Cable fly: Muscle Worked, Alternate, Variations

If you want to build to bigger and stronger chest muscles, cable fly is one of the best exercises you can do.

As your chest muscles strengthen, you challenge them in different ways in order to grow them. And you need variety, intensity, and frequency in order to achieve this.

Cable chest flies are one of the best ways to add variety to chest exercises and strengthen the pectoral muscles.

We’ll be covering several variations, such as Low to Mid-cable pec flys, low to high cable flys, high cable fly and single Arm Cable Flys.

First, we’ll take a closer look at the chest anatomy and exercise mechanics that help to effectively target the chest muscle.

Know more About Chest Muscles

The muscles of the chest consist of the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.

The pectoralis major itself comprises two heads, each of which may be worked differently depending on the angle of adduction:

  • An upward angle of movement emphasizes the upper, or clavicular head,
  • While a lower angle emphasizes the lower, or sternal head of the muscle.

The pectoralis minor is the triangle-shaped muscle located under the pectoralis major, a layer deeper, and draws the shoulder blades down and forward.

Cable fly

What is Cable Chest Fly

The cable chest fly is the best chest exercise that can help to train the chest at various angles and strengthen the chest and shoulders.

There are many types of cable fly exercises that can be used to train the upper, inner, and lower chest.

Depending on how you position your arms or adjust the cables, you can target your chest from every angle.

The distance between the body and the machine can also make the muscles stretch a lot, which can help build a great chest.

However, the likelihood of seeing someone do it correctly is much smaller.

The weights selected are often too heavy, placing excessive pressure on the delicate shoulder joint, forcing a movement range that is too narrow. In short, it’s a waste of time.

Benefits of the Cable Chest Fly

1. Increased Chest Muscle Activation

Cable chest fly activates the chest muscles more than traditional exercises like the bench press.

The cable machine keeps the muscles active throughout the entire range of motion.

2. Improved Muscle Balance

Cable fly helps improve muscle balance by targeting the chest muscles from different angles.

This can help to correct any muscle imbalances between the left and right sides of the chest.

3. Increased Range of Motion

Chest flies allow for a greater range of motion and improve flexibility.

Flexibility in the chest muscles can help with activities that require a wide range of motion, like throwing a ball or reaching overhead.

4. Versatility

Flies can be done in a variety of ways, including with different cable attachments, at different angles, and with one or both arms.

This versatility makes it a great exercise for targeting the chest muscles from different angles and with different levels of resistance.

5. Joint Friendly

Cable flys are a great alternative for people who experience joint discomfort when doing the bench press.

With proper shoulder-blade stability, the cable chest fly changes the angle of the movement enough to limit the potential stress on the joints.

6. Provide Constant Stimulation

Cable pec flys are more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load on your chest muscles throughout the whole range of motion.

That’s not something that can be said of bench-pressing variations or dumbbell flys.

7. Boast Muscle Growth

The cable setup gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a huge pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.

8. Provide Variations

The cable pec fly helps to train the chest at various angles.

Adopting a low-to-high motion with the cable chest fly exercise will target the upper fibers of the chest, and doing high to low fly target lower fiber of the chest.

Muscle Worked During Cable Fly

The Cable chest fly primarily works the pectoralis major muscles, In addition to its target, the main pec muscle.

Cable fly has the involvement of a number of synergist muscles, these muscles include, rhomboids, levator scapulae, anterior deltoids, and latissimus dorsi. It is also assisted by are the biceps brachii, the brachialis, and the brachioradialis and Triceps.

A handful of other muscles play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your wrist flexors, obliques, and rectus abdominis.

The erector spinae muscles of your back act as an antagonist stabilizer, helping to keep the correct position of your joints as you perform the exercise.

7 Best Cable Fly Variations

Doing different variations of the cable chest fly has many benefits:

  • targets different parts of the chest muscles
  • Adds variety to your workout routine
  • Helps to break through plateaus
  • Helps to add variety and prevent boredom.
  • Lead to greater muscle growth and definition.

For example, the low to high cable chest fly targets the upper chest muscles, while the incline cable chest fly targets the upper and mid-chest muscles.

Here the best cable chest fly variation that helps to build a bigger and wider Chest.

1. Standing Cable Fly

Cable PEC fly, also known as cable crossover fly exercises, helps to build huge pectorals.

Cable crossover keeps tension constant, which helps build a big chest.

It helps to develop and define the lower and the Inner chest muscles.

Cable Crossovers

Muscles Worked

Primary: Pectoralis.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, lats, Biceps, rhomboid

How To Do Standing Cable Fly

  1. In a standing position, grab and hold the handles of overhead pulleys on both sides.
  2. Bend slightly forwards and extend your arms, feeling a good stretch in your chest muscles.
  3. Now flex your arms with elbows slightly bent and get a good chest contraction.
  4. Unlike chest flies, you can cross over the center to get full Pec contraction.

Tip

  • Breathe in on the relaxation phase and breathe out when contracting, keeping your head up at all times.
  • Squeeze your chest at the end of the movement.

