Cable crunch is an excellent weighted ab exercise, and we regularly incorporate it into the core routine. However, cable crunch is not the only exercise you should rely upon when chasing a strong and well-defined midsection. This article will discuss nine effective alternatives targeting the same muscles and keeping the workout interesting.    

An old saying is, ‘Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.’ But we have our advanced version, saying, ‘abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen.’

You need to eat the right food to get rid of the excess layer of fat that covers the abs, but proper strength training still plays a crucial role in enhancing muscle separation and definition.   

When I talk about training the abdomen region, cable crunch definitely secures a place in my list of ‘top abs exercises’ as it allows progressive overload. Just like you can’t build stronger and bigger legs with just bodyweight squats, how can you expect to develop visible abs with just bodyweight crunches?

Don’t get me wrong, but bodyweight training is just not enough to provide the necessary overload needed to make your abs pop. Weighted versions are always better for hypertrophy.

Weighted exercises like cable crunches are always a part of my core training program, and it should be a part of yours too. With the cable crunches, resistance is not limited to your body weight, and you open up the possibility to almost endless progressive overload.

What are Cable Crunches?

Cable crunch is a cable-based isolation exercise that primarily targets the rectus abdominis — also known as the “six-pack muscle.” It’s the superficial muscle that provides thickness and blockiness to the abdomen. 

Cable crunches can be performed while standing or kneeling. The kneeling version is slightly better as it keeps the lower body out of the equation.

Squatting and deadlifting with heavyweights requires a strong mid-section to stabilize the compound lifts, which is why hypertrophy-based core exercises get crucial.Cable crunches allow progressive overload and will enable you to train the heavy as you get stronger.

However, mastering the cable crunches is not easy as it appears — making it unproductive for many lifters. Furthermore, it makes sense to have a few good alternatives in the arsenal, to prevent a plateau and keep the novelty factor alive. 

In this article, we are going to talk about the nine cable crunch alternatives that will train your abs like never before.

Benefits of Cable Crunch

Personally, I love cable crunches due to the distinct benefits it offers, and before we delve into the viable substitute to the cable crunch, it’s essential to understand the benefits too.

Knowing the benefits will improve your awareness of the exercise.

  • Constant tension: Cables put constant tension on the target muscle, making it optimal for hypertrophy. Cable crunch allows you to focus on lengthening and contraction of the rectus abdominis, making it an excellent core builder.
  • Progressive overload: You can choose the appropriate weight as per your strength and gradually climb your way up to the stronger core.
  • Muscle isolation: Cable crunch specifically targets the rectus abdominis. This makes them a great addition to your routine if you want to develop a strong, defined midsection.

What Makes a Great Cable Crunch Alternative?

Cable crunch is an excellent core isolation exercise, and it’s hard to find an exercise that delivers all the same benefits. Understanding what makes an excellent cable crunch alternative will help you shortlist the closest option that suits your requirements best. 

Here are the few criteria that you need to look for: 

  1. An exercise that requires spinal flexion.
  2. An exercise that offers progressive overload.
  3. An exercise that targets rectus abdominis.
  4. Promotes strong mind-muscle connection.

9 Cable Crunch Alternatives

Honestly, cable crunches are complicated to master, and you require a decent mind-muscle connection to get the most out of your bucks. This is a big drawback. Since day one of our strength training days, our brains have been programmed to keep the spine strong and neutral spine, making it hard for people to flex at the spine.

If you are finding it difficult to establish a good mind-muscle connection, then try the alternatives mentioned below.

1. Weighted Crunches

Weighted crunches are the best alternative to cable crunch when the cable machine is unavailable. It is the easier and straight forward way to overload your abs for hypertrophy and strength development.

If you can comfortably do 20-25 crunches in a single set, then it’s time to introduce weighted crunches to the core training routine.   


  1. Grab a weight plate or dumbbell with both hands.
  2. Lie down with your back on the floor. Knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Fully extend both arms to get the weight just above the chest.
  4. Exhale and flex your core to lift your shoulders off the ground.
  5. Pause for a second before you return to starting position. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Avoid the temptation to lift heavy.
  • Keep your core tight and engaged.
  • Flex at the lumbar spine.

2. Stability Ball Crunches

Crunches are great core strengthening exercise, but it is known to cause lower back pain because of excessive pressure on the lumbar spine.

Stability ball crunches are the best option for people with lower back pain, as it provides added cushioning to the lower back. Furthermore, the stability ball also allows a greater range of motion and freedom of movement.

Doing crunches on a stability ball requires balance and greater motor unit recruitment.


  1. Sit on your stability ball and walk your feet forward. Lean back to position your lower back above the ball.
  2. Keep the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your head.
  4. Exhale and flex your core to lift the upper body off the ball.
  5. Pause for a second before lowering your upper body back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired reps.


  • Keep the core tight and engaged throughout the movement.
  • Tempo should be slow and controlled.
  • You can hold a weight plate for added resistance.

3. Hanging Leg Raise

When it comes to targeting the lower abs and hip flexors, no other exercise can offer better benefits than the hanging leg raise.

Hanging leg raise decompresses the spine, improves grip strength, and targets the whole midsection. Can’t expect more from a simple exercise. Hanging leg raise can be performed in many different ways:

  • Straight leg raises
  • Bent knee raise
  • Toes to the bar raise
  • Weighted bent leg raise


  1. Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands placed shoulder-width apart.
  2. Brace your core and keep the feet together.
  3. Exhale and raise your legs up until your thigh gets parallel to the floor.
  4. Pause for a second before slowly lowering your legs to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Beginners should start with the ‘hanging knee raise’.
  • You can use lifting chalk or straps to grip the bar longer.
  • Try not to use the body momentum to raise the legs up.

