15 Best Cable Abdominal Exercises for Abs and Strong Core

Tired of mountain climbers, sit-ups, and the boring old plank? No problems! In this article, I’m going to tell you about the best cable abdominal exercises in existence and how to do them. And as an extra precaution, I’ve included a sample cable machine abs workout to help you get on the road to the washboard abs you’ve been dreaming of.

15 Best Cable Abdominal Exercises for Abs and Strong Core

Best Cable Abdominal Exercises for Abs and Strong Core

Below is a compilation of the best cable abdominal exercises for abs you can do with a cable machine. They target your core from every angle and offer a variety of twisting, kneeling, and standing moves. As with all exercises, form is key to getting the best results. To help you out, I’ve included videos of each exercise so you can’t go wrong.

1. Standing Cable Pallof Press

It looks easy, but don’t let that fool you! The point of this exercise is to not allow rotation in your core, thereby working your stabilizers.

How:

  • Attach a single handle to the cable machine at shoulder height
  • Hold the handle with both hands and step out of the machine for about an arm’s length.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for a solid grounding.
  • Pull the handle to the middle of your chest and hold it towards your chest to start.
  • Without rotating your torso, push the cable away from your body until your arms are straight.
  • Hold in this position for one second
  • Return to the starting position slowly and with control.
  • Repeat all reps on that side, then turn and repeat on the other side.

Suggested Repetitions: 12 to 15 on each side

2. Kneeling Cable Crunch

This exercise provides a variation of the standard crunch movement that includes resistance. In addition, it creates a constant pressure on the core due to the upper tension created by the cable.

How:

  • Place a mat in front of the cable machine
  • Tie a face-height rope attachment
  • Hold one side of the rope attachment in both hands and kneel about half a meter in front of the machine.
  • Place the string behind your head with your elbows in and your hands behind your ears.
  • Tighten your core and pull down until your elbows are close or just touching your knees.
  • Pause in this position for a second or two
  • Return to the starting position slowly and with control.

Recommended Number of Repetitions: 10 to 12

3. Standing Cable Crunch

The standing cable squeeze is, as the name suggests, a standing version of the above exercise. Because you’re standing and have less stability, the standing version is more difficult than the two cables crunches.

How:

  • Tie a rope attachment to the top of the cable machine
  • Hold one side of the rope attachment in both hands and stand with your back to the machine.
  • Place the string behind your head with your elbows in and your hands behind your ears.
  • Tighten your core and pull down, sending your elbows toward your thighs.
  • Pause in this position for a second or two
  • Return to the starting position slowly and with control.

Recommended Number of Repetitions: 10 to 12

4. Kneeling Oblique Cable Twists

This exercise is like the kneeling cable curl, you squat from side to side, not just up and down. This puts more strain on your sides as opposed to your upper abs.

How:

  • Place a mat in front of the cable machine
  • Tie a face-height rope attachment
  • Hold one side of the rope attachment in both hands and kneel about half a meter in front of the machine.
  • Place the string behind your head with your elbows in and your hands behind your ears.
  • Tighten your core and pull down to your right until your elbows are close to or touching your right knee.
  • Pause in this position for a second or two
  • Return to the starting position slowly and with control.
  • Your next rep you will pull down to the left
  • Repeat for the number of repetitions set alternately between left and right

Recommended Repetitions: 20 (10 per side)

5. Cable Woodchops

One of my personal favorites – not only for the great abdominal workout it provides but also for the way it gets your heart rate up! This is a great twisting exercise to target your obliques.

How:

  • Connect a single handle to the top of the cable machine
    Stand next to the cable, grab the handle with both hands and step out about an arm’s length.
  • Your arms should be fully extended above your head, in line with the cable machine.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees and ankles soft
  • Keeping your arms straight, pull the cable down towards your front leg in a diagonal line.
  • Be sure to engage your core as opposed to your hips.
  • Return to starting position (with arms still straight)
  • Repeat all reps on that side, then turn and repeat on the other side.

