Table of Contents
Discover some excellent cable crunches alternative exercises, ideal for boosting your core strength when you lack access to a cable machine.
The cable crunch exercise is a core-strengthening movement performed using a cable machine and a rope attachment found in many gyms.
Recommended Reading – 5 Popular Exercise Ball Core Strength Workouts For Stability
It’s a great way of keeping your abs under constant tension by bringing your sternum and pelvis together, activating your abs in their most contracted range.
The exercise primarily targets your rectus abdominis, also referred to as the “six-pack” muscles, along with the obliques and hip flexors.
However, it’s not the only way of activating these important muscles!
There are several alternative exercises that can provide similar benefits whilst allowing you to build a strong core and six-pack abs.
Best Cable Crunches Alternative Exercises
If you’re looking for a way to work your abs without the cable machine, there are plenty of great exercise alternatives that can help you achieve your goals.
In fact, many trainers believe that cable crunches are not the best exercise for building strong, defined abs.
Here are some of the best cable crunch alternatives you can try:
The weighted crunch is a variation on performing regular crunches where you add resistance in the form of a weight, whether that’s a weight plate, medicine ball or a dumbbell.
How To Do The Weighted Crunch:
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Your feet should be hip width apart, and your lower back should maintain contact with the ground.
- Hold a weight plate, dumbbell, or medicine ball against your chest and with both hands or to make it even harder extend the weight behind your head. This is your starting position.
- Engage your core and lift your shoulders and upper back several inches off the ground by flexing your lumbar spine.
- Avoid pulling your neck or using momentum to lift yourself up. Your abs should be doing all the work.
- Exhale as you crunch upward, squeezing your abdominal muscles at the top of the movement.
- Use control to slowly lower your upper back and shoulders back to the starting position and repeat.
The reverse crunch is a good alternative to standard crunches that targets your lower abs and hip flexors, helping to improve your core stability and build strong abdominal muscles.
How To Do The Reverse Crunch:
- Start by lying down on your back with your arms by your sides and with palms facing down.
- Bend your knees and lift both legs off the ground, bringing your thighs towards your chest. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle, and your shins should be parallel to the floor.
- Brace your core muscles and press your lower back into the floor to help stabilize your spine.
- From here slowly bring your knees towards your chest and by lifting your hips and glutes off the ground.
- Maintain a bend to your knees throughout the exercise.
- At the top of the movement, squeeze your abs and hold the contraction for a couple of seconds.
- Inhale as you slowly lower your legs and hips back to the starting position with control, keeping your lower back in contact with the floor.
Swiss Ball Crunch
The Swiss ball crunch, sometimes called the Bosu crunch, is a great abdominal exercise for building muscle strength to your core.
It involves performing a traditional crunch or sit-up while lying on a Swiss ball (a gym ball or stability ball).
The instability of the ball makes for a greater challenge when compared to a standard crunch exercise.
How To Do A Swiss Ball Crunch:
- Sit on the Swiss ball and walk your feet forward until your lower back is fully supported by the ball. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle, and your feet should be flat on the floor.
- Position your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest, whichever is more comfortable.
- Brace your core and then slowly start to curl your upper body upwards, lifting your shoulder blades away the ball.
- Keep your neck and head in a neutral position and avoid pulling on your neck with your hands.
- At the top of the movement squeeze your abs then lower back to the starting position.
The Russian twist is a great core exercise for building oblique muscles helping to improve rotational stability.
As your core strength improves, you can progress the exercise by taking hold of a medicine ball or similar free weight.
How To Do A Russian Twist:
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent slightly and your heels resting on the floor.
- Lean back slightly while keeping your back straight and engaging your core muscles.
- Hold your hands together in front of your chest, and then twist your torso to one side, moving your hands and arms with you.
- Make sure you keep your back straight and chest up towards the ceiling as you perform this movement.
- In a controlled manner, twist your torso to the other side, moving your hands and arms with you.
