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Cable Crunches - Exercise For The Abdominals



Have a look at some of the articles published in previous issues of BetterU News...

Crunch Pulldowns For a Great Six-Pack

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Cable Crunches

Home -> Exercises -> Cable Crunches

Primary Muscles Worked: Description:
Rectus Abdominus The center, six-pack abdominal muscles.
Internal and External Obliques The internal and external muscles on the sides.
Transverse Abdominus The layer of muscle underneath the visible abdominals.
Secondary Muscles Worked: Description:
Hip Flexors The muscles that move the thigh closer to the abs.

The Cable Crunch uses the high pulley or lat pulldown machine to work the abdominals. The focus of the exercise is on the contraction of the abs, though some tension can be obtained during the stretch position at the top of the movement, depending on how you position your body.

How To Do Cable Crunches:

Cable Crunches - Start
Cable Crunches - Finish
  • Stand or kneel in front of a high pulley and grip a bar with an underhand grip or use a rope.
  • The bar should be held to the back of your head so your wrists are close to your ears.
  • Lean over slightly with a bit of an arch in your lower back.
  • This will hit a greater range of motion.
  • Crunch your elbows downward, pivoting at approximately the bottom of the ribcage, not the waist.
  • Your waist should not move much (waist movement indicates hip flexor involvement).
  • Squeeze hard then rise up until your back is arched again.
  • Imagine you have someone putting a forearm across the small of your back and you must wrap yourself around it.

Tricks for Performing Cable Crunches:

1. Tighter squeeze

To get a tighter squeeze, crunch down until your head is almost between your legs. This is best done kneeling on the end of a flat bench placed in front of the pulley. Crunch down and in towards the bench until your head is below the level of the bench.

2. Suck in your gut

Suck in your gut before and during the crunch to target the extreme upper abs. The sucking in of the gut decreases the leverage of the rest of the rectus abdominus. To target the obliques, you can come across to each side while keeping your gut sucked in.

3. Hitting the obliques

Another way to hit the obliques is to face the stack but crunch down on one side at a time, i.e. pull more on the left side of the bar and crunch over to the left slightly.

  • This is a very subtle movement that requires and will develop excellent muscle control.
  • Suck in your gut so that the rectus abdominus has poor leverage and the obliques do most of the work (you don't need to suck in your gut if you have sufficient muscle control to relax your middle abs while doing side crunches - the gut sucking will help develop this mind-muscle connection).
  • Squeeze hard then do the other side.

Common Errors in the Cable Crunch Exercise:

1. Going too fast

Pumping the weight up and down will not create tension in the abs and can lead to injury when you reverse direction at the top of the movement. The lower back will take the brunt of that stress.

2. Using too much or too little weight

Use too little weight and you won't get anything out of it; you may even fall over. Use too much weight and you will have to use momentum to get the weight moving and will be straining your lower back rather than working your abs.

3. Not holding the contraction

The best part of this exercise is the contraction. Squeeze as much as you can out of the contraction at the bottom.

4. Bending at the hips not at the upper abs

Bending at the hips will work your hip flexors. Strive to bend at the upper abdomen in order to work the abs.





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