The crosses on the cables for the pectorals are now a famous and extremely popular exercise in international bodybuilding. The fame of this exercise derives from the fact that it has been, for a long time, unique in the world of gym training.
Being a type of exercise that trains the pectorals by emphasizing the maximum shortening phase to the maximum, providing a peak contraction that the variant with dumbbells or stretches does not allow.
In this article, we will analyze what is the classic execution of cable crosses, also seeing the different variants that we can insert into our training program.
Cable Crosses: Correct Execution
The “classic” execution of the cable crosses foresees to work with the crossover machine thus having two pulleys, one on the right and one on the left.
In the starting position, the athlete has his arms open and, during the concentric phase, he will carry out adduction of the humerus until reaching the maximum possible shortening of the pectoral major.
The cables will allow you to maintain tension throughout the ROM. In the eccentric phase, we will simply stretch the pectoral up to the starting position.
Common Mistakes In Cable Crosses
Although the crosses, in its version with cables, are at most an exercise that is easy to read and execute, it is extremely common to regularly observe errors on the part of those who perform them, let’s find out together:
- excessive abduction and anterior scapular tilt during the shortening phase
- arms hypertensive during the exercise
- use a load that is not suitable for the nature of the operation
An excessive abduction and anterior scapular tilt during the muscle shortening phase are easily observed as in many situations, as soon as the concentric phase of the movement begins, (the one in which the cable handles are brought forward) and a level of the scapula-thoracic tract (one does not remain open with the rib cage but closes), which leads the shoulders to place themselves excessively, going beyond the pectoral line, thus “stealing” muscle work from the latter.
During the pectoral lengthening phase, when the cable handles translate posteriorly, the shoulder blades must be adduced and depressed, once this phase is over, the shoulder blades will physiologically abdicate, but the excessive abduction will create the scenario described above, therefore an increased workload on the deltoid.
In summary, it is therefore important to control the sliding of the scapular during the closing phase of the exercise, making sure that the shoulder blades do not open too much, which will put the pectoralis major at a mechanical disadvantage.
The hypertensive bars during the exercise are an attitude that will lead to a greater risk of joint injuries affecting the shoulder joint. limiting the possibility of adding the shoulder blades within the physiological ranges allowed by the exercise.
It is advisable to maintain some degree of flexion of the elbows during the muscle lengthening phase, and then extend the arms during the shortening or closing phase.
Using an unsuitable load for the nature of the exercise, it is advisable to use adequate resistance to perform the exercise in a suitable manner, with the right timing of the various phases of the movement, avoiding the attitudes described above, also the result of an excessive desire to want to use too high a load.
Cable crosses are an exercise that lends itself very well to medium-high rep range work, where metabolic stress is king, and the resistances used are relatively low to make the exercise safe and surgical on our target muscle. interest, the large breastplate
Variants Of Cable Crosses
There are different executive variants of the cable crosses exercise, and each of them is the victim of important technical measures to be respected.
Crosses Standing At The High Cables
It is the most commonly used variant, which allows excellent muscle isolation of the pectoral Grandis to the detriment of the anterior deltoid. In this variant, it is important to position yourself beyond the line of the cables, about two steps ahead, with the torso slightly tilted.
Then holding the handles of the cables, with the rib cage wide open and the shoulder blades in adduction and depression, concentrate on the adduction movement of the humerus which must start from the elbows and not from the wrists, up to the peak of contraction of the pectoral major.
The position with one foot forward and one back is recommended for greater stability and balance during exercise.
Crosses Standing At The Low Cables
Unlike the variant shown above, in this case, you find yourself having the cable handles positioned at a lower height on the pulleys.
A height that is too low (at ground level) would however lead to the strong involvement of the anterior deltoid and, substantially, to a simulation of the front lifts, an exercise for the shoulders.
It is therefore recommended to keep the height of the cables at the level of the pelvis no lower. In this variant the muscle activation moves preferentially on the clavicular bundles of the pectoralis major, the anterior deltoid will be more active during the adduction of the humerus in this variant than that of the high cables.
At 90 Degrees
Unlike the standing variants, this one resting on the bench undoubtedly guarantees greater stability during the execution of the exercise.
With the vertical bench, therefore at 90 °, positioned slightly ahead of the line of the cables, position the cables at shoulder height and perform the exercise without sharply accelerating the contraction phase into shortening, but trying to emphasize the work along all the degrees of ROM granted, also inserting a small contraction stop at the point of maximum shortening of the pectoral major.