- Continue alternating sides in a controlled and rhythmic motion.
- You can perform for a set number of reps or amount of time.
Seated Medicine Ball Throw
The seated medicine ball throw is a great exercise for building explosive power in your abs.
It’s a popular plyometric exercise that will target your chest, shoulders and triceps.
How To Do The Seated Medicine Ball Throw:
- Sit on the floor in front of wall with your legs straight in front of you or slightly bent at the knees for more comfort.
- Hold a medicine ball with both hands at chest height, keeping your elbows bent and close to your body.
- Engage your core muscles and keep your back straight throughout the exercise.
- Explosively push the medicine ball away from your chest towards the wall, extending your arms fully and releasing the ball in front of you.
- Catch the ball on its return and immediately throw it towards the wall again.
- You can perform this exercise for reps or a period of time.
Decline Bench Sit Up
A decline bench sit-up is a variation of the traditional sit-up exercise that involves performing the movement on a decline bench.
The decline position allows you to work against gravity, making the exercise more challenging and engages different muscle groups.
Decline bench sit-ups target the rectus abdominis and your hip flexors, which engage when lifting your upper body off the bench.
What’s more, the decline angle places more emphasis on the lower portion of the rectus abdominis, making it an effective exercise for targeting the lower abs.
How To Do Decline Bench Sit-Ups:
- Set up the decline bench at your desired angle. The steeper the angle, the more challenging the exercise will be.
- Lie down on the bench so that your head is positioned lower than your feet. Your feet should be securely anchored at the top of the bench or held in place by a spotter.
- Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your head, whichever is more comfortable. Avoid pulling on your neck during the exercise.
- Engage your core muscles to lift your upper body off the bench as though doing a regular sit up.
- Pause at the top of the movement then slowly lower your upper body back down in a controlled manner until your back is fully supported by the bench.
- Repeat for your chosen number of reps.
Front planks are an isometric exercise, which means you hold a static position rather than performing repetitions.
The length of time you can hold a plank can vary depending on your strength and fitness level.
Planks are widely recognized for their effectiveness in building core stability and endurance without requiring any equipment.
As you progress, you can challenge yourself by increasing the duration of the hold or adding variations, such as side planks or plank with leg lifts.
How To Do The Plank:
- Start by positioning yourself on the floor face down (in a pushup position) with your forearms, knees and toes touching the ground.
- Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders, and your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
- From here raise your knees from the ground so that your body now forms a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Keep your back straight and don’t allow your hips to sag as you hold the position.
- Squeeze your glutes and thighs to maintain alignment and stability. Your abs will engage to help you maintain the exercise.
- Hold this position for as long as you can while maintaining proper form and breathing steadily.
The Dragon Flag is an advanced body weight exercise that targets the core muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis (front abdominal muscles) and the hip flexors.
It is famously associated with Bruce Lee, the martial artist, and actor, who popularized this challenging move as part of his intense training regimen.
How To Perform The Dragon Flag Exercise:
- Lie down on a weight bench with your head close to the edge and legs extended.
- Hold onto the bench behind your head, gripping it firmly with both hands.
- Squeeze your shoulders blades together.
- Bend at your hips to raise your legs up towards the ceiling.
- Continue raising your body until you’re in an inverted position. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders, hips and your feet.
- Your bodyweight should be resting on your upper back and shoulders, not your neck.
- Engage your core muscles and start lowering your body back down towards the bench, allowing your body to remain straight and maintaining tension in your core.
- When your legs are close to the bench, reverse the movement and raise your body back up towards the ceiling, returning to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
The leg raise, sometimes called the lying leg raise, is an easy bodyweight exercise that can be done by pretty much anyone.
It’s a great exercise for targeting your lower abs and hip flexors.
There are a few different variations of leg raises, including bent knee leg raises and hanging leg raises.
Each variation places a slightly different emphasis on the muscles worked, so you can choose the one that best suits your fitness level and goals.
