Cable Fly: The Ultimate Guide

In most gyms, you can see many people doing dumbbell flyes. This exercise is among the few workouts that isolate the chest to increase both muscular strength and size. Unfortunately, only a few people do this workout correctly, as the weights are often too heavy. As a result, it places increased pressure on the shoulder joint and doesn’t really benefit the target muscles.

Cable flyes allow you to build stronger and bigger chest muscles in a way that won’t risk your health. This workout tool works by keeping tension on target chest muscles by lifting and lowering parts on each repetition.

In today’s post, I will be discussing cable fly, its benefits, and other workout variations that you can use it with. Also, you will learn about the most common mistakes people make when using cable fly.

What Is Cable Fly?

Cable fly is a form of workout that targets the pectoral muscles or the muscles around the chest area. It is done using the cable machine, also known as a functional trainer. It is a dual pulley machine that lets a person perform different presses, rows, and flys.

Presses and rows are then recreated by using barbells and dumbells. While cable fly or fly stays relevant because it is more difficult to do with dumbbells, you can’t do it correctly using barbells and kettlebells.

Is Cable Fly Effective?

Yes, cable fly is effective as it enhances the size and strength of chest muscles without stressing your joints. When doing cable fly workouts, your hands and arms move through the anatomical plane, similar to the dumbbell version. The tension made by the cable fly allows this action to reinforce pectoral muscles.

What Muscles Are Cable fly Worked?

Pectoralis muscle is the muscles connecting the front walls of your chest with your shoulder and upper arm’s bones. Each side of the breastbone has two pectoralis muscles. The first one is the pectoralis minor and the second is the pectoralis major. Simply put, cable fly targets most of the muscles in the chest.

What Are The Benefits Of Cable fly?

Another vital factor to look into a workout is its benefits. Do its benefits worth it? Can it meet your criteria? You will learn the answers to those questions as you read on this list:

Cable Fly Is A Compound Exercise

Yes, you read it right. Cable fly is among the best compound exercises that you can try. A compound exercise is characterized as a physical activity that involves many muscle groups all at once to perform a movement. When performing cable fly exercises, you are working a wide range of muscles in your body. This includes the shoulder, chest, shoulder’s stabilizing muscles, and triceps.

It Teaches Scapular Retraction

Another benefit that you can get from cable fly is that it teaches scapular reaction. This term refers to the body’s ability to pinch the shoulder blades together.

When you sit for a long time looking at your mobile device, steering wheel, or desktop, you will likely experience having a bad posture. Maintaining a bad posture throughout the day also increases your risk of high blood pressure and obesity. Scapular retraction, on the other hand, will allow you to avoid this issue.

How To Do Cable fly

Doing the workout right can provide you optimal benefits and help you avoid risks. Below are steps on how to properly do cable fly at home or in the gym:

  • On a dual-cable machine set the pulleys in front of your chest. Then position between the two stacks and grab the handles.
  • Raise both of your arms to your sides, make sure that your palms are facing forward while engaging your core and back straight. Walk one to two steps forward to generate tension on the cables and stand with one of your feet in front of the other.
  • Slightly bend your elbows, not letting them move behind your shoulders. It will be your starting point.
  • In wide arcs, pull your hands against each other in front of you. Pause the time your hands touch, then gradually return to the starting position. Observe that your foot should alternate on forwarding with each set.

How Can You Add Cable Fly To Your Routine?

If you dedicate a day to build up your chest strength and muscles, here are some of the workout routines that include cable fly. These routines are well-thought and having variations on your workout can improve your progress. Aside from that, it can also keep you inspired. Check them below:

Workout 1

Finish 4 sets, then take 1:30 min rest between rounds.

  • 15 x Barbell Presses (make sure that the weight is 60% one rep max)
  • 12 x Single-Arm Chest Flys
  • 20 x Wide-Grip Pushups
  • 12 x Dips (Tip: Try leaning forward to target the lower part of your pectoral muscles)

Workout 2

Do 4 sets and take 45 seconds to rest in between rounds.

  • 12 x Dumbbell High Pulls
  • 10 x Barbell Bench Press (make sure the weight is 75% one rep max)
  • 10 x Single-Arm Dumbbell Press while sitting on Stability Ball(use 50% weight dumbbell one rep max)
  • 15 x Face Pulls
  • 10 x Cable Flys

Workout 3

Finish 5 sets and take 2 minutes rest between rounds.

  • 10 x Dumbbell Single-Arm Bench Press each side
  • 12 x Dumbbell Flys
  • 8 x Slow Cable Flys
  • 15 x Resistance Band Pushups

Cable Fly Mistakes

Just like any other workout, knowing the right way how to do cable fly will allow you to get the most out of its benefits. Doing this exercise the wrong way will waste your time and create pressure where you don’t want to.

