10 Cable Crossover Alternatives (Substitute Chest Exercises)

The cable crossover machine is one of the most effective pieces of equipment for building the upper body. The exercise provides many benefits for the chest, shoulders, arms, lats, and back. However, a crossover cable machine is a big piece of equipment rarely found outside the gym.  

The good news is that several alternative exercises offer the same benefits as using the cable crossover machine. We have researched and found the best cable crossover alternatives, all of which do not require a cable machine and will only use your own bodyweight or free weights. 

Crossovers are an effective method to work your chest because it is a compound exercise that triggers multiple groups of muscles at the same time. The crossover works multiple areas simultaneously, which helps achieve more growth in the upper body muscles 

There is also an added bonus for exercising your core. If you engage your core muscles daily, it will help you keep building a sturdier core that will work as the foundation for most of your lifts. 

Why Are Crossover Exercises So Effective

Top 10 Cable Crossover Alternatives 

Our list of cable crossover alternative exercises will allow you to work your pectoral muscles at home. Some of the exercises will require resistance bands, a few dumbbells, and a flat bench. The expenses of investing in these few pieces of equipment, though, ought to be a lot less than the cost of a cable crossover machine. 

1. Flat Dumbbell Fly 

The most popular cable crossover substitute with bodybuilders is the standard dumbbell fly on a flat exercise bench. They usually favor the dumbbell fly exercise because it isolates the pectoral muscles with the body supported on a flat bench. 

How To Perform The Flat Dumbbell Fly 

  • Hold a dumbbell in both hands, lie down on a flat bench with your arms resting above your chest. 
  • Stretch your arms upwards, and maintain the position with a slight bend in your elbows. 
  • Lower your arms slowly to each side. 
  • Inhale on the count of three. 
  • Let your arms drop until they are parallel to the floor. 
  • Exhale as you pull the dumbbells back up. 

It is worth picking a weight that allows you to perform 8 to 10 repetitions of the exercise with a full range of motion. If you cut the movement short, you will not benefit from the flat dumbbell fly. 

2. Incline Dumbbell Fly 

Another great alternative to the cable cross exercise that isolates your pectoral muscles is the incline dumbbell fly. The incline dumbbell fly might seem like a slight change to the setup from the flat bench fly, but you will feel the strain on your pectoral muscles and shoulders in a different way, with a heavier focus on the top part of the pecs. 

How To Perform The Incline Dumbbell Fly 

  • Adjust the backrest on the bench to a 30 to 40-degree angle. 
  • Sit in a comfortable position and hold the dumbbells at chest level to ensure that you are fully balanced. 
  • Stretch the arms up with your hands from the shoulders. 
  • Lower your arms slowly to each side and pull them back up to the original position as soon as they are parallel to the ground. 

The incline dumbbell setup engages the upper pectoral muscles more than the lower pectoral muscles compared to the flat bench. The exercises allow you to isolate specific muscles even more. 

3. Resistance Band Crossover 

The resistance band crossover is the closest exercise to the standard cable machine. Therefore, the concept and setup of the resistance band crossover are very similar to the cable crossover. 

You will need a pair of resistance bands; ones that attach to the handle instead of looped bands. 

How To Perform The Resistance Band Crossover 

  • You should try to find a strong anchor point, like a solid hook on a door or a wall or a piece of gym equipment. 
  • Attach the resistance band around the anchor point, grab the handles in each hand and stand with your back to the anchor point. 
  • Take one step forward to build tension on the bands, then pull your hands in front of your chest at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Slowly let your arms flare out to the side while keeping your elbows slightly bent. 
  • You will feel the movement pushing your shoulder blades together. 
  • Once your hands are in line with your chest, you must push the arms back forward to the original position. 

4. Chest Dips 

There are various sizes of dip machines, which can be quite expensive. However, a few parallel bars will prove to be more than enough in order to shape your arms, shoulders, and pectoral muscles. In addition, you should be careful and make sure that you approach the exercise in the right way. 

How To Perform Chest Dips 

  • Set up on the dip bars with your elbows a little bent and pointing slightly outwards. 
  • Lower the body and let your elbows flare out to open the angle between your chest and arms. 
  • Return to the original position as soon as you reach a 90-degree angle in your elbows, then repeat until your elbows get to the 90-degree angle. 
  • You will increase your range of movement by dipping lower as you grow stronger, but remember that you will feel more strain in your shoulders and pectoral muscles the lower you go. 

5. One-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press 

The one-arm dumbbell bench press is another excellent alternative to the cable crossover machine. The exercise isolates one arm, the shoulder, and the chest area. To perform the one-arm dumbbell bench press, you will need a flat bench and a few dumbbells in your home gym. 

How To Perform The One Arm Dumbbell Bench Press 

  • Hold one dumbbell in your right hand above your chest and elbow at a 90-degree angle while you are flat on the bench. 
  • Push up with your palm facing inward. 
  • Lower the dumbbell slowly to your chest and push it straight back up again as soon as you reach the lowest position. 

