The bench press workouts have long been the go-to option for bulking up the chest, and there’s no doubt it’s an effective exercise to include in any workout routine designed to pump up your pecs. But treating it as the only chest builder workout may be counter-productive in the long run. This is because if you intend to build an impressive torso, you need more than the bench-related workouts, which is why we came out with a list of cable crossover alternatives exercises.
Just like all other muscle groups in your body, if you intend to increase the size and strength of your chest, you must work it from different angles using various chest exercises. Some of these exercises isolate chest muscles and others are compound movements that target different muscle groups and multiple joints simultaneously. One of the best exercises to strengthen your chest muscle groups is the cable crossover exercise.
The cable crossover is an isolation exercise that directly targets your chest muscles. It is a workout favored by most bodybuilders as it does wonders for the strengthening and definition of your chest muscle groups. Remember, cable crossovers are different from the bench presses. The latter is a compound workout that targets the triceps, shoulders, and chest area.
Cable crossovers are performed using the Cable Crossover Machine, one of the most efficient pieces of workout equipment for upper bodybuilding. It offers many benefits for your shoulders, chest, back muscles, lats, and arms. Remember, a cable crossover works multiple groups of muscles and your core muscles simultaneously. This helps achieve better growth in your upper arms and back muscles.
However, the crossover machine is a big and costly piece of equipment rarely found in a home gym. Fortunately, there are great cable crossover alternatives that provide the same benefits as the cable crossover machine.
10 Effective Cable Crossover Alternatives
There are many cable crossover alternative workouts that will allow you to strengthen and build your pectoral muscles in the absence of a cable crossover machine. Some of these exercises require a few dumbbells, resistance bands, or a flat bench.
1. Resistance Band Crossover
A resistance band can change how you train in your home gym. It is a standard piece of equipment that is versatile, effective, and affordable. The resistance band crossover exercise is the closest workout to the standard cable crossovers. That means the setup and concept of a resistance band crossover are almost similar to that of a cable machine.
To perform this exercise, you need a pair of high-quality resistance bands and a strong anchor point.
How to do it
· Find a strong anchor point, such as a hook on a wall, door, or piece of gym equipment.
· Now attach your resistance band around that anchor point.
· Grab each handle in each hand and stand upright with your back facing the anchor point.
· Then take a single step forward. This will build tension on the resistance bands. This will be your starting position.
· Now pull the hands in front of your chest at about a 90-degree angle.
· Carefully let your arms flare out to the sides. Be sure to keep your elbows slightly bent.
· At this point, you will feel your shoulder blades squeezing together.
· Once the hands are in line with the chest, carefully push them back to the original position.
2. Resistance Band Rows
A resistance band row is one of the best cable crossover alternatives for building muscles in your chest and back without using the cable crossover machine or weights. While it’s challenging to beat the cable crossovers for muscle mass-inducing effectiveness, using a good resistance band makes it easier to work out in your home gym and comes with many benefits.
Resistance band rows are a great cable crossover alternative because they train everything from your shoulders to the chest and upper back muscles. Indeed, it is a compound workout that targets the upper pectoral muscles, lower pectoral muscles, and multiple muscle groups. This will help you achieve the same workout results with a resistance band as you would using a cable crossover machine.
With a looped resistance band or ones with handles, you can perform resistance band rows at home or anywhere you want.
How to do it
· Sit down on the floor or a flat bench on a floor level.
· Get your resistance band and attach it to a strong anchor point in front of you.
· Now grab the ends of the resistance band (you should feel the tension building up in the resistance bands).
· This will be your starting position. Next, pull the band handles towards you until you touch the chest.
· Now let your arms move forward to the original position in a controlled movement.
3. Chest Dips
Chest dips are an excellent upper body workout that targets different muscle groups at the same time. In addition to strengthening your chest, this body weight chest workout can help bulk up your biceps and sculpt your arms. Chest dips also increase the stability and strength of your shoulder joints, which play an integral role in helping your entire body with the support of bars.