4. Cable Reverse Crunch

Cable reverse crunch helps you target the lower abdomen and hip flexion.

Cable reverse crunch helps you overcome the drawback of hanging leg raise. Many people complain about their grip strength giving up before they feel the burn in their abs. Don’t worry, cable reverse crunch will help you resolve the issue.

Cable reverse crunch allows you to target the lower abs with precision and a solid mind-muscle connection. Furthermore, it allows progressive overload, like any other cable exercise.


  1. Attach two ankle cuffs to the low pulley.
  2. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended straight toward the cable machine.
  3. Attach the cuffs to the ankles.
  4. Exhale and bend your legs to bring the knees towards your chest while simultaneously lifting your hips off the floor
  5. Pause for a second before you slowly return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Lifting your hips off the ground will improve core activation.
  • Keep the eccentric portion slow and controlled.
  • Start with a light weight and gradually increase the resistance.

5. Weighted Toe Touch

Toe touch is an excellent exercise that targets the entire core and maintains constant muscle tension throughout the movement. You can add resistance by holding a weight plate or dumbbells.

This is a great core exercise for someone who likes to train at home. If you find it difficult to maintain straight legs, then keeping your knees bent is okay.


  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended.
  2. Grab a weight plate with both hands and position it just above the chest with arms fully extended.
  3. Raise your legs until the thigh gets straight to the floor.
  4. Exhale and flex your core to lift your shoulders off the ground. Trying touching the toes. 
  5. Return to starting position and repeat.


  • Focus on the flexion at the core.
  • Keep the legs firm and steady.

6. Kneeling Resistance Band Crunch

No worries if you don’t have access to a cable station. You can mimic the cable crunch with the help of a loop band.

Kneeling resistance band crunch offers better muscle contraction because the resistance gets harder as you stretch the bands further.


  1. Anchor the resistance band to the high point.
  2. Grip the band using both hands. Kneel down on the floor.
  3. Pull your hands down to bring your elbows close to your torso.
  4. Engage your abs and flex forward at the waist, keeping the arms unmoved.
  5. Pause at the bottom and contract your abs hard.
  6. Slowly return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Keep the core braced and engaged.
  • Exhale as you flex forward.
  • Establish a mind-muscle connection.
  • Flex your lumbar spine instead of hinging forward at the hip joint. 

7. Medicine Ball Sit-Up and Throw

Add more power to your core with a medicine ball sit-up and throw. It is a fun way to strengthen the core while working on the power output.

All you need to do is perform regular weighted sit-ups with a medicine ball, and throw it in front. You can toss the ball toward the wall or have someone catch it for you. 


  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Start with placing a medicine ball above the head.
  3. Hold a medicine ball using both hands.
  4. Sit-up and throw the ball to the wall.
  5. Catch the ball as it comes back to you, and quickly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired reps.


  • Start with the lightweight medicine ball.
  • Avoid swinging your arms or using momentum to perform the exercise.

8. TRX Pike Up

You gotta try this if you have a TRX suspension trainer available. TRX pike-up is an excellent way to target your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis (deep muscle).

What makes TRX pike-up truely amazing is its ability to target the core without bothering the lower back. Plus, the instability of the TRX suspension trainer allows greater recruitment of stabilizer muscles.


  1. Set the strap height to just a few inches above the ground.
  2. Anchor your feet into the straps.
  3. Get into the high plank position with your knees off the ground, hips fully extended, and spine straight. 
  4. Squeeze your core and raise your hips towards the ceiling.
  5. Slowly come back down the high plank position.
  6. Repeat for the desired reps.


  • Keep the tempo slow and controlled. 
  • Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
  • Avoid dipping your lower back as you come down.
  • Want added resistance? Wear a weighted vest.

9. Farmer’s Walk

Farmer’s walk is one of the best exercises you can add to the core training routine. It is a classic compound movement that develops superb core strength and better posture. Furthermore, you will be able to see the enhancement in your grip and upper-back strength.

Farmer’s walk isometrically targets your core to resist spinal rotation, flexion, and extension. It will also teach you to keep the core braced while training. 


  1. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells with both hands.
  2. Stand straight, with hands fully extended to the side.
  3. Keep your core braced and your shoulder blades retracted.
  4. Walk for the desired distance or time.
  5. Rest.   


  • Use lifting straps or chalk.
  • Keep the chest up and spine neutral.

Cable Crunch: Common Mistakes

If you are looking for an alternative just to bring variety to the core training, then it’s okay; go ahead and skip this section. But if you are looking for an alternative because you can’t feel your abs working while you do the cable crunch, then maybe you are not following the proper technique.

Here is a list of common mistakes lifters commit during the cable crunch.

1. Not rounding your back: Are you trying to maintain a neutral spine while doing the cable crunch? Meaning you are pulling the weight using hip flexors, not the abs. 

Flex at the lumbar spine, not the hips.

2. Scapula positioning: We all have a habit of retracting the scapula, as it helps keep the spine neutral, and core braced. However, you need to follow the opposite approach.

Cable crunch needs you to keep the scapula protracted, to help you emphasize the trunk flexion. 

3. Pulling with the hands: When you set a weight that is too heavy for the target muscles, using body momentum gets very common.

Once you get into position, keep your arms still throughout the movement.  

4. Spine extension:Many people start the move by first hyperextending their spine and then flexing it. This is a mistake. Start the movement with a neutral spine and focus only on the spine flexion.

Wrapping Up

Cable crunch is not inherently bad, and it’s one of the best core isolation exercises out there. It’s weighted and controlled to make your six-pack muscles stronger and more visible.

However, it’s not the only exercise that effectively isolates the frontal part of the core, and it’s okay to replace or pair it with an alternative to add sharpness to your abs.