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Looking to increase your chest size with minimal equipment possible? Then you’re reading the right article!
It’s entirely possible to build impressive pecs using just the cable machine – you only need to know which exercises you need to do. The cable machine is undoubtedly one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the gym. So if you have one at home or if you go to a gym, then you almost certainly know something about it.
We’re going to take a look at the best cable machine chest workouts and how you can combine various chest exercises using only the cable machine.
Best Cable Machine Chest Exercises
This is a list of the best cable machine chest exercises with detailed instructions on how to do them. If you’re looking for sample cable machine chest workouts, skip to the bottom (and come back to the instructions later if you need them!)
1. Cable Crossover
Where else could we start than with the cable crossovers? It’s arguably the best and most widely used exercise for building impressive chest muscles, and for good reasons.
We like this exercise a lot. Partly, it’s because you target both the upper and lower pectoral muscles, but also your anterior deltoid. This makes it a worthy alternative for the bench press.
Secondly, we like it because your chest will be under constant tension throughout the entire movement. When done correctly, this exercise is one of the most effective ones you can do with the cable machine for your chest. The most important thing is your form, though. Here’s what you need to do with this exercise to make the most out of it.
- Use the highest position of the cable handle before you do the exercise
Stand in the middle between the handles, take a split stance, and put the weight on your front foot
- With your arms out wide, grab the handles so that you feel the tension in your arms and chest
- Then, start moving the handle forwards with a slight contraction in your elbow. Imagine you’re hugging a tree rather than simply pushing the handles forwards
- Your torso should remain still, with only your arms moving during the movement
2. Low Cable Chest Fly
The low cable chest fly makes this list because it’s an effective exercise to target your upper pectoralis major muscles. It’s a tough exercise if you don’t have much experience with it.
However, with some practice and the right instructions, you should be able to do it well. It’s important that you master the form before you load it up. It’s one of those exercises that can quickly work completely different muscles if not done properly.
- Attach the cable attachment to the lower of the cable tower
- With a split stance, stand in the middle of the two cables and bend your front leg slightly. Keep the weight on the front leg
- With your hands’ palms pointing upwards, grab the handles and start moving them upwards until they meet each other
- Try to make a V-shape with your arms instead of moving them straight up. This will ensure you target your chest rather than your biceps or other muscles
3. Standing Single-Arm Chest Press
The standing single-arm chest press is an effective movement for targeting your entire chest and isolating it. There will be a bit more focus on your lower chest with this movement. It’s also a good movement for improving your posture.
You’ll do this exercise standing with a slight bend in your front leg. Another good benefit of this exercise is that you’ll be able to work on your abdominal muscles, too. The slight rotation during the movement allows you to train your abs in a highly functional way.
You can make this movement a bit more explosive if you want, although you’d want to lower the weights if you do that. Here’s how to do this movement correctly.
- Have your legs split and put one leg forwards and bend it slightly. Shift your weight on the front leg
- Grab the cable handle with one arm, and have it backward, while the other arm is stretched out in front of you
- Then, move the cable handle with your arm forwards as you contract the other arm back
- Keep your torso pointing forwards throughout the entire movement
4. Incline Cable Chest Press
For this exercise, you’ll need to use a bench in order to complete it. It’s the same movement as you would do with your barbell or dumbbells when it comes to incline chest press.
The advantage of doing this one with the cable machine is that your chest will be under tension throughout the entire move. You’ll work mainly on your upper chest with this movement.
An important thing to note here is the positioning of the bench before you do the movement. You don’t want to have it too far away from the cable machine, but also not too close to it. Make sure the cable handles are somewhere in the width of your arms or you’ll be targeting different muscle groups entirely.
- Position the bench between the cables and have it at a position of around 45 degrees
- Seat yourself onto the bench and grab the cable handles
- Your elbows should at an angle of 90 degrees as you commence the movement. Having them too far down can become too challenging and strenuous for your joints
- Move the handles upwards until you stretch out your arms completely and repeat
5. Decline Cable Chest Press
The decline cable chest press is the opposite of the incline cable chest press. Because you’ve targeted the upper chest with the prior movement, it’s now time to shift some more focus on your lower chest.
This time, you’ll want the bench to be facing down during the movement. This bench positioning will help you target your lower part of your chest more.
