The pec deck is an awesome chest isolation machine which helps chisel your pecs to give you a Greek God-like physique. 

But, you can't always have access to a pec deck machine, so what else can you do?

In this article, we'll delve into the best pec deck alternatives that you can do, while detailing when and where you should do them.

If you want pecs that even Zeus would be proud of, keep on reading. 

If you find pec deck flys uncomfortable to perform, trigger injury pain, or you simply don't have access to the machine, you might want to consider the following pec dec alternatives. 

1. Cable Crossover 

Man Exercising on a Cable Crossover Machine in the Gym

Cable crossovers are a great way to increase the size and strength of your chest. 

Exercises like the bench press that are classed as compound lifts are great, but their multi-joint nature means they are exhausting.

To support them, you are going to need exercises that support and isolate certain areas of your chest, and the cable crossover is a perfect choice. 

Bodybuilders swear by the best cable crossover machines for achieving impressive chest muscle definition. These versatile machines offer a wide range of exercises that effectively target and sculpt the pectoral muscles. 

I usually perform this exercise after my bench pressing to stretch my chest fibers and enhance my chest pump. 

If you don't have access to a cable crossover machine, don't worry! There are cable crossover alternative exercises that can still help you target and strengthen your chest muscles.

These exercises provide different angles and resistance options to engage your chest muscles effectively. 


  • Great for beginners. 
  • Develops your chest in isolation.

how to do it:

  1. Place the cables (on a cable machine) in a high position.
  2. Grab each handle with an overhand grip. 
  3. Step forward and create tension in the cables. 
  4. Push your arms forward and create a slight bend in your elbows. 
  5. Let your arms widen, stretching your chest. 
  6. Push your arms back together and squeeze your chest together. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • By changing the height of the cable pulleys, you'll work different parts of your chest. Try a few different variations to stimulate your chest muscle fibers. 

2. Chest Dips 

Man Doing Chest Dips in the Gym

While the bench press is the popular and showy chest move that most people will use as their go-to, experienced lifters often have a different opinion.

The chest dip is a brutal move and one that many avoid simply due to the pain it puts them through. 

For many experienced lifters, their shoulders get tired before their chest, meaning the chest doesn't get the activation they want.  

The chest dip requires exceptional form and stabilization, meaning you engage exactly what you want to engage. They target the outer chest to a huge degree and build explosive strength that translates well into other movements. 

This exercise can also be performed using the best power towers, making it an excellent addition to a home gym. Alternatively, using a set of dip bars can also provide a challenging workout while being easier to set up.

Since you are supporting your bodyweight on your wrists, this exercise might not be a good choice for people with wrist issues.

I once had tendonitis in my left wrist and it was difficult to perform the dip, thankfully the pain has subsided now. If you're experiencing similar issues, you might want to try out some chest dips alternative.


  • Uses body weight. 
  • Develops your upper body strength.

how to do it:

  1. Stand next to parallel bars or a dipping platform. 
  2. Place a hand on each handle and support your body weight on your hands.
  3. Lean forward slightly and lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows. 
  4. Stop when your arms reach 90-degrees. 
  5. Push your body upwards back to the start. 
  6. Repeat and complete your set.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • To place more emphasis on your chest, lean forward slightly during the dip. The more you lean, the more chest you work.

3. Wide Grip Bench Press 

Man Doing Wide Grip Bench Press in the Gym

The bench press is one of those OG compound lifts that epitomize weightlifting. This is where the big numbers are lifted, where the men are sorted out from the boys. You vs the bar in a brutal struggle for survival. 

For progressive overload, there are not many exercises that allow you to clock up the total weight lifted like sets of bench presses, so we highly recommend you include a variant of them in your chest workout. 

The wide grip bench press, in particular, activates more of the chest and less of the triceps, which is great for building up mass and strength in the chest. 

While I love this pec deck alternative, it's not suitable for everyone. If you've had a shoulder issue in the past, you might find it aggravates your shoulder joint, therefor you can try out different bench press grips.


  • More chest activation than regular bench press. 
  • You can overload your chest.

how to do it:

  1. Lie on a flat bench.
  2. Place your hands on the barbell using an overhand grip and 1.5-2x shoulder width apart.
  3. Unrack the barbell. 
  4. Slowly lower it to your chest, stopping 1 inch before it touches your chest. 
  5. Push the barbell back to the starting position and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • For this exercise, you will likely be able to lift more than you would during a close grip bench press as your shoulders and chest are doing more of the work.  

