Chest Machine Exercises (with Video)

Beautiful woman doing chest exercises in gym

Free weights, like barbells and dumbbells, can be intimidating for beginners, particularly because proper form is vital to using those weights safely and effectively and bodyweight exercises like push ups sometimes don’t cut it. If you have a gym membership, however, you can start with the weight machines—although they isolate muscles, rather than allowing you to work multiple muscle groups at one time, the machines challenge you while guiding you through the exercise safely. There are many chest exercises you can do to build up your pecs and other chest muscles via machines. Here are the best chest machine exercises to add to your chest workout.

Chest Press Machine

Chest press machines simulate a bodybuilding classic; the incline bench press. However instead of an elevated flat bench, this exercise takes place in the seated position. This targets the upper chest along with creating activation in other upper body muscles like the triceps and shoulders, depending on which grip you choose. Start the rep by sitting at the chest press machine with back and head firmly pressed on the seat. Grasp the handles and push with neutral wrist position until your arms are fully extended. Pause the range of motion and slowly return to the starting position.

Seated Cable Chest Press

Cable machines give you a little more leeway than weight machines due to its pulley; therefore, watch your form to make sure you’re doing the exercise safely and in a way that helps to build muscle. The seated cable press helps with muscle growth in the lower chest as well as the pectoral muscles.

Sit with your lower back pressed against the backrest. The cable’s handles should be level with your mid-chest and shoulder-width apart. Hold the handles and move your handles so they’re in front of your chest, keeping your wrists neutral, not bent, throughout the entire exercise.

On the exhale, push the handles forward to straighten your arms. Keep your shoulders back. Press through until your arms are straight, but your elbows are not locked.

Return to the starting position to complete one repetition. As variations, you can press the cables down toward your thighs to complete a decline cable press or up toward the ceiling, to complete an incline cable press. These variations work your muscles from different angles and offer new challenges.

Standing Chest Fly

Muscular man doing cable fly exercise at the gym

The chest press machine guides you through the exercise with good form.

Flyes are a chest day staple but the dumbbell fly can be hard on the shoulder joint and a bit too easy on the inner chest if not done correctly. Use a standing chest fly machine to shred the pectoralis major and kill your chest training program. While doing a standing cable fly, engage your core to stabilize your spine and give your midsection a little extra hypertrophy.

Position the machine’s cable handles so they’re level with the top of your hand and then grab a handle with each hand in a close grip. Lifters should stand in split-stance position, meaning one foot is in front of the other slightly.

Push both arms down in front of your body until your elbows are straight, keeping a slight bend in your arms and your wrists neutral.

Return to the starting position, moving in a slow, controlled manner. You can also complete this move by pulling the cables directly in front of you or above you, to work different muscles. To do so, adjust the height of the cables appropriately.

Cable Crossover

Young Handsome Bodybuilder Is Working On His Chest With Cable Crossover In A Well Equipped Gym

The chest press machine guides you through the exercise with good form.

Cable crossover is one of the best exercises to add to your strength training workout routine. Get into a standing position with handles at shoulder level. Grab one in each hand, take a small step forward and slightly lean over. Draw your arms towards the center of your torso until your arms criss cross then let go.


Be sure to meet with a CPT, a certified personal trainer, or a health professional before starting a workout routine.

Explore In Depth

The Effect of Combined Machine and Body Weight Circuit Training for Women on Muscle Strength and Body Composition September 01, 2015
  • Michal Lehnert
  • Petr Stastny
  • Martin Sigmund
  • Zuzana Xaverova
  • Blanka Hubnerova
Maximal Strength Performance and Muscle Activation for the Bench Press and Triceps Extension Exercises Adopting Dumbbell, Barbell, and Machine Modalities Over Multiple Sets. July 01, 2017
  • Déborah de Araújo Farias
  • Jeffrey M. Willardson
  • Gabriel Andrade Paz
  • Ewertton de Souza Bezerra
  • Humberto Miranda
A comparison of muscle activity and 1-RM strength of three chest-press exercises with different stability requirements January 10, 2011
  • Atle H. Saeterbakken
  • Roland van den Tillaar
  • Marius S. Fimland