Direct abs training is a must if you want a strong, defined midsection. However, infinitely high rep sets are not the best way to achieve your goal. Cable exercises and these ten effective Cable crunches alternative make better use of your training time and energy.
Cable crunches alternative are a great core exercise that can build your abs, which is why they’re done by bodybuilders, strength athletes, and general gym-goers.
However, cable jams rely on the use of a cable column, which can be a hindrance for those who don’t have access to a cable machine because you’re either working out at home or cable machines are always busy at your gym.
Strong abdominal muscles are important not only for an aesthetic body but also to help protect against lower back pain.
Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to training the abs. Research shows many crunch-type movements to have great activation of the upper and lower rectus abdominal muscles.
The cable crunch is a core exercise in many programs. But sometimes, the equipment may not be in your gym or otherwise busy. If cable woes aren’t for you – or you just want to try something different – this article is for you!
What Makes a Good Cable Crunch Alternative?
A good cable jam alternative will be able to afford:
- Target abdominal muscle groups
- You can gradually overload your abs with additional weight.
Let’s consider both of these criteria below.
Target Abs Muscle Groups
The muscles worked in the cable crunch alternative exercise is:
- Rectus abdomen
- Transversus Abdominis
- Outer Obliques
- hip flexors
The primary muscle group responsible for cable compression is the rectus abdominis. This is the part of the core that traditionally resembles the 6-throw muscles. The main function of the rectus abdominis is to tilt the body forward and flex the spine.
The transversus abdominis (deep core muscles that sit under your rectus), external obliques (the side of your core that sits under your lats), and hip flexors will be secondary muscle groups.
The takeaway: Anything that replaces cable compression would need to primarily engage the rectus abdominis, which would involve lots of twisting-type spade movements rather than twisting-type core movements.
You Can Progressively Overload Your Abdominal Ribs With Additional Weight
Due to the nature of using a cable machine to train the abdominal muscles, you can gradually overload in two ways:
- Increase the total number of repetitions performed in the workout
- Increase the load for the same set and rep recipe
Increasing the total number of repetitions for many different exercises is easy, but there may be a limit to how much you can keep increasing the reps before training plateaus or the exercise becomes boring for you.
The takeaway: It is important that the cable crunch alternative offers the option to add resistance to the exercise. Being able to do more sets and repetitions with your body weight is not enough. You should have the option to add weights to the move.
10 Cable Crunches Alternative At Home For Stronger Abs
The main advantage of cable exercises is that they allow you to increase the weight, so you can tire your muscles without having to resort to high repetitions. However, like any exercise, even cable exercise can lose its effectiveness if you do it too often.
That’s why it’s so helpful to know plenty of cable crunches alternative exercises.
So if you’re bored with cable squats or don’t have access to a suitable cable machine, you can use the following exercises to build stronger, thicker, more visible abs. However, if you want a better abs definition and want to get a six-pack, you need to eat a little less and burn the fat that covers your abs.
1. Reverse Crunch
The reverse crunch is an easy alternative to the cable crunch that you can practice anywhere from your home to the gym. You can do this exercise with just your body weight, or if you want to load, you can hold a dumbbell between your feet.
Abs muscles are targeted by moving your lower body instead of moving your upper body as you do with a cable squeeze. Regardless, your rectus abdominis is still targeted, making the reverse crunch an effective substitute.
- Lie faceup with your arms at your side
- Bend your knees at 90-degree angles so that your feet are close together and your calves are parallel to the floor.
- Take a deep breath and exhale when you’re about to crack
- Perform the exercise by bringing your knees back to your chest and lifting your lower back and hips off the ground.
- Control your waist and hips back to the floor and bring your feet back to the starting position.
- Make sure your knees always maintain 90-degree angles
To load the reverse crunch, you can hold a dumbbell between your feet or strap your ankles to a cable machine using a cable wrist attachment.
Make sure the cable is set in the lower position of the cable column and your feet are far enough from the cable column so that there is constant tension along the cable.
Alternatively, wrap your feet in a resistance band attached to a stable anchor and make sure the anchor is level with the ground.
2. Seated Medicine Ball Throw
The seated medicine ball throw is a tough alternative to the more explosive cable jamming. Ideally, you should use a medicine ball, but alternatively, you can use a wall ball.