4. Push-Ups (Pec Deck Alternative Without A Machine)

Woman Doing Push Ups Outdoor

Another OG exercise, push-ups, are the easiest exercise to perform in any situation and require no equipment, meaning they can be done anywhere.  

Push-ups are regarded as one of the most well-rounded exercises, targeting your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core in a single bodyweight movement. It's one of the many reasons I always make time for push-ups in my chest workout.

When trying to build a rock-solid core and foundation that will translate into almost every other area, push-ups are one of the most effective ways to do so.  

Remember to start in a high plank, keeping your palms flat and shoulder distance apart. Keep your shoulder stacked above your wrists if possible, and your glutes and core engaged to make sure you avoid injury. 


  • No machines required.
  • You can do them anywhere.

how to do it:

  1. Start in a plank like position on the floor with your body weight on your hands and feet. 
  2. Keep your body straight (no dipping the hips). 
  3. Place your hands under your shoulders. 
  4. Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows (maintain body rigidity). 
  5. Stop before your chest touches the floor. 
  6. Push your body up back to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • If you find regular push ups too easy, you can try a variation called prison push ups. You start by standing and then dropping down into a regular push up. Then, standing back up and doing a bodyweight lateral raise with your hands above your head. Like a jumping jack but don't move your feet. Do this as a finisher and you'll certainly feel it the next day.  

5. Incline/Decline Bench Press 

Man Doing Incline Bench Press Exercise in the Gym

Switching up your bench press is a great way to get over plateaus in strength and size. This is best done once you are experienced and happy with your form and strength levels.  

Swapping your position from horizontal to incline or decline will allow you to put more strain on different parts of your chest.

Obviously, the incline will allow you to train your upper pecs more, and the decline will put more strain on the lower.  

I'm a HUGE advocate of the incline bench press as it helps you achieve a fuller looking chest that'll look great in any T-shirt. 

When trying these lifts out for the first time, we recommend going low on the weights, don't expect to be able to lift your flat bench weight. You should also seek the help of a spotter.

The movements do feel weird, to begin with, and a dropped barbell is no fun for anyone.  If you're experiencing difficulty or discomfort, you can try out some incline bench press alternative exercises.


  • Allows you to overload the chest with a lot of weight.
  • It's a compound exercise. 
  • Can develop a lot of muscle.

how to do it:

  1. Set a bench in an incline position (30-45 degrees). 
  2. Lie on the bench. 
  3. Grab the barbell with a shoulder width overhand grip. 
  4. Unrack the barbell and lower it to your chest. 
  5. Push the barbell back to the starting position and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Along with a spotter, you should always have the safety bars or straps on the rack. It's always important to put safety first. The last thing you want is to be stuck under a loaded barbell... TRUST ME.

6. Sliding Push Up 

Man Doing Sliding Push ups With an Exercise Slider

Once you are experienced with regular push-ups, you might want a little bit more stimulation to force your pecs into further growth.

The sliding push-up is an advanced bodyweight modification of the push-up. It places a considerable strain on the chest and core, especially the rib cage stabilizer muscles. 

To do these, get into the traditional push-up position with your hands stacked under your shoulders and place one hand on an exercise slider. Extend that arm fully and then push-up using the other arm. 

This is a tough exercise and should only be done by people with a strong core and experience as it has a high chance of injury when done wrong. 

It ISN'T for beginners, please only do this exercise if you're experienced. I've even struggled with this movement in the past. 


  • Uses body weight. 
  • You can do it anywhere.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a push-up position on the floor. 
  2. Place your hands on sliders or towels. 
  3. Push your hands sideways in a controlled manner, bringing your body closer to the floor. 
  4. When you can't go any further, push your hands closer together and raise your body from the floor. 
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • If you don't have exercise slider, you can use a towel to allow you to slide across the floor.  

7. Cable Fly 

Man Doing a Cable Fly Exercise in the Gym

The cable fly is like the evolved, more serious version of the pec dec. With the pec deck, the machine runs on tracks which make it very stable and take away a lot of the work of the stabilization muscles.  

On the other hand, the cable fly requires you to brace your core and keep your stabilizers engaged. Your arms are much wider, and the strain is much higher.

This is the perfect progression move for those that are beginning to get to grips with the mind-muscle connection and want a little bit more from their workout. 

My clients love this movement as it's simple to learn, yet incredibly effective. 


  • Great for developing striations in your chest. 
  • Ideal for all abilities.

