Top 7 Effective Lower Chest Cable Exercises

Want a better chest but failing to gain mass with bench press?

Working hard but not seeing much change?

Today, you’ll learn to build a big lower chest with cable exercises and workouts. Let’s go!

Essentials: Building Lower Chest Mass

Your main chest muscle – the pec major – splits into two sections: upper (clavicular) and lower (sternal).

Training your lower chest directly helps you to build a more sculpted chest and reduces the appearance of “man boobs.” The lower chest is also used for bodyweight exercises like dips and weight training like the bench press.

However, lower chest cable exercises offer excellent results for targeting the sternal head of the pec. Let’s look at the best options to add mass and sculpt a bigger chest.

The Best Lower Chest Cable Exercises 

What cable exercise hits the lower chest?

You can hit the lower chest with cable exercises like cable flyes, pushdowns, pullovers, and chest presses.

Cable exercises for the lower chest are particularly powerful and offer excellent growth with time and effort. They can help even out your weak spots and build a more complete physique.

1. Decline Cable Flys

Decline cable chest flys are an essential way to build your lower chest. They isolate the chest muscles, perfect for building up a lagging lower chest, even on a more “general” chest day.

Cable flyes are particularly powerful for three major growth factors:

  1. They stretch your chest to full range.
  2. They provide constant tension.
  3. Adjustable angles let you find the ‘sweet spot’ for comfort.

How To

  1. Take two handles and set the cable machine anchors at a high angle.
  2. Step forward until you feel tension on the cables.
  3. Start with your hands at your sides – in a T shape – and a bend in your hips so you’re facing the ground.
  4. Start the movement by keeping the arms stiff and bringing the arms toward each other.
  5. Continue until your hands are together, directly in front of your sternum.
  6. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds and flex your chest deliberately.
  7. Slowly reverse the movement until you reach the starting position (3)

Training Tips

Progress cable flys with reps and sets before weight. 

This will build muscle and strength while keeping your shoulders and chest muscles healthy.

With such a long range of motion, this is even more important. You can add half reps at the bottom to emphasize the ‘squeeze’ and build a mind-muscle connection. 

2. Cable Chest Press

The decline cable chest press combines the benefits of the bench press and the fly. 

It doesn’t fit into as many workouts as the fly, but it uses much heavier loads. 

The full-range movement with good loads is perfect for building big lower pecs. This is a perfect “big” exercise for your next chest workout that will target your chest more effectively than the bench press.

How To

  1. Take two handles and set the cable machine anchors at a high angle.
  2. Step forward until you feel tension on the cables.
  3. Start with your hands at your sides and tucked into your hips, at around a 45-degree angle to your body.
  4. Set a bend in your hips so you’re facing the ground in front of you.
  5. Begin the exercise by driving the palms through the handles, keeping your elbows in line with your wrists.
  6. Keep pushing until your arms are completely locked and the weight is in front of your sternum.
  7. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds while actively squeezing the chest – before slowly returning to the starting position (4)

Training Tips

The cable chest press is limited by the end-range strength. You need to get better with more reps and sets – like the cable chest fly – to progress in weight sustainably.

Add 1-2 reps per week if you’re using a split, or rotate between higher (10-12) and lower (6-10) reps from one workout to the next.

3. Cable Underarm Raises

Underarm chest raises are a combination of chest and shoulder exercise that occurs below the shoulder height

This is a slightly different variation than normal. It’s a 1 and ¼ rep version for better lower chest growth.

We’re keeping it in the lower range, focusing on pulsing for better results.

The supinated (underhand) position also helps you feel your chest – key for building more mass in the long term.

How To

  1. Take a pair of spur handles in an underhand grip, around shoulder width, with the cable anchors set low.
  2. Keep your hands facing up, set your hips in a slight bend, and step forwards until you feel tension.
  3. Keeping your body stable, raise the handles up no higher than directly in front of your sternum, bringing the hands together.
  4. Squeeze the chest actively in this position, holding for 1-2 seconds to feel the contraction.
  5. Slowly lower the handles around 3-6 inches before raising them back up to the top position (3)
  6. Slowly lower back to the starting position (2) 

Training Tips

Our favorite way to train the underarm cable raise is with drop sets. 

You can use heavier weights because this exercise isn’t loaded heavily at the end of your chest’s range (like the fly). 

Drop sets are a great way to take advantage of this, starting with heavy sets before lowering the weight and performing more reps.

If you want a challenge, run the rack: perform one set until failure, lower the weight, and go to failure again. Repeat until you’ve got an amazing pump.

4. Cable Pullovers

The Cable Pullover is a great way to target and build the lower chest. 

It replicates the dumbbell or machine pulldown but with the added range and constant tension of the cable machine.

This works the chest and lats together, making it a great finisher for full-body sessions. If you don’t have time for five different exercises, heavy pullover drop sets can build up your chest and back together.

How To

  1. Set up a bench in line with your cable pulley using a straight bar.
  2. Take the bar in hand, with your back pressed into the bench and your arms overhead.
  3. Keep a slight bend in your arms but stiff, and bring the bar down towards your hips by hinging the shoulder. 
  4. Continue as far as possible, squeezing the chest for 1-2 seconds at the end of the movement.
  5. Slowly reverse the movement until you reach the starting position (2)

Training Tips

The cable pullover is versatile – just like the cable fly.

