There are usually two camps relating to ab coaching. There are those that are purely targeted on strengthening their abs to hoist extra weight and carry out higher as an athlete. And then some of us are primarily considering whittling their center a la Brad Pitt in Troy. But hear us now: You can have each ab definition and energy. 

The first comes by means of a calculated weight loss plan for fats loss (largely). Strength and muscle are solid within the health club, by deciding on the suitable workout routines and executing them with picture-perfect kind. We can’t practice for you, however we will level you in the suitable path. And your journey to a stronger, leaner core ought to begin with the cable crunch. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a staunch supporter of the cable crunch, and although we may relaxation our case there, we’d be remiss if we failed to the touch on its advantages: Optimal core pressure from the cable pulley, an extended vary of movement for a larger muscle-building stimulus, and did we point out Arnold loves the transfer?

Here’s all the pieces you should know to begin doing cable crunches as we speak. 

How to Do the Cable Crunch

The cable crunch makes use of added resistance to coach the abs, with a deal with their most contracted place. The motion is strict stomach flexion with the purpose of bringing your sternum and pelvis in the direction of one another. During this train, your hips ought to stay steady and in a hard and fast place.

Step 1 — Get Into the Starting Position

Credit: Skydive Erick / Shutterstock

Attach a rope to the excessive cable pulley and set the pulley at eye stage. Take maintain of the rope in every hand as you’re taking about three steps again earlier than kneeling on the bottom. Kneel “tall” along with your shins on the bottom and your thighs vertical. Lean your torso barely ahead.

Pull the rope down till your elbows are roughly at a 90-degree angle to your torso and your palms are in entrance of your brow. Hold the burden on this static place all through your entire set.

Form Tip: Muscles in a static place are at all times stronger than when motion is concerned, so sustaining a steady arm place shouldn’t be excessively fatiguing. If your arm, shoulder, or again muscle mass fatigue earlier than your abs, scale back the burden. Performing the train persistently will construct energy within the supporting muscle mass.

Step 2 — Perform the Crunch

Muscular man performing cable ab exercise while kneelingCredit: Skydive Erick / Shutterstock

Breathe in as you brace your core. Breathe out as you begin to flex on the trunk and interact your rectus abdominis (ab muscle mass) to crunch your higher physique ahead and down. Your hips and arms ought to stay in a hard and fast place and steady as you absolutely contract the abs.

Don’t enable your hips or glutes to maneuver backwards whereas crunching as a result of it’ll scale back the train’s effectiveness.

Form Tip: Think about getting your face nearer to your knees or your elbows to your thighs. Focus on curling your torso, not holding your torso straight whereas bending on the hips.

Step 3 — Return to the Starting Position

As you start to rise again up after reaching the underside place, breathe in slowly and actively contract your spinal erectors (decrease again) to “un-curl” and pull your self up. Being conscious of this may help in controlling the eccentric (decreasing of the burden) and can let you lengthen the abdominals whereas holding your hips steady. When your torso is upright once more, repeat one other rep.

Form Tip: Perform this part of the train at a slower pace than the crunching part, taking two or three seconds to achieve the highest place. The slower rep pace lets you deal with sustaining approach and ensures strict kind. 

Cable Crunch Mistakes to Avoid

There are just a few frequent errors that you’ll want to keep away from to maximise the effectiveness of the cable crunch.

Most issues stem from recruiting the flawed muscle mass to maneuver the burden or not placing your physique in an optimum place to recruit the abs successfully.

Setting Your Hips Too Low

If your hips are too low when performing the cable crunch, you’ll depend on utilizing your individual physique as a counterweight to maneuver the resistance. Your hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors may even be considerably concerned in an train which must be primarily focusing on your abdominals.

When you shift your hips again, you’re unable to attain a full vary of movement as a result of your torso can not absolutely contract and your torso can not flex ahead far sufficient.

Avoid It: Ensure motion comes from the backbone, not the tailbone. Keep your hips excessive and locked in place in an effort to flex solely from the trunk. Your glutes shouldn’t transfer nearer to your toes in the course of the train.