How to do it:

  1. Set two cables to chest height. 
  2. Attach a D handle to each cable. 
  3. Grab the cables with an overhand grip. 
  4. Step forward to create tension in the cables (with your arms out in front of your chest). 
  5. Open your arms wide, stretching your chest. 
  6. When your arms become level with your body reverse the movement back to the start. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • For this exercise, many athletes use a functional trainer like the one pictured. If you don't have one, you can also use resistance bands.  

Related Article Best Functional Trainers

8. TRX Fly 

Man Doing a TRX Fly Exercise In The Gym

If you are lucky enough to own what many consider one of the best suspension trainers, a TRX trainer, or if your gym provides one, the TRX fly can be a remarkable exercise for building muscle and size.

With their rising popularity worldwide, it's clear to see why these suspension-style trainers are highly favored.

Using a TRX will allow you to isolate your pecs in a way that you can't get through a dumbbell or a machine. To keep stable, you will utilize those tiny muscles and stabilizers that you don't even know you have.  

The TRX fly is almost like a mix between a push-up and a cable fly, with you using your body weight to induce the burn and the progressive overload.

Make sure you don't use explosive movements here; time under tension is key for growth and to prevent injury. When done correctly, your muscles will be engaged the entire time, creating a burn that is hard to beat. 

If a TRX trainer isn't available (or if it's too expensive), you can explore some of the best TRX alternatives out there, allowing you to continue your suspension training effectively.


  • Can help you bust plateaus on bigger lifts.
  • Lightweight equipment required. 
  • Uses your body weight.

how to do it:

  1. Set your TRX handles (or resistance trainer) to just below chest level. 
  2. Hold the handles with a neutral grip. 
  3. Extend your arms away from your chest.
  4. Angle your body so some of your body weight is placed on your arms. 
  5. Slowly open your arms in a chest fly-like movement. 
  6. Pause once your arms are in line with your body. 
  7. Reverse the movement to the starting position. 
  8. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Calisthenics exercises, like this one, are excellent for creating a great mind-muscle connection and pushing you past plateaus on your big lifts... Don't neglect them.

9. Resistance Band Fly (Pec Deck Alternative With Bands)

Woman Doing A Resistance Band Fly Exercise At Home

When recovering from injury or on the move, you don't need to neglect your chest. Active rest and resistance band work are ideal ways to rehab an old injury.

And can even be used at the end of workouts when you want to finish your muscles off and feel the burn.

I love supersetting this pec deck alternative with push-ups, it's a killer combination that shouldn't be underestimated. Best of all, you can perform the superset in a hotel room, or pretty much anywhere.


  • Minimal equipment required.
  • You can do it anywhere. 
  • Great for injury rehab.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a resistance band at shoulder width across your back.
  2. Place your palms facing inward.
  3. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and bring your hands together. 
  4. Squeeze your chest. 
  5. Slowly open your arms returning to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • You can place the resistance band around your back while standing or you can anchor it to a door. 

10. Gironda Neck Press 

Man Doing A Gironda Neck Press In The Gym

The Gironda neck press, which is commonly referred to as the guillotine press, is a hardcore chest exercise designed to give you unprecedented gains.

It requires a large amount of skill and experience and should not be underestimated, so it's not suitable for beginners. If you do decide to try this pec deck substitute, please use a spotter for your safety.

This pec deck alternative isn't suitable if you have shoulder or rotator cuff problems, as it places a lot of strain on those joints.[1] 

I've performed this movement many times over the years and while it can be effective, it's far from my favorite exercise.

I feel that the ratio or risk/reward isn't good enough and that there is a high amount of risk for average chest gains. 

However, feel free to try it out. While I'm not its biggest fan, you might love it.


  • Places huge amounts of force through your pecs.
  • Ideal for advanced lifters looking for a challenge.

How to do it:

  1. Set up your bench in a flat position.
  2. Next, grab the barbell with a suicide grip (which is without placing your thumbs around the bar) as wide as you possibly can. 
  3. Lift your feet up and off of the bench, engaging your core and holding them up, so your chest is isolated to the highest possible degree. 
  4. Lower the bar like in a traditional bench press, but instead of lowering it to your chest, lower it to your neck like a guillotine.
  5. Hold for a second, then push back to the starting position. 

Tips From A Trainer!

  • I cannot stress this enough; this is a VERY difficult exercise and should only be attempted by experienced weightlifters and never without help.  Please ALWAYS use a spotter for this exercise, as it could be deadly if you have no help and cannot lift the bar. 

11. Svend Press 

Man Doing a Svend Press in the Gym

With chest and triceps, there are so many pushing movements and twists that your rotator cuff can take a beating.

