flyes (What are they and how to use them for bigger pecs)

Cable flyes

What are cable flyes?

Cable flyes are a resistance exercise that utilises a cable station to engage the pectoral muscles in the chest. There are various different ways of performing cable flyes. Some lifters prefer standing flyes whilst others will use a bench or lay on the floor. 

In this article, we will explore the different variations of cable flyes, the benefits of each one and how to perform them correctly. 

Which muscles are worked with cable flyes?

Muscles worked with cable fly

Cable flyes target the pectoral muscle in the chest. They hit the muscle in a different way than pressing movements and are great for developing the inner chest. 

It is possible to hit different areas of the pectoral muscle by changing the angle of the fly movement. This can be achieved by changing the pulley position on the station, bending forward or using an incline bench

How do I do standing cable fly

Although the pectorals are the main target muscles with flyes, the anterior deltoids and biceps are also activated as secondary assisters. Flyes are a great movement for bodybuilders who want to develop a full and defined chest. 

Strength trainers will also benefit from adding flyes to their programme as an accessory movement as it will increase overall strength in the chest which will assist with pressing movements.

How do I perform cable flyes?

Standing cable fly.

This is the traditional method for performing a cable fly. It activated the entire chest and can really allow for a good stretch and squeeze of the pectoral muscle. 

  1. On your cable station, set the pulleys at shoulder height, attach stirrups and select your weight
  2. Grip both stirrups and take a step forward so that your arms are outstretched and pecs are under tension.
  3. Make sure that you have a steady stance and a straight spine. 
  4. Take a deep breath in, upon exhale, and bring the stirrups together at chest height whilst keeping your arms extended.
  5. Squeeze the pecs at the top of the motion for a second or two before slowly returning your arms out to the side.
  6. repeat for the required number of sets and reps.

Bent over cable fly.

This is essentially the same movement as a standing fly and works the same part of the pectoral muscle. The only difference is that it is performed in a bent-over position, with feet level and cables placed on a high pulley. 

How do I do bent over cable fly

If you are fully bent over you are still only really targeting the midsection of the pectorals. By only bending over by around 45 degrees and pulling the stirrups down in front of your waist, you will be activating the lower part of the chest.

Low to high cable flyes.

This variation of a cable fly puts more tension on the upper portion of the pectoral muscles. It is essentially the same as a standing cable fly but you are changing the angle by placing the pulleys on a low pin and drawing the stirrups upwards as you come across, 

How do I do incline cable fly

Lying cable flyes.

Lying cable flyes are a good way to work the chest with a fly movement without having to bring in secondary muscles to stabilise the core and stance. 
How do I do lying cable fly
By placing the bench between the two pulleys and setting them on a low pin, you can replicate the fly movement and really maximise focus on the pectoral muscles. 

Using a bench also makes it easier to target different portions of the pectoral muscle. By using a decline bench, most of the work will be done by the lower pectoral muscle, Switching to an incline position will target the upper pectorals. 

Alternatives to cable flyes.

Dumbbell fly

Pec dec fly

Barbell bench press

Dumbbell bench press

Chest dips


Gymenix offers a selection of free training programs to suit all abilities and goals. Click on the links below for FREE access. 

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