79 Exercise Swaps for 27 Popular Bodybuilding Exercises

79 Exercise Swaps for 27 Popular Bodybuilding Exercises

Have you been eager to start a routine only to find that you don't have access to the proper equipment? Worry not! The purpose of this article is to provide you with an extensive guide on bodybuilding exercise substitutions you can make if you don't have access to specific gym equipment.

9 Lats/General Back Exercise Swaps

Pull-up alternatives:
  • Inverted Row
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
  • DB Pullover
Chest Supported Row alternatives:
  • T-Bar Row
  • Barbell Row
  • Wide Grip Cable Row
Cable Row alternatives:
  • Dumbbell Row
  • Hammer Strength/Plate Loaded Horizontal Row
  • Close Grip Lat Pulldown

8 Chest Exercise Swaps

Cable Crossover/Chest Fly Machine alternatives:
  • Dumbbell Fly
  • Parallel Bar Dips 
Hammer Strength Incline Press alternatives:
  • Landmine Press - Placing the barbell in the corner and yoga mat near the end facing out, add 25 pounds of weight plates to the open end. Kneel down so that both knees are on the floor and lift the barbell up using both hands, the barbell resting in the base of both palms so that the open end is starting at upper chest level. With your spine neutral and chest up, push through the palms of your hands until your arms are fully extending; hold for a second and then lower. This is one rep.
  • Incline Dumbbell/Barbell Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Fly
Parallel Bar Dip (Chest Emphasis) alternatives:
  • Cable Crossover/Chest Fly Machine 
  • Push-up
  • DB Bench

6 Shoulders (Anterior & Lateral Delt Dominant) Exercise Swaps

Hammer Strength/Plate Loaded Shoulder Press
  • Seated Dumbbell/Barbell Overhead Press
  • Seated Arnold Press
  • Standing 1 Arm DB Press
Cable Lateral Raise alternatives:
  • Manuel Shoulder w/ Partner Resistance
  • DB Front Raise
  • DB Lateral Raise

9 Traps/Upper Back/Posterior Deltoid Exercise Swaps

Rear Deltoid Fly Machine alternatives:
  • Cable Face-pull
  • DB Reverse Fly
  • Scap Pushup
Hammer Strength (Plate-Loaded) Shrug alternatives:
  • DB Shrugs
  • DB Snatch
  • BB High Pulls
Cable Reverse Fly alternatives:
  • Inverted Row
  • Band Pull Aparts
  • Dumbbell/Barbell Hang Clean

5 Biceps Exercise Swaps

Cable Bicep Curl alternatives:
  • Incline Dumbbell Curl
  • DB Hammer Curl
  • Close Grip Chin Up
Preacher Curl Machine alternatives
  • Prone Incline Curl - take two dumbbells of equal weight and select a bench angle typically used for incline exercises. Place your chest on the bench and allow your arms to go to either side of the bench with palms facing forward. Curl upwards using proper form and ensure your shoulder does not take over during the movement.
  • Standing Barbell/Dumbbell Curl

5 Triceps Exercise Swaps

Rope Pushdowns alternatives
  • Seated Overhead Tricep Extensions - you can use a traditional barbell, but I find an EZ-bar takes stress off the elbows without taking stress off of the triceps.
  • Dips
  • Pushups
  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Skullcrushers 

5 Forearms Exercise Swaps

Reverse Cable Curl alternatives:
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl
  • Farmer's Walk 
Wrist Roller alternatives
  • Barbell/Dumbbell (Reverse) Wrist Curl - place your forearms on your thighs or a flat bench to act as support while allowing your wrist and the weight to move freely.
  • Reverse Barbell Curl
  • Plate Pinches - take two 45 or 25-pound plates in each hand and hold together for as long as possible; the set terminates when the plates separate. Watch your toes towards the end of the set to ensure you don't get injured.

9 Quadriceps Exercise Swaps

Leg Extension Machine alternatives:
  • Dumbbell Split Squats 
  • Dumbbell Goblet Squats
  • Weighted sled/Prowler pushes/pulls
Leg Press alternatives:
  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Dumbbell/Barbell Lunges
  • Dumbbell/Barbell Step-ups
Hack Squat Machine alternatives:
  • Front Squat 
  • Weighted Belt Squat
  • Pistol Squat

9 Hamstrings Exercise Swaps

Leg Curl Machine (Seated or Standing) alternatives:
  • Glute Ham Raise
  • Dumbbell RDL
  • Exercise Ball Hamstring Curls
Back Hyperextension (Hamstring Focus) alternatives:
  • Barbell Good Morning
  • Dumbbell/Barbell Romanian Deadlift 
  • Bodyweight Superman
Glute Ham Raise alternatives:
  • Barbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  • Seated/Lying Leg Curl
  • Nordic Ham Curl - have a partner hold your ankles as you kneel on a pad with your torso upright. Keeping your glutes and abdominals braced, slowly lower your hips and torso until you (nearly) reach the floor before engaging your glutes and hamstrings to pull yourself back up to the starting position. If you cannot perform a full rep focus on performing concentric (re: lower portion) negatives at a progressively slower tempo.

6 Calves Exercise Swaps

Plate-Loaded Seated Calf Raise alternatives:
  • Dumbbell Seated Calf Raise
  • Smith Machine Seated Calf Raise
  • Standing Calf Raise
Donkey Calf Raise alternatives:
  • Standing Calf Raise
  • Leg Press Calf Raise
  • Hack Squat Machine Calf Raise

8 Abs Exercise Swaps

Abdominal Crunch Machine alternatives:
  • Hanging Leg Raises
  • Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollouts 
  • Rope Crunches
  • Situps
Decline (Weighted) Crunch alternatives:
  • Plank
  • V-up
  • Stability Ball Rollout 
Cable Chops alternatives:
  • Side Plank - raise the leg that's not in contact with the ground to increase intensity.
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