If you’re building a body that can be shown off anywhere that’s warm enough for T-shirts (as we all know, big baggy jumpers are the natural enemy of the buff) then you need to know that building a big chest is not as simple as squeezing out an infinite number of reps on the bench press. As with all other major muscles in the body, the chest needs to be worked from a variety of angles, with a mixture of compound (multi-joint) and isolation (single-joint) exercises.

The cable cross-over may not offer the same stimulation for the shoulders and triceps as the flat bench does, but it remains a true bodybuilding staple. It places particular emphasis on the sternal fibres – those that attach to the sternum and create the striated chest look. Here’s how to include the cable cross-over (safely) in your training routine and power up your pecs.

How To Do The Cable Cross-Over

Set the handles at both ends of the pulleys at the highest level. Stand in the centre of the machine with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your torso forwards slightly, keeping your spine neutral and back straight, and bend your elbows slightly as well, with your wrists facing the floor. Keeping your core engaged, pull both handles down and across your body. Squeeze your chest muscles in this fully contracted position (the handles don’t have to be touching). Slowly reverse to the start position, keeping the bend in your elbows throughout.

Cable Cross-Over Variations

Low pulley cable cross-over

The upper chest is a particularly difficult area to grow. Typical incline pressing movements place a great deal of stress on your anterior (front) delt, which makes the muscle fibres around the collarbone hard to target. This is where the low pulley cable cross-over comes in.

Set the handles on the lowest pulley rung. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the handles with palms facing forwards and hands beside your thighs. With a slight bend in your elbows, pull both handles up and inwards until your palms face each other in front of your chest. Squeeze your chest muscles for one to two seconds, then reverse to the start, keeping the movement under control.