In this post, we are going to list the best cable crossover alternative exercises. Have you ever seen the great bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger while he is doing a chest exercise with the cable machine while chewing on gum?
Anyone who saw this documentary or video ran off to the gym to do this exercise thinking he will get a chest like Arnold’s. Let me introduce you to the legendary exercise, the cable crossovers.
The cable crossover is a popular exercise in the fitness industry. It is easy to do but yet very effective. Especially in the commercial gyms, the cable crossover machine is available everywhere.
You could find more than one cable machine in a single commercial gym, that’s because it is so important, right?
The thing is, There is a huge percentage of people that do not go to a commercial gym. As a result, they don’t have access to a cable crossover machine unless they buy one at home which is difficult for some.
Also, when going to a commercial gym, the cable crossover machine could be very crowded that you will not be able to train with it in this particular session. So you need some alternative exercises that target the same muscles and be just as effective.
People think that because this exercise is effective, it can’t be replaced with another one and it is the only way to gain muscles. However, this is not true. An exercise could have many alternatives that are just as effective as it is. Simply put, any exercise can be replaced with another one that has the same movement or targets the same muscles.
What muscles work in the cable crossover exercise?
The cable crossover is an exercise that has many variations. The cable crossover movement is similar to the chest fly movement, where you stretch your chest and then squeeze.
Obviously, the cable crossover main muscle working is the chest muscles. The chest is a big muscle group that consists of lower chest muscles and upper chest muscles and the pecs.
Different variations of the cable crossover exercise target different parts of the chest mainly. For instance, the low cable crossover targets the upper chest with the maximum concentration.
On the other hand, the high cable crossover when performed with the right technique, it targets the lower chest the most.
However, the cable crossover exercise can be performed in such a way so you can target the chest muscles as a whole with the same concentrations. Now that we have talked about the main muscles working, let’s get into the secondary muscles.
The secondary muscles working in the cable crossover exercise are the chest and biceps. The shoulder is the main muscle in the secondary muscles. Because as we know, The shoulder joint is the main driver of chest activation, so clearly the shoulder will be working too.
Specifically, the front shoulder is the one that works the most. The activation of the front shoulder increases as we decrease the height of the cable crossover.
In other words, The low cable crossover activates the front shoulder the most, the high crossover activates it the least.
Best Cable Crossovers Alternatives
1. Resistance Bands Fly
The Resistance Band is a great tool to get in some of the most effective exercises. It uses a similar mechanism to the cable crossover. Because it offers constant tension all over the movement.
Also, the resistance bands are cheap and can come in different intensities and lengths so you can progress throughout your training cycle.
Because it uses the same mechanism and movement to the cable crossover, stretching and squeezing the chest. As it targets the same muscle groups as the crossover and can be quite effective in that matter.
How to do it
First of all, you need two resistance bands or one resistance band with handles. Anchor the resistance band(s) to something in your chest level, power rack, door, or a tree for example.
Move out till you make enough resistance in the resistance bands. Stand in a split alternative leg and leg stance to ensure stability, bend your elbows a little so you can perform the movement properly.
Start by pushing the bands so you can get your hands in front of your chest, let your hands touch each other, or let them close to touching, get back to starting position, and repeat. Perform this exercise with enough resistance and slowly. Preferably, you would do between 12 to 30 reps in this exercise.
2. Dumbbell Chest Fly
The Dumbbell is one of the main pieces of equipment in the gym. You can perform an unlimited number of exercises with it. Unlike the cables, dumbbells require your body to balance and stabilize.
The Dumbbell Chest Fly is a very effective exercise that targets the same muscle groups as the cable crossover. It is easy to follow and requires much more muscle recruitment than the normal cable crossover.
The Dumbbell chest fly activated the lower chest and the pecs more than the cable crossover. For that reason, you will need to adjust the bench angle to target the upper chest more.
How to do it
To do this exercise, you will need a bench and a pair of dumbbells. When choosing weight, leave your ego outside your head because this exercise needs lightweight and controlled technique. Grab the pair of dumbbells, lay down on the bench with your legs on the floor.
Start with your hands above your chest level, place a slight bend in your elbows, then lower down your arms in a slow manner until it reaches your back level or under your chest level by a little. Return back to the starting position above your chest and repeat.
Keep the movement slow and controlled. Perform this exercise between the 10 to 20 rep range.
