Seated Cable Chest Press: How to, Alternatives, etc

Again, we are moving a step further – and, we are going to learn about another incredible workout – The Seated Cable Chest Press.

In our last lesson, we learned about the standing press version, which I believe is a running mate to our focus. For those just joining us, it will be good if you read the previous article. It is loaded with a lot of information.

The Seated cable press is a good workout for building the muscles of the upper body (we will get into the muscles built in a sec). Of a truth, it is one that fitness experts/coaches usually first introduce beginners to, before progressing to free weights.

Similar to the standing cable press, you definitely need a cable machine to carry it out, except if you are a person that can creatively conjure DIY ideas for home gyms. I have seen this, so I am sure of what I am saying.

For example, here is this guy who made an imaginary cable machine with a resistance band and a door.

This is a brilliant DIY trick for home gym. You could try it, too – when there is no access to the real thing. It is worth it.

People prefer the seated version for several reasons. For instance, not many people like standing while doing workouts – some prefer sitting if there is the option. While in some other cases, if one wants to continue working out, fatigue may make it impossible for one to stand – so, sitting would be the only choice. In the same vein, many people prefer doing this exercise as a cool down. That is, the final (or additional) exercise for the day, after all exercise.

This workout is same as the Standing Cable Chest Press, except that a seat or bench is used here – just like a cable row workout.

Why Seated Cable Chest Workout?

There are a lot of questions regarding this sub-topic, and I will put in my best to answer them understandably in just a few sentences. Many a beginner is not sure if the Seated Chest Press is worth it, and if it is the right thing to do.

As the name implies, it is a workout that works mainly on the Chest muscles (Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor), by pulling the cables away while on a seat. The cables are attached to a pulley of adjustable height; Many times, this is at shoulder-height. The height of the pulley and the direction of pull determine which muscles are extensively involved.

The pulled cables are good for resistance training, which increases muscle strength. The gravitational pull of the weighing plates is turned into the directional pull; that is what is responsible for the resistance.

Sometimes it is not advisable for a beginner to jump straight into free weight training. There is a higher chance of getting injured while doing a Bench Press. Compared with many other forms of presses, the cable press is the safest.
That is not to belittle the workout because many fitness experts heavily rely on cable workouts – so, it is not only limited to building the foundation. I can say that it is one of the most underestimated workouts.

Apart from that, cable exercises could help correct muscle imbalance i.e. a situation when a muscle on one side of the body is better developed than the other.

Another way in which people perform the Seated Cable Chest Press, is as a warm-up or a cool down. But – only seniors are permitted to do this. It may be too much for a novice..

Overall, it is clear that doing the Seated Cable Chest Press is not actually a waste of time. Whether it’s as a warm-up or an actual workout – it is worth it.

Muscles Worked

The muscles targeted while doing a Seated Cable Chest Press are:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps

How to do the Seated Cable Chest Press

Now, we would do the double-arm press. Here are the right steps to follow if you want to do the Seated Cable Chest Press.

  • Sit uprightly on the seat, positioned at the centre of the machine. Make sure to rest your back firmly and brace your core.
  • Position the pulleys to chest-height. The height, this time, is to be measured while seated, not while standing.
  • Grip the handles making the arms at shoulder-height. The elbows should make 90°, with the forearms facing forward. The palms should be facing the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Pull the cables by stretching the arms straight forward, making the hands almost in contact with each other, still at shoulder-height.
  • Return back to starting position and repeat.

Seated Cable Chest Press Variations

There are ways you could modify the Seated Chest Press. The most common of these include:

  • Single-arm
  • Incline
  • Decline

Now we are going to take them one at a time. Happy?

Single-arm Seated

This is similar to the single-arm standing chest press, except that you’ll be seated here.

Muscles Worked

  • Chest
  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Core

How to

For this, we will make use of the right arm.