Sitting medicine ball throwing can be made more difficult with a heavier ball. It can be done by throwing the ball against the wall or by using a partner to pass the ball back and forth.
- Start in a sit-up position with your knees bent at 90-degrees and your torso facing the floor.
- Make sure you’re looking at the wall
- Hold a medicine ball just above your head
- Perform an explosive sit-up and throw the ball against the wall
- Catch the ball and hold the ball above your head
- Return to the ground in the starting position
If you’re training with a partner, you can have your training partner stand on your feet and keep your feet down.
If you don’t have a training partner, you can keep your feet down by placing a weight disc on your feet.
3. Jack Knife Pullover
The Jack Knife pullover is a great alternative to the cable crunch exercise you can do at home or the gym. It is a versatile exercise that can be loaded with different weights. You can load this exercise by either holding a weight in your hand, holding a weight by your feet, or both.
If you want to feel more in the upper abdomen, you can hold the weight with just your hands. If you want to feel more in the lower abdomen, you can only hold the weight from your feet. Keep the weight in your hand if you want to make this more specific to cable pinching.
- Start by lying face-up with your arms straight above your head and your knees slightly bent.
- To start, make sure your lower back is flat on the floor.
- Simultaneously bring your arms and legs together and tighten your abs and lift your back off the ground.
- As you bring your arms and legs together, bend your knees more and bring your arms towards your shin.
- When you reach the final range of motion, return to the lowest position.
You can use a stationary load such as dumbbells or a weight plate to load this exercise. Alternatively, you can use a varying load by holding onto a resistance band with your hands or attaching it to your feet.
If you are using a resistance band, make sure there is still tension in the resistance band even if your legs and arms are tense.
Crunches are the simplest alternative to the cable crunch that most people are familiar with. They can be loaded by holding a weight in your hands. You can either keep your arms straight with the weight above your head or hold onto a weight by the chest. Ideally, you want to use a flat weight such as a weight disc if you hold it by the chest.
- Lie face-up on the floor with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent at 90-degree angles.
- Keep your fingertips near your temple
- Take a deep breath before exhaling while doing the exercise.
- Tighten your abs and lift your upper back off the ground
- Slowly lift your upper back off the ground and inhale again
It can be easier to cheat by trying to pop off the ground with this exercise, which can cause your feet to fall off the ground.
You will find it helpful to gently press your heels into the ground and tighten your glutes to stabilize your lower body.
Another good tip to consider is to raise your shoulders vertically skyward, rather than bringing your shoulders diagonally to your knees.
5. Sit Ups
Sit ups are similar to crunches but offer a longer range of motion, which makes them more specific to the cable crunch. It also engages the hip flexors slightly more than crunches.
You can load the sit-up by holding onto a weight and keeping your arms extended above you throughout the range of motion.
- Lie face-up on the floor with your feet hip-width apart and knees bent at 90-degree angles.
- Keep your fingertips near your temple
- Take a deep breath before exhaling while doing the exercise.
- With a straight back, lift your torso as high off the ground as possible.
- Lower yourself to the ground in a controlled manner
If you feel the tension in your lower back while doing sit-ups, make sure your back is straight at the beginning. A common cause of pain starts from an overstretched back with too much space between your back and the floor when you lie down.
If your lower back pain persists, be sure to stretch your arms skyward, tighten your glutes, and gently push your feet away from you to create tension in your thighs.
6. Weighted Crunch
If you can comfortably do more than 20 bodyweight crunches, you need to look for ways to make your workout more challenging. If you don’t, you could find yourself wasting a whole lot of time doing high-rep sets. Weighted crunches are a good solution, especially if you don’t have access to a cable machine.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat. Hold a weight plate behind your head, across your chest, or out in front of you with your arms straight.
- Exhale and lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Do not move your feet.
- Pause at the top of the movement for 1-2 seconds, inhale, lie back down, and repeat.
- Use a decline bench to make this exercise even harder.
7. Toe Touches
Toe touches are an intermediate alternative to the cable crunch that can easily be performed at home. They can be loaded by holding onto a pair of weight discs in your hands. To progress this exercise, you can simply increase the weight.
- Start by lying on your stomach with your legs as straight as possible and the bottoms of your feet pointing towards the ceiling.
- Keeping straight arms vertical, lift your torso off the ground and reach towards your feet as much as possible.
