Standing Cable Chest Press: How to, Variations, etc

The Standing Cable Chest Press is a popular workout performed in the gym with the aid of a special equipment known as the Cable Machine (also known as Pulley Machine).

In our previous lesson, I introduced you to Cable Presses, and we dug and explored deeply in order to exhaust the topic. It was indeed an epic journey together.

Now, we are taking a step further to, again, deeply examine our first cable press – the Standing Cable Chest Press. Brace yourself up – it’s gonna be epic again.

Just a quick recap

We learnt that the aim of cable press workouts is mainly to build the muscles of the upper body, especially the chest (Pectorals), Shoulders (Deltoids) and Triceps. These are the general muscles worked.

I remember I let you know that in a chest press, while pushing the cable, the tension should be on the chest and not on the shoulders. So, when you stretch your arms forward with a pronated grip on the handles, your chest should contract. While doing this, you should exhale.

Consecutively, when taking the arms back to start, the opposite should happen.


Now that you have the fundamental knowledge about the nature of this workout, it is time to start practicals. I know you’re happy – I mean, everybody loves practicals.

When people say cable press, there is the likelihood that they are actually referring to the Standing Cable Chest Press, because this form is the most commonly performed.

As the name implies, it is to be performed while standing in a lunge posture. If you don’t know what a lunge posture is, here is a picture to represent a thousand words.

On the other side of the coin is the Seated Cable Chest Press. It is the same as what we’re learning now, but you would need a Bench to execute its move. Some cable machines actually have seats come with them.

The seated version is interesting, too. You can read about them here.

Many times, the height of the cable machine is set at shoulder or chest-height, in order to create a direct resistance against the chest.

General things to know when performing any variation

  • In the starting position, the elbow should make 90° between the upper arm and the lower arm, all at shoulder-height. The lower arm should be facing forward, while still holding the cable in the pronated grip style. The upper left arm should be directed along the left side of the body and the upper right arm should be directed along the right part of the body, respectively.

Remember – this is the starting position

This image illustrates this posture.

  • Always make sure the Chest is the focus, not the shoulders. Many times, people unconsciously shift the tension to the shoulders – and this is not supposed to be. Why? Because it is a chest press, not a shoulder press.

This reminds me: I actually have an article about the cable shoulder press. You may want to check that, too – just in case.

  • Stand upright. Make sure your spine is not bent but straightened. Don’t lean.
  • The cables should be directed along your arms, which should directly oppose the resistance they produce.

Muscles worked

The muscles worked while doing the Standing Cable Chest Press are:

  • Chest (Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor)
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps

How to do the Standing Cable Chest Press

  • Adjust the height of the pulleys to shoulder-height.
  • Stand at the centre of the dual station, make a pronated grip of the handles and place your arms at shoulder-height. Your elbows should make 90°, with the lower arms facing forward. This is the starting position.
  • Push the cables forward, creating the force from the chest. While doing this, exhale. Stay in this posture for about 4 seconds.
  • Return back to starting point while inhaling.
  • Repeat for the stipulated number of reps and sets.

Standing Cable Chest Press Variations

The variation means the different modifications we can make to the standing chest press. These are:

  • Single-arm Cable Chest Press
  • Decline Cable Chest Press

Single-arm Standing Cable Chest Press

The Single-arm Press works by the same principle as the standing press with two arms. While the double arm requires two stations, the single, of course, requires the use of only one station.

It is possible to use a double station, though – all you have to do is to forget about one of the stations. Then you’ll focus on building either the left or right part of the chest – and not both. Therefore, it is a valuable workout for isolating a part of the chest.

For evenness, make sure the amount of workout you do for the right part counterbalances that of the left part. If you have chest muscle unevenness, then this workout may be the right way to go.

Single-arm Cable Chest Press Muscles Worked

  • Chest
  • Deltoid
  • Triceps
  • Core

How to do the Single-arm Cable Chest Press

For this procedure, the right hand will hold the handle of the cable. You can switch hands later.

  • Adjust the pulley to hip height, then take a leg forward (assume a lunge posture); the right leg, preferably. In this posture, the pulley that was once around hip height should now be at chest or shoulder height.
  • Hold the handle with your right hand (palm facing the floor) and the left arm stretched forward, while maintaining them at shoulder level. Let the elbow of the right arm be at 90° (the angle between the upper arm and lower arm).
  • Now, start pulling the cable forward, while bringing the left arm backwards to the former position of the right arm (the upper arm facing the left-hand side, the lower arm facing forward – both making 90°). In the outstretched position, the palm should be facing down. You could even cross your right arm towards the Left.
  • Return to start and repeat.

Make sure the resistance is against the chest and not the shoulders or arms.

After 2-3 sets, you may switch arms.

Remember – you are not limited to these variations. You can use your creativity to come up with other variations.

Standing Cable Decline Chest Press

The Cable Decline Press is another interesting variation of the standing press. This workout, on its own, has more than two variations: the Standing Decline Chest Press and the Seated Cable Decline Chest Press.

Since we are talking about standing chest presses, we will only touch the standing variation.

You could check out the Seated Decline Press.

Take note – the exercise works similar muscles, but the direction of motion is quite different.

Muscles Worked

  • Chest (majorly lower)
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Core

How to do the Standing Cable Decline Chest Press

  • Adjust the height of the pulley to head-height
  • Position yourself at the middle of the stations, then take a step forward.
  • Grab the handles with your arms at shoulder-height. Your elbows should be at about 90°, facing forward. This is the starting position.
  • Stretch your arms forward in a decline motion, to the upper abdomen.
  • Return to starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.

During each decline push, make sure to contract the chest muscle.

The reason for taking a step forward is for stability. It’s highly recommended.

There are other ways to variate the cable decline press:

  • One-arm cable decline press
  • Uprights standing decline press (without a step forward) – but you’ll have to be careful.

Standing Cable Chest Press Alternatives

Here are 10 alternatives you could do instead of the Standing Cable Chest Press:

  • Seated Cable Chest Press
  • Cable Crossover
  • Cable Fly
  • Chest Dip
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Hammer Strength Chest Press
  • Landmine Press
  • Dumbbell Chest Fly
  • Push-ups

So, we have come to the end of the ultimate lesson about Standing Cable Chest Press. Go back there and practise it!

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.