightly for stability. Extend the arms to feel a good stretch across the chest. 
  • Keeping the elbows slightly bent, raise both arms in wide arcs to the front of your chest. 
  • Hold for 1 second when hands touch. 
  • In a slow and controlled motion, release the handles to the starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

The low cable fly works the upper pecs along with the delts and biceps making it an excellent upper body exercise. It is crucial to keep the weight controlled which can take some practice. 

Begin with a light weight to perfect the movement before increasing. 

5. Lying Cable Chest Fly 

Perfecting the chest fly with dumbbells can be tricky and may even be preventing your progress. The lying cable chest fly allows you to remain stable and keeps tension across the muscle for excellent growth. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • With handle attachments on the cables and a flat bench in front of the machine, lie flat with feet stable on the floor. 
  • Lift both arms straight up from the shoulders, keeping the cable over the middle chest. 
  •  Keeping the elbows slightly bent, lower the cables outwards until the arms are parallel with the floor. 
  • Using the chest muscles, bring the weight back up keeping the arms in line with the body. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

It is important to keep the elbows slightly bent in order to protect the shoulder during this movement. 

6. Cable Pullovers 

A fantastic substitute for the barbell or dumbbell pullover is the lying cable pullover.

The ideal exercise for developing a robust rib cage and the serratus anterior muscle, which is essential for developing a full chest and back, is the cable pullover. 

To build the back, pullover exercises directly target the serratus anterior muscle.

Working the lower pecs, lats, shoulders, and triceps, this movement is excellent for a quick upper body workout. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Attach a rope attachment to a cable and position it as low as it can go with a flat bench in front of the machine. There should be 2-3 feet of space between the machine and the bench. 
  • Lie down flat on the bench, feet on the floor with your head 4-5 inches from the top of the bench. 
  • Grab the rope with both hands, keeping the arms extended. 
  • Slowly raise the rope straight above the head until it is directly above the upper chest. 
  • Slowly lower the rope to the starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

When performing this exercise, control is the focus. It may be beneficial to use a lower weight to remain in control of the movement. Allow for stretching along the rib cage for maximum tension throughout the movement. 

7. Incline Cable Fly 

If you are looking for an exercise that isolates the upper chest, then the incline cable fly is an essential for your workout. 

By using cables in place of dumbbells for this exercise, constant tension can be created, which helps the Upper Chest muscles grow. Dumbbells and a barbell cannot produce this constant tension.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Grab a movable bench and set the back to a 30-45 degree angle. Facing away from the machine.  
  • Using the handle attachment, grab one in each hand and sit on the bench. 
  • Raise the handles straight from the shoulders until directly over the upper chest. 
  • With slightly bent elbows, slowly lower the cables outwards until arms are parallel to the floor. 
  • Using the chest muscles, draw the arms back to above the chest keeping the arms bent. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

This exercise is excellent as you can change the degree of the incline allowing you to hit the chest from different angles, never going above a 30 degree angle. This will target the shoulders and cause discomfort across the muscle and joint. 

8. Incline Cable Bench Press 

Bench press with inclined cables provides a special advantage.

The resistance in barbell and dumbbell incline bench presses is straight downward, and at the peak of the press, your triceps take over a large portion of the force that was previously coming from your chest.

The incline cable bench press allows more of the power to come from the upper chest muscles. This is due to the angle of the bench and that you are pulling the cables rather than pushing

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Place a bench in front of a cable machine with the back at a 30 to 45 degree angle. 
  • Attach handle attachments to the cables on the lowest setting. 
  • Sit on the bench with a handle in each hand, feet flat on the floor. 
  • Pushing up from the shoulders, exhale and push until the hands meet in the middle of the chest. 
  • Squeeze the chest at the top of the movement. 
  • Slowly release the arms back to the starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

This exercise is great for working the upper chest, however, it can be simple to over stretch at the bottom of the movement. This can cause discomfort to the chest. 

Ensure the bench is at a 30 to 45 degree angle to avoid putting stress on the shoulders. 

9. Unilateral Cable Press

The unilateral cable press is great if you feel one side is weaker than the other. You may notice that when performing a dumbbell bench press one arm struggles while the other is perfect. This can be rectified by one sided movements. 

The unilateral cable press allows you to work one side and build strength to correct any imbalances. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Set the cable to shoulder level with a handle attachment. 
  • With your right hand in an overhand grip, stand in front of the machine and take a single handle. 
  • Place one foot in front to provide stability and bend slightly. 
  • Press your right arm forward and slightly downward to full extension from a starting position with your elbow at shoulder level and at a 45-degree angle to your torso.
  • Slowly release to the starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

As you are standing it can be difficult to remain stagnant throughout the movement. Ensure you remain stationary and do not use momentum to complete the movement. 