- Lower your upper back to the floor with your arms still straight
If you find this exercise difficult and you feel unsteady, you can try doing it next to a wall with your legs flat against the wall. If you have flexibility, you can lean your hips against the wall and lean the backs of your legs vertically against the wall.
If you don’t have enough hamstring flexibility, you can move your hips about 1 foot under the wall and just rest your heels against the wall.
8. Fit Ball Crunch
This variation adds an element of balance and core control to the mix. This can be done at the gym or at home in place of the crunch cable machine.
- The technique is the same as the Bosu crunch, however, the feet will be shoulder-width apart and the knees bent at 90 degrees.
- Keep the same action through the trunk as you plant your feet for balance.
- Repeat for 10-15 reps.
9. Abs Rollout
Despite being a bodyweight exercise, abs rollouts are demanding enough to overload your abs quite quickly. You can do rollouts with an abs wheel or, for a more intense workout, using a barbell. It’s also possible to do rollouts using a suspension trainer, stability ball, or even a landmine.
With all types of rollout, you MUST brace your abs and use them to stop lumbar spine extension. If you can do 20 or more kneeling rollouts, you are probably ready to do them standing, which is MUCH more demanding.
- Start in a kneeling position with your shoulders placed above your hands holding the ab wheel.
- Keeping a hollow body position, extend outwards as far as you can, or until the wheel is in an overhead position while your chest faces the ground.
- Contract the muscle fibers of your abdominals as you crunch back to the upright position.
- Work with low reps up to 5-10.
9. Decline Bench Sit Up
The decline bench sit up is a popular alternative to the cable crunch that is performed on a decline free weight bench. The great thing about the decline bench sit up is that you can change the level of difficulty just by increasing the angle of the bench.
To perform this weighted, you can use a weight disc or dumbbell that is held at your chest or with your arms overhead throughout the execution of the exercise.
- Sit on a drop bench and adjust the drop angle to a level that suits your experience. The larger the angle, the more difficult the exercise.
- Grab your fingertips at your temples and take a deep breath.
- Tighten your abs, lift your torso off the bench and exhale
- Slowly back up until your back is flat on the bench pad
A helpful tip to consider when doing descending sit-ups is to roll your shoulders off the bench first while keeping your lower back straight on the bench. This will help prevent excessive tension from going to your lower back.
10. Hanging Leg Raise
The hanging leg raise can be performed on a Roman Chair, pull-up bar, or with a power/squat rack. This is an advanced cable crunches alternative that will require you to have strong grip and back strength to help you complete multiple sets and reps.
- Hold onto a pull-up bar or the upper bar of a power cage and take a deep breath.
- Lift your legs with straight knees and exhale until your legs are parallel or parallel.
- Slowly lower your legs until your body is completely vertical.
A common problem people can experience is shaking the whole body between repetitions. As you lower your legs to finish the rep, you’ll swing back and forth, no matter how slow you are.
There are two things you can do to reduce this. The first is to never allow your legs to fully relax and lie on the bottom so that your body is in a vertical line. Keep your legs slightly in front of you to maintain tension in your hips and help keep your body stiff as you hang from the bar.
The second thing is to engage your mid-back muscles to bring your shoulder blades down and prevent your shoulders from shrug. This not only puts less pressure on the shoulder joint, but also allows you to keep your upper body tight so you can maintain control of your body.
Conclusion of Cable crunches alternative
We hope this article has given you plenty of inspiration for cable crunches alternative you can do when wired ab exercises aren’t an option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are cable crunches alternative bad for your back?
Not if you perform them correctly. In fact, the advantage of cable crunches is that they assist you in extending the spine, only providing load as you contract down with gravity. If you have back pain, consult a physician before undertaking any exercise program.
Are cable crunches alternative enough for abs?
Even with heavy weight, cable crunches aren’t an all-in-one abs exercise. They are great for the upper rectus abdominis, but the “six-pack” muscles are just one aspect of a well-rounded physique. You also need to include deep core exercises, and twisting movements for the internal and external obliques.
What is the best workout for abs?
As mentioned above, a complete ab workout should include exercises for the upper and lower abs, obliques, and deeper core muscles. A well-rounded abs session should comprise of about 4-6 exercises covering these different aspects.
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