The Ultimate Guide for Pec Cable Flys (and Why You Need to Be Doing Them!)
Building up a strong chest that women are going to drool over is no laughing matter, and it’s why many people are drawn to pec cable flys initially. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have their pectoral muscles bouncing up and down like a basketball at will? Not only is it a neat part trick, but it means there are mounds of powerful muscle packed onto your upper half.
Also known as the “standing cable fly”, this is a technique that can be used to build a strong dominant chest. It’s a lot like the dumbbell fly, with a slight variation that makes it even better for using basing movements to build muscle.
There aren’t any whacky cross-fit movements involved and you don’t have to worry about “moving too much”. I know, I once covered crossfit for women here, so don't get me wrong, crossfit is just as great as far as getting the right results.
In this article, I’ll be taking a closer look at the exercise and how it can be used to your benefit. Not only that, but I’ll also be taking a look at a few mistakes that most beginners make along the way! We want you looking buff and muscled up for the ladies, not uneven and injured.
You’re Not a Pro, Dude!
Even if you aren’t a professional bodybuilder, you can train as they would; they use pec flys daily to ensure that they’re getting at least a minor pump for their chest. You’ve likely seen people doing this workout in commercial gyms all over the world - it’s one of the most effective isolation exercises you can do, and it will significantly boost the strength and mass of your pectoral muscles.
One thing I will always mention is learning proper technique, as failing to do so is going to end catastrophically, one of the reasons it's wise that you measure your fitness level before taking on any advanced exercises. Imagine yourself writhing in pain on the gym floor while hot women look at you and snicker, or even worse, feel pity for you!
Learning proper techniques will allow you to avoid injuries and prevent the possibility of tearing your pecs right off the bone. Sylvester Stalone knows exactly what I’m talking about, and if you’ve seen any of his movies where he’s shirtless (as of recent), it’s a grim fate that you’ll want to avoid like the plague.
Building Up Your Entire Chest with Pec Cable Flys
You don’t want to forget about the minor muscles associated with your pectorals, as there are four major components to worry about. These four components that make up the strength of your pectorals are:
- Pectoralis Major
- Pectoralis Minor
- Serratus Anterior
Doing pec cable flys will help you build up the Pectoralis Major and Minor muscles, while also gradually growing the Serratus Anterior and Subclavius as well. All of these muscles are required for shoulder stability and general strength, which is why you don’t want to be afraid of hitting these in the gym.
Don’t worry, nobody is looking at you - and if they are, make sure they never forget what you look like. Even on my fattest days, I enter the gym with confidence because if you don’t, you’re never going to get the most out of your lift.
Other exercises that you can add to your workout routine that work the same muscles areas above are, the alternating dumbbell press, the military press,the planche lean, push ups and planks.
Why Is the Chest So Important?
Your chest muscles are responsible for handling a lot of the load throughout regular life, as well as in the gym. You can expect to make the most out of your pectoral muscles when going through a few different actions, such as:
The pec muscles are important when it comes to pushing and pulling weight, especially with your upper body. Almost every pulling motion you make will use the pectoral muscles tugging on your humerus (when you’re gripping onto an object).
Moving Your Ribcage
You like taking deep breaths after a stressful day at work, right? Well, if that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure your pectoral muscles are nice and strong - they create more room for your lungs to expand and breath (stronger pecs will make it easier to expand/pull your ribcage).
Lowering Your Shoulders
If you ever have to do a shoulder lowering movement at work or in sports, your pectorals have a lot to do with how well that happens. The weaker your pectoral muscles, the tougher this process is going to be - you’ll have a stick up your butt forever!
Training Your Pectoral Muscles with Free Weights
The traditional way to train your pecs is to either drop down and do some push-ups or find some heavy weights and lift them until you finally develop a barrel chest. Many people will preach that you grow big and stronger with haste when you use metal weights, but there are plenty of individuals out there who swear by their cable fly machines.
It’s another argument to be had, and such is the way of life! I’m sure there are going to be gym-bros coming at me in the comment section, telling me that “free weights are the best way to train, dude!” and I don’t care.
You can have an amazing time training your pectorals with calisthenics or weight training, as there are a plethora of different workouts to do - you can even do dumbbell flys (you can use a pair of affordable adjustable dumbbells to increase the weights just as you would with a cable fly machine) and get a similar result.
I’ve had a bad experience with free weights in the past though (including bending my barbell and having to remove rust from the weights) and prefer the comfort of a cable fly machine, so sue me!
The Benefits of Using Cable Fly Machines
The whole point of this article is to figure out why you want to be doing cable flys in the gym, or even dumbbell flys if you want to be a jerk about it. It’s almost as if I’m stating the obvious here, but this is one of those exercises that you simply cannot overlook - every “bro” in the gym is going to be doing it, and that’s for good reason.
Any chest exercises of this magnitude are bound to provide results at some point, it’s merely a matter of how willing you are to die in the gym. The key to building lean muscle is through proper technique and staying consistent, and implementing cable flys into your routine is going to benefit you in several ways.
Did You Know That It’s a Compound Exercise?
When you want to hit every single muscle possible in your pectoral area, this is the perfect workout to include within your sets. When you have a compound exercise like pec cable flys ready to go and can hit your chest without multiple techniques, it saves you both time and effort in the gym (it also builds shoulder stabilization). This means you can use it as a means of training your shoulders after chest day for an all-round strength.
