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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.