15 Best Cable Crossover Alternative Exercises to Build A Well-Toned Chest
The cable crossover is a cable machine exercise that allows you to work your chest from different angles. In this guide, we will look at a selection of the best cable crossover alternative exercises that you can do to help you achieve similar benefits.
The cable crossover is one of the most popular chest exercises in any gym, but it is not always the most practical.
In this guide, we will look at what makes the exercise effective. We will also look at a selection of the best cable crossover alternative exercises that you can do to help you achieve similar benefits if you don’t have access to the required equipment.
What is the Cable Crossover?
The cable crossover is a cable machine exercise that isolates the pectoral (chest) muscles. It allows you to work your chest from different angles. It also removes the triceps (back of arms) and deltoids (shoulder muscles) from the equation. This is beneficial if your arms or shoulders tire, but your chest still needs some work.
The cable crossover is an isolation exercise. This means whereas some exercises work many muscle groups (compound movements), an isolation exercise will target one muscle group.
Benefits of Cable Crossover
Excellent “finisher” exercise for pectorals
One of the few exercises that isolate the pecs
Great for drop sets
Limitations of Cable Crossover
Can be uncomfortable to perform (handles hitting opposing hands)
Requires a double-station cable machine
Takes up a lot of space
Can be uncomfortable for people with rotator cuff injuries
What are the Best Cable Crossover Alternative Exercises?
In this section, we will look at 15 cable crossover alternative exercises that you can add to your workout.
Increasing the variety of exercises that you know will help to prevent boredom. It also gives you better options if you have a home gym where space and equipment may be issues.
Incline Cable Fly
This incline cable fly is one of the most enjoyable and effective pectoral isolation exercises. It is also one of the most effective cable crossover alternative exercises
You will need a cable station, like with cable crossovers. But instead of setting the pulley to the top of the station, you will place it at the bottom. Then do the following next thing you will want to do is grab a bench. Place it right in the middle of the cable station and set the seat to a 45-degree incline.
You want the bench set so that when you use it, the handles are in line with your chest. This can take a while to get right, so prepare to spend a couple of minutes shifting the bench around.
Once it is set up, lie on the bench, and grab a handle in each hand. Slightly bend your arms, and then pull the handles up and together as if you are performing a huge clap.
Pause when the handles are above your chest, and then slowly lower them back to the starting position. The slower and smoother the better. Stop before the handles reach the bottom of the cable station. Pause for a great stretch before pulling them together again.
Pec Deck Resistance Machine
The Pec Deck is a common piece of equipment found in most gyms. It works like a flat dumbbell or cable fly, which you perform sitting upright.
This cable crossover alternative exercise is great as a finisher, or for drop sets, as it is easy to lower the weight. It doesn’t always offer as great a stretch as a cable crossover, but it is a fine alternative.
To do this substitute for cable crossover exercise, sit on the Peck Deck machine. Ensure that the handles are the right height. You want your elbows in line with your shoulders. Place your head back on the headrest, push your chest out and make sure your feet are flat on the ground. Take hold of the handles.
Keep your back flat against the seat. Take a deep breath in and then breathe out as you pull the handles towards each other. Pause when the handles are almost touching. Return them to the starting position.
Incline Dumbbell Fly
The incline dumbbell fly is a great alternative to the cable crossover. It provides a great stretch for your pecs, is easy to set up, and is simple to learn.
Grab an exercise bench and set it up at a 45-degree angle. Using a neutral grip, grab a dumbbell with each hand. Lie back on the bench with your arms slightly bent and above your chest with palms facing inwards.
Take a deep breath and pull your arms apart like a bird spreading its wings. Keep a slight bend in your arms as you do so. When your arms are fully extended, breathe out and pull the dumbbells back together like a giant clap.
An assisted dip machine is a cable crossover alternative exercise that allows you to perform high rep finishers. This is great for fatiguing the chest muscles in a similar way to cable crossovers. You can use an assisted dip machine (as described below) or you can use a resistance band wrapped around your knees on a normal dip bar.
Muscles Targeted: Pectorals (chest), Triceps (back of arms), Deltoids (shoulders) Level: Beginner/Intermediate Equipment: Assisted Dip Machine, or Dip Bars and Resistance Band
Steps to Follow
Set the assisted dip machine up so that you can perform a higher rep count. This means making it easier and adding more counterweight. Set the bars wide (if the machine allows this) and grab hold tight.
Lean forward slightly to put more emphasis on your chest and less on your triceps. Then lower yourself down until your chest is in line with your hands.
Pause, and then drive back upwards to complete the movement.
Suspension Trainer Chest Fly
Suspension trainers are popular in gyms, bootcamps, and exercise classes. They are cheap to buy, take up almost no space at all when not in use, and can offer a great cable crossover alternative workout.
The further back you place your feet, the harder the exercise becomes. Make sure that your shoes don’t slip on the floor before attempting this. Also, ensure that the suspension trainer is securely fastened to a stable object.