Suggested Repetitions: 12 to 15 on each side

6. Cable Reverse Crunch

An average variation of the bodyweight reverse crunch! This will make you beg for mercy. How you love! This is a great exercise to target your lower abs.

How:

  • Tie an ankle strap under the cable machine
  • Sit with your feet facing the machine and attach the ankle strap to both ankles.
  • Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head
  • Raise your legs – start with a 90-degree bend at the hips and a 90-degree bend at the knees
  • Bring your knees toward your torso and your head toward your knees, lifting your hips and upper back off the ground.
  • Hold in reverse crunch position for a second or two
  • Slowly return to starting position (90 degrees bent at hips and knees)

Recommended Number of Repetitions: 10 to 12

7. Cable Tuck Crunch

This exercise is an advanced move that targets both your upper and lower abs at the same time. Get ready to feel the burn! You will need both sides of the cable machine/twin tower for cable compression.

How:

  • Tie a rope attachment under one side of the cable and an ankle attachment under the other side of the cable
  • Sit between the cables and place your ankles on the ankle joint
  • Sit back and hold one side of the rope attachment in both hands
  • Place the rope attachment with your hands from your ears to the back of your head.
  • Lift your head and shoulders off the ground at the same time as you bring your knees to your chest.
  • Hold for a second with your abdominal muscles fully contracted.
  • Slowly reach along the upper body and return the hips to the starting position.

Recommended Number of Repetitions: 12 to 15

8. Cable Russian Twists

This exercise is great for training your lower back and will test your balance too! Double evil eye! This is not a beginner exercise. I repeat this is not a beginner exercise!

How:

  • Connect a single handle to the middle of the cable machine
  • Lie on an exercise ball with your upper back perpendicular to the machine.
  • Hold the arm between your hands, with outstretched arms above the middle of your chest
  • Your hands should be at the height where the handle is attached to the cable machine – if not, adjust accordingly.
  • Keep your hips up and your core engaged
  • Keeping arms straight, rotate 90 degrees across torso away from the cable machine
  • Hold for a second and return to the starting position.

Suggested Repetitions: 10 to 12 on each side

9. Plank Cable Row

That’s why I promised you in this post there will be no boring boards! And this is NOT your average board! The combination of balancing and pulling gives a good workout to your entire midsection.

How:

  • Connect a single handle to the bottom of the cable machine
  • Get into plank position an arm’s length away from the machine
  • Hold the arm with one hand on a fully extended arm
  • Pull/sort the cable without twisting the hips so your elbow moves towards your hip
  • Hold for a second and come back to a fully extended arm
  • Repeat all reps on that side and then switch arms.

Suggested Repetitions: 10 to 12 on each side

10. Side Plank Cable Row

If the wooden cable row isn’t enough for you, try the side wooden cable row. Same, same – but different.

How:

  • Connect a single handle to the bottom of the cable machine
  • Get into a side plank position about an arm’s length away, facing the cable machine.
  • Hold the arm in the hand of your upper arm (duh) in a fully extended arm
  • Without twisting or tipping over, pull the cable until your hand is near your rib cage.
  • Your elbow should cross your side
  • Hold for a second and come back to a fully extended arm
  • Repeat all reps on that side and then switch sides.

Suggested Repetitions: 10 to 12 on each side

11. High-Pulley Side Bends

This exercise is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be! It is a very effective oblique exercise that provides sustained tension and isolated muscle contraction. The cable side bend differs from the standard side bend in that it provides weight-bearing tension on the side you pull as opposed to the opposite side.

How:

  • Connect a single handle to the top of the cable machine
  • Stand by the cable machine and hold the handle underhand
  • For balance, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your other hand on your hips.
  • Pull the cable down until your elbow touches your side
  • Hold for a second while the muscle is fully contracted.
  • Allow your arm to slowly return to full extension.
  • Repeat all reps on that side and then switch sides.