You no longer need an expensive dip machine to perform chest dips. A few parallel bars are enough to help shape your pectoral muscles, shoulders, and arms. Be sure to use proper form to minimize the risk of injuries and get the maximum benefits of this cable crossover alternative workout.
How to do it
· Get a pair of parallel bars, a dip machine, or a dip stand.
· Set up the dip bars (shoulder width apart) with the elbows bent and pointing outwards.
· Gently lower yourself while letting your elbows flare outwards to open the angle between your arms and chest.
· Once you reach a 90-degree angle in the elbows, return to your original position.
· Remember, the lower you go, the more strain you put on your pectorals and shoulders.
4. Flat Bench Dumbbell Fly
One of the best cable crossover alternatives popular with bodybuilders is the flat bench dumbbell fly on a suitable flat exercise bench. They often favor this standard or flat dumbbell fly as it successfully isolates the pectorals with the body fully supported on the flat bench.
It is recommended to pick the appropriate weight that allows you to complete eight to ten repetitions of the flat bench fly with a full range of motion. Cutting the movement short means you won’t benefit much from this workout.
How to do it
· Lie on a flat bench with the feet flat on the floor.
· Hold appropriate dumbbells in each hand and extend your arms above the chest.
· Keep your palms turned inwards facing each other and your elbows should be slightly flexed. This is your starting position.
· Now carefully lower your arms out to each side until your wrists are at shoulder level.
· Bring the arms back to the original position while maintaining the same shape of wrists and arms.
· Perform the number of reps necessary.
5. Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
When it comes to strengthening and gaining muscles, the ultimate weapon for big pecs is often a set of dumbbells. Sure, benching with dumbbells is a great alternative to the cable crossover machine and more reliable during your chest workouts, there are different ways to spice things up and make your training more effective.
The single-arm dumbbell bench press isolates one arm, shoulder, and chest area. That means you will use a single dumbbell instead of two and put more stress on your core muscles. This exercise requires more balance and will perfectly work your chest. To perform it, you will need a dumbbell and a flat bench in your home gym or workout space.
How to do it
· Lie down on a flat bench with your feet shoulder width apart and firmly on the floor.
· Hold a dumbbell in your hand, extending your arm straight and the dumbbell in line with the shoulder.
· Bend your arm slightly and lower the dumbbell towards your chest.
· Return to your starting position, perform the desired number of reps and switch the dumbbell to the other hand.
6. TRX Chest Fly
You need the TRX suspension trainer to perform TRX chest fly, one of the most effective cable crossover alternatives. These straps are a suspension training tool that is versatile and offer many fitness gains that span the gamut from strengthening your core and improving balance to cardiovascular fitness and increasing muscle strength. Remember, the TRX suspension trainer is lightweight, portable, and you can use it nearly anywhere, from your home gym to your favorite workout park.
If you want to make your TRX chest fly workout more challenging, adjust the TRX suspension trainer lower handles to work your arms, pectoral muscles, and shoulders.
How to do it
· Grasp TRX strap handles with each hand with your palms facing each other.
· Begin in the up position with legs at a position that is comfortable for you.
· While keeping your body upright, lean forward and keep your spine and neck in a neutral position.
· With your pectoral muscles and abs tight and elbows bent slightly, open your arms gently to form a T with your entire body.
· In a controlled and slow movement, return to the starting position and touch your hands together.
· Begin with two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
7. Banded Wide Push Ups
If you need a well-banded fitness workout, the banded wide push ups should be a staple in your upper body workout routine. It is a highly effective compound workout that focuses on your triceps, pectorals, chest, and shoulder muscles. If you feel your push ups are beginning to feel too easy, try to scale up the workout with resistance bands.