Taking the Wrong Grip 

This could seem too easy, however your hand positioning performs an vital position in leveraging your physique from an efficient place. Your palms and arms will also be a visible information to verify your hips are excessive sufficient.

Most individuals will pull the rope attachment down, resting their palms on their shoulders or higher chest. Pulling the burden “in” to your physique can encourage you to sit down again onto your heels quite than holding your thighs up straight. 

Avoid it: Keep the rope in entrance of your physique along with your arms bent. This encourages your shoulders, core, and whole higher physique to be extra engaged. Have the knuckles on each palms touching one another along with your palms roughly on the top of your brow. Your palms ought to stay in entrance of your face all through every rep.

Benefits of the Cable Crunch

Not too many workout routines require you to make use of the abs to straight transfer a weight. However, there are few higher methods to coach a muscle than towards progressively overloaded resistance. The cable crunch lets you problem your abs not solely by doing extra reps, however by regularly lifting heavier every week.

This is precisely the kind of coaching that builds highly effective, great-looking  muscle mass, whether or not it’s your abs, pecs, or legs.

More Core Strength

A powerful set of abs can go a good distance in enhancing your energy potential in lots of different lifts, comparable to your bench press, squat, and deadlift. The cable crunch straight trains the rectus abdominis which performs an vital position in your skill to brace your core successfully. Stronger abs enable a extra steady torso, which permits energy to be transferred by to the working muscle mass.

Longer Range of Motion 

The vary of movement in any given train is a vital consider constructing muscle. The cable crunch supplies a for much longer vary of movement in distinction to many different stomach workout routines like normal crunches or sit-ups. With a deep stretch within the high place and a full contraction on the backside, the cable crunch works the abs by a big vary of movement.

Building Ab Muscle

You hopefully wouldn’t attempt to construct arm dimension performing 50 reps of curls with no weight in your hand, however that’s how many individuals strategy ab coaching. While the abs received’t develop inches thicker, they’re manufactured from muscle tissue which must be developed to look its finest. The cable crunch trains your abs towards resistance, which stimulates muscle progress and builds a handsome set of abs.

Muscles Worked by the Cable Crunch

The cable crunch is an stomach flexion train, with no twisting or rotating. This makes it a great train for zeroing in on the first ab muscle — the rectus abdominis.

Bodybuilder flexing ab muscleCredit: Denys Kurbatov / Shutterstock

When finished accurately, it produces a severe contraction alongside your entire ab muscle.

Rectus Abdominis 

The rectus abdominis attaches the sternum, the connective tissue of the ribs, and the pelvis. Its main perform is flexion of the backbone, or flexing the trunk ahead. It additionally contributes to postural assist on your total higher physique.

Hip Flexors

The hip flexors are a sequence of small muscle mass discovered on the high of the thigh across the hip bones, appropriately. They join the pelvis to the decrease again and are chargeable for bringing the legs nearer to the chest. During the cable crunch, the hip flexors shouldn’t be considerably activated except the hips transfer improperly in the course of the train.

Who Should Do the Cable Crunch

The cable crunch might help any lifter enhance their skill to tense and contract their abs. This can solely assist to sculpt a nice-looking set of abs (when you take away some physique fats to disclose the ab muscle mass), however it additionally supplies a purposeful profit enhancing your skill to carry out quite a lot of workout routines.

Training For Strength

Improving your stomach energy builds a powerful core, which is important for shifting large weights in any raise. If you’re dropping your squats and deads by falling forwards or not bracing onerous sufficient throughout presses, cable crunches are an helpful help motion to assist total-body energy.

Training For Muscle 

If you might be coaching purely for aesthetic functions, the cable crunch is simply as helpful to you as lat pulldowns, triceps pressdowns, or another focused cable train. The cable pulley is right for fixed pressure, barely increased reps, and prolonged time underneath pressure which may present your abs with a larger stimulation of muscle progress. (1)

How to Program the Cable Crunch

The cable crunch will be programmed in a variety of other ways to profit your particular coaching goal. 

Moderate Weight, Moderate Reps 

Performing the cable crunch for three to 4 units of eight to 12 reps will present essentially the most bang on your muscle-building buck. Focus on the energy of your contractions and progressively overload the train similar to you’ll on your main energy lifts.

