Cable crossovers are a favourite when it comes to pec workouts, but it’s not always one that’s easy to get right. There’s more to it than meets the eye, and some popular mistakes are always being made. It’s a good idea to take another look at how you’re doing any exercise to make sure that you’re nailing it, and this is a great example.

The exercise has a lot of variation to it, and depending on the angle that you’re working from, can influence multiple areas of the chest muscles. This guide focuses on decline cable crosses, as it is the most common variation, but the guide is applicable to most angles.

Set up

Close up of a cable crossover

As always, before you can really get the best out of any exercise, you need to be prepared. Outside of the warm-up that goes without saying, you need to make sure you’re set up correctly. Cable crossovers don’t require much preparation, but you still need to get it right for the best results.

Cable height

First, the height of the cables is essential. You don’t want them to be too high, but make sure that they are above your head. As you step and lean slightly forward, it will give them the anchorage they need to hold you up and give your chest the contraction that is required for the exercise.

Foot forward

Place your foot forward. It isn’t too important which foot it is. In fact, a good idea is to change between sets to make sure you aren’t creating any imbalances! Bend your knee slightly to make sure you have room to support yourself, as it needs to be your chest that is doing all the work. If your stance is off, it’s easy to rely on other areas of your body for added strength without you even realising it.

Technique

Woman performing cable crossover

So, once you have your set up good to go, you need to sort your look more closely at how to do cable crossovers and the technique behind them. That’s where the benefit is going to be after all. There are slightly more things to think about here, both from a safety point of view and regarding performance. You need to be getting everything that you can out of the exercise at the end of the day!

Arms slightly bent

Leading on from the point of safety above, your arm angle may be more important than you think. Although your arms shouldn’t really change in position as you’re moving, the angle needs to be there in the first place. A slight bend in your arm ensures that you aren’t putting too much unnatural stress on the ligaments in your arm. This is essential for preventing injury both in the long and in the short term!

Pivot at shoulders only

Your shoulders need to be the only things that are moving in the cable cross. This is something that we really can’t stress enough. Everything else should stay locked into place to prevent you from drawing power from where it shouldn’t be. This will only hinder your progress at the end of the day, and it will hold you back in the long run. In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to injure yourself if you aren’t doing it! It is also crucial not to step too far back, as this would strain your shoulders.

As far as the weights are concerned, you need to keep them light - this exercise is not an overload one.

Cross over to finish

The final point of how to do cable crossovers properly, believe it or not, is the cross over. It’s not uncommon to see people intending to do the exercise as it should be but stopping as the cables meet in front of the torso. It got its name for a reason, and you need to be crossing them for proper results. When the cables cross, that’s when your chest is getting the most significant part of the contraction, and where you’ll see the benefit of the exercise.

Overall, there’s not too much to consider here. A lot of it may seem like common practice depending on your familiarity with the exercise, but it’s still an easy one to get wrong. Take your time, warm up, get your weight right, and cross the cables! A good chest stretch after the workout is always a good idea, too, but that is dependent on the structure of your workouts. Find what works best for you.

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.