Muscles Targeted: Pectorals (chest), Abdominals Level: Intermediate Equipment: You will need a Suspension Trainer to do this cable crossover alternative at home
Steps to Follow
Grab a handle in each hand and place your arms out in front of you. Keep your feet together and lean forward until your arms are fully straight.
Pull your arms apart, like you would for a normal cable fly. As you do so, lean forwards. Stop when you’ve got a good pectoral stretch going.
Then pull your torso backward and pull your arms back together. That’s one rep.
Wide Stance Push-Ups
Wide stance push ups are a cable crossover alternative exercise that place more emphasis on the chest than regular push ups. That makes it an acceptable alternative to cable crossovers.
Place your hands flat on the floor at a wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Place your feet together and maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Keep your hips flat, don’t let them rise or drop.
Lower your chest down towards the ground, stop when it is about a fist in height away from the ground. Pause, and then drive back upwards.
Flat Bench Cable Fly
A great alternative to the cable crossover that stretches the chest really well. it is a fun exercise to perform, particularly at the end of a chest workout.
Muscles Targeted: Pectorals (chest) Level: Beginner Equipment: Bench, Cable Station
Steps to Follow
To perform this fun cable crossover alternative exercise, place a flat bench in the center of a cable station with the pulleys set to the bottom.
Grab a handle in each hand and lie back, making sure the handles are in line with your chest.
Take a deep breath and then pull the handles up and together in an arc. Keep your arms slightly bent throughout.
Pause, and then lower the handles back down until they almost reach the bottom. Pause again to stretch your pecs.
Pull the handles back above your chest for the next rep.
Flat Bench Chest Fly
This exercise is the most like a cable crossover on this list. All you need is some light dumbbells and a bench.
Grab a dumbbell and lie backward on a bench. Shift up on the bench so that your head is right at the end of it.
Rest the dumbbell on your chest so that it is standing upright. Place your hands in a diamond shape so that the dumbbell handle is between them. Raise the dumbbell straight up in the air using this diamond grip.
Keeping the dumbbell upright. Bring your arms back over your head. Stop when the dumbbell is almost touching the ground behind your bench.
Pause, and then drive the dumbbell back upwards until it is directly above your chest again.
Dumbbell Press and Fly Combo
This cable crossover alternative exercise is also known as the Tele Fly. It’s a great way to increase the amount of weight you use during a regular fly. It also targets the triceps nicely.
Grab a dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip and lie back on the bench. The dumbbells should be resting on your chest with your elbows tucked into your sides.With both hands facing towards each other, drive your arms upwards, keeping your elbows close to your sides throughout.
Don’t fully extend your arms, you want a very slight bend in them.
Pull your hands apart and bring the dumbbells outwards until your hands are parallel with the floor.
Tuck your elbows into your sides and then drive the dumbbells back into the air to restart the exercise.
Floor Slide Presses
For this exercise, you will need an exercise mat (or something soft to place your knees on) and a set of floor sliders. It’s a great cable crossover alternative chest exercise and takes up very little space. Perfect for home gyms
Place your knees on an exercise mat and put your hands on some floor sliders (they need to be off the mat). Get into a knee-push up position. Hands directly under shoulders, flat back, knees, and feet touching the mat.
Slide your hands apart, lowering your chest towards the ground. Pause when your chest is almost touching the ground.
Slide your hands back together, raising your chest back off the ground and returning to the starting position.
Resistance Band Crossover
This exercise is identical to the cable crossover, but instead of using a cable station, you can just use a resistance band. Perfect for home gyms or for setting up in your bedroom.
Muscles Targeted: Pectorals (chest) Level: Beginner Equipment: Resistance Band
Steps to Follow
Wrap a band around a pole and hold a handle in each hand. Bring the band up to chest height. Face away from the pole and bend arms slightly. Pull handles out wide.
Bring your arms forwards until the handles are next to each other in front of your chest.
Single Arm Band Fly
A great one-armed version of the resistance band crossover. If space is an issue, then, one of the best cable crossover alternative exercises at your disposal is the single arm band fly. It is a good workout for abs too, as they work hard to keep you facing forward.
Muscles Targeted: Pectorals (chest), Abdominals Level: Intermediate Equipment: Resistance Band
Steps to Follow
Set the resistance band up on a post so that it’s nice and high up. Grab both handles in one hand, stand sideways onto the post, and place your feet shoulder-width apart.
Start with your arm slightly bent and your hand above shoulder height. Pull the handles forwards and down so that you finish with the handle directly in front of your chest.
Pause, and then slowly return the handle to the starting position.
Perform the required number of reps and then turn around and swap hands.
Suspension Trainer Push Up
Suspension trainers are amazing for home gyms as they are inexpensive, versatile, and take up very little space. They are good cable crossover alternative exercises if performed in the correct way.
Ebben, W. P., Wurm, B., Vanderzanden, T. L., Spadavecchia, M. L., Durocher, J. J., Bickham, C. T., & Petushek, E. J. (2011). Kinetic analysis of several variations of push-ups. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(10), 2891-2894 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21873902