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How to Do Cable Crunches Like a Pro? Learn From Gym Experts 

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: June 30, 2022

Performing crunches on a cable machine has one significant advantage over doing them on the floor - you get to increase resistance by putting heavier weights and doing fewer repetitions.

I’ve been using this exercise with my clients for years as it never failed to deliver in terms of efficient muscle growth and increased core stability.

I’ve synthesized my knowledge and experience with clients into this article to show you how to do cable crunches properly. So let’s dive right in.

Summary of Our Key Findings

  • Depending on your end goal, you can use lighter weights with cable crunches and perform more repetitions or use heavier weights and do fewer reps for strong upper abs and core.
  • You can complement cable crunch with other ab exercises like reverse crunch to work on abdominal muscles.
  • Cable crunches may make it easier to perform other challenging compound exercises.

How to Do Cable Crunches

Sideview of a person doing Cable Crunches in gym

Cable crunch or kneeling cable crunches will define and strengthen your core since the abs are under constant tension throughout the entire exercise.

The exercise is weighted, and you repeatedly pull the rope attachment causing the muscles to contract [1].

This is the right exercise for you if your goal is well-defined, firm abdominal muscles.

Here is a step-by-step guide to carrying out a kneeling cable crunch:

  1. Attach tricep rope handles to a cable station. Proceed to set up the carriage so that it is in the upper third of the machine. Depending on your height, adjust your starting position.
  2. Next, choose how much resistance you want — 22.5 pounds might be a great starting point. Gradually move to a heavier weight as you become more adapted to the exercise.
  3. Kneel facing the pulley about one and a half feet away from the machine.
  4. Hold the tricep rope and brace your core. Once you start, you will feel a slight stretch on your ab muscles; if there is none, increase the weight. Ensure your body weight is on the shins.
  5. Perform a crunch by pulling both handles with bent arms. All this time, let your elbows be parallel to your hips position.
  6. Maintain control of the exercise and slowly return to the starting point while maintaining tension on the pulley.

That completes one repetition.

You should do three or four sets of 10 repetitions for a start. Once you feel comfortable, you can add more weights to your crunch exercise program.

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3 Ways to Master Cable Crunches

Man doing the Cable Crunches

If you wish to perform cable crunches, keep in mind the following tips:

1. Engage The Abdominal Muscles

Rather than using your hip flexors or triceps, move the pulley cable through a full range motion with your abs. Try to keep the arms and hips motionless throughout the exercise.

2. Maintain a Straight Back

During this exercise, don't round your back or hunch over your abdomen. If you find it difficult to maintain a good posture, try doing a bodyweight cable crunch first.

3. Initiate The Lower Body

Keep your lower body from sagging and relaxing by engaging your hamstrings and glutes throughout the exercise.

 

“One movement that allows you to create abdominal hypertrophy, the cable crunches. Do this workout correctly, and you'll exit with a very deep abdominal burn and hone the core muscles that help create a six-pack with visual impact.”

- Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S Fitness Director

Benefits of Cable Crunch

Abs and core strength

There are numerous benefits of doing cable crunches, like improving core stability, and many of these I experienced first-hand in my own workouts, as well as through programs I designed and successfully implemented for my clients.

Let’s take a look in more detail at the two most important benefits.

Cable Crunches Improve Body Posture

The cable crunch is a wonderful exercise for abs and to correct improper upper body posture since it targets your core, lower back muscles, and glutes.

Cable Crunches Enhance Your Stability and Core Strength

Cable crunches build up all the abdominal muscles throughout the upper body, including the rectus abdominis, better known as the “six-pack” [2].

Continuous activation leads to a strong core which is vital for carrying out complex exercises such as deadlifts.

Once you have built your core strength and stability, you can perform some other important exercises with more ease and less risk of injury.

Related articleDo Crunches Reduce Belly Fat?

2 Pro Tips for Safe Workout and Injury Avoidance

Different views while performing Cable Crunches in gym

If you are looking to achieve a set of well-defined abs from weighted crunches, you have to take full control of your movement by:

1. Watching Your Hip Position

Always keep your hips locked still and high throughout a complete set to avoid using the hip flexors and enable a complete range of motion. If you drop your hips low, you won't be able to perform a full crunch.

2. Using a range of motion

Get a flexion in the spine by focusing on an ab crunch. The full range of motion is very important. The spine should at least be neutral at the top and full flexion at the lower end.

To achieve the full range of motion and the activation your abs require, you must fully contract and maintain constant tension at the end of each repetition movement.

FAQs

Are Cable Crunches Vital for Building Abs?

Cable crunch might be considered vital for building abs as they enhance your core by targeting your upper and lower abs.

This ab exercise offers more stimulation in the rectus abdominis than when using ab machines [3].

What Exercises Complement Cable Crunches?

Exercises like leg raises, weight sit-ups, and planks complement the cable crunches as they target the same muscle groups.

Perform Cable Crunches With Ease

Cable crunches are a great way to strengthen the abdominal muscles and improve your upper body posture. Just make sure to perform them properly to avoid injury.

This exercise can help you strengthen your core and build a six-pack even better than planks and regular crunches, at least as far as my professional experience is concerned.

To get the most out of your ab workouts, I’d suggest adding these excellent supplements like protein powder or creatine because these can propel your efforts making the whole process much easier and more effective.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19376473/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8976314/
  3. https://www.acefitness.org/about-ace/press-room/press-releases/4828/new-study-proves-traditional-crunch-still-more-effective-than-popular-abdominal-equipment-exercise-trends/
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