Cable Crunches

Introduction to Abdominal Cable Crunches

Cable crunches are a very effective, low impact means of exercising the abdominal muscles. When performed correctly, cable crunches will strengthen and add mass to the abs.

The abdominal muscles are part of the group of muscles referred to as the core muscles. The core muscles consist of the abdominals, the internal and external obliques, the lower back muscles and a number of other, smaller, stabilising muscles. The core is primarily responsible for twisting and bending movements.

Improving your core strength has many benefits:Cable Crunches

  • Improved physique. Building a strong core tightens up the waist, which in turn makes the shoulders appear broader and the chest appear bigger.
  • Improved posture. Weak abdominals often cause an individual to naturally lean forward, or ‘slump’ at the waist. This is because other muscles are having to compensate for the weak abdominal muscles.
  • Improved strength as a result of improved posture. A stronger core improves posture, which stabilises the rest of the body. When the body is more stable, it is much stronger. This is especially noticeable in big compound exercises such as the bench press or barbell squat.
  • Prevention of injuries. Weaker core muscles often contribute to injuries in other parts of the body, primarily the lower back. A strong core reduces the risk of injury to the lower back.


  • Either kneel on the floor, or sit on a bench in front of the cable machine.
  • Take hold of the rope attachment. One rope in each hand.
  • Place the inner wrists against the sides of the head. Allow the cable tension to slightly hyperextend (over arch) the back.
  • Contract the abdominal muscles and pull the elbows down towards the thighs. The hips should be stationary throughout. Exhale during this part of the exercise.
  • Under the control of the abdominals, slowly return to the start position. Inhale during this part of the exercise.
  • Repeat for required amount of repetitions.

Muscles Worked

Cable Crunches Muscles WorkedPrimary

Rectus Abdominus.












  • As with all exercises, concentrate on good/proper form before lifting heavy weight.
  • Work on the mind muscle connection. Ensure that the abdominals are doing the work and not some other muscle group. Feel the abdominals contract. Movement should occur in the waist and not the hips.
  • Keep the hips stationary throughout your cable crunches. Your glutes should be in contact with the bench/your heels at all times.

Common Errors

Performing cable crunches incorrectly does not put your muscles under enough strain to work them to their fullest. Carrying out a set of cable crunches with poor form will recruit muscles from other parts of the body to do the work. The aim of abdominal exercises is to target the abdominal muscles.

Avoid the following errors to get the most from your cable crunches:

  • Working in a limited range of movement. Failing to allow the cable to fully retract at the top, or failing to squeeze at the bottom of each repetition, means that you are only working a limited range of movement and using considerably less muscle fibre.
  • Performing the exercise too quickly. Doing each repetition too quickly introduces momentum and relieves the work load from your abdominal muscles.
  • Not fully contracting the abs. You should aim to squeeze the abdominal muscles at the bottom of each repetition to ensure they are fully contracted.
  • Swinging the hips. Your hips should be stationary throughout your cable crunches. Swinging them around to help is cheating. Make sure your glutes are planted on the bench/your heels.

Photo Credit: Everkinetic


3 pings

  1. gym

    arguably, this exercise also strengthens arms shoulders and lats too ?

  2. Andy

    Thanks for the comment!

    Only slightly. When done properly, the arms should be locked off by the sides of the head, and all of the work should be done by the abdominals.

  3. Jon

    My pulley is above a seated chest press machine so almost directly above me when I do this exercise. Its also my leg station, so I like to hook my legs around the foam rollers so the don’t move around while I’m crunching. So my first question is, if that’s ok? My second question is if its ok to have the pulley at such an angle as I do have to bend slightly at the hips in order for hyperextention to be possible.ive also got a middle pulley at a different station but it feels wrong doing it there although the machine manufacturer recommends it. I also can’t use as much weight because my legs aren’t held Down by anything.
    Sorry for the long comment but I couldn’t let my self be vague… That and I read your entire article so that’s fair right? Lol

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