  • Sit uprightly at the centre of the cable machine. Rest your back firmly on the chair.
  • Fix the pulley to chest-height.
  • Hold the handle with your right hand and raise your arm to shoulder-height. The elbow should make 90°, with the forearm facing forward. The palm should be facing down while gripping the handle. The left arm should be stretched forward, still at shoulder-height. This is the starting position.
  • Pull the cable forward, take the left hand backward.
  • Return to starting position and repeat.

Incline Seated Chest Press

As the name implies, the seat is to be titled, inclined at an angle, usually between 30° and 45°.
This time, the pulley would be at the lowest height – and not at chest, shoulder, or hip height.

Muscles Worked

  • Upper Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps

How to

  • Put a bench with 30° incline at the centre of the rack. If your machine has a seat, then you only have to adjust the degree of the incline.
  • Set the height of the pulleys to floor level; that is, the lowest point.
  • Sit on the bench and let your back rest firmly on it, then brace your core. You should be facing the ceiling in this posture, as you are titled.
  • Grip the cables, with the upper-arms at shoulder-height, and the fore-arms facing the ceiling. The elbows should be at 45°. This is the starting posture.
  • Push the cables towards the ceiling, contracting your chest as you extend your arms. Your knuckles should be facing the ceiling. Hold for a count of 2 seconds.
  • Return to start and repeat.

You want to make sure that the tension is loaded on the chest. Also, while stretching up your arms, exhale; while taking them back, inhale.

Seated Decline Cable Chest Press

Due to the thought that this variation is a waste of time and effort, many people do not seem to perform it. It may be a waste of time if you don’t practise it in its proper form. It is actually a good workout for developing the lower chest. Do not leave any workout on the table if an expert did not tell you to.

In a way, the Seated Decline Cable Chest Press appears to be the opposite of the Incline. You can do this while standing and while sitting on the bench. We are only going to touch the seated form in this tutorial. Do well to read my other article about the standing form.

Muscles Worked

  • Lower chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps

How to

Here are two common methods of doing the seated decline chest press.

1st Method:

  • Place a decline bench in the middle of the rack and set the pulleys at the lowest position.
  • Grip the handles, then lie gently with your back on the decline bench. Your knuckles should be facing the top of the room.
  • Pull the cables higher, making your upper-arms at the same height as your shoulders. Your fore-arms should face vertically upwards. This is the starting posture.
  • Still holding the handles, stretch your arms vertically upwards, letting the cable line rest along your arms. Make sure to contract your chest and exhale while doing this.
  • Return to start and repeat.

2nd Method

  • Set the pulleys to the highest point and place a 30° incline bench in the middle of the rack.
  • Grab the cables and rest firmly on the bench. In this form, you should be facing the top of the room. Your feet should be firm on the floor. Make sure your back maintains its natural arch and that you stiffen your core. While holding the handles, your knuckles should be facing forward.
  • Pull them down to your chest height. Let your upper-arms be at the same height as your shoulders, with the fore-arms facing forward and downward. This is the starting posture.
  • Push the cables forward and downward till your hands are about thigh-level. You should always bring the handles close whenever your arms are stretched.
  • Return to start and repeat.

Everytime you push forward, make sure to contract your chest and exhale. Everytime you go in the opposite way, do the opposite.

Seated Cable Chest Press Alternatives

Here are 10 alternatives you could do instead of the seated cable press:

  • Standing Cable Chest Press
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Push-up
  • Landmine Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
  • Barbell Chest Press
  • Cable Chest Fly
  • Cable Chest Dip
  • Tricep Dip
  • Cable Crossover


The Seated Cable Chest Press is my piece of gold for you. Next time you find nobody using the cable machine – jump in. As you have seen, the workout notably builds your upper body. So, go to the gym and practise.

Emma Ayo

Emma is the CEO of SimplyBioHealth. His passionate interest in living a healthy and fit lifestyle and improving living standard, drove him to creating this blog. Here, he shares only the fitness tips that work.