Cable Crossover vs. Incline Cable Flye
Both are excellent isolation moves for the chest, but which one best targets the inner region of the upper pecs?
Jimmy Peña, MS, CSCS
Contributing Director of Strength & Conditioning
There’s not a person reading this page who hasn’t performed this phenomenal exercise. The cable crossover is unique in that it can be done in a number of different ways. You can stand equidistant between the cables and bring your hands directly beneath your navel, or you can step forward slightly and bring your hands out in front of you — or any angle in between. The key for all of them, however, is to keep a slight bend locked in your arms at all times — don’t open and close the bend in your elbows. Sounds elementary, but you want to imagine yourself hugging a barrel as you bring your hands in front of you. Creating that perfect circle with your arms will allow you the best use of the move as well as a burn in your pecs that few exercises can match.
Incline Cable Flye
Countering this month is the incline cable flye. Since cables provide constant tension, we felt it’s only appropriate to stay inside the cable apparatus. You may have to adjust the bench upward or back to make sure the line of pull is ideal for you. Start with no weight at all and practice a few reps to be certain all is set, especially in your shoulder joints. The same rules apply to this flye as they did for the crossover: You want to keep your elbows slightly bent and pay special attention to the start of each rep not to go down too far. One great thing about the flye is that you don’t have to worry about balance when you’re on the bench. The focus is completely upon the chest and not your stabilizers.
Advantage: Incline Cable Flye
First and foremost, the upper/inner pecs are probably the weakest section of your chest. That’s because the upper pecs attach to the clavicle (your collar bone) and it meets the middle and lower pec fibers on the common tendon that attaches to the humerus. Anatomy is important because the upper/inner-pec muscle fibers work with the rest of the chest muscles to perform horizontal adduction, but it also requires arm flexion (raising your arm/deltoid in front of you) to be maximally stimulated. So it’s the angle of the torso to the arms in action that matters most in our comparison. During the more popular standard crossover, your arms are converging directly in front of you or downward toward the floor. However, the incline flye has you bringing your hands directly above the target area, making it your clear winner. The key however to your best chest is to use both in your routine, most commonly as a finishing exercise to flush and pump the muscle full of fluid until you reach exhaustion.