TOP 9 Cable Crossover Alternatives for Chest & Back Muscle Building
Make no mistake!
The cable crossover machine is great for building and sculpting the PECS, chest, and back.
But what if you don’t have access to a cable crossover machine?
What if the cable crossover machine is grinding up your rotator cuff?
There are some great alternatives to cable crossovers.
These 9 cable crossover alternatives will help you build mass and definition in your pecs, without the need for an expensive and space-hogging cable crossover machine.
Resistance Bands Low Fly
The resistance band low fly is an alternative to low pulley cable crossover, which focuses on your inner upper pecs. This move uses two resistance band with handles, like this one.
The benefit of resistance bands for this exercise, as opposed to using dumbbells is they provide continuous tension through the entire move, just like a real low cable crossover does.
Using resistance bands also means the resistance will get harder as you reach the apex of the move.
Anchor one resistance band at each low point on your rig or rack, or find a secure place near floor level about 4 to 5 feet apart, to anchor the bands.
Holding the bands, move forward until you feel tension.
Open your arms so your hands are at chest level and in one slow controlled motion, bring your hands together at eye level.
Slowly, in a controlled manner, return your hands to the starting position.
Incline Dumbbell Flys
This exercise replaces the cables used for the incline bench cable crossover and instead has you use dumbbells for resistance. You need an incline bench and two clip and handle style resistance bands.
The incline cable crossover focuses on your upper pecs. Incline dumbbell flys work the same muscle.
Lay down on the incline bench, with dumbbells in hand, supported on your knees. Position your body in neutral alignment with your chest.
Extend your arms to your side. Slightly bend your elbows and bring your arms up until your hands are directly above your chest.
Return your arms back down in a controlled motion down to shoulder level and repeat.
Resistance Band Straight Fly
The resistance band straight fly is one of the great cable crossover alternatives available. It replaces the cable fly and is pretty easy to do.
All you need is a pole to anchor the band, and one or two resistance bands with handles.
The resistance band fly targets the pectoralis major muscles (sternal heads) aka chest and lower pecs.
Anchor the resistance band to a pole, your rack or rig, or even outdoor park equipment will work as an anchor.
Anchor the band at chest level. You can use two bands to increase resistance. Walkout until there is tension on the bands and slightly bend your elbows and stagger your feet.
Bring your hands in front of you, at chest level, in a controlled motion and return your hands back to parallel with the shoulder in slow, controlled motion.
Flat Bench Dumbell Fly
The flat bench dumbbell fly replaces the flat bench cable fly. All you need is a flat bench and a pair of dumbbells.
This move primarily works the lower pec, with some assistance from the upper. In contrast, the incline chest press works the upper more than the lower pecs.
This is why you need both incline and flat bench press in your routine.
Grab a pair of dumbbells and lay on a flat bench, supporting the weight on your knees. Start with the dumbbells in your hands, arms extended over your chest.
Slightly bend your elbows, bring your arms down is a slow and controlled manner until your elbows are at back level.
Return your arms to the start position slowly.
Resistance Band Row
The resistance band row replaces the cable row.
For this exercise, you need a seriously strong resistance band. It does not need to have handles.
Look for one like these Rogue Monster Bands.
The resistance band row builds the lats, sculpting your back from the lower back all the way to the shoulder blades, creating a balanced and fit upper body.
Attach the band to a sturdy pole on your rack, rig, a railing or something similar. The band should be at chest height.
Grasp the band with both hands keeping the torso upright. Do not bend forward. Step back until there is resistance.
Stagger your feet for balance and stability. Pull the band until your elbows are behind your back and your wrists are almost touching your torso.
Be sure to keep your arms at your sides and use slow, controlled motion!
The Guillotine Press is a style of bench press where the barbell is over the neck instead of the chest.
You need a flat bench and a loaded barbell for this exercise.
For obvious reasons, you should not load the bar too heavy. Remember, it’s called the Guillotine for a reason.
Using the barbell like this focuses the weight on the upper pec muscles that are worked the most on the cable crossover, making it a great cable crossover alternative.
Form is KEY with this move. You lie on the bench and grip the barbell wide. You must shrug your shoulders moving the shoulders towards your ear.
Raise the barbell slowly. The position of the barbell should be over your neck.
Return the barbell in slow controlled motion. I highly recommend you watch the how-to video above and use a low weight for this move.
A dumbbell pullover is a great alternative exercise if you do not have a cable crossover machine.
You need a flat bench and one relatively heavy dumbbell for this exercise.
The dumbbell pullover targets the center of your chest or centerline of your chest as it is sometimes known.
If you want a strong definition between your pecs, and you don’t have access to a cable crossover machine, this is the exercise for you.
Place the dumbbell on the bench. Lay on the bench in a perpendicular fashion. Keep your hips up and core tight.
Grab the dumbbell with both hands. Lower the dumbbell over your head, extending the arms as low as they will go.
Always use slow, controlled motion. Return the dumbbell to the start position over your head. FOCUS on keeping your pecs tight, and work to build that mind-muscle connection.
TRX Chest Fly
The TRX chest fly uses just a TRX style suspension trainer to build strong, defined pecs. It is a great cable crossover alternative.
This will build strength and mass in the pecs, even more than bench presses, because it causes you to squeeze your pecs inward, where bench presses do not.
Anchor the TRX overhead. Stand upright, keep the shoulders down and back during this exercise.
Raise your arms to parallel to your shoulders. Your elbows should be in line with your back, but not behind your back.
Lean forward, keep your shoulders back, open your arms till your elbows are at back level and return to the start position.
I highly recommend you watch the video above to see the best form and tips for this exercise.
TRX Suspension Trainer Cable Crossovers
You will need a TRX suspension trainer for this cable crossover alternative.
I have a guide and reviews of the best TRX suspension trainers here, if you do not already have one of these fantastic and inexpensive systems.
This is a crossover, using the suspension trainer in place of a cable crossover. It works the same muscles as the crossover.
Amcor the TRX at chest height. Lean back a little and cross your arms in front of you at chest height.
Rinse and repeat. It’s a pretty simple move.
What Muscles do Cable Crossovers Work?
Honestly, a cable crossover is a great machine. It offers a ton of different workouts in one machine, which is why they are so well-loved.
In fact, I love them so much I review the best cable crossover machines in this article here.
It’s not always practical, feasible or affordable to have one of these machines in your home gym, which is why it is good to know there are some very good cable crossover alternatives out there.
You need to use either the cable crossover machine or the cable crossover alternatives to build your latissimus dorsi, anterior deltoid, middle/lower trapezius pectoralis major, pectoralis major muscles’ sternal heads and clavicular heads…
…or in layman’s terms your lats, traps, back, chest, upper and lower pecs and shoulders.
What Can I do Instead of a Cable Crossover?
Get a pair of resistance bands.
Resistance bands are a GREAT addition to your home gym. They are cheap, compared to a cable crossover machine.
The beauty of the cable crossover machine lies in its ability to maintain resistance on the pecs for the complete range of motion.
With the cable crossover the chest muscles are always under tension. With dumbbell flys, this is not the case, because once the dumbbells are overhead, the resistance is off the pecs.
With resistance bands, no matter what cable crossover alternatives you are doing, the muscles are always under tension.
Resistance bands can have just as much resistance as a cable crossover machine, depending on the ones you get. They travel easy.
They are a true, “no excuses”, everyone should have a set, piece of home gym equipment.
You can get just as good of a workout from a GOOD set of resistance bands as you can get from a machine. I love resistance bands so much I scoured the market to find the best resistance bands and reviewed them here.
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