Looped resistance bands can bring some excitement to your usual push ups. In fact, the banded push ups are also one of the effective cable crossover alternatives for a home gym. Remember, you’ll gain more pectoral muscle mass by performing fewer repetitions that are more challenging than continuously increasing the repetitions.
How to do it
· Pass your resistance bands around your upper back and then hold the ends in each hand.
· Now get into a wide press-up position and secure the resistance bands carefully under each hand.
· Lower yourself carefully towards the floor before pushing yourself back to your original position.
8. Incline Dumbbell Fly
The incline dumbbell is an effective isolation exercise that targets your upper chest muscles, developing the upper pectorals in the same way cable crossovers work. Your shoulders muscles play a secondary role while your triceps stabilize the entire movement.
Note that the incline dumbbell fly may seem like a slight change to the entire incline dumbbell setup from the flat bench fly set up. However, the incline dumbbell setup engages the pectorals and shoulders in a unique way, with a focus on the upper pecs. It can slowly stretch the muscles in your chest and stimulates scapular contraction, which pinches the shoulder blades together in your back. This could help improve your overall posture.
If you are new to standard dumbbell fly, it’s recommended to apply several modifications to make it easier. You can do so by reducing the incline of the bench or making it entirely flat. You can also use lighter weights.
How to do it
· Adjust your bench’s backrest to a 30-degree or 40-degree angle.
· Sit comfortably on the bench and hold a dumbbell at chest level to ensure you’re balanced.
· Now stretch your arms with the hands from your shoulders.
· Slowly lower your hands to your sides.
· Once your arms are parallel to the floor, pull them back up to your starting position
9. Standing One-Arm Landmine Press
The one-arm landmine press is a great stretching workout for the deltoids, as it removes stiffness in your shoulder muscles and improves flexibility. Moreover, this can stretch your lats and bolster your back to a great extent. Your elbow joints will also be exercised as you bend and straighten the arms alternatively. Be sure to follow the proper form and technique to reap the benefits and this workout and minimize the risk of injuries.
Remember, landmine exercises often involve squatting, lifting, or pressing an end on an angled barbell. These workouts are a worthy addition to your chest day routine, and they’re particularly good for those new to weightlifting. When doing the single-arm landmine press, it is recommended to adopt a split stance with an opposite leg to the arm you’re lifting with forward.
How to do it
· Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and keep your spine neutral.
· Hold a barbell angled at 45 degrees in front of your chest with the right hand.
· Carefully lean forward while keeping your body aligned and back straight.
· Now straighten the right arm above your head while keeping it in line with the shoulders.
· Then bend the right elbow to carefully bring the barbell back to the original position.
· Repeat the desired number of reps and switch the barbell to the left arm.
10. Dumbbell Pullover
The dumbbell pullover builds your lats and chest, making them one of the best alternative exercises to most machine exercises such as cable machine workouts and cable crossovers. It is recommended to begin with fewer weight plates when you first try the exercise. You can increase resistance as you continue to master proper form and become stronger.
When performing this exercise, you will realize that the upper body muscles engage during a dumbbell pullover. Also, you are likely to feel your core muscles tighten as you try to maintain a strong core for support.
How to do it
· Carefully sit on the end of a stable bench. Place your feet firmly on the floor, and a dumbbell in each hand (keep your arms resting)
· Roll back to lie flat on the bench such that your head, neck, and back are fully supported.
· With your palms facing each other and elbows slightly bent, extend your arms over your chest.
· Inhale as you extend the free weights back and over the head. Be sure to keep a strong core and back for support.
· Take three to four seconds to ensure your arms have reached full extension behind, not below your head.
· Now exhale slowly as you return your arms to the original position.
The cable crossover exercise targets the pectorals and a broad range of muscle groups using the cable machine. If you don’t have access to the cable crossover machine or cable machine, you can still use resistance bands and free weights for your chest workout routine. The most important aspect of isolation exercises, lower body exercises, and other alternatives to cable crossover workouts is that you implement proper form.