Below is a list of the common mistakes when doing cable fly. Take note of these things to avoid making them yourself:

Keeping Hands Close To Shoulders

One of the most common mistakes done by people who do cable flyes is that they begin the flye similar to a press. It usually happens because the hands are near to the shoulders.

You should not do this when doing cable flyes because, during a press, you are using your triceps. Cable fly workout, on the other hand, aims to isolate most muscles in your chest.

Doing Repetitions Fast

Another mistake made by most people is that they do flyes speedily instead of slowly. Workouts related to tension and resistance should be done at a slow and controlled pace to get better results.

When doing flyes quickly, you are risking the muscles on your chest. Avoid getting muscle injury by gradually doing cable fly workout reps.

Rolled Shoulders

Rolling your shoulders while doing standing flys is also a common mistake people commit in the gym. The combination of improper form and too much weight leads to this faulty habit.

Rolling your shoulders forward places your body in a bad posture. As a result, your shoulders will suffer from extra stress that might also lead to future injuries.

Over-Extending The Shoulder Joint

This mistake mainly happens when your muscle strength is not enough to handle the cable fly’s pull. When the cable handles pulls your hands back past what is comfortable on your shoulder, your shoulder joints will added stress.

To avoid this mistake, slow down your movement when your hands are near full extension. It will allow you to maintain better control over the cable fly. You should take note of this tip even when doing dumbbell flys.

Not Using A Split Stance

Your stance is also essential when doing cable flys as it affects your center of gravity. So, it is best to use a split stance. This position provides better mobility required for every kind of workout. When doing cable fly, you need to have a full range of motion that you can achieve by doing a split stance.

Placing your foot side by side makes it difficult to keep balance when moving your arms forward. Split stance with unlocked knees helps change your center of gravity and provides the necessary force to do a full range of motion.

Aside from that, you can turn your back foot more at the side for better stability. This position helps when starting to move as it provides a strong platform.

Limiting Forward ROM

Another common mistake when doing cable flys is that people limit forward ROM. When you opt to extend the range of motion, allow your hands to touch like a regular fly. Afterward, cross each other. Doing so helps to stimulate the inner specs, resulting to better results.

Note that the key is to ensure that you do this step in a control over a sporadic way. It is also vital to control counter-balancing the asymmetry that you have added to the workout.

Additionally, you should alternate which hand crosses the other, so the exercise becomes a little more challenging. Focus on the workout to achieve the best results.

Standing Off-Center Between Weight Stacks

It is also necessary to make sure that your right side mirrors the left side. Most people miss this important rule, making their exercise asymmetrical.

The issue with this is that when you stand off-center, the machine’s pulleys affect your position, which means that your chest muscles will work differently when the pulley works.

This small detail of your exercise can lead to a greater issue when overlooked. It can also affect even how you maintain balance.

Variations On The Cable Fly

Explore the wide range of cable fly variations below and see for yourself which one is suitable for your needs:

Low To Mid Cable Flys

This cable fly variation is an excellent corrective exercise movement. Also, it is ideal for those who want to establish their lower pectoralis major. This workout is for toning and shaping the lower pectoralis major, a muscle found within the chest area.

If I compare this to other fly variations, I could say that this exercise is very difficult to cheat. Meanwhile, its efficacy as a corrective exercise for the chest makes it popular for most gym-goers.

Neutral Grip Cable Flys

This cable fly variation is another thing you should try. If you aim to build some serious strength, you should sculpt your chest muscles.

Neutral grip cable flys are an excellent isolation exercise in terms of single arm usage. To do this variation, hold one cable on one hand, then position yourself a little bit facing where the cable is. For instance, if you are holding the right cable with your right hand, try facing a little bit on the right while more of your body is still facing forward.

The next step is almost the same with your neutral chest fly. The only difference is that you are only working with your pect major with neutral grip cable flys. Instead of pulling the cable to the middle of your chest, it should land in front of your body where the tip of your shoulders are.

Pronated Grip Cable Flys

Also, try pronated grip cable flys on your next trip to the gym. This cable fly variation is an ideal exercise if you wish to add width to the pectoralis major muscles. Starting from the neutral grip cable fly position, you only need to have the cable handle facing forward before pulling the cable up to your chest.


Cable fly is among the most effective ways to improve chest muscle strength and size. It also eliminates the risk of hurting your shoulder joints, so you don’t have to worry about any consequences at the end of your workout. If you enjoy using the cable machine in the gym, you might as well try other cable fly variants to optimize your chest workout.

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