In this tutorial, we will go over the target muscle, setup, form, and more for the seated cable chest press. For more workout tips, tricks, and information, follow me on Instagram @daniellehamlin or visit the Exercise Library​ :) Enjoy the video!


Multi-Joint Movement

Joints and Joint Type Involved: Shoulder (ball-and-socket joint) and Elbow (hinge joint)

Main Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major

Equipment: Machine

Prerequisites: Ability to contract the pec and produce horizontal adduction and abduction at the shoulder joint against the weight of limb without pain or problems. Also, the ability to flex and extend the elbow joint against the weight of limb without pain or problems.

A pec press is a multi-joint movement that recruits both the shoulder and elbow joints in order to extend the arms out in front of one’s body. Before you attempt to do this exercise be sure you can adequately contract your pecs, adduct and abduct at the shoulder, and flex and extend at the elbow without any pain. Once you have demonstrated that you can sufficiently do all five without any problems you may be ready to move through the range against additional resistance. For this exercise, you will need to use a cable pec machine or a cable machine with a bench that can be adjusted to the upright position.


1. To get started, you will first need to establish your working range, which will also help in adjusting the machine to your body. Start by taking a seat with your arms out in front of you. From there retract and depress your shoulder blades to mimic the exercise to come. Begin to abduct your upper arms and bend at the elbow to keep the forearms in line with the resistance to come. Continue to pull the shoulder blades down and around as you move through the arm path until you have reached a comfortable lengthened end range for the arms and shoulder blades. To establish the shortened end range, attempt to keep the shoulder blades back and down while you bring the arms in front of you. If the arms come in too close, the shoulder blades may slip and the delts may take over the move.

2. After you have established your working range and notated those positions, adjust the seat height or the cable height to match your range of motion and arm height.

3. Pick a weight. It would be beneficial to pick a light weight at first to confirm your range of motion and your ability to CONTROL the weight. DO NOT whip the weight around… ever. Once you have demonstrated control you may be ready to increase the weight.

4. Stabilize. Before you do a rep be sure to stabilize everything as much as possible that is not the shoulder and elbow joint. This will assure that you are producing as much output in the pecs as possible.

Areas to stabilize:

-Retract and depress the shoulder blades. Think about using the lats to lock the shoulder blades in this position.

-Extend through your thoracic spine to help pack the shoulder blades and brace with the abs to counteract any lumbar extension.

-Create tension between your feet and the floor and utilize your legs to drive your shoulder blades further into the back pad of the seat.

5. To initiate the pec press contract the pecs and continue to focus on the contraction through the rep. Keep the forearms in line with the cables. If the cable does not line up with the forearms the biceps and triceps will attempt to stabilize the elbow and become fatigued quickly.

6. Pause at the top of the rep to establish control and confirm the end of your range where you still have tension on the pecs and do not experience any pain or joint discomfort. Slowly bring back the weight, again focusing on the pecs. Only go as far as you can go without losing tension on the pecs and maintaining proper form.

NOTE: If you go along and begin to feel this exercise in your delts it means that your shoulder blades have crept out of place and are no longer retracted and depressed. Correct by revisiting step 4.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until your set is complete.

For common mistakes and easy corrections, see 2:31​ 👍

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