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Flat-Bench Cable Flye vs. Dumbbell Flye

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Both exercises work the chest, but which is better at targeting the inner pecs?

By Jimmy Peña, MS, CSCS; Photography by Alex Ardenti; Model: Jaime Davila

Flat-Bench Cable Flye

Any time you use a bench within the cable system, you go from cable “crossover” to cable “flye” (just in case you were wondering). But the cable flye can be done using a decline, incline or flat bench to target various areas of the chest from multiple angles for complete development. Whenever you begin any of those variations, start out light until you find the perfect angle for the bench and the motion of your arms. In other words, you might have to move the bench up or back to find the plane of work that feels best. Once you find it, you can then lower the pin to your working load and get to work.

The great thing about the cable flye is that you can also work each side individually, allowing the opposite (non-working) cable to stabilize your body. Or even if you want to make it even harder on your core musculature, you can simply train one arm at a time, placing your non-working hand on your hip.

Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye

Dumbbells force not only your target muscles to work but they also call upon supportive muscles as well as your core musculature to lend help. For that reason, dumbbells should be an absolute constant feature within your training regimen whether it’s for chest or any other bodypart. Dumbbells also allow you to vary the angle of motion during flye-type exercises, and that’s especially important if you have certain nagging injuries. As opposed to barbell-driven moves, you can easily alter your grip or the angle of your arms to work around sore or injured areas or circumstances helping you train pain-free. To be fair, the same benefit that the cable flye affords when it comes to unilateral exercises, is equally shared by dumbbells.

You’ll obviously have to modify the weight used when performing dumbbell unilateral exercises, since the opposite arm doesn’t have an equal amount of weight to counterbalance your body.

Advantage: Flat-Bench Cable Flye

Both exercises are excellent single-joint moves because they target the chest while reducing the contribution from the triceps and front delts. When your arms come together, the inner pec fibers work the hardest, which is also the point of peak contraction. At this point, the cables require more work because of the constant tension and angle of resistance. Dumbbells, on the other hand, provide an up-and-down (gravity) resistance pattern. Although you’re still working the chest with dumbbells at that point in the move, the inner chest isn’t getting blasted with the same intensity as the cable version.

So when it comes to your inner pecs, head for the cables. And, for even greater inner pec stimulation, allow your hands to overlap in front of you.

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  • Sa’ed Al Dawaymeh

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