People doing dumbbell flyes is a common sight in most gyms, and that’s because it’s one of the few exercises that isolate the chest to build muscular size and strength.
Yet the likelihood of seeing someone do it correctly is far smaller. Often the weights selected are too heavy, placing excessive pressure on the delicate shoulder joint, forcing a movement range that’s too narrow, and ensuring that momentum does more of the lifting than the muscles. In short, it’s a waste of time.
Instead, to build a bigger and stronger chest effectively and safely, do standing cable flyes. This machine move keeps tension on your chest muscles for both the lifting and lowering parts of each rep, which isn’t the case with free weights.
As a bonus, there’s one simple form tweak – rotating your wrists, explained below – that can place even greater tension on the middle of your chest – the part many people struggle to develop.
Cable Flye Form Guide
Sets 3 Reps 12-15
Stand tall in the middle of a cable machine, holding a D-handle attached to the high pulley in each hand with a slight bend in your elbows.
Keeping your chest up and core braced, initiate the move and – still with that bend in your elbows – bring your hands around in front of your body to meet between chest and bellybutton height.
As your hands come together, rotate your wrists so your palms face upwards, then hold your hands together with little fingers touching, squeezing your chest muscles hard. Focusing on how this movement of your wrist and arms places tension on the middle of your chest, hold the position for a one or two count.
Slowly reverse the movement all the way to the start, keeping full control of the weight throughout the return.
Joe Warner worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach, from 2008 to 2013, then returned as editor of Men’s Fitness UK from 2016 to 2019.
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, the latest gear and more.
Thank you for signing up to Coach. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.