A gentle and managed tempo will likely be best-suited, taking your time to really feel each inch of your stomach muscle mass contracting and lengthening all through every rep.

Low Weight, High Reps 

Performing the cable crunch for two to 3 units of 13 reps or extra will let you add a larger quantity of quantity to your ab coaching and will likely be most helpful on the finish of your exercise to complete off your abs.

The emphasis is on sustaining pressure on the abdominals and offering a continuing contraction, which ends up in the sensation of being “pumped.” Perform reps steadily with out pausing at any level within the motion. Take two seconds while you return to the beginning place, no pause on the high, take one second to contract the abs, and haven’t any pause on the backside. This will full one rep at 2-0-1-0 tempo. 

Cable Crunch Variations

Here are two efficient variations which will be switched out instead of, or along with, the usual cable crunch relying in your particular wants and general exercise program.

Standing Cable Crunch

The standing cable crunch can enhance your energy and stability all through your core, whereas additionally permitting for a fantastic vary of movement. However, that additionally comes with a rise within the problem of reaching most contraction within the abs.

The motion is carried out by closing the hole between your sternum and pelvis. Avoid enthusiastic about bending straight down. To help with good kind, take into consideration bringing your hips ahead as you crunch and taking a look at your belt buckle.

Machine Crunch

The machine crunch could make it simpler to focus on the stomach muscle mass as a result of the machine places you in a very good place. In this variation, you sit upright and the machine will help in flexing your torso, along with your chest and thighs assembly within the center.

This train variation can help you in creating a larger mind-muscle connection since you possibly can deal with feeling the abs as a substitute of coordinating motion in the course of the train. An improved mind-muscle connection can then translate into feeling the muscle working much more successfully throughout harder workout routines just like the cable crunch.

Cable Crunch Alternatives

In order to be a profitable train various, the first muscle must be the rectus abdominis. The motion must contain flexing the backbone with a full contraction of the abdominals, and with out twisting or rotating the torso.

Floor Crunch

Floor crunches are the simplest various that can be utilized instead of the cable crunch. All you want is a ground and you might be good to go.

It’s simple to carry out and has an especially quick vary of movement. This train is most frequently related to lifters who’re new to coaching and studying methods to carry out the basics.


Sit-ups are a really comparable train to crunches, however present an extended vary of movement (much like the cable crunch), which makes them comparatively tougher.

This train will be progressively overloaded with using a weight held to your chest or over your head all through every rep. 

Decline Bench Sit-Up

The closest train various to the cable crunch is the decline bench sit-up as a result of vital vary of movement and spinal flexion wanted to carry out the motion. All you want is a bench set to a declined angle.

You could make the train tougher by elevating the angle of the bench and/or by including resistance utilizing a dumbbell or weight plate.


Are cable crunches efficient at shredding abs?

Cable crunches are efficient at constructing a powerful set of abs and so they present a direct muscle progress stimulus.  However, doing cable crunches to get shredded received’t work. No ab train might help with that.

The solely method to reveal an outlined set of abs is to focus in your each day power stability and just remember to persistently keep inside a caloric deficit. This is mostly achieved by a discount in whole energy and/or a rise in your power expenditure.

Can I injure myself when performing cable crunches?

Performing any train with incorrect approach can enhance your threat of harm. The cable crunch isn’t as high-risk because the deadlift or again squat, however performing it with poor kind can result in some issues.

If you aren’t rounding your again correctly and absolutely flexing your abs within the backside place, chances are you’ll forestall your rectus abdominis muscle mass from contracting successfully which may limit you from coaching by a full vary of movement and can interrupt progress. Involving your hip flexors by excessively sitting again or sitting down can irritate decrease again points, as a result of the hip flexors are related to the lumbar backbone.

Get Down and Crunch

The cable crunch is without doubt one of the few workout routines requiring the abs to work towards resistance as a substitute of being carried out with simply your body weight. This makes the train a excessive precedence for constructing stronger, higher developed abs. It’s time to begin training this highly effective motion and match it into your subsequent ab exercise.


  1. Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, et al. Muscle time underneath pressure throughout resistance train stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. J Physiol. 2012;590(2):351-362. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200

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