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Build a big, strong and defined chest with the low cable crossover

Build size and strength across your chest by mastering the challenging but rewarding low cable crossover, says New Body Plan’s Joe Warner

Why should I do low cable crossover?

The more popular high-cable cable crossover, where the pulleys are positioned at the top of the machine, works all of your chest with specific focus on the lower chest, so if you want to improve muscular definition across the upper portion of your chest muscles you need to add the low-cable crossover in to your training plan.

Raising your arms from a low position up to at least chest height shifts more of the workload to the upper part of the pectoralis major (the proper name for the biggest muscle of the chest), which breaks down more of the muscle fibres that make up this fan-shaped muscle so that they will be rebuilt bigger and stronger to give you the wider and more impressive upper body you want.

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How do I do low cable crossover?

Position the pulleys at the bottom the cable machine with D-handles fixed to each side with a carabiner. Stand upright in the middle of the machine with one foot forward and one back (a split stance), then grip the handle in each hand with a slight bend in your arms, and with your elbows behind your torso. In this start position you should feel a good stretch across your lower chest.

Stand tall with your chin and chest up and your abs tight, then begin the rep by raising your hands up and round in a smooth and controlled arc so that your hands meet – and then cross – in front of your chest.

Bonus Form Tip: Once your hands cross in front of your chest, pause in this position for a one or two count – focusing entirely on tensing your chest muscles with maximum force – so even more muscle fibres are recruited to manage the load against gravity, which will result in faster size and strength gains.

Slowly lower your hands back down in the reverse movement pattern to the lifting phase of the rep, ensuring you are in full control of the weight at all times, so your muscles are wholly responsible for both lifting and lowering the load. Pause in this bottom position and only then initiate the next rep: this pause eliminates any momentum or bounce reflex from each rep to work your chest muscles as hard as possible.

On odd-number reps ensure your right hand goes in front of your left hand as they cross, then on even-number reps make your left hand cross in front of your right.

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What low cable crossover variations can I do?

Raising the pulleys from the bottom of the cable machine to the top, then pressing down and round, rather than up and round, turns the low-to-high cable crossover into the more traditional high-cable crossover exercise, which works the muscles of the chest and shoulders from a different angle and through a different range of motion to build muscular size and strength across your entire chest.

Moving the pulleys up so that the D-handles are position at nipple height makes the move a cable flye, one of the best machine moves for isolating the muscles of the chest.

The cable chest press is one cable machine move that not many people do, but it should feature alongside the barbell bench press, Smith machine bench press, and dumbbell bench press (in flat, decline and incline versions) as well as the chest press and pec dec and any other chest-specific resistance machines in a balanced, progressive and effective muscle-building workout programme.

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