Although the cable crunch is excellent for working your six pack when done with good technique, do it incorrectly and you’re focussing more on your hip flexors. With just a few simple tips however, you can get the most from one of the best ab exercises out there.
To do the cable crunch you have to have access to either a Nautilus or cable machine that has at least enough resistance to offset some of your bodyweight. It mostly works your six pack (rectus abdominis), but if you use a rope with a close grip it will also involves your oblique muscles to stabilise your form.
When doing the cable crunch it’s good to remember that the job of your six pack is to move your shoulders and your hips closer together. If you bend at the waist, which is how it is most commonly done incorrectly, this isn’t happening.
Think about it.
Cable Crunch Technique
1. Set the Nautilus or cable machine as high as you can and attach a rope. You can use a straight bar or V bar if your gym doesn’t have one or you find it more comfortable, but a rope is better as it creates more instability and is a little easier on the shoulders.
2. Take a firm hold of the rope with both hands and kneel down in front of the machine, just far enough away that when you crunch your head is an inch or two away from it.
3. The rope should be behind your head and your hands against your chest, but if you’re using a V bar or straight bar your hands will be closer to your neck, so be careful to avoid arteries!
4. The start position is on your knees with the rest of your body a few degrees away from straight up, with your core engaged to help concentrate the effort on your six pack and protect your back.
5. A cable crunch is like any other crunch in that it should avoid using the hip flexors, so concentrate on contracting your six pack and bringing your shoulders closer to your hips. This can be done explosively or slowly, depending on your goal.
6. With your six pack fully contracted, hold this position for a second to get an isometric contraction, then slowly return to the start position with control. This is best done over 3 – 5 seconds.
Cable Crunch Notes
1. Keep your hands against your chest if using a rope attachment, or on either side of your neck if using a straight or V bar. If your grip is struggling you might benefit from tucking your thumbs just under your collar bone, which is a lot better than it might sound.
2. Bending at the waist means you’re working your hip flexors rather than your abs. If you want stronger hip flexors there are exercises intended to achieve this.
3. If your forehead or elbows hit the ground when you do a cable crunch, this is a pretty good sign you’re bending at the waist instead of crunching your six pack. Try perfecting the technique with a lighter weight until you get the idea.
4. When straightening up at the end of each cable crunch rep you’ll find that you’re not actually “straight up”. Instead what you’re looking to do is lengthen your abs by moving your shoulders back away from your hips. Once you reach a certain point you’ll realise that isn’t happening anymore and it’s your waist that is doing the moving. You’ll probably be a good 20 or 30 degrees from straight when you start the next rep.
As always, any questions or feedback leave a comment below.