Cable Crossover: How To Do, Muscle Worked and Form

When it comes to achieving a well-developed chest, relying solely on the bench press may not be enough. Compound lifts are good for building muscles in general, but it’s important to do isolated movements that work specific muscle groups to make your muscles stronger.

The cable crossover is one of the exercises that bodybuilders have been doing for a long time. The cable crossover technique allows the user to exert significant tension on their pectoral muscles without involving other muscle groups.

Its unique mechanics and range of motion can provide significant advantages when it comes to strengthening and sculpting your entire chest area.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about:

  • What Is Cable Crossover
  • Muscle Worked During Cable Crossover
  • Benefits of Cable Crossover
  • How To Do It
  • Common Mistakes To Be Avoided
  • Variations of Cable Crossover
  • Sets and Reps

What Is Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is a popular exercise commonly performed in the gym using a cable machine. It is designed to target the muscles of the chest, as well as other supporting muscles such as shoulder, core, and arms.

The cable crossover offers several advantages over traditional chest exercises like the bench press. It provides constant tension on the muscles throughout the movement, ensuring a thorough contraction and maximizing muscle activation.

Additionally, the cable crossover provides a versatile range of motion, allowing you to adjust the height and angle of the cables to target different areas of the chest. Such as:

In its basic form, the cable crossover involves standing in the center of a cable machine with one handle in each hand. The cables are positioned at a middle point on each side.

With controlled movements, you pull the handles across your body and meet them in the middle in front of your chest. Then, slowly return to the starting position. This exercise resembles the motion of hugging or crossing your arms in front of you.

Muscle Worked During Cable Crossover

The cable crossover primarily targets the muscles of the chest, particularly the pectoralis major.

In addition to the chest, other muscle groups are involved as stabilizers and synergists during the exercise.

The cable crossover exercise offers three variations. These variations allow you to specifically target different areas of your chest for balanced development.

  1. To target the upper chest, perform a low cable crossover.
  2. To target the lower chest, perform a high cable crossover.
  3. To target the middle and inner chest, perform a middle cable crossover.
Muscle Worked During Cable Crossover

Benefits of Cable Crossover

  • The cable crossover technique effectively targets multiple chest muscles, leading to a balanced and well-rounded chest development.
  • This exercise allows for constant tension on the chest muscles, which maximizes muscle activation and promotes optimal muscle growth.
  • Cable machines offer a variety of handle positions, allowing you to tailor the exercise to target different areas of the chest.
  • It enhances muscle symmetry and definition, resulting in a more sculpted and aesthetic appearance.
  • For people who experience discomfort in their joints during the bench press, cable chest crossover is a great alternative.
  • Cable crossover allows for easy adjustment of resistance by adding or reducing weight plates.
  • Cable exercises provide a wider range of motion than traditional free weight exercises.
  • The cable machine workout offers a smooth, controlled motion.
  • The cable crossover gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a huge pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.

How To Do Mid Cable Crossover

The mid-cable cross utilizes a chest fly movement pattern to isolate the muscles of the chest, helping the muscles to grow better and become stronger. It is a great exercise for targeting and strengthening your chest muscles.

To ensure you perform it correctly and reap the maximum benefits, follow these step-by-step instructions:

Cable Crossovers
  1. Set the cable machines handles at a mid-level, usually around shoulder height.
  2. Stand in the middle of the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hips leaning forward.
  3. Hold one handle in each hand and make sure to hold it tightly.
  4. Position your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, and bend your elbows slightly.
  5. Engage your core and maintain a stable posture.
  6. Start the movement by bringing your hands together in front of your body or crossing them at the midline.
  7. As you bring the handles together, focus on squeezing your chest muscles and maintaining tension.
  8. Pause briefly at the point of maximum contraction.
  9. Return to the starting position slowly and with control, allowing your arms to move back out to the sides.
  10. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Form And Technique For Doing Cable Crossover

  • Don’t round your shoulders or hunch forward. Keep your shoulders back and down.
  • Ensure that you are performing a full range of motion during the crossover.
  • Make sure you keep your elbows bent. You should never fully straighten your arms, or lock them out, as this forces the weight you’re lifting onto the elbows and shoulder joints, which increases your chance of injury.
  • Don’t let your elbows move too far when you’re in the start position, they should remain in line with your torso.
  • Avoid using momentum or swinging. Slow and deliberate motions engage the chest muscles more effectively.
  • Maintain control, with a 4-second descent, slight pause and contract with a reverse motion, hold and repeat.
  • Select a weight that you can control, that’s not too light or too heavy — find what’s right for you.
  • Maintain tension in your abs and don’t allow your back to excessively arch.

Set, Reps and Frequency

Beginner

  • Sets: Start with 2-3 sets per workout.
  • Reps: Perform 8-12 reps per set.
  • Frequency: 1-2 times per week.

Intermediate

  • Sets: Increase to 3-4 sets per workout
  • Reps: Aim for 8-12 reps per set with a slightly heavier weight compared to the beginner level.
  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week.

Advanced

  • Sets: Perform 4-5 sets per workout
  • Reps: Aim for 8-12 reps.
  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week, allowing a day of rest between sessions.

Variations of Cable Crossover

While the traditional cable crossover exercise is highly effective, incorporating variations can help spice up your workouts and target different muscle groups.

