When you think of strengthening your chest, free weights like dumbbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells probably come to mind. But a cable chest workout is an effective but underrated way to smoke your upper half, and can be a great addition to your upper body strength program with those barbell pec workouts or kettlebell circuits you have. may already be inserted.
Cable workouts are great routines to add to the mix because cables keep your muscles under constant tension, as opposed to free weights which give your muscles breaks from tension at certain parts of movements, ACE Certified Personal Trainer Sivan Fagan, owner of Strong With Sivan in Baltimore, tells SELF. Cables also limit the momentum of your movements, which can translate to more strain on your muscles, she explains.
But chances are you don’t have a cable machine set up at home, which means you’ll have to hit the gym to get a good cable chest workout. That’s where resistance bands come in: Resistance bands work your muscles the same way cables do, and you can mimic a cable setup by attaching the resistance bands to an anchor point. Once you’ve done this, you can use resistance bands to target your chest muscles (which include the two pectoral muscles: the larger pec major and the smaller pec minor), as well as your triceps and thigh. front of your shoulders, just like a cable workout. would like.
Another advantage of resistance bands: they are portable. and versatile, making it a valuable tool for home training.
“I use bands very often with my clients, especially because most of my clients don’t go to the gym anymore,” says Fagan.
What are the benefits of working out your chest muscles?
You use your pectoral muscles in many everyday life scenarios: pretty much every time you perform a pushing motion, for example, steering a cart full of groceries or lifting a box off a shelf, your pectoral muscles are at work. And the stronger this muscle group, the easier and more efficient your daily movements will be. Plus, you also use your chest, shoulder, and tricep muscles in many different pushing motions when you strength train, like pushups, chest presses, and overhead presses. (This is why many comprehensive chest workouts often include exercises for the triceps and shoulders, as these muscles aid in many chest-focused exercises.)
In general, having a balance between those pushing muscles and your pulling muscles (your back and biceps) is important because it can contribute to good posture and shoulder health, Fagan says. And incorporate a cable chest workout into your routine – whether it’s a circuit-style upper chest cable workout, a cable routine paired with push-ups for the bottom chest lift or a series of classic cable moves like the cable crossover – can be a way to show your upper body muscles the love they deserve. Just make sure you’re focused on those posterior pulling muscles on the other days you train, too!
How can you do a good cable chest workout at home with resistance bands?
As mentioned, you don’t need an actual cable to reap the benefits of a cable workout – you can simply attach a resistance band to an anchor point at home and get results. similar. Resistance bands work similarly to cables in that they help keep your muscles under constant tension and reduce the momentum of your movements. In the chest workout below that Fagan created for SELF, we show exactly how you can do classic cable moves with a resistance band instead.
Before we get into the details of chest workouts at home, there are some general tips you should know in order to get the most out of your chest workout with a resistance band. First, make sure you always feel the tension in the group; this ensures that your muscles are challenged to the max. Second, focus on good form, Fagan says. Compared to a workout in the gym, where the machines can somewhat help you position yourself correctly, there is more room for error with resistance band-only movements, so pay close attention to your form and make sure she’s on point.
Finally, don’t worry too much about the height of the anchor point, whether it’s above, below, or exactly in line with your body, says Fagan. For any specific movement, you will always work the same muscle groups, regardless of the height of the anchor; it’s just that there will be slight differences in which muscle fibers are targeted, Fagan says. For example, a high anchor for chest flies (similar to a high cable fly) will target the upper fibers of the pec major, while a low anchor will target the lower fibers of the pec major. These differences are minimal and the most important thing is that you find a strong and secure anchor point. (Here is more information on setting up an anchor point.)
Now onto specific training. Fagan suggests doing this three-move routine, which targets all of your chest muscles, as well as your shoulders, triceps, and core, twice a week. You’ll start with an AMRAP set, where you’ll challenge your chest muscles with as many reps as you can with the push-up, then move on to a banded superset to slim down your chest even more while paying some attention to your triceps. , too. You can do this routine as a finisher after another strength workout, like one that targets your legs or back, for example. Or, you can do it before or after cardio.
However you fit this workout into your routine, be sure to warm up first. (This is a great upper body warm-up you can try whether you’re preparing for that cable chest workout or a full-body strength workout.) Then, once you’ve started the routine, be sure to focus on form and the right mind-muscle connection. If you don’t feel your muscles working as you perform reps, tap them gently; it can help activate them, says Fagan.
Ready to seriously strengthen your upper body at home with resistance bands? Keep scrolling for an amazing three-move routine you’ll want to add to your arsenal of great chest workouts.
What do you need: A resistance band. The right level of resistance will depend on your fitness level and other factors, but as a general starting point, Fagan suggests starting with a medium strength band. (Here’s more information on how to choose the best resistance bands and some great options to try.)
- Chest fly
- Tricep extension
- Start with the AMRAP set, which stands for “as many reps as possible.” Do as many push-ups as possible with good form. Rest 1-2 minutes, then repeat. Complete 3 turns in total.
- Then move on to the superset. Do each move for 10-15 reps without resting between moves. Rest for 1 minute, then repeat. Complete 2 turns in total.
Demonstration of the movements below are Francine Delgado-Lugo (GIF 1), co-founder of FORM Fitness Brooklyn; Rosimer Suarez (GIF 2), a special education teacher from New York; and Nicole Figueroa, a NASM-certified personal trainer and an online fitness coach.