To combat this, you might want to introduce the Svend press, a mass-building chest movement that puts minimal strain on the rotators. 

I've found the Svend press a simple movement to perform and it's suitable for all ability levels. Personally, I perform this pec deck substitute at the end of my chest workout to pump my pecs full of blood. 


  • Ideal for all ability levels. 
  • Minimal equipment required. 
  • Gives you an excellent chest pump.

How to do it:

  1. Grab a weight plate between your palms.
  2. Lie on a flat bench. 
  3. Hold it at your chest and extend your arms straight, keeping the tension on your pecs.
  4. Reverse the motion back to the starting position.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • You can even do this exercise on an incline or standing if you want to add additional variation to this exercise. The incline position will work your upper pecs more, while standing will engage your core, shoulders, forearms, and pretty much your entire body.   

Benefits Of The Classic Pec Deck Fly Exercise

You won't find any machines that can target the pecs as well as the pec deck; they isolate the pecs exceptionally well and are the perfect gateway into training your chest and building beginner strength. 

As well as this, you also get some great activation in the deltoids, which are another tough muscle to hit, through bringing your arms together.[2] 

Through hypertrophy, your muscles will grow stronger and larger through using the pec deck, and with the movement being so simple and intuitive to complete, anyone can do them.[3] If you have a limited range of motion or joint pain, you can change the angle to allow for this, making the pec deck very forgiving. 

When getting ready for the larger scarier lifts like the bench press and overhead press, gaining confidence and the mind-muscle connection is needed. The pec deck is an easy way to start building both. 

Pec Deck Alternative Exercises At Home - Tips For Beginners

If you are really on a shoestring and only have your home space and no equipment, don't worry, you can still get a great level of activation and overload from simple bodyweight exercises and DIY equipment. 

Firstly, you could look at building some DIY dumbbells using water jugs and sand or cementThey are easy to build and will allow you to do most normal gym exercises. 

If not, we highly recommend that you start a solid press-up pyramid routine. Press-ups are perhaps the best exercise that you can do without equipment. 

Some great programs include the UK Marine Force program, which is a great way to build colossal chest strength and will quickly result in the ability to do huge numbers of press-ups.[4]

What Muscles Do Pec Deck Fly Substitute Exercises Work?

Pectoralis Major 

The first muscle that you engage with the pec deck is the pectoralis major, the muscle that attaches near the collar bone and at the bottom of the breastbone.[5] During pec deck flys, you activate the lower region of this muscle to a high degree and, to a lesser extent, the upper portion. 

Pectoralis Minor 

This muscle is much flatter and has a thinner profile, allowing it to sit underneath the pectoralis major. Here, the pectoralis minor does its job in assisting and stabilizing your pec major throughout the pec dec fly and prevents you from lifting your shoulder.[6] 

Serratus Anterior 

This muscle is located on the side of your chest, directly above your ribs, and is used for stabilization. The stronger this muscle, the stronger your swinging and punching motions will be. Serratus anterior is worked in almost every chest movement.[7]

Anterior Deltoids 

In the front of your shoulders, you have your anterior deltoids, commonly known as the front delts. These muscles help you flex and rotate your shoulder and are activated during pec deck flys. [8]

 Common Pec Deck Questions

Is a pec deck the same as a dumbbell fly? 

No, the pec deck and dumbbell fly aren't the same. The pec deck works on a rail system that helps you stabilize. This makes it easier than a dumbbell fly and less effective as you do not need to engage your stabilizer muscles. 

Is the pec deck better than bench press? 

No, the pec deck isn't better than the bench press. The bench press is a compound lift of the highest prestige and should be the cornerstone of any chest routine, in my honest opinion. 

Which is better: a pec deck or cable crossover? 

Cable crossovers are better than the pec deck. Using free moving cables requires shoulder stability and uses more muscle fibers than the pec deck would. 

Why are pec decks considered bad by some gym lovers? 

Pec decks are sometimes seen as bad because of their rail system. Pec decks are seen as an ineffective workout, one that is reserved for newcomers to the gym primarily. But this notion is wrong in my opinion.


The pec deck is a great introduction to working out the chest. It is perfect for those who have never built the mind-to-muscle connection in their pecs and will provide the ideal foundation for lifters to move into the more serious exercises like bench presses and dumbbell flys. 

Hopefully, you know about all of the alternatives now you have read this article. If you are growing bored with the pec deck, consider trying one of them out and be prepared to see serious results. 










Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.