It Helps You Develop Proper Scapular Rotation
Are you able to pinch your shoulder blades tightly together? If not, this means you lack scapular rotation. It’s important to ensure that you’re always looking out for signs like this, as building up your chest can help deal with that (especially when you’re doing cable flys).
Teaching your scapula to rotate in this manner will eventually help you fix poor posture, which is likely a result of sitting at the computer screen all day and looking at naughty videos online. Don’t try and lie to me, I know exactly what you’ve been up to!
How to Do a Pec Cable Fly
I’m going to walk you through the process of doing a cable fly yourself so that you don’t look like a complete moron when you walk into the gym for the first time. I want to focus on technique more than anything else, as having bad form is going to make you look like an absolute joke.
You’ll use your weight and strength level to determine how much you’re going to lift, and for how many reps. I strongly suggest you start off lightly (especially if you’re a beginner) and gradually build up from there.
I’m not going to be responsible for you getting hurt in the gym due to a lack of knowledge, so make sure you’ve got a pen and paper ready to take some notes!
Step 1: Stand at The Center of The Cable Machine with A Handle in Each Hand
You’ll want to slightly bend your elbows and grab a hold of each D-handle, one of which should be located on both sides of your body.
Step 2: Move Your Hands Forward to The Front of Your Body
With the D-handles gripped, move your hands to the front of your body, ensuring that they are level with the area between your chest and belly button. Keep your elbows and chest up the entire time with your core braced.
Step 3: When Your Hands Come Together, Twist Your Wrists so That the Palms Are Facing Upward
Make it so that your pinky fingers are touching when the palms are turned upward, and be sure to squeeze and activate your pec muscles as hard as possible - this is how you get the ultimate pump in!
Step 4: Hold This Position for A Count (or Two!)
Hold the weight up for a count or two and try not to let out any protein farts. Not only do they stink like crazy, but they can be incredibly loud at times (I know this from personal experience).
Step 5: Gradually Return to The Starting Position
Maintain full control of the weight and slowly return your hands to the starting position. Voila! You’ve just completed a single pec cable fly rep, and you can be proud of it (just a few thousand more and you’re well on your way).
Here is a video of how to do the pec cable fly
Pec Cable Fly Pro Tips
As a gym-bro myself, I understand that people have to start somewhere. I wasn’t always taking supplements (they're fantastic if you want to load up on some crazy pumps, just be keen to pick a natural preworkout, one without beta alanine and similar ingredients) and hit the gym daily. I used to be a massive nerd and love videos games - well, I still do, but now I’m a beefy nerd at least.
If you want personal tips that have not only helped me grow my chest but also easily avoid injury throughout my time in the gym, take some of these tips to heart. I know we like to joke around all of the time, but seriously, don’t tear your pectoral muscles in half by using terrible technique (I’m begging you!).
Personal Tip #1 - Change Your Hand Positions Up
There are multiple variations of the pec cable fly that can be done, all of which will help you focus on different parts of the chest. Some of the alternative hand positions would be palms facing backward, forward, etc. You can use them to your advantage and grow an even larger chest.
Personal Tip #2 - Change Your Weights ALL OF THE TIME!
You won’t feel stagnant in the gym if you’re always adjusting your weights, and I always recommend finding the sweet spot before lifting to increase your personal best. Most people are going to have weak chests when they start going to the gym, so find a weight that works for you and don’t be afraid to go higher (or lower if your fitness level doesn't allow it) if your body feels that it’s necessary.
If the last rep you just did was challenging, but not enough to push you to the point of no return (not being able to finish the rep), you’re on the right track. The only reason you should be failing any reps is if you’re going for a personal best, or you’re doing what I like to call “burnout sets”.
Personal Tip #3 - Keep Your Core Engaged for Maximum Power
Keeping your core engaged will help your body lift even more weight, preventing your lower back from arching and also helping avoid injury (and the development of poor posture). Your core isn’t the most important thing to consider when doing pec cable flys, but it’s certainly something that will always need to be engaged to ensure you’re lifting to your full potential.
If you feel like you're lacking strength in this part, go back and give it a nice ramp up a double crunch, but even some essential fitness exercises, especially core-targeting workouts, do help to not only build a rock-hard core.
Besides, they also carve some awe-inspiring abs, be it 6-packs, 10 pack abs or even 12 pack abs if you have the right foundational muscles for such killer abs.
So yeah, it's a worthy detour
Different Cable Fly Variations - What I Do to Look in the Gym to Look BEEFY!
There are many different cable fly variations to choose from, all of which will have you building a chest that nobody can deny. The look of your chest will come down to genetics, but if all you’re interested in is raw power, these variations are definitely going to come in handy. Some of the ones I like to do myself would include:
Low Cable Flys
This is basically where you lower the cable machine’s arms closer to the floor and bring your hands upward in front of your chest (just under the chin). It’s almost like a reverse cable fly, in the sense that the motion is now moving upward, instead of forward.
High Cable Flys
Adjust the machine so that the cable pulleys are slightly above your head, and grab the handles tight. Bring your hands together just under your chest and get a rep in like any other cable fly technique!
Bring Home the Muscle, and Then Bring Home the Babes
All it takes are a few months of dedication in the gym and the implementation of pec cable flys to turn your chest into something magnificent. If you’re sick and tired of people commenting on your skinny, weak ways, I highly recommend introducing these into your workout routine.
It’s an easy-to-learn exercise that will hit your chest muscles in all the right ways, especially if you decide to work in some of those hand variations (and variations in general) that I talked about.
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