Recommended Number of Repetitions: 12 to 15

12. Low-Pulley Side Bends

Like your more traditional side twist, this version targets the opposite side of your core to the side you pull.

How:

  • Connect a single handle to the bottom of the cable machine
  • Stand near the cable machine and grab the handle from above
  • For balance, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your other hand on your hips.
  • Lean on the opposite side, keeping your arms straight and your hips stable, contracting your core.
  • Hold for a second while the muscle is fully contracted.
  • Slowly allow your torso to return to the center
  • Repeat all reps on that side and then switch sides.

Recommended Number of Repetitions: 12 to 15

13. Bosu Ball Cable Crunch

Just like your standard crunch on steroids, the Bosu ball cable crunch will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

How:

  • Connect two single handles to the bottom of the cable machine
  • Place a Bosu ball in front of the cable machine (about a foot away)
  • Lie on the Bosu ball with the small of your back curled around the ball and your feet bent at the knees in a wide stance.
  • Grab a handle with each arm and fully extend your arms between your knees.
  • Keep your arms straight and bend upwards in this position and tighten your abs.
  • Hold for a second and then return to the starting position (arms still extended between your knees)
  • At the end of the move, you should feel a stretch in your abdominals before moving on to your next rep.

Recommended Number of Repetitions: 15 to 20

14. Standing Cable Lift

The standing cable lift is a great compound exercise that puts effort into your entire body but focuses on your core. Although in this exercise you pull the cable from the bottom up, the cable can be compared to a piece of wood.

How:

  • Tie the rope arm to the bottom of the cable machine
  • Hold one edge of the rope with both hands, stand next to the cable machine with your knees slightly bent.
  • Rotate feet and knees and pull arms toward chest
  • Then press the cable up and away from your body.
  • Return to starting position with slightly bent knees
  • Repeat all reps on that side and then switch sides.

Suggested Repetitions: 10 to 12 on each side

15. Cable Judo Flip

As cool as it sounds. This exercise will send your upper abs and obliques into overdrive!

How:

  • Tie the rope arm to the bottom of the cable machine
  • Standing at 45 degrees to the cable machine, hold one edge of the rope in both hands
  • Pull the cable over your shoulder closest to the cable machine, bending slightly from your core
  • Transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot, bending and crunching forward as you pull the cable in a downward motion.
  • Be sure to bend and break – doing one or the other is not enough
  • Repeat all reps on that side and then switch sides.

Suggested Repetitions: 10 to 12 on each side

Cable Abdominal Exercises

I’ve put together a workout that contains a few of the exercises I have covered in this article for you to try out. cable abdominal exercises are designed to hit your abs from all angles and develop strength, conditioning, and shape through your midsection.

Cable Abdominal Exercises workout consists of 2 x circuits. Each circuit should be completed 3 times before moving onto the next one.

CIRCUIT A

  • Cable Pallof Press x 12 each side
  • Cable Tuck Crunch x 12
  • Plank Cable Row x 12 each side
  • Standing Cable Lift x 12 each side
  • Rest for 1 min and repeat x 3!

CIRCUIT B

  • Kneeling Cable Crunch x 12
  • Cable Russian Twists x 12 on each side
  • Cable High-Pulley Side
  • Bends x 12 on each side
  • Cable Bosu Ball Crunch x 20
  • Rest for 1 min and repeat x 3!

Don’t forget to check out the video links provided in the exercise descriptions, above. They will show you the right technique to ensure you get the best results from this workout and avoid injury.

Last words

Now you’re ready to do cable abdominal exercises or workouts for days! I hope you learned something new in this article and look forward to your core work hard. As you can see, the cable machine is a great tool for all-encompassing abdominal exercises.

If you want to develop good condition, strength, and shape in your abdominal area, these exercises are for you!

Do you have a favorite ab workout that you do use a cable machine? Share it with our readers in the comments section below!

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