Fly Low Pulley

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Adjust the pulley height on each side to the lowest level.
  2. Grasp the D-handles on each side with a closed grip.
  3. Locate yourself in the center of the cable crossover station with your shoulders lined up in front of the pulleys.
  4. Assume a stable stance with one foot placed ahead of the other with slightly bent knees to optimize balance.
  5. Extend arms at your sides with upper arms and elbows in line with your torso.
  6. Maintain a bend in your elbows at an angle of approximately 10 degrees. Elbows will remain in this slightly bent position throughout the entire exercise to keep arms rounded for the arc-shaped movement.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Lift both arms upward while following an arc pattern that brings your fists together above your head.
Do not forcefully touch the D-handles/fists together at the end of the upward phase.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, open your arms while lowering them in the same arc pattern followed in the upward phase.
    2. Simultaneously open and lower your arms until your upper arms and elbows are in line with your torso.
    3. Maintain the bend in your elbows. Only the shoulder joint should be moving throughout the entire exercise.
    4. Maintain your feet flat on the floor in their stable stance throughout the entire exercise.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase. Do not bounce at the bottom of the movement when proceeding to the next repetition/concentric phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Pectoralis major
  • Synergists: Anterior deltoid, triceps brachii, middle deltoid, coracobrachialis
  • Stabilizers: Biceps brachii, wrist flexors, rotator cuff muscles
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Horizontal shoulder adduction and shoulder flexion
  • Equipment: Cable crossover station and two D-handles
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Fly Low Pulley

    What Is A Low Pulley Cable Fly?

    A low pulley cable fly is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary horizontal shoulder adductor, the pectoralis major. This exercise is performed standing in the center of a cable crossover station.

    The concentric portion of the lift is a combination of horizontal shoulder adduction and shoulder flexion. The concentric portion involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion entails horizontal shoulder abduction and shoulder extension, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The purpose of the low pulley cable fly is to strengthen the upper portion of the pectoralis major while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of this muscle.

    Why Do A Low Pulley Cable Fly?

    Low pulley cable flyes increase the size and strength of the upper (clavicular) and lower (sternocostal) heads of the pectoralis major with added emphasis on the upper region.

    Low pulley cable flyes entail a stretch of the pectoralis major as the arms are fully abducted, resulting in significant activation of the pectoralis major fibers as the arms adduct. Cable flyes particularly activate the outer fibers of the pectoralis major. This includes the fibers that form the axilla (the front of the “arm pit”). Like the bench press, chest flyes are a staple exercise to develop the chest.

    The long head of the triceps, anterior deltoid and middle deltoid are also activated in this movement.

    Performing this exercise with a cable provides constant resistance throughout the entire range of motion.

    Low pulley cable flyes serve as a valuable exercise to improve aesthetics of the pectoral muscle.

    Anatomy Of A Low Pulley Cable Fly

    The pectoralis major is a large, fan-shaped muscle that spans across the chest, forming the front portion of the axillary fold (arm pit). It is divided into two parts: clavicular and sternal. Its origin is located at the sternal end of the clavicle, the sternum, rib cartilage (ribs 1-6 [or 7]), and the aponeurosis of the external oblique. The fibers of the pectoralis major converge at the point of insertion located at the greater tubercle of the humerus. The pectoralis major aids in pushing movements as the shoulder adducts the arm against resistance. The shoulder horizontally adducts as the D-handles follow through the upward arc pattern upward.

    The horizontal shoulder adduction accompanied by shoulder flexion targets the clavicular head of the pectoralis major. Therefore, low pulley cable flyes stress the fibers of the upper region of the pectoralis major.

    The triceps brachii is located on the back of the upper arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of three heads, the long, medial and lateral head. The medial head lies beneath the long and lateral head. The long head origin is located at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula (shoulder blade). The original of the lateral head is located at the posterior shaft of the humerus. The medial head origin is located at the radial groove of the posterior humeral shaft.

    The long and lateral heads make up the “horseshoe” portion of the triceps. All three heads merge, sharing insertion into the olecranon process of the ulna, located at the elbow joint.
    The triceps brachii extend the elbow joint. The long head assists in arm adduction when executing the chest fly.

    The deltoid is a thick, multipennate muscle that forms a curtain around the shoulder. It is the primary muscle involved with arm abduction. The anterior fibers are a primary shoulder flexor and are activated in this exercise. The anterior deltoid is a primary synergist of the pectoralis major. When developed, the deltoids give the shoulder their round shape. The origin of the deltoid is located at the insertion of the trapezius, lateral third of the clavicle and the acromion spine of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus.

    Like the anterior fibers of the deltoid, the coracobrachialis is a synergist pectoralis major with horizontal shoulder adduction. It is a small muscle originating at the coracoid process of the scapula and inserting half way down the shaft of the humerus.

    The wrist flexors stabilize the wrists and the rotator cuff muscles stabilize the shoulder girdle.

    Variations Of A Low Pulley Cable Fly

    High pulley cable fly, chest height pulley cable fly, incline cable fly, [standing] cable crossover, dumbbell chest fly, machine chest fly.

    How To Improve Your Low Pulley Cable Fly

    If your cable crossover station is adjustable at various heights, and not just with high and low pulleys, you can vary the pulley height with your cable flyes. Performing high pulley cable flyes will target the lower (sternocostal) region of the pectoralis major. Performing cable flyes at various levels in between high and low will further maximize fiber activation of the pectoralis major from all angles. This will promote optimal gains in strength and hypertrophy of the pectoralis major. The lower the pulley height, the greater the emphasis on the upper region of the pectoralis major. The higher the pulley height, the greater the emphasis on the lower region.

    When lowering the weight during the eccentric phase, extending the elbow (opening the arms) slightly will allow for a greater stretch on the pectoralis major before proceeding to lift the weight. This will increase pectoralis major fiber activation. Experienced lifters should only do this as it may increase the risk of injury to the shoulder joint.

    To minimize negative stress on your shoulder joint, do not allow the shoulder to extend behind the torso.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as the D-handles are lifted upward.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It is important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between chest and triceps training to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing A Low Pulley Cable Fly

    Lowering the weight excessively by extending the shoulder past the torso (when opening your arms on the eccentric phase) should be avoided as it results in excessive shoulder extension. This can place great stress on the shoulder joint. Ensure that the upper arms do not pass the level of the torso when lowering the weight. 1

    Bouncing the D-handles/fists together at the top of the upward phase is unnecessary. Ensure that both concentric and eccentric phases of this exercise are controlled and momentum is minimized.

    1. Reinold MM, Gill TJ, Wilk KE et al. (2010). Current concepts in the evaluation and treatment of the shoulder in overhead throwing athletes, Part 2. Sports Health. 2(2):101-115.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding A Low Pulley Cable Fly

    If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. extending the upper arms past the level of the torso, dropping the weight quickly instead of controlling the descent on the eccentric portion of the lift), the likelihood of injury increases.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, biceps tendonitis/biceps tendinosis, pectoralis major tears and/or glenoid labrum tears may result. It is best to avoid chest fly exercises when addressing impingement syndrome/rotator cuff injury unless advised by a physical therapist.