6. Resistance Band Rows 

Resistance bands are great for building muscle. The resistance band row is an excellent alternative to the cable crossover because it trains everything from the chest to the shoulders and upper back muscles. It is a complete pectoral and chest workout that helps you to achieve the same results with only a set of resistance bands as you would by using the cable crossover machine. 

How To Perform The Resistance Band Rows 

  • Sit down on a flat bench at floor level and attach the resistance bands to an anchor point in front of you. 
  • You should feel slight tension on the bands at the starting position. 
  • Pull the handles towards you slowly until they touch your chest. 
  • You should feel the shoulder blades squeezing together. 
  • Let your hands move forward slowly to the starting position again. 

7. TRX Chest Fly 

The TRX chest fly is another highly effective cable crossover alternative that only requires the TRX suspension trainer. 

How To Perform The TRX Chest Fly 

  • Attach the resistance bands to the ceiling or a high place above you. 
  • Grab each of the handles and stretch your arms in front, lift them at a 90-degree angle while you lean forward with your entire body. 
  • Open your arms like wings until you form a straight line from one hand through your shoulders to the other hand. 

If you want to make the exercise more challenging, you can adjust the handles lower in order to work more of your arms, shoulders, and pectoral muscles. 

8. Resistance Band Pull Apart 

You will need a looped resistance band to do the resistance band pull apart. A looped resistance band will make it easier for you to wrap the wrists and focus the workout on your chest muscles. 

How To Perform The Resistance Band Pull Apart 

  • Stand straight and loop the resistance band around the hands or wrists so that they measure shoulder-width apart with slight tension. 
  • Pull both ends of the resistance band in the opposite direction with the arms as far as you can. 
  • If you are unable to extend your arms fully, then you should use a thinner resistance band. 
  • You should feel a gradual strain on the chest and shoulders, which is a similar feeling to performing actual cable crossovers. 

9. Banded Wide Push Ups 

If you use the same looped resistance band from the previous exercise (Resistance Band Pull Apart), then you can bring some more excitement to the push-up exercise. It is an excellent alternative for the home gym, especially when you are able to develop enough strength to perform 20 or 30 push-ups. 

You will gain more pectoral muscles by doing fewer repetitions that are more challenging rather than constantly increasing the number of repetitions. 

How To Perform Banded Wide Push Ups 

  • Lie down flat with one hand on both sides of your shoulders. 
  • Loop the band around the hands and back, then push yourself to the starting position. 
  • Move through the push-ups with a whole range of motion and experiment with all types of bands around your arms to try and reduce the repetitions. 

10. Svend Press 

The last, but not least of all the cable crossover alternatives is called the Svend Press. All you will need are two weight plates to hold and press together with your hands from both sides. 

How To Perform The Svend Press 

  • Hold the plates in front of your chest and stretch your arms out and up in a slow motion. 
  • Pull the plates back to your chest and repeat the exercise. 
  • Remember to keep your elbows bent in order to avoid unnecessary strain. 
  • You will feel the workout in your entire upper body, especially in the shoulder and chest muscles. 
Cable Crossover Alternatives

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How do you do a cable crossover for the lower chest?

A crossover exercise targets both of the heads of the pectoral muscles. The upper head, also known as the clavicular, will be worked with the conventional position. The minor down angle will work the lower pectoral, also known as the sternal head. 

The 10 alternative exercises listed above will target both heads, and you can adjust them to target one head or the other. It is all about how you perform the exercises and which exercises that you decide to include in your workout. Cable crossovers can target the lower pectoral muscles, but it will depend on the technique. If you move the hands down or towards the middle of your body, you will hit the lower pectoral muscles. 

What muscles will crossovers target? 

You will be able to trigger a wide range of muscle groups by using a cable crossover machine, but it all depends on how you set up the machine. Exercises that work the arms will mostly trigger the muscles in your chests. You will find it relatively easy to completely engage your core in almost every type of movement when you start a chest workout. 

You will find that you will be able to easily activate your shoulders and upper back muscles, depending on the movement that you choose and the position of your body. One of the greatest benefits of the cable crossover is that you use many of these muscle groups simultaneously. 

Are crossovers without a machine still effective? 

If you use free weights and resistance bands in the right way, then they can be an excellent alternative to a cable crossover machine, which is an expensive piece of equipment. 

The most important aspect of any workout is that you perform the exercise correctly. If you perform the exercise in a slow, controlled manner, then it will burn after 8 to 10 repetitions. 


Conclusion

We understand that not every person has the money to build a fully equipped home gym that includes a cable crossover machine. However, many alternatives to cable crossovers, like we have listed above, require little to no equipment. 

If you want to effectively build your muscles without spending a lot of money, then it is worth investing in a pair of good quality resistance bands, a few dumbbells, and even a TRX system. The workout possibilities are endless once you have the right equipment.