  • High cable crossover
  • Low cable crossover
  • Single-arm cable crossover
  • Reverse grip cable crossover

You can also try different hand grips, like an underhand or a neutral grip, to train different parts of the chest.

1. Low Cable Crossover (Low To High Cable Crossover)

The low cable crossover is an effective isolation exercise that specifically targets the upper chest. A cable machine is used with the handles set to a low position and a motion is performed that goes from low to high.

Low to high cable crossover allows for a full range of motion in the upper chest muscles. The upward and diagonal motion stretches and contracts the muscle fibers, which promotes muscle growth and flexibility.

Low Pulley Cable Crossovers

Muscles Worked During Low Cable Crossover

Primary: Upper pectoralis

Secondary: Lower and Inner Chest, Anterior deltoid, Biceps Brachii

How To Do Low To High Cable Crossover

  1. Set both pulleys as low as possible and select the desired weight.
  2. Stand in the middle of the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and lean forward from the hips.
  3. Grasp the handles with an overhand grip, palms facing down.
  4. Bend slightly forwards, and extend your arms, feeling a good stretch in your chest muscles.
  5. Bend your elbows slightly, and pull your hands toward each other in wide arcs in front of you. Pause when your hands touch.
  6. Slowly lower back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tip

  • To keep your balance, stand in a staggered stance.
  • Breathe out as you lift the handles up and together.
  • Control the weight as you bring your arms back down.
Know More: Upper Chest Cable Exercises For Bigger & Stronger Chest

2. High Cable Crossover (High To Low Cable Crossover)

The high cable crossover is a great exercise to target the lower portion of your chest.

The high to low cable crossover involves starting with the cable handles positioned at a high position, usually above head level, and then performing a downward and inward motion to target the lower chest muscles.

High Cable Fly (High to Low Cable Fly)

Muscles Worked During High Cable Crossover

Primary: Lower pectoralis

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, latissimus dorsi (back)biceps brachii, rhomboids.

How To Do High To Low Cable Crossover

  1. Set the cable machine handles at a high position, above head level.
  2. Stand in the center of the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and lean forward from the hips.
  3. Grasp the handles with an overhand grip, palms facing down.
  4. Position your arms out to the sides, with a slight bend in the elbows.
  5. Pull your hands (high to low) toward each other in wide arcs in front of you, pausing when your hands touch.
  6. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tip

  • Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs and don’t allow your lower back to arch excessively.
  • Focus on form before choosing a heavy weight.
  • Keep your shoulders back and down.
  • Breathe out as you pull the handles together.
Read More: Lower Chest Cable Exercises For Bigger and Stronger Chest

3. Single Arm Cable Chest Crossover

The one-arm fly is a unilateral variation of the fly. It is used by those who would like to focus on the inner and middle chest. It allows you to isolate and strengthen each side independently, promoting balance and symmetry.

During exercise, you need to move the weight farther away from your middle part of the body. This helps you move your body more and make your inner muscles work harder.

Single Arm Chest Fly

Muscles Worked During Single Arm Crossover

PrimaryInner pectoralis major and upper pectoralis major.

Secondary:Lower Chest, Anterior deltoid, and core.

How To Do

  1. Set the cable machine handle at an appropriate height. It should be slightly above shoulder level.
  2. Sit or stand perpendicular to the cable machine.
  3. You should grasp the handle with one arm.
  4. Extend your arm and make sure to have a slight bend in your elbow.
  5. Slowly, pull your hand to the midline of your chest while keeping your upper body straight.
  6. Hold for a second, and go back to the starting position to complete one rep.

Tips

  • Always keep the elbows slightly bent for full inner pec activation.
  • Ensure to keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.

Cable Fly Vs Cable Crossovers

The cable fly and cable crossover workouts share some similarities, but they also have their own unique qualities.

Range of motion

  • During a cable fly, the hands will touch or come close to touching, indicating the end of the chest contraction.
  • On the other hand, in a cable crossover, the hands can cross over one another slightly and go past the midline of the body, allowing for a greater contraction of the chest muscles.

Movement

  • In cable fly exercises, the arms move in a sweeping motion, similar to hugging a tree. The hands start in front of the body and move outward in an arc-like motion.
  • Cable crossovers involve crossing your arms in front of you. The hands start from a high or low position and move across your body in a diagonal or horizontal motion.

Muscles Targeted

  • Cable fly exercises primarily target the chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major. They also engage the anterior deltoids (front shoulder muscles) and the triceps to a lesser extent.
  • Cable crossovers also work the chest muscles, but they focus on different parts of the chest.
  • When performed from a high position, they primarily target the lower chest muscles (pectoralis major), while performing them from a low position targets the upper chest muscles.

Sample Cable Crossover Workout

  • Chest-focused workout routine
  • Full upper body workout routine

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I perform cable crossovers as a standalone chest exercise?

Cable crossovers can be performed as a standalone chest exercise, but it is generally more effective when combined with other chest exercises such as bench presses, incline presses, or push ups.

Conclusion

The cable crossover exercise is an effective tool for building chest strength and muscle definition. Get ready to push your workouts to the next level with the cable crossover.

Use the tips and strategies shared in this complete guide to watch your chest undergo a remarkable transformation.

Best Cable Chest Exercises To Build Mass and Strength

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