If you need essentially the most well-developed chest potential, the bench press shouldn’t be sufficient. Sure, huge multi-joint lifts are very environment friendly at placing heaps of meat in your body, however should you actually need to take your muscular growth to the subsequent degree, you’ll have to incorporate some isolation (single-joint) actions to particularly goal particular person physique components.

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The cable crossover has been a favourite in bodybuilding circles for many years, and for good purpose. This chest flye variation lets you apply high-tension to your pecs with out a lot involvement from different muscle teams. If you’re prepared to spice up your chest growth, check out how and why you need to add this time-tested train to your routine. 

How to Do the Cable Crossover

This basic train is usually carried out incorrectly after which blamed for poor outcomes or shoulder ache. Execution is of the utmost significance if you’d like the most effective outcomes. Here’s what to do.

Step 1 — Start Between Two Pulleys

muscular person in gym cable machineCredit: Ihor Bulyhin / Shutterstock

Stand in the midst of a two-pulley station with a single-handle on all sides. Some stations have an adjustable pulley peak, which is good to adapt the train to your physique. Set every pulley round chest-height.

Grab one deal with and pull it in towards your shoulder. Keep it near your physique as you seize the second deal with along with your free hand. Stand up tall in the midst of the station. Take a deep breath and flex your abs for stability.

Press the handles straight forward whereas rotating your palms to face one another. Stop simply earlier than your elbows are locked out. This is the beginning place for every rep.

Form Tip: You might really feel unbalanced or unstable, particularly should you begin utilizing heavier weights. Use a staggered stance, with one leg in entrance of you, for a extra steady base of assist.

Step 2 — Stretch Your Chest

person in gym doing cable chest flyeCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Slowly decrease the burden by reaching your arms out to your sides. Keep your chest up, don’t transfer on the hips or waist. Maintain a slight bend at your elbows all through the whole repetition — bending and straightening your arms through the motion turns the train right into a press.

Focus on feeling your pecs (chest muscle mass) stretch all through the vary of movement. Your shoulder mobility and chest flexibility will decide the top vary of movement. Ideally, intention to go till your elbows are roughly consistent with your shoulders or as deep as your mobility permits with out shedding muscular rigidity.

Form Tip: Do not give attention to excessively driving your elbows backwards into an excessive stretch. You’ll threat joint pressure and damage, and gained’t be capable to generate sufficient drive for the train to be environment friendly. 

Step 3 — Bring Your Arms to Full Contraction

red-haried person in gym performing cable chest exerciseCredit: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

Flex your pecs as you carry your arms to the middle. Stop simply earlier than your palms contact to maintain rigidity on the muscle.

Your arms must be pointed straight forward at roughly chest-height. Squeeze your chest as onerous as potential within the contracted place. Return to the stretched place and repeat the method for extra repetitions.

Form Tip: Only your arms ought to transfer through the train. Make certain to not cheat by bending ahead on the waist or rolling your shoulders ahead. Those changes would possibly can help you transfer a heavier weight, nevertheless it’s on the expense of your shoulder joint well being as a result of your shoulders are doubtlessly susceptible within the stretched place.

Cable Crossover Mistakes to Avoid

Like many chest workouts, the cable crossover is vulnerable to a number of ego-based errors. These can result in much less outcomes and a larger likelihood of accidents. Let’s check out these potential traps.

Pressing the Weight

This can occur both by letting your ego dictate the burden used or by merely shedding focus throughout a set. In each circumstances, it drifts away from the aim of the motion.

long-haired person in gym doing cable chest exerciseCredit: Thanumporn Thongkongkaew / Shutterstock

It’s generally too simple, or too tempting, to change the elevate’s mechanics in order that it turns right into a press moderately than a flye movement. If you bend your arms an excessive amount of when the burden begins to maneuver, you’ll recruit your triceps and, to a lesser extent, the shoulder muscle mass.

This is a blunder as a result of the intention of the train is to isolate the chest as a lot as potential and never use help from different muscle mass to maneuver the burden.

Avoid It: Your palms ought to transfer in a large arc, from in-line along with your shoulders to just about assembly within the center. You shouldn’t be driving your palms ahead like a bench press or standing push-up. Start the elevate along with your elbows barely bent and hold your elbow angle the identical throughout the whole elevate.

Overstretching the Shoulder Joint

The cable crossover shouldn’t flip right into a weighted stretch. If you lose management, the cable’s rigidity can pull your palms too far again and lengthen your shoulders backwards, the place the joints are at their most susceptible.

muscular person doing chest exercise with cablesCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

If you’re not cellular sufficient, this will put pointless stress on the shoulder joint. Because of the fixed rigidity utilized by the cable, going right into a super-deep stretch may not be wanted to correctly stimulate muscle development — it will likely be compensated by sturdy contraction.

