Incline Cable Fly

Isolation exercise, Cable pull




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Chest: Small pectoral muscle
    (Musculus pectoralis minor)
  • Chest: Anterior sawtooth muscle
    (Musculus serratus anterior)

Training plans

Incline Cable Fly is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in or as a supplement to various training plans.

Incline Cable Fly: Basics and alternatives

: Involved main muscle groups Incline Cable Fly

Involved main muscle groups:
Incline Cable Fly

Incline cable flys on the cable pulley are a mix of flys and dumbbell flyes. Like these exercises, you move your arms up and down while maintaining good posture. The key difference is that with incline cable flys, there’s constant tension on your chest, and the cables affect the motion. So, in a way, it’s a semi-guided exercise. Like other fly variations, this exercise isolates the (upper) chest muscles.

One downside is the need for specific equipment. Cross cable towers and smith machines are often scarce in many gyms, yet still popular. This means you might have to wait to perform incline cable flys. Using dumbbells on an incline bench is an alternative that can be just as effective, without the wait.

Correct Execution

To do incline cable flys, you’ll need two handles and a cable pull tower. Attach the handles to the bottom mounts for a pull from below.

You’ll also need an incline bench set at around 30 degrees. You can vary the angle to get the widest muscle activation. For instance, train with a 30-degree angle for 3 weeks, increase to 40 degrees for another 3 weeks, and then drop to 20 degrees for 3 more weeks before starting over.

This constant change in muscle focus is mainly recommended if you’re doing other chest exercises that don’t change focus, like bench press on a flat bench.

Video Tutorial

Incline Cable Pec Fly: Drop the "DBs" and BLAST the Chest

Step-by-Step Instructions

Place the incline bench in the middle of the smith machine or cable pull tower. Set the incline bench to about a 30-degree angle.

Sit on the incline bench and lean back. Your shoulders should be around the level of the handles on the floor. If not, adjust the bench.

Stand up, grab both handles, and sit back on the incline bench.

Start with the handles close to your chest. As you lean back (butt, shoulder, and head touching the bench), pull your shoulder blades back and push the handles straight up. You’re now in the starting position.

Slightly bend your elbows and slowly lower the handles outwards in a controlled way, spreading your arms. In the final position, your chest is stretched. Don’t lower your arms too far. Keep your elbows bent and shoulders pulled back.

Raise the handles again by rotating your arms upward.

At the end of the set, bring the handles back close to your chest and straighten up.

Common Mistakes

The cable pulley hides flaws more than dumbbells do. In particular, you might not notice if the position of your arms or elbows deviates during the exercise. So, make sure your arm bend doesn’t change as you perform the exercise. If you bend or extend your elbow more during the movement, you’ll activate your biceps too much, which can reduce the training effect and put extra strain on your joints.