Cable Workout For The Chest: 14 Best Cable Exercises

10. Single Arm Seated Cable Press 

The single arm seated cable press is a great way to isolate the pectoralis major and really build each side individually. It will also allow you to correct any imbalances along the chest. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Using the handle attachment, set the cable to shoulder level and set a flat bench in front of the machine. Leave around 3 feet between the bench and the machine. 
  • Sit upright facing away from the machine with the handle in one hand with an overhand grip. 
  • Raise to shoulder level, angled 45 degrees to the upper body. 
  • Press the arm forwards using the chest with an inward direction until fully extended. 
  • Release to the starting position. 
  • Repeat desired reps on both sides. 

When performing a single arm movement, it is recommended to use a medium weight. This will allow the muscles to progress without causing injury and over stretching. 

11. Cable Iron Cross 

For this exercise you are going to need not one but two cable machines. Similar to a cable cross over this exercise allows for constant tension across the chest which can result in rapid muscle growth. 

Both the major and minor pectoralis muscles are engaged along with the delts and triceps. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Position the cables above shoulder height. Stand in the middle of the two machines with a handle in each hand. Feet shoulder width apart. 
  • Stretch out your palms and pull the cables straight down to meet in front of your body from a starting position where your arms are in line with your shoulders.
  • Slowly release each cable back to the starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

Similar to the cable crossover, but with a somewhat lower starting arm position. Additionally, more muscle fibers are activated when the palms are stretched. Compared to the cable crossover, this workout allows for greater intensity.

12. One Arm Cable Crossover

If you are looking for an exercise to work both the chest and the triceps in one go, then the one arm cable crossover is an absolute must. 

This movement involved the pectoralis major, the triceps, and the delts. Perfect for when you need to go in and out of the gym in a flash. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Attach a handle attachment to the cable machine and have it positioned above shoulder height. 
  • Grab the handle with your right hand, facing away from the machine with feet shoulder width apart. 
  • Pivot from the shoulder to bring the cable down and across your chest from a starting posture when your arm is slightly curved up and out to the side.
  • Repeat for desired reps on both sides. 

As this is a unilateral exercise it is best to use a lighter weight. This will allow you to focus on contracting and extending one muscle of the pectoral muscles. 

Ensure to keep the elbow bent upon release to protect the shoulder joint. 

13. Single Arm Chest Fly 

A unilateral form of the fly is the one-arm fly. People who want to concentrate on the inner side use it.

In order to increase the range of motion and induce a powerful peak contraction in the inner pec, emphasis is placed during exercise on moving the resistance farther across the body and past the midline.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Using a handle attachment, place the cable at chest height. 
  • Grab the handle in one hand, facing away from the machine. 
  • Stand away from the machine allowing the arm to extend and tension to be felt across the chest. 
  • Keeping the elbow slightly bent, pull the arm across the chest until extended on the other side. 
  • Slowly release the arm back to the starting position.
  • Ensure the arm is parallel with the floor at all times. 
  • Repeat for desired reps on both sides. 

To gain the full effects of this exercise, ensure to pull the arm across the chest. This movement can be difficult, lower the weight until the movement is completed in a slow and controlled manner. 

Keep the core engaged to remain stable and to protect the back from over extension. 

14. High To Low Cable Fly 

The bilateral posture is the same as any other standing cable fly, and you can also adopt a staggered stance with your body leaning slightly forward.

 Both will work your pecs similarly, but the staggered posture will let you lift more weight than the “T” version. To determine which feels the best for you, we advise trying both.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Position the cables as high as possible with a handle attachment. 
  • Facing away from the machine, grab a handle in each hand with an overhand grip. 
  • Keeping a slight bend in the elbow, brace the core, retract the shoulder blades and place the arms at shoulder lever. 
  • On the exhale, pull the arms down to meet in front of the hips. 
  • Squeeze the chest. 
  • Slowly release the cables to starting position. 
  • Repeat for desired reps. 

Ensure a slight bend remains in the elbow throughout the movement to protect the shoulder joint and do not allow the arms to go beyond the slight tension. 

Cable Workout For The Chest: 14 Best Cable Exercises

Cable Chest Workout Routine 

Now that you know which exercises to perform in order to get the best results on your chest from using a cable machine, it is time to explain how they fit into your plan. 