You’ll need to make sure you stretch out your arms completely as you do the movement. Half-reps are not going to do it here (or in any exercise, for that matter). Although here it’s even more important because stretching out your arms will help you target your lower chest better.
- Put the bench between the cable handles and have it in the decline position (slight decline will be fine)
- Before you lie down onto the bench, grab the handles and get yourself into position with your head facing downwards
- With your elbows at 90 degrees, start the movement by moving your hands upwards and driving the handle towards the ceiling
- Extend your arms out fully as you do the movement. This is the key to this exercise; also, do the movement slowly as you come down to target your chest even more
6. Cable Bench Press
If you only have the cable machine and you don’t have any weights or barbells, this exercise can be a worthy replacement for the bench press. It’s also a bit safer to do as you have a bit more support for your shoulders.
The bench press is perhaps one of the best movements for your chest. It will help you target your entire chest, and also your anterior deltoids.
To make the most out of this movement, you can contract your muscles slowly. It’s an effective way of putting even more stress on your chest muscles.
- Place the bench between the cable handles and have it flat
- Before you lie down onto the bench, grab the cable handles in your hands
- Then, with a slight bend in your elbows, start moving the cable handles upwards towards the ceiling
- Try and focus on bringing your hands together rather than just pushing upwards; for a more effective move try and move your hands slowly during the movement
7. Seated Cable Decline Chest Press
The seated cable decline chest press is another great movement for targeting your lower chest area, although you’ll feel some tension in your upper chest, too.
You’ll want to keep in mind that you’ll need a bench that enables you to sit up fully, though. This means having the bench in the 90-degree position if you want to get the most out of this movement because you’ll be able to lean back onto the bench during the move.
Here’s how to do seated cable decline chest presses.
- Place the bench between the cable handles and make sure the bench is at a 90-degree angle
- Grab the handles before you sit down, and place the elbows at a 90-degree before starting
- Then, move the handles downwards towards the ground until they meet each other or until they are stretched out fully
- Come up slowly and move back into the starting position
8. Cable Chest Fly
Now, cable chest flyes are somewhat polarizing for many people. Many do them religiously, while others will tell you these are somewhat harmful to your shoulders.
And both have a valid point, although you’ll want to do this exercise sparingly if you have compromised shoulders. And you’ll also want to make sure you do it properly to avoid any potential injuries that might result because of this move.
However, when you do them correctly, cable chest flyes can be extremely effective for building a well-rounded chest. The key is to do them slowly and put your chest under tension for longer. Here’s how to do them.
- With a split stance, bend your front leg slightly and shift your weight onto the front leg
- Grab the handles with both of your hands and extend your arms out fully at first. Then, put a slight bend into your arms before you start the movement
- Start moving your hands together. It’s more effective if you move your hands underneath the normal plane of motion because this will put even more focus on your chest muscles
- Do it slowly and don’t rush it
9. Bench Cable Chest Fly
Last but not least, we have the bench cable chest fly. This is essentially the same movement as the normal chest flyes, albeit with a bench. It’s an effective movement for building width.
If you feel more comfortable using the bench, you can do this movement instead of the standing cable chest fly movement. It’s just as effective, and perhaps a bit more comfortable because you’re sitting down.
- Place the bench between the cables and have it fully extended
- Then, grab the cables in each of your hands, and start moving the hands together, but keep them extended
- Come down slowly and repeat the movement
Sample Cable Machine Chest Workout
So now that you know the best exercises with the cable machine for your chest, you can start combining them and forming highly effective chest workouts.
One thing you’ll want to make sure is that you’ll target all portions of your chest – both your lower and upper chest.
To do that, we’ve paired movements that target your entire chest with movements that either isolate your upper or lower chest.
These exercises follow each other in a logical way so they each target a specific part of your chest. The first one will be for your entire chest, and the other two will be isolation movements.
Instructions: Do each set 3 times and each exercise within each set 3 times, too (no rest between the exercises; 2 minutes of rest between sets).
Cable Crossover – 8-12x
Incline Cable Chest Press – 8-12x
Decline Cable Chest Press – 8-12x
Cable Bench Press – 8-12x
Seated Cable Decline Chest Press – 8-12x
Standing Single-Arm Chest Press – 8-12x Each Arm
Chest Flyes – 8-12x
Low Cable Chest Fly – 8-12x
Bench Cable Chest Fly – 8-12x