Crosses On Flat Bench
The last variant we will discuss is the one on a flat bench, with the cables positioned at the bottom. Compared to the variant with dumbbells, it offers a continuous tension on the pectoral for the whole range of ROM and, by modulating the inclination of the bench, it will be possible to change the working angle and therefore the emphasis on the different pectoral bundles, exactly as it happens. in the version with handlebars.
Cable Crosses Training In The Gym And Bodybuilding
As already mentioned above, cable crosses are an exercise that lends itself well to work on the medium-high repetition range (10-20 reps), the external load used will be moderate but will end up almost entirely exclusively on the pectoralis major muscle (high internal load).
We must always take into account first of all the total volume for the pectoralis major muscle and the fact of progressing on the training series in the cable crosses could be a clever method of increasing the training volume through an accumulation of work deriving from a single-joint exercise but it is not of certainly the only method or necessarily the best.
It is, therefore, necessary to evaluate how you want to set the progressions on the target muscle district in the first place and not merely think about the individual exercises, progressing on each of them, for each muscle district, every week, since you would inexorably encounter an incredible accumulation of fatigue after a very short time, and we will be forced to unload extremely early.
It is generally recommended to insert the cable crosses exercise after the more mechanical work, given by exercises such as bench press with barbell or dumbbells, bending with overload, weighted dips.
Some individuals may also benefit from the reverse reasoning, that is to perform a single-joint exercise for deficient districts and only after working with multi-joint members.
This approach will inevitably affect the performance on compound exercises but will allow you to start with the muscle already stimulated, in order to more likely channel the work from the first reps on the target muscle.
How many sets and reps to do?
- Set. 1 → 3x 12-12-12 (variant standing on high wires)
- Set. 2 → 4x 12-12-12-12 (2 variant with standing on the top + 2 cables with standing variation at lower cables)
- Set. 3 → 5x 12-12-12-12-12 (3 with standing variant at high cables + 2 with a standing variant at low cables)
- Set. 4 → 6x 12-12-12-12-12-12 (3 with variant standing at high cables + 3 with variant standing at low cables)
- Set. 5 → 6x 12-12-12-12-12-12 (2 with variant standing at high cables + 2 with variant standing at cables bass + 2 with variant sitting on the bench)
- Set. 6 → 6x 12-12-12-12-12-12 (2 with variant standing with low cables + 2 with variant sitting on bench + 2 with a variant on the flat bench)
- Set. 7 →6x 12-12-12-12-12-12 (3 with variant sitting on bench + 3 with a variant on the flat bench)
Set. 8 (active drain) → 2x 12-12 (variant standing with high cables)
The 12 repetitions are not an arbitrary or magical number, they could be 10, like 13, like 15 or more, or change over the weeks by modulating the load or inserting intensification techniques.
The important thing is to understand the logic of the exercise, that is train a medium-high working range, with series leading to muscle failure in order to have recruitment of the entire full spectrum of muscle fibers.
Addition of Variants
Inserting the different variants over the course of the mesocycle and after weeks when one is used more, switching to another is a great way to change working angles and take advantage of the benefits that each variant can offer.
In the event that better muscle feedback is evident with one variant rather than the other over time, you will not necessarily have to enter all the possible variants but draw only from those or from the one that offers us the best sensations.
Crosses on cables or with dumbbells?
Is it more convenient to perform crosses with dumbbells or cables? To this question, the answer can only be it depends, but let’s find out from what. The execution with the dumbbells brings the pectorals to their peak of contraction at the end of the eccentric phase but does not allow a continuous tension along with the whole range of movement.
In fact, once we find ourselves with the arms in a straight line behind the shoulders, further adduction will no longer be the responsibility of the grand bib.
The execution with cables, on the other hand, allows a continuous tension along with the whole ROM, therefore it does not foresee dead or passive stretches for the target muscle.
The crosses on the cables should be complementary to those with the dumbbells and not necessarily alternatives, therefore I recommend that you insert both of them if necessary and divide the volume equally.
How To Train And Develop High Pecs?
We assume that when we talk about high pectorals we have to think about the chest as a whole. The appropriate selection of exercises and their execution will be fundamental.
The parameters you will find are a guideline, assuming you want to work mainly on the clavicular bundles of the chest, as such, they should not be taken and randomly placed on the card.
How many times to train them per week?
From 1 to 3 times a week, even here it is subjective and the frequency must be evaluated together with volume, intensity, and exercise selection.
Cable crosses are a very interesting exercise for training the pectoralis major muscle, which is recommended to be included in addition to the multi-joint background work by bench press, presses, dips, push-ups, etc.
Follow all the technical directions in the article to make the most of this exercise.