Moderately heavy drop sets and pyramid sets are the best way to train the cable pullover. It’s an exercise you can use, heavy or light, for a few reps or many. 

The end position is quite stretch-intensive, so use moderate weights. Drop sets let you add more work without more risk.

This is the perfect way to maximize chest growth stimulus safely.

5. Cable Iron Cross 

The iron cross fly is named after the Gymnastics movement of the same name.

If you look at the iron cross position, it’s clear what you need to do. 

A cable fly that moves your hands down towards the floor. It emphasizes the lower chest but is a great all-rounder.

This is a great alternative to your normal chest fly, especially for sculpting the lower chest. Look better in a shirt: do your iron cross flys!

How To

  1. Take a cable machine handle in either hand, with the anchors at a high angle.
  2. Step forward until you feel tension on the handles – standing tall with a slight bend forward at the hip.
  3. Find the start position by setting the shoulders back and pressing the handles down by your sides.
  4. Keeping the arms straight, allow your arms to rise up to the sides until you reach a T shape.
  5. Start the movement by keeping the arms stiff and lowering the handles as far as possible in front of you.
  6. Continue until your hands touch, holding this end position for 1-2 seconds, flexing the pecs.
  7. Slowly reverse the movement until you return to the starting position (4)

Training Tips

This is a hard exercise, and you should treat it with respect, or you could get hurt. The stretch in the top position can be quite intense, so load up slowly.

If you want to make it harder, straighten your arms more over time instead of adding more weight. This can help you progress without such big jumps in difficulty.

A more bent arm is easier, and straighter is harder. Choose a position that suits your strength, and adjust to make it more challenging with time.

6. Cable Straight Bar Pushdown

The idea of the cable straight bar pushdown is designed to provide a cable version of the straight bar dip. 

This position emphasizes the lower pec even more than the decline chest press.

The ‘bottom’ position of this exercise puts the load on the lower chest, forcing it to grow.

How To

  1. Set up a cable machine as high as possible, taking an even grip on a straight bar handle.
  2. Stand under the cable with a slight bend in your hips, leaning forward.
  3. Press the bar down towards your thighs, keeping your shoulders neutral.
  4. Hold the bottom position, flexing your chest and delts, for 1-2 seconds.
  5. Slowly return to the start position (2) by ‘opening’ the chest and bending the elbows.

Pro tip: keep your weight on your heels in this exercise. Leaning forwards is cheating and will ruin your chest activation!

Training Tips

Train and progress the cable straight bar pushdown by adding reps and sets first and adding weight patiently. 

The end position of this exercise can roll the shoulders forwards, and it’s important to focus on control.

The cable straight bar pushdown isn’t for beginners. You need to be willing to end a set early, take a rest, and just add another set if things feel weak.

Key Variations

The most important variation of this exercise is the two-handle cable pushdown. 

This separates the hands, building the stabilizing muscles of the pec minor and shoulders. It’s a perfect alternative if you want more functional lower pec training with a cable machine.

There’s a lying variation, but it’s a needlessly “fiddly” option that stresses your shoulders in the start position.

7. Diagonal Punch Down

This is an odd variation that combines rotation with a pushdown. By reaching across the body and downwards, you maximally flex your pec.

It lets you maximize lower chest growth and – because it’s a full range one arm movement – functional strength.

How To

  1. Take a single spur handle with the cable pulley at a high angle
  2. Step away from the cable machine until you feel tension
  3. Set up in a “T” shape, with your arm at 90 degrees to your body and a mild stretch in your pec
  4. ‘Punch’ the handle down and across your body, fully extending the arm and letting the shoulder move freely
  5.  Hold the end position, actively flexing your pecs for 1-2 seconds before slowly returning to the start position (3)

Pro tip: think about putting your hand in your opposite pocket – the more distance you create from the cable machine, the better.

Training Tips

This is a lighter exercise, and you should focus on reps and sets, with the weight coming later. 

You should also focus on a smooth turn and work on building the stretch through the chest and shoulders.

We love that it also fits into any workout as a warm-up, functional strength piece, or a brutally effective way to finish your chest pump.

Lower Chest Cable Exercise FAQs

How do you target the lower chest?

You target the lower chest by angling your exercises downwards relative to your shoulder joint.

Your whole chest always works together, but the sternal head is used for pushing downwards relative to the shoulders. Training the lower pec is all about focusing on the downward push in exercises like the decline cable chest flys, decline bench presses, or dips.

What is the best lower chest cable exercise?

The best lower chest cable exercise is probably the decline chest fly. It perfectly isolates the lower pec. It’s also not going to fatigue your other important muscles (like the delts or triceps).

This makes the decline cable fly a perfect choice for any chest workout. It works well before bench press as a way to activate your lower pec or as an isolation exercise to finish your chest pump.

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Chris Thompson
Hi, I'm Chris. I'm a personal trainer, writer & co-founder of OxygenFitnessCT. I've been writing hundreds of articles on strength training & muscle building for several fitness websites & apps since 2017. Our goal with OxygenFitnessCT is to help you pick the most effective, suitable exercises to improve your workout & achieve your fitness goals.

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