2. Low Cable Fly (Low to High Cable Fly)

The standing low to high cable fly is a variation of the chest fly and an exercise used to strengthen the pushing muscles of the body, including the chest, biceps, and shoulders.

The cable provides constant tension and helps to develop and define the upper and inner chest.

The cable helps develop upper chest muscles and provides much-needed stress for those who want to build up their muscles.

Low Pulley Cable Crossovers

Muscles Worked

Primary: Upper pec

Secondary: Lower chest, Anterior deltoid, Biceps

How To Do Low to High Cable Fly

  1. Set both pulleys as low as possible and select the desired weight. In a standing position.
  2. Grab and hold the handles of overhead pulleys on both sides.
  3. Bend slightly forwards, and extend your arms, feeling a good stretch in your chest muscles.
  4. Bend your elbows slightly, pull your hands toward each other in wide arcs in front of you, pausing when your hands touch.
  5. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tip

  • To maintain your balance, take a staggered stance.
  • When you breathe in, bring the handles up and together.
  • Control the weight as you bring your arms back down.
Know More: 14 Best Cable Chest Exercises And Workout Routine

3. High Cable Fly (High to Low Cable Fly)

The high To low cable fly is a variation of the chest fly is a great exercise to target the lower portion of your chest.

High to low cable fly is an exercise machine exercise that primarily targets the chest and to a lesser degree also targets the shoulders and triceps.

 It is often combined with other flyes to target the chest from different angles.

High Cable Fly (High to Low Cable Fly)

Muscles Worked

Primary: Lower pec

Secondary: Upper Pecs, Anterior delt, lats, biceps, rhomboid.

How To Do High to Low Cable Fly

  1. Set both pulleys as High as possible and select the desired weight.
  2. In a standing position, grab the handles with a neutral grip.
  3. Bend slightly forwards, and extend your arms, feeling a good stretch in your chest muscles.
  4. Bend your elbows slightly, pull your hands (high to low) toward each other in wide arcs in front of you, pausing when your hands touch.
  5. 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.
  • As you pull the handles together, breathe out.

4. Incline Cable Fly

Incline cable fly is one of the most suitable exercises for isolating the upper chest muscles.

Performing this exercise with cables instead of dumbbells allows for constant tension, which helps build Upper Chest fibers.

It is best to use this exercise as an accessory to your heavy compound lifts.

Incline Cable Fly

Muscles Worked

Primary: Upper chest

Secondary: Inner & upper chest, Anterior deltoid, triceps, and biceps

How To Do Incline Cable Fly

  1. Set an incline bench at a 30-to 45-degree angle. Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your arms straight up from your shoulders and hold the cable directly over your upper chest.
  3. Slowly lower your arms out to your sides until your wrists come to about shoulder level or slightly above.
  4. Bring your arms back toward the midline of your body, focusing on using your pec muscles to draw them back together.

Tips

  • Vary the position of the bench to hit different angles of the upper chest.
  • Hold and contract the pec muscles when your hands are together.
  • Set the bench at about 30–45 degrees inclined. Do not go more upright because the stress will shift to your shoulders instead of your chest.
Know More: Upper Chest Cable Exercises For Bigger & Stronger Chest

5. Decline Cable Fly

Decline cable fly is one of the most suitable exercises for isolating the lower chest muscles.

It has a more even resistance curve than dumbbell chest flyes, so the load is more consistent throughout the whole range of motion.

Decline cable flyes allow a person to maximize the range of motion at the bottom of the exercise while also maximizing muscle activation at the top of it.

Using cables instead of dumbbells to do this exercise allows for constant tension to help in building the lower chest fibers.

Decline Dumbbell Fly

Muscles Worked

Primary: Lower pec

Secondary: Upper chest, inner chest, Anterior delt, triceps.

How To Do Decline Cable Fly

  1. Set a decline bench at a 30-degree angle.
  2. Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the footpad or the roller.
  3. Lift your arms straight up from your shoulders and hold the cable handle directly over your chest.
  4. Slowly lower your arms out to your sides until your wrists come to about shoulder level or slightly above.
  5. Bring your arms back toward the midline of your body, focusing on using your lower pec muscles to draw them back together.

Tips

  • Breathe out as you exert.
  • When your hands are together, hold and squeeze the chest muscles.
  • Set the bench at a 30-degree (decline) angle.
Know More: Lower Chest Cable Exercises For Bigger & Stronger Chest

6. Single Arm Chest Fly

The one-arm fly is a unilateral variation of the fly. It is used by those who would like to focus on the inner chest.

During Exercise, emphasis is placed on bringing the resistance further across the body and past the midline, thus extending the range of motion to force an intense peak contraction in the inner pec.

Single Arm Chest Fly

Muscles Worked

Primary: Inner and upper Chest

Secondary: Lower chest, Anterior delt, triceps, and core.

How To Do Single Arm Chest Fly

  1. Begin by moving the pulleys to the high position, select the resistance to be used, and take a handle in one hand.
  2. Extend your arm and make sure to have a slight bend in your elbow.
  3. Pull your hand to the midline of your chest while keeping your upper body straight.
  4. Hold for a second, and go back to the starting position to complete one rep.

