If you are looking for a change from the powerhouse of chest exercises, the bench press, then you might want to consider the low cable fly.
I am in no way disputing that the bench press is the go-to exercise to build chest strength. However, if you want real definition in your chest then this is just what you need.
The low cable fly is isolation exercise that targets the upper portion of your pectoral muscles, also known as the chest.
To hit all parts of the chest effectively this exercise is usually paired with the low cable crossovers. And no this not a calisthenics exercise as you require a cable equipment to perform it. If you are ready like I am, let’s see how this we can do the low cable fly;
HOW TO DO LOW CABLE FLY
Requirements: cable machine.
- Set both pulleys as low as possible and choose a comfortable weight. Stand in the middle of the cable machine while gripping both handles and take a step forward so that the tension begins to be felt.
- Flex your chest and press the handles to lockout while extending your elbows forward and almost as if you are hugging someone. Keep the bend in the elbows subtle and move entirely at the shoulder joint. Slowly allow the arms to open while keeping a 45-degree angle.
- Squeeze your pectoral muscles (chest) and bring the handles together at chest height. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat the cycle for reps. Do as many reps that allows you to complete a full range of motion at the top of the movement.
Note that this is a strength-based exercise meaning it is best suited for muscle gain and not weight loss. That being said you can check out this video to have a better understanding of how to do the exercise in perfect form.
WHAT MUSCLES ARE WORKED BY THE LOW CABLE FLY?
The low cable fly is an isolation exercise that primarily targets the chest. It however works the shoulders as a secondary muscle group.
The chest, scientifically known as the pectoralis muscle is any muscle that connects the front walls of the chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder.
Fitness experts usually refer to the chest being made up of the inner, upper and lower chest for ease of communication.
However, the chest muscles actually comprise 2 muscles; the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The chest muscles enable adduction of the arm (moving the arms towards the body) as well as rotation of the arm forward about the axis of the body.
The shoulders comprise 8 muscles, the largest being the deltoid. In the low cable fly, your front deltoid will be targeted in particular due to the range of motion in the exercise. The shoulder muscles are used in a wide range of motion such as rotation and twisting of the arm. Given their position in the arm, they bear the most load in the arm.
BENEFITS OF THE LOW CABLE FLY EXERCISE
Now that we know what muscles are worked by the low cable fly, let us see what benefits you will get by doing this exercise.
The low cable fly stretches the chest under a load which can lead to big muscle gain. This makes this exercise great for body builders and gym goers looking for a toned muscular chest.
Being a cable exercise, it ensures constant tension in your chest from the starting position to the peak of the contraction. This makes it have an edge over dumbbells exercises whose tension is intermittent.
EASE OF EXECUTION
Given the ease of the movements involved in the exercise, the low cable fly is beginner friendly provided an appropriate weight is used. Remember, do not use excess weight. Ensure you can complete the full range of motion at the peak of the exercise.
FIX MUSCLE IMBALANCE
If there is one glaring benefit of any cable exercise, it is that by working with separate handles, you work each side of your pecs to avoid and muscle imbalances.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE LOW CABLE FLY EXERCISE
So, can you get the benefits of a cable exercise without using a cable? Absolutely! And this alternative is a testament to that. It is not to be confused with the tricep dip though. This is also a difficult exercise as you need to support your entire body weight, unless you use a supported dip machine. If you are up for the challenge, here is how it is done;
- Requirements: Horizontal bars for support.
- Start by holding your body over the bars on extended arms. Lower yourself downwards with your elbows pointing outwards. Be sure to inhale while lowering yourself.
- Once you feel a small stretch in your chest, push back up while squeezing your chest and exhale. At the top of the movement, fully contract the pectoral muscles and hold for a brief moment. Repeat the cycle for reps.
Be sure to engage your chest otherwise it will only be your triceps that burn up.
In case you are wondering this exercise got its name because it involves butterfly-like movements with your arms. This is as close as it gets to the low cable fly. They both share similar movements but on different machines. Here is how you do it;
- Requirements: Machine.
- Sit on the machine with your back placed straight on the pad. Grip the handles with your arms positioned parallel to the ground. This is the starting stance.
- Engage your chest as you push the handles together slowly towards the middle. Be sure to exhale as you do this.
- Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in until your chest muscles are completely stretched. Repeat the cycle for reps.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN DOING THE LOW CABLE FLY
BENDING THE ARMS TOO MUCH
This is probably the most common mistake. The moment you bend your arms too much, the exercise practically becomes a bicep curl; and that is not what we are looking for.
TOO MUCH WEIGHT
This is more of a beginner’s mistake. We know it can be quite something to be in a gym with literal behemoths walking around but that is no reason to put more weight than you can handle. Make sure you put weight that is comfortable enough to allow you to complete the full range of motion at the top of the movement.
There is no doubt that the low cable fly is a solid chest isolation exercise. It especially excels in toning the chest to get that chiseled comic book look you are looking for. Just do it perfect form to avoid taking focus from your chest and you will be pleasantly surprised. Don’t take my word for it, give it a go and just watch that chest grow into the one of your dreams.