Let’s face it, gentlemen, if there is one muscle that every single gym-bro cares about it’s a goddamn set of heavy-duty pecs. The only other contender to have captured the collective the imagination of the lifting community is the good ol’ biceps.
However, even the infamous biceps brachii cannot compete with the pectoralis major. They win by uniting us in with their combined usefulness and aesthetics.
It’s the one muscle that can be seen from every angle, makes you look bigger, stronger, and let’s face it, just better. Here you can read about cable chest fly and cable chest press exercises.
If the chest is such a vital muscle, it begs the question, how do we grow it best?
A lot of people would say the bench press is key to grow a sizeable chest. Although it is a great exercise, I would argue that it is not the best one for everyone.
The bench press can be complicated to execute and makes it tricky to target your chest for certain individuals (long-limbed fellows).
There are better alternatives out there such as the dumbbell press or cable chest press. However, none can compete with the true king of all chest exercises: the cable chest fly machine.
The cable chest fly is an exercise that enables you to focus on your chest to a high degree, regardless of your leverages. If you are arm dominant, your pecs might be difficult to target and need extra work. Getting that added volume from a compound is unlikely to serve you well.
The cable chest fly allows you to push the volume and intensity while remaining safe, avoiding technical mishaps or overuse injuries. Furthermore, when it comes to the mind-muscle connection and the pump, it reigns supreme. What is there not to like?
Having established its greatness, let us discuss its execution.
How to Cable Chest Fly
Although there are many cable chest fly alternatives that can be executed, the standard one will fit most people’s morphology. I will include some unique variants at the end of this article.
1) Start by heading to your local cable chest fly machine.
2) Set the handles to chest height.
3) Stand in-between the two handles at an equidistant point.
4) Grab each handle, palms facing forward.
5) Take a step forward while standing straight and engage your core. This extra step should put some slight tension on the cables.
6) Your arms should be straight but not completely, there should be a slight bend on your elbows.
7) From this position, push your hands towards each other in a wide arc in front of you, keeping that slight bend at all times.
8) Once your hands touch, hold that position for a brief second before letting the weight pull you back to the starting position.
You shouldn’t let the weight pull you excessively, it needs to be a slow and controlled motion that takes 2 to 3 seconds. This process concluded your first repetition.
Now let’s discuss some programming considerations:
Timing, weight, and repetition schemes
When should you perform the cable chest fly?
That depends on your setup. Assuming that you do some compound exercise such as the bench press or dips, you ought to head to your cable chest fly machine at the end of your workout.
Well, compound exercises are more difficult to execute, they require more energy and focus from you and are likely safer conducted while entirely fresh and focused.
There are exceptions of course, If you are anything like me, and compound exercises just train your triceps, you can focus more heavily on isolation exercises.
Sometimes performing a bit of a cable flyes chest workout, even foregoing compounds altogether can be a great option for bench-press non-responders.
What rep range?
Isolation exercises work best in the higher repetition ranges; the cable chest fly is no exception. If you are worried about the infamous “hypertrophy range,” worry not, it has been debunked for a while now.
Growth occurs in all sorts of repetition ranges, from triples all the way to 50 rep sets, as long as you get sufficiently close to failure.
For practical reasons, try to keep your repetitions between 10 on the low-end and 20 on the high-end. Nothing negative will occur if you go above or below, but below 10 reps, you tend to start losing your mind-muscle connection and you are less prone to a pump.
As for above 20, really, who the hell wants to do 30 rep sets if you can do half of those and get the same hypertrophy.
Don’t stop there, add variation!
Isolation movements can be great due to their technical ease of execution and their relativity low fatigue generation. What it basically means, is that you can pick a new variation for every mesocycle, ensuring constant progress while having fun at the gym.
Cable chest fly Pulser 100s
Let’s start with a fun variation that has been going around for a bit. It’s called the cable chest fly Pulser 100s. It’s a unique name that comes from 100 total brief contractions or pulses in the peak portion of the fly movement. It’ll become clearer after this brief explanation:
1) Once again, head to your favorite cable chest fly machine. Stand with one foot forward while holding the cables in each hand, keeping the palms somewhat open.
2) Keep a slight bend on your elbows and execute a normal fly repetition by bringing your hands in front of you, stopping when your fingertips touch.
3) This is the fun part; in this position, you should contract your pecs as hard as humanly possible for a brief second while locking the elbows a bit more. Relax your pecs and elbows and then contract them again. Do this for 20 repetitions.
4) After the 20 pulses or contractions, slowly relax your arms back to their starting position. Basically executing the negative of a normal cable chest fly repetition.
5) Go back to step 2 and execute a new rep with 20 pulses. Your goal is to aim for 5 sets of 20 pulses each.
The range of motion is very short, so don’t use this one as the main fly movement. It can serve as an additional variation that is quite fun or a finisher that leaves you with a devastating pump.
Cable Chest Fly Low-To-High
This one is a classic. It’s great if you’d like to emphasize your upper pec development. Keep in mind that any variation targets most of the pectoralis major, some just emphasize certain areas more than others.
1) Start by adjusting the pulleys or attaching the lower handles of the cable chest fly machine.
2) Pick a lighter weight than you are used to on the standard version. It’s always safer to start lighter on a new exercise.
3) The starting position is almost the same as the standard version, except that your arms will be at a lower position due to the angle of the handles.
4) From the starting position push your hands forward and up simultaneously until they reach the same point in front of you.
5) Once your hands are touching, squeeze your chest together for a brief moment before allowing the weights to slowly pull you back to the starting position.
Cable chest fly High to Low
Although I would argue most people don’t need extra lower pec development, there is a time and a place for the cable chest fly for the lower chest. This variation is basically the opposite of the previous one, at least when it comes to the angle of execution:
1) Adjust the handles of the cable chest fly machine as high as possible. Depending on your frame size, it might be lower or higher than most.
2) Place yourself between the handles, simply grab each one of them. The main difference from the previous one is that your arms should be at shoulder level.
3) Once in position, you shouldn’t feel any impingement, just a slight tension.
4) Push your hands forward and down in a wide arc in front of you until they touch.
5) Keep that contracted position for a brief second, then proceed to let the weight pull you back to your starting position at a slow pace.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are cable flys good for the chest?
– It’s the perfect exercise for anyone who desires a stone-hard chest. Because it will effectively strengthen and train your chest muscles.
What muscles are targeted by the cable chest fly?
– The standing cable fly is a chest fly variation that is intended to strengthen the body’s pushing muscles, such as the chest, triceps, and shoulders.
The key takeaway here is that for most people the cable chest fly will be a better chest builder than any compound alternative. Heck, if you’d like to press, you can always use the cable chest press, a variant that basically mimics the bench press movement pattern while using the cable station.