Tips

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

7. Seated Cable Pec Fly

The Cable chest fly is an isolation movement that uses a cable stack and an upright bench to target the pectoral muscles.

Being able to push your torso against the bench can allow you to focus on the mind-muscle connection and move more weight.

Seated cable pec fly exercises provide constant resistance and help develop chest muscles that bodybuilders crave.

Seated Cable Pec Fly.

How To Do Seated Cable Pec Fly

  1. Seated on a bench, take hold of each cable and position the handles directly in front of your chest
  2. Extend your arms, feeling a good stretch in your chest muscles.
  3. Now flex your arms with elbows slightly bent and get a good chest contraction.
  4. Unlike pec fly, you can cross over the center to get full Pec contraction.

Tip

  • Hold and contract the chest muscles when hands are together.
  • Always keep your arms bent to protect the shoulder joint.
  • Breathe in on the relaxation phase and breathe out when contracting, keeping your head up at all times.

Cable chest fly into a workout Program

If you’re looking to incorporate cable chest fly into your workout routine, here are some tips that will help you get started.

1. Sets and reps

Sets

  • Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
  • Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
  • Advanced: ~20 sets per week.

Reps

The best rep ranges and loads to work with.

  • 6–8 reps for strength
  • 8–15 reps for muscle hypertrophy
  • 15-20+ for endurance

Beginners should aim for 3–4 sets of 8–12 reps each, with 1–2 minutes of rest between sets.

2. Frequency

It can be performed 1–2 times per week, depending on your overall workout schedule and goals.

3. Combining with other chest exercises

Combined cable fly with other chest exercises, like bench press, push-ups, and dumbbell flys, to make a good chest workout.

When combining exercises, be sure to vary the angles and resistance to target the chest muscles in different ways.

4. Used as a Finisher

Cable fly variations can be used as a finishing exercise at the end of your chest workout.

This helps to exhaust your chest muscles and increase blood flow, leading to greater muscle growth and definition.

Best Alternative of Cable flyes

You can perform fly at different angles to target different areas of the chest.

For example, performing a cable chest fly at a lower pulley angle will target the upper chest, while performing it at an upper pulley angle will target the lower chest.

1. Seated Machine Fly

Machine fly is a machine exercise that primarily targets the chest.

There are many different machines fly variations that you can try out, which require different types of machine fly equipment, or may even require no equipment at all.

Machine Fly

2. Dumbbell fly

The dumbbell fly utilizes a chest fly movement pattern to isolate the muscles of the chest, help the muscles to grow better and become stronger.

It is often thought of as a classic bodybuilding movement, as the goal of the exercise is to isolate the chest for aesthetic purposes.

The dumbbell fly targets all areas of the pecs, but most significantly the inner chest.

Dumbbell Fly

3. Squeeze Press

Squeeze press is an alternative and free weight exercise that primarily targets the inner chest, and to a lesser degree that also targets the shoulders and the triceps.

The squeeze press is a great alternative to the cable fly that you can add to your chest workout.

Plate Squeeze Press

4. Push-Ups

Push-Ups are the best bodyweight calisthenics exercise to build your entire upper body, shoulders, chest, and arms.

Push-Ups can be a real challenge if done in various forms. Intensity is the key to building muscle and strength.

Push Ups

FAQs

Is cable chest fly better than dumbbell fly?

Cable chest fly and dumbbell fly are both good exercises for working the chest muscles.

However, the cable chest fly has the added benefit of allowing for a wider range of motion and more constant tension throughout the exercise.

Can cable chest fly be done by beginners?

Yes, beginners can perform cable chest fly. However, it’s important to start with a lighter weight and focus on proper form to avoid injury.

What are some common mistakes to avoid during cable chest fly?

Common mistakes include:

  • Using too much weight,
  • Not maintaining proper form,
  • Letting the arms move too far back behind the body.

Make sure to use a weight that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise, and keep your arms slightly bent and in front of your body.

Should I do cable chest fly before or after bench press?

It’s a good idea to do a bench press before doing a cable chest fly.

As the bench press is a more compound movement that requires more energy and focus.

However, you can also alternate between the two exercises in your workout routine.

Can I do cable chest fly without a cable machine?

The cable chest fly requires a cable machine and a specific cable attachment, which means it cannot be performed without this equipment.

However, there are other exercises that target the chest muscles, such as push-ups and chest dips, that can be done without equipment.

Takeaway

Cable flyes are, for the most part, underrated and often overlooked. They are just as important as the bench press if you want to get that well-shaped chest and the thickness.

The cable chest fly may be a good exercise for building strength in your chest, shoulder, and arm muscles.

If you are a beginner, start with a lightweight and increase the amount of weight each week as you build strength.

Stay Fit, Live a Happy and Healthy Life

Know More About Chest Training

BEST CABLE CHEST WORKOUT TO BUILD MASSIVE CHEST

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