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September 09, 2021 9 min read

Cable crunches have also sometimes been called kneeling cable crunches, which is probably a better name for them because it describes the action more specifically. These types of exercises are a form of the weighted crunch, which is an exercise that works to target your abdominal muscles.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best ways of doing cable crunches and how to get the most benefit out of the exercises.

How to Get Started

First, watch this helpful demonstration of how to do a cable crunch correctly.

You’ll be performing your cable crunch exercises by kneeling in front of the cable station with a pulley attachment. These machines are generally quite common in most gyms and recreation centers, and you have probably seen other members using them before when they are doing their ab exercises.

Start by gripping the rope attachment with both hands and pulling it down until it is resting above your head. Keep your hips and arms as still as possible, and then squeeze your core muscles and bring your shoulders toward your pelvis. Lower your upper body until your elbows are just about touching your knees.

Simply repeat this full range of motion for the number of repetitions that you have decided to do. If you are interested in learning more about how many reps you should ideally be doing, take a look at some of this helpful advice.

How to Perform Cable Crunches With Proper Form 

Like most exercises, it is always vital that you use the proper form to get the maximum benefit and to prevent possible injuries. When it comes to cable crunches, select a weight that you can control easily for two or three sets of 12 to 20 repetitions.

It is important that you choose the type of weight that will allow you to maintain good technique throughout all of your sets and repetitions. 

  • Using the cable machine, secure the cable rope attachment to the pulley and set the pulley to the highest height setting. 
  • Stand facing the cable machine and grab the rope attachment with a firm overhand grip. 
  • Take a few steps back to move the weight off the weight stack.
  • Kneel on an exercise mat or foam pad. Your toes should be flexed when they touch the floor. 
  • Pull the rope handles so that your hands are at the top of your head. 
  • Hinge your body so that your hips are facing slightly backward. To be sure that you are only moving from your spine to perform the crunch, try to keep your hips still and elevated.
  • Your chin should remain tucked down throughout the movement. 
  • Your shoulders should be slightly ahead of your hips. 
  • Squeeze your abs and bring your shoulders toward your pelvis while keeping your hips and arms still. 
  • Bring your body lower while squeezing your abs until your elbows are close to your legs. 
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement and squeeze your abs. 
  • Keep that tension in your abs and slowly return to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the exercises for as many repetitions as you like. 

Three Ways to Master Cable Crunches 

If you really want to master cable crunches, there are a few other things to consider in addition to the tips above.

As you are getting started with this exercise, always keep these three tips in mind to maintain the proper form: 

  • Keep your back straight. Be sure not to round your back or let your midsection hunch during the exercise. If you have trouble keeping a good posture, you might want to consider doing a bodyweight version of the cable crunch first so that you can perfect the technique. 
  • Use your abdominal muscles to move the pulley cable through a full range motion, instead of letting your triceps or hip flexors do the work. Always try to keep your hips and arms as still as possible throughout the entire exercise. 
  • Remember your lower body. Use your glutes and hamstrings during the exercise to prevent yourself from resting too far back on your heels and relaxing your lower body too much.

Five Major Benefits of Doing Cable Crunches 

As with all types of exercise, cable crunches can offer you all kinds of benefits and rewards. By simply including cable crunches in your core workout routine, you will quickly begin to realize several specific benefits.

  • Having a strong core is useful for challenging compound exercises like the deadlift, bench press, and pull-up. Cable crunches will really enhance your core strength and stability, because they activate muscles throughout your upper abs and lower abs, including the rectus abdominis (more commonly known as the six-pack ab muscle).
  • You will soon find that cable crunches are easily adjustable. Unlike other core exercises like sit-ups, you can easily keep your abdominal muscles under constant tension when you are doing cable crunches. Simply adjust the weight level according to your needs, and this way you will gradually increase your core strength. 
  • They improve your physique because a tight and strong core will make your waist look smaller which can make your shoulders seem broader and your chest seem bigger.
  • Cable crunches can improve your regular posture. By activating your core, glutes, and lower back muscles, cable crunch exercises can help you correct improper posture in your upper body. They improve your posture as they build up abdominal strength, which also stabilizes the rest of the body. 
  • A stable body means a stronger body. Cable crunches can reduce the risk of injury since strong core muscles are known to help with lower back issues.

There are a few more important things to know about cable crunches.

Be aware of your back position. In most exercises, you need to think about  scapular retraction, which is a squeezing of the shoulder blades that is good for your posture. But when you are doing cable crunches, you actually need to protract your shoulder blades. 

Try to spread your lats wide and thin and allow your entire torso to roll forward. This places you in a good position to do the move because you simply cannot crunch and contract your abs enough if you are trying too hard to squeeze your shoulder blades. For this exercise, always try to let everything come forward. 