Avoid It: Slow down the eccentric (decreasing) portion and all the time use a manageable weight. This ensures that you simply’re in management and in a position to really feel constant muscular rigidity.

Losing Posture

If you utilize a weight that’s too heavy or push well-past the purpose when fatigue units in, you threat shedding your posture and letting your shoulders roll forwards. This is usually completed instinctively so the shoulders can help the chest.

shirtless person in gym doing cable exerciseCredit: Body Stock / Shutterstock

Unfortunately, internally rotating the shoulders in that place is sort of dangerous. It decreases the anatomical area for the numerous tendons and ligaments that undergo the shoulder joint, which ends up in potential irritation and tendonitis within the biceps, pecs, or shoulders. It’s additionally a risk to the delicate rotator cuff.

Moreover, it’s going to lower the chest stretch, which may lower the muscle development stimulus as a result of a stretched muscle beneath load has the potential to develop extra. (1)

Avoid It: Keep your shoulder blades pulled down and again for a steady shoulder place. Stand tall along with your chest up and “proud.” Maintain that posture in the course of the train.

Benefits of the Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is an isolation train that lets you actually give attention to the chest. But there’s icing on the cake due to the adjustable pulley station: you may alter the pulley’s peak and the cables present fixed rigidity all through the elevate, not like different workouts such because the dumbbell flye.

Man in gym performing cable chest exerciseCredit: ARENA Creative / Shutterstock

The cable crossover has one major purpose — muscle development — however it’s achieved by means of totally different means than a compound train just like the bench press, and provides its personal distinctive advantages.

Tension Through a Long Range of Motion

If you need optimum muscle-building outcomes, you’ll finally have so as to add selection to your coaching with totally different sorts of workouts, rep schemes, or coaching strategies. (2)

The cable crossover is helpful as a result of it challenges the muscle each the lengthened vary — due to the deep stretch — and the height contraction the place rigidity remains to be utilized on the high of the elevate.

Dumbbell flye variations, for instance, sometimes have lowered rigidity within the high place as a result of decreased drive of gravity towards the weights.

Developing the Mind-Muscle Connection 

Because of the fixed rigidity utilized all through the entire vary of movement, the cable crossover is a incredible train to develop the mind-muscle connection. You can actually isolate and give attention to the chest within the shortened and lengthened vary.

Having a greater mind-muscle connection is proven to yield superior muscle development. (3) Squeezing on the high and pausing on every rep will likely be a strong catalyst for constructing muscle and constructing a strong mind-muscle connection.


One main benefit of the cable pulley station, in comparison with a dumbbell or machine flye, is customization. You can use quite a lot of hand positions or pulling angles, and alter the burden in small increments.

This lets you add variation to the train and discover the proper setting so that you can actually really feel your chest working. You may alter your stance and physique place contained in the station to seek out particular cable angles that fit your particular person body.

Muscles Worked By the Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is a single-joint (isolation) train that may be one of the crucial efficient methods to straight goal the chest if correctly completed. But the physique is a posh machine, and no train can actually “isolate” a single muscle by itself. Other muscle mass will all the time be recruited to some extent.

muscular person performing cable chest flyeCredit: martvisionlk / Shutterstock

In this case, whereas the chest is actually emphasised, close by muscle mass can even be activated when performing the cable crossover.

Pectoralis Major

Commonly often called the chest, the pecs are the largest and strongest urgent muscle mass within the higher physique. The pecs connect to the higher arm, alongside the clavicle, the sternum, and the higher ribs. During the cable crossover, this muscle is especially recruited by means of arm adduction (pulling the arms towards your centerline). The pecs additionally work to internally rotate the higher arm.

Anterior Deltoid

The shoulder muscle consists of three separate heads — the anterior (entrance), the lateral (facet), and the posterior (rear). During the cable crossover, the anterior head assists the chest with inside rotation and adduction of the humerus (higher arm).

Biceps Brachii

This two-headed muscle is hooked up to the higher arm after which goes by means of the shoulder to the scapula (shoulder blade). It is a crucial muscle within the shoulder complicated and helps to stabilize the shoulder joint through the cable crossover. The biceps are recruited as a result of they’re answerable for flexing (bending) your arms.

Because your arms ought to preserve a bend through the train, the biceps are working statically through the train. You mustn’t actively bend or straighten your arms through the cable crossover as a result of it’s going to shift focus away out of your pecs.

Who Should Do the Cable Crossover

Anyone who needs to emphasise their chest growth can embody this train of their routine. This staple train is good for muscle-building functions.

Aesthetics Aficionados

If you’re considering constructing an aesthetic physique, the cable crossover is a good match. An isolation train is a good way of mentioning an underdeveloped chest whereas serving to to create a symmetrical higher physique.