How To Do The Lying Leg Raise:
- Lie down on the floor, ideally on an exercise mat, with your arms down by your sides or under your glutes, whichever is most comfortable.
- Keep your legs straight with your feet together, and ensure your lower back is pressed firmly against the floor to engage your core.
- Slowly lift your legs off the ground, keeping them straight, until they are perpendicular to the floor or as high as you can comfortably go.
- Hold the position for a second or two, focusing on engaging your lower abs and keeping your core tight.
- You should avoid arching your lower back and lifting your shoulders off the ground.
- Lower your legs back down slowly and under control to the starting position without letting them touch the ground.
Side Plank With Rotation
The side plank with rotation helps to engage your obliques (the muscles down either side of your waist), whilst also working the muscles responsible for stabilizing your spine helping to improve core stability.
How To Do The Side Plank With Rotation:
- Lie on one side with your feet stacked together.
- Support your upper body by resting on your forearm and make sure your elbow is directly beneath your shoulder.
- Fold your free arm across your chest.
- Raise your hips off the ground so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your ankle. This is your starting position.
- From here, rotate your hips down towards the floor. Keep your chest facing forwards and only rotate at the hips.
- You should feel your obliques closest to the floor engage as you do this.
- Go as far as you can whilst making sure your upper body doesn’t twist.
- Rotate your hips back to the starting position and repeat.
- Once you completed your chosen number of reps, repeat on the other side.
The dead bug is a great exercise for building core strength, improving coordination, and reinforcing the mind-muscle connection to your abdominal region.
It will target your deep abdominal muscles and helps to improve the stability of your pelvis.
How To Do The Dead Bug Exercise:
- Lie flat on your back on the floor or an exercise mat with your arms extended straight up toward the ceiling.
- Bend your knees and hips at a 90-degree angle, so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor.
- Press your lower back into the floor to properly engage your core muscles.
- From this starting position, simultaneously lower your right arm behind you and extend your left leg towards the floor.
- Continue lowering until your arm and leg are just above the floor but not touching it.
- Focus on maintaining stability and not allowing your lower back to lift off the ground.
- Return back to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement on the opposite side, lowering your left arm and right leg toward the floor.
- Continue to alternate sides in a controlled manner for the desired number of repetitions.
Ab rollouts, also known as ab wheel rollouts, are an advanced core-strengthening exercise that requires a lot of stability and initial core strength.
You’ll need an ab wheel to perform this exercise.
They primarily target your rectus abdominis (your “six-pack” muscles), the transverse abdominis, and your obliques.
To a lesser degree, they’ll also engage the muscles of your lower back and shoulders which help with stability.
How To Do Ab Rollouts:
- Start by kneeling down on an exercise mat with an ab wheel positioned in front of you.
- Keep your knees hip-width apart and take hold of the handles of the ab wheel.
- Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine and maintain a neutral back position.
- Slowly roll the wheel forward by extending your arms and lowering your upper body towards the floor.
- Keep your abs tight throughout the movement to prevent your back from arching.
- Continue rolling out until you feel a stretch to your core or until your body is almost parallel to the ground, don’t allow your chest or hips to touch the floor.
- Pause briefly at the end of the movement, then engage your core muscles and roll the wheel back towards your knees.
Your core muscles, including the deep core muscles, play an important role in stabilizing your spine and pelvis during many every day movements that involve lifting, twisting, and bending.
A strong core can help improve your posture, reduce the risk of injury, and enhance your athletic performance.
It can also help you perform daily activities with ease and reduce the risk of back pain.
Whilst the aim of cable crunches is to improve core strength and stability, there are better ways of doing this as suggested with the exercises above and you don’t need to rely on a regular cable crunch exercise.
The best alternatives to cables crunches will allow for a greater range of motion providing an even better workout.
Make sure you keep your core workouts varied as this helps to better challenge the muscles in different ways, leading to greater gains in strength and stability.
Incorporate the above cable crunch alternatives into your workout routine and start building a strong, supportive core today.