Incline Cable Fly Exercise Guide — How to, Muscles Worked, & Benefits

high cable fly

The incline cable fly is an isolation exercise for the upper pecs. 

Gym-goers sculpt their muscles through diverse routines, yet achieving a well-defined chest often presents a significant challenge. The difficulty lies in discovering a workout that effectively isolates the chest muscles. Enter the cable fly machine.

The cable fly is a superior variation of the traditional chest fly. It utilizes a cable machine to target the chest precisely. This guide highlights an especially compelling variant: the incline cable fly. This exercise elevates muscle engagement by incorporating an incline bench positioned at a cable station or functional trainer to activate more upper pecs. 

This piece explores the incline cable fly in-depth, highlighting its advantages and the specific muscle groups it activates. Additionally, it provides a comprehensive, step-by-step tutorial to ensure optimal execution for maximal benefits. As a bonus, readers will discover alternative exercises for cultivating similar upper-body strength, rounding out their fitness regimen.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The incline cable fly is a cable-strengthening exercise focusing on all areas of your chest muscles. It also targets your shoulders and arm muscles. Core muscles, like your abs and obliques, act as stabilizers when performing this exercise.

You can perform this exercise using a functional trainer and a bench for back support. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform the incline cable fly correctly on a bench.

  1. Place the bench halfway between the functional trainer and set it at an inclined angle of about 30-45 degrees.
  2. Set the cable pulley to its lowest level on the functional trainer and select your desired weight.
  3. Lay on the bench and grab the D-handles from each side of the functional trainer, bringing them together by extending your arms just in front of your face. This is your starting position.
  4. Next, slightly bend your elbows and slowly lower your arms till you feel the maximum stretch in your pecs. Keep your elbows bent and your shoulders pulled back.
  5. Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position, squeezing your chest muscles. This completes one rep.
  6. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.


The incline cable fly is an isolation exercise that builds the upper body muscles, primarily the pecs. Using a machine for this exercise helps with balance, allowing you to focus on the target muscles more. Below are the benefits of adding this exercise to your workouts.

Muscle Hypertrophy

Performing the incline cable fly works upper body muscles like the chest and delts. The cable’s constant tension, targeting these specific muscles, induces muscle hypertrophy. This study shows continuous tension increases muscle growth during resistance exercises (1).

Builds Core Muscles

Balance and body coordination are essential when doing the incline cable fly. Performing this exercise with the correct form requires bracing your core muscles. Constantly putting core muscles under tension, like your abs and obliques, strengthens them. This is good for balance and reduces the chance of injuries.

Builds Upper Chest

The primary muscles targeted during this exercise are the pecs, especially the upper portion. Regularly performing this exercise causes a full stretch and squeezing of the chest muscle fibers. This strengthens, builds, and develops these chest muscles.

Better Mind-Muscle Connection

The incline cable fly is an isolation exercise. Isolation exercises allow you to use your mind-muscle connection to engage and stimulate muscle growth more. Over time, doing the incline cable fly can help strengthen your mind-muscle connection when targeting your chest. 


The incline cable fly is an upper-body strength training exercise. However, to avoid hitting a plateau, it’s essential to integrate other exercises to maximize upper-body gains. This study shows how athletes can benefit from adding alternative exercises to their routines (2). Below is a list of alternative exercises athletes can use to target similar muscles.

Incline Bench Press

Using an incline bench and free weights, this exercise targets the upper pecs, anterior delts, and triceps. The significant difference is that it’s a compound movement versus an isolation exercise. Core muscles like the abs and obliques also play a role in stabilizing the incline bench press. You can do this routine with a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell.

Decline Push-up

Pushups are bodyweight exercises that target the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Performing them at a decline will engage more of the upper pecs. For more resistance, you can use weighted vests or resistance bands.

Chest Dips

The chest dip is a bodyweight exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the chest, delts, and triceps muscles. It’s very effective for building muscle mass and can give you that chest pump.


What do incline cable flys work?

The incline cable fly works your upper body muscles, mainly focusing on the chest, shoulders, and arm muscles. Core muscles like your abs and obliques act as stabilizing muscles when performing this exercise.

How do you do the standing incline cable fly?

The standing cable fly is almost similar to the incline cable fly; the only difference is that you do one standing while resting on an incline bench. Grab the D-handles on each side of the functional trainer and pull the cable up. Do this until your hands meet at arm’s length in the middle, then perform the fly movement.  

What are the benefits of cable flyes?

Cable flyes are a great way to isolate and target your chest muscles. The constant tension from the cable machine helps to activate them in a novel way.

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  1. Burd, N. A., Andrews, R. J., West, D. W., Little, J. P., Cochran, A. J., Hector, A. J., Cashaback, J. G., Gibala, M. J., Potvin, J. R., Baker, S. K., & Phillips, S. M. (2012). Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. The Journal of physiology, 590(2), 351–362.
  2. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.