If you have to emphasize chest growth with minimal involvement of different muscle mass, this will likely be considered one of your go-to actions.

How to Program the Cable Crossover

Because it’s a single-joint train, this train shouldn’t be used with comparatively heavy weights as a way to keep away from accidents and reap essentially the most of its advantages.

Use the cable crossover as a secondary train after your principal urgent motion, as a finisher on the finish of your chest exercise, or (after an intensive warm-up to organize your shoulder joints) as the primary train of the session to pre-exhaust your chest for an much more intense exercise.

Moderate Weight, Moderate Repetitions

Using the usual hypertrophy scheme of three to 4 units of eight to 12 repetitions will likely be a dependable method to construct your chest. Accumulating quantity on this vary will likely be useful for hypertrophy. (4)

Low Weight, High Repetition

Sometimes you simply need to really feel the burn. Doing two to 3 units of 15 to twenty repetitions may be simply as useful for hypertrophy, and the longer time beneath rigidity would possibly even be higher for creating an incredible mind-muscle connection and actually feeling your chest. This is the proper scheme for a scorching finisher.

Cable Crossover Variations

The cable crossover is nice as a result of the pulley station lets you modify your coaching in mere seconds. Simply altering the cable’s peak will lead to a barely totally different vary of movement and totally different muscular concentrating on.

High-to-Low Cable Crossover

For this variation, alter the cable station in order that the attachment is increased than your shoulders. The increased it will likely be, the extra you’ll emphasize coaching the lengthened (stretched) place.

Position your self such as you have been to carry out the usual crossover, however as an alternative of ending the elevate along with your palms in entrance of your chest, intention to carry your palms round your stomach button or belt-line.

Low-to-High Cable Crossover

Now, we’re doing the other by setting the pulleys at their lowest level. Stand tall and balanced along with your chest up, like every other cable crossover.

Bring your arms upwards at round face-level. This movement will recruit extra the clavicular portion of the pecs (higher chest), much like incline urgent. Since the higher chest is underdeveloped in lots of lifters, you need to probably give this variation a go, particularly in case your chest session didn’t have any incline  or overhead coaching.

Cable Crossover Alternatives

If you don’t have a pulley station or simply need to spice issues up, don’t fear, we’ve obtained you coated. Here are the most effective alternate options to the cable crossover.

Dumbbell Flye

The basic chest flye is free weight various to the crossover. Set up a bench, seize a pair of dumbbells, and carry out the motion similar to the cable crossover, however mendacity down on a flat bench. Because dumbbells are comparatively unwieldy in comparison with cables, this various can require extra shoulder joint stability, which may be helpful for constructing joint well being and damage prevention. (5)

This basic train could be very fascinating as a result of it provides a unique curve of resistance than the cable crossover. The second arm is nice within the stretched place, however practically nonexistent within the contracted place. This various will give attention to the lengthened vary, which may be useful for train selection, muscle development, and mobility.


The good previous machine flye has the good thing about requiring no steadiness in any respect and even much less coordination. Here, you may solely focus in your chest contraction since you are seated and totally supported. Simply sit within the machine and carry out the flye motion. 

The guided part lets you use one distinctive trick: as an alternative of closing your palms and gripping the deal with firmly, simply place it in your palms with fingers open. You ought to be capable to really feel your chest contract higher as a result of the relaxed grip will negate the irradiation phenomenon — also referred to as Sherrington’s regulation, which means {that a} contracted muscle can even contract the encircling muscle mass. (6)


I really feel my biceps quite a bit through the train. What’s occurring?

Your biceps will likely be tense through the train as a result of your arms must be barely bent with the muscle contracted, but when your biceps are fatiguing earlier than your chest, that’s not regular.

The first step could be to lighten the burden and be sure to’re not actively bending your arms through the train. Also, attempt to assume that your palms and forearms don’t exist. You may be activating your arms an excessive amount of by squeezing the deal with too onerous. Solely focus in your chest contracting and drawing your elbows and higher arms shut collectively.

My shoulders harm once I carry out this train. What ought to I do?

If it actually hurts, then you need to cease the train and doubtless seek the advice of a medical skilled. Some diploma of ache or discomfort is sadly certain to occur in some unspecified time in the future throughout your lifting journey. It doesn’t essentially point out an damage, nevertheless it may.

Make certain you all the time use good type. Puff your chest out and hold your shoulder blades again to guard your rotator cuff muscle mass. If you begin rolling your shoulders ahead on account of fatigue or heavy weights, then you definately’re opening the door to a possible drawback.


The cable crossover is among the few workouts generally related to bodybuilding. It’s elementary objective is to set off muscle development within the chest — and it does that job so properly, it’s been a muscle-building staple for many years. If constructing a fuller, extra muscular chest is in your to-do checklist, the cable crossover ought to find yourself in your bodybuilding toolbox.


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