Whether you use it as a one off due to a lack of equipment or want to commit to a 6 week plan, this workout routine will help you see progress in your chest. 

It’s crucial to keep in mind that exercises should target both your upper and lower chest when performing chest exercises with cables.

Along with giving you strength, this will assist in giving your arms the shape and definition you desire.

It will be crucial to complete each set until your muscles are fatigued.

In other words, you should be able to maintain proper form, posture, and technique throughout the entire set, but the final few repetitions should be challenging to complete.

1. Cable Flat Bench Press 

  • Set 1- 10 Reps (Light Weight)
  • Set 2- 6-8 Reps 
  • Set 3- 6-8 Reps 
  • Set 4- 3 Reps (Heavy Weight)

2. Cable Crossover

  • Set 1- 10 Reps (Light Weight)
  • Set 2- 6-8 Reps 
  • Set 3- 6-8 Reps 
  • Set 4- 6-8 Reps 

3. Cable Low To High Fly 

  • Set 1- 8 Reps
  • Set 2- 8 Reps
  • Set 3- 8 Reps 

4. Cable Pullovers

  • Set 1- 10-15 Reps
  • Set 2- 10-15 Reps 
  • Set 3- 10-15 Reps 

5. Single Arm Seated Cable Press

  • Set 1- 12 Reps 
  • Set 2- 12 Reps 
  • Set 3- 12 Reps 

Benefits Of Cable Chest Exercises 

While cable chest exercises are often done as an alternative to traditional exercises, there are many benefits to performing them as part of your workout routine. Including:

Body Positioning 

You can easily change the position of your body when performing a cable exercise in order to target a muscle differently. 

There are various body positions that can be taken to complete an exercise such as:

  • Standing (staggered stance, split stance, bilateral)
  • Sitting (bench, stability ball, floor)
  • Lying (bench stability ball)
  • Kneeling (Tall kneeling, half kneeling) 

You can further vary exercises using standing postures and an adjustable bench by performing bent-over flys, incline press/flies, and decline press/flies.

You can also adjust your body’s position in reference to the cable machine. The dynamics will also alter if you stand in front of the machine rather than directly in the center.

Overall, cable exercises allow you to target the chest in a range of ways that a bench cannot offer.  Allowing you to work your chest in various ways using only the cable machine. 

Weight Load And Tension 

The cable machine is distinctive with relation to the real load in two different ways.

First off, changing the weight is really simple. To perform the exercise, all you have to do is pull and plug a pin into the proper weight stack.

The tension is also different from that of a barbell, dumbbell, or any other free weight, for example.

This is due to the flat resistance curve provided by cable machines as opposed to an increasing or declining strength curve. In other words, there is constant strain when performing cable exercises.

Therefore, a cable fly or press will be equally difficult at the top and bottom of the range, whereas with dumbbells, the most difficult position is in the stretched position.

This is excellent for hypertrophy training as having your muscles under tension for long fatigues the muscle quicker and allows for development. 

Independent Arm Movement 

Your arms will be exercising separately during cable chest exercises. This helps you correct any muscle imbalances and asymmetries by ensuring that you are not favoring one side over the other.


Cable machines are safer than barbells in comparison. Not only are they less taxing on the joints (shoulders, elbows, and wrists), but you can usually stop doing any exercise at any time.

With that, you can use cable machines to the point of failure and really maximize your gains in strength and hypertrophy.

Overall, cable machines are extremely versatile and offer a range of benefits for training the chest and other muscle groups. They allow you to grow at your own pace and be aware of any imbalances throughout the muscles. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is The Cable Machine Good For Working The Chest?

Any region of your body can benefit from using the cable machine for exercise, but your chest in particular. All chest workouts with dumbbells and bars can also be performed using a cable machine, and the results are just as good, if not better.

Why Is Cable Chest Press More Difficult Than Bench Press?

Simply because the strength curve of the cable pulleys more closely resembles that of the movement/muscles, cable chest presses involve a much higher level of constant tension than most traditional free weight chest presses.

Wrapping Up 

Whether you are new to weight lifting or are an experienced bodybuilder, cable machine exercises are a great effective way to train

Building that strong chest can be difficult, especially for women, but with an effective workout routine you will have the chest you have always wanted. 

We have identified 14 of the best chest exercises on the cable machine and even created an excellent workout routine

All you have to do is get to the gym and give them a try. Remember to eat a healthy balanced diet and remain hydrated for effective results.