3. Resistance Bands Low Fly
Resistance bands as we said can be very beneficial and you can perform many exercises with it. The resistance bands low fly is a variation from the normal fly that targets the upper chest more.
The Resistance Bands Low Fly is a variation that targets the upper chest more, just like the low cable crossover exercise. It is a variation from the normal cable crossover too and targets the upper chest more.
Because we need balance and symmetry in our muscles, we should perform different exercises that concentrate and focus on different parts of a muscle group so we achieve maximum muscular potential.
How to do
To do this exercise you will need a pair of resistance bands or one band with two handles. To start, anchor the resistance band in a rack or any stable object at floor level, grab the handles and move out until you feel enough tension and resistance on the resistance bands.
Bend your elbows a little, bring your hands and squeeze until you reach your eye or chin level, then lower them back again. Perform this exercise with muscle-mind connection, focus on squeezing and stretching your upper chest.
4. Incline Dumbbell Fly
The incline dumbbell fly is a variation of the chest fly movement which is similar to the cable crossover. However, this exercise uses an incline angle for the bench, not a flat one. It is an alternative for the low cable crossover, which targets the upper chest more.
The incline dumbbell fly exercise is a quite effective exercise to target the upper chest muscles and the front shoulders. It is a great alternative if you want an exercise to replace the low cable crossover variation.
How to do
To do this exercise, you need a pair of dumbbells and an adjustable bench. Set the bench to 45-degree for the most effective upper chest activation.
To start, lay down on the bench with the dumbbells on hand, the starting position is when your hands are above your chest level. Bend your elbows a little, start by lowering the dumbbells down until it reaches below your chest or at back level.
Return to the starting position and repeat. This exercise should be performed in a controlled manner and not with heavyweights. Aim for higher rep ranges of 12 to 20 reps per set.
The Dips exercise is a bodyweight exercise that is so effective and somehow difficult. In despite of using your own body weight, it seems to be difficult for many people. It is seen getting done by calisthenics athletes as well as bodybuilders and powerlifters as an accessory movement.
The Dips is a great exercise that targets mainly your chest as a whole and your front shoulders and triceps. It targets the same muscle group as the cable crossover, but instead of being an isolation movement, it targets them as a compound movement. And plus to the cable crossover activated muscles, it activates the triceps.
How to do it
To do this exercise, you will only need a dip bar, which is very accessible and cheap. To start, hold your body above the dip bar, lean your upper body to the front by 20-40 degrees until you feel the stretch on your chest.
Start by lowering your body by bending your elbows until it bends by 90-degrees, push yourself back up as you squeezing your pecs.
Perform this exercise properly to ensure that there is no risk of injury and to reduce any pain if any. If this exercise is hard for you, you can get a partner to assist you by pushing your legs up or if you have access to a dip assistance machine.
6. Dumbbell Chest Press
This is the first introduction to a pressing exercise. The dumbbell chest press is a must-do exercise when it comes to the chest and shoulders. The chest is activated in two ways, pressing and flying.
The flys are mostly isolation movements while the press movements are compounds. Each one of them has different pros and cons but when it comes to building the chest, both are very effective.
The dumbbell chest press is an exercise that targets the chest as a whole and the front shoulders and triceps as an assistance muscle. It allows for progression and mechanical tension which is the main driver of hypertrophy. It is a great alternative for the cable crossover as it targets similar muscle groups in an effective way.
How to do it
To do this exercise, you will need a pair of dumbbells, or one if you want to do it unilaterally and a bench. To start, lay on the bench with the dumbbells in your hands, gripping them hard. Start with the dumbbells above your chest level and bend your elbows while lowering down the weights. Let the dumbbell touch your chest, and then press back to the starting position.
This exercise should be done with moderate to heavy weight with a controlled technique. Aim for low to mid rep ranges. Something between 8 to 15 reps would be ideal for the dumbbell chest press.
The cable crossover is a very great exercise there is no doubt about that. However, there are some complications that prevent some people from doing it.
For that reason, we have listed the best alternatives to get the same results as you would get from the cable crossover exercise.
These exercises range from resistance bands to dumbbells, from standing position to lying position. They are all easy to follow and quite effective.
If you have a goal of building some massive gains in your chest and shoulders, this post is definitely for you.
Read carefully, consider your options whether you have a bench and pair of dumbbells or you will simply get a resistance bands kit, and you are ready to go!