Another thing to remember is to find the right thigh angle. Your thighs should be very close to a perpendicular angle with the ground. If you are leaning too far forward, it will affect the movement of your cable crunches. If you are leaning too far backward, your hamstrings will be affecting the movement as well. Simply crunch down and move your elbows toward your knees while letting your spine flex. 

In this situation, you are not causing any spinal flexion under a load (such as in a poor deadlift), and it should be a controlled, slow spinal flexion, so you should not need to worry about injury unless you have a history of back issues. You can try using a cable tower with a rope attachment to perform the exercise, but for some people, it tends to work better with an exercise band. 

A Few Other Great Exercises

There are quite a lot of other exercises which can also add benefits to the abdominal cable crunch exercises that you’ll be doing.

Any ab crunch can also be performed with an exercise ball instead of a cable if you lay your lower back on the exercise ball with your feet placed firmly on the floor.

Also, you can lie on your back with your legs resting on an exercise ball and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Crunches can also be performed using an abdominal crunch machine.  Using planks or hollow rocks as stability moves can be wonderful for your core. But if you want to build a noticeable six-pack, at some point, you need more resistance to cause hypertrophy directly in the rectus abdominus.

Many people think that dropping body fat is the best way to get a noticeable six-pack, which can often be true, but adding some more depth to your abs will help as well.

If you are looking to lose body fat, you might want to try the  Ultimate Shred Stack.

While there is nothing wrong with any of these types of crunches that we’ve just mentioned, holding a plate on your chest or behind your head can be uncomfortable and dangerous because the stronger you get, the harder it is to add weight without risking injury.

This gives cable crunches an advantage over the other types of exercises. If you use a cable station, you can add weight with the pull of a pin. The constant tension you get from the cable means your ab muscles must work hard at every point to make it a more effective exercise than a simple crunch.

Cable crunches will certainly help you with abdominal hypertrophy and directly load your rectus abdominus.

If you plan to do this workout correctly on a consistent basis, you will usually experience a very deep abdominal burn and this means that you will be focusing mostly on all of the muscles that can help you build an impressive six-pack with high visual impact.

How to Work out Safely and Avoid Injury 

If you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. It is essential to use the proper exercise technique to maximize the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program. Simply modify your exercises to obtain the optimal results based on your individual needs. 

Always be sure to select the type of weight that will allow you to maintain full control of your body throughout the entire movement. When you are performing any exercise at the gym, it is vital to pay close attention to your body, and you should stop immediately if you notice any type of pain or discomfort.

Back pain can be a terrifying condition which can literally cripple your movements in the gym for the rest of your life. Performing exercises too quickly and by adding too much weight can quickly lead to back pain, strained muscles, and even sometimes to other conditions that might permanently prevent you from doing any type of weightlifting at all.

Some General Tips for Getting Stronger

The weights that you are currently using for your cable crunches are probably lower than you would like them to be. To fix that, you might want to follow a strength training plan that allows you to progressively overload your muscles. That is, you need to organize your training so that you can consistently add more and more weight to your cable crunches while maintaining the correct form.

When you first get started with doing cable crunches, your first, second, and third priority should always be to get stronger every time. In general, you should try not to add too much weight or too many reps to every single exercise every single time you step foot in the gym, and try not to be too concerned about how you compare to anyone else in the gym. Try to add weights or reps consistently rather than being obsessed with it for every single exercise.

If you really want to see massive amounts of continual progress and keep building your body’s strength, you should also be sure to always include proper warm-ups, rest, and a good nutrition program. Your results will always be based on these factors, and also on how well you can recover from your workouts. To allow your body enough time to recover, we suggest resting for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups.

Keep Up a Good Nutrition Plan

If you are able to follow a well-designed strength training program and if you try to eat as well as you can, you might find yourself easily gaining muscle and strength. But usually after 6 to 12 months of doing these crunches, it is not enough to show up and give your best every workout.

Measuring scoop of protein powder and weight plates on grey table,

Your progress may slow down considerably. You will need to create a long-term plan to keep getting stronger. A good way to add extra bulk and power is to try our  Mass Stack.

Do a bit of research into which type of diet might be best for your specific needs.

There are so many different types of diets that you really need to choose one that matches your goals of either  bulking up a lot more, or shredding body fat and slimming down as much as possible. Once you have designed this kind of long-term plan that includes plenty of exercise and dietary supplements, a good rule of thumb is to gradually try to move up one weight class from where you are now.

Once you reach the next weight class, take a little bit of time there and then try to move up again. The closer you get to your genetic potential for strength and muscle gain, the harder it will become to gain massive amounts of strength and muscle, so you will need to keep adjusting your goals as you go along.