Abdominals

5 Best Cable Oblique Exercises For Effective Core Workouts

cable oblique exercises

Targeting your oblique muscles isn’t just limited to the Russian twist exercise.  

If you have access to cable machine, there are some highly effective cable oblique exercises you can perform to target these often overlooked core muscles.  


Recommended Reading – 13 Best Ab Home Workout Equipment & Machines


In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the best cable exercises you can perform specifically to target your obliques, giving you the best results for improving your core strength.  

Before that, let’s look at the abdominal muscles in more detail.  

Your Abdominal Muscles And Why They’re Important

Your upper and lower abs comprises several muscles in layers and they all work together.  

When they’re strong they lead to a healthy core which protects your spine and reduces low back pain which helps to prevent injury.

The main muscles that make up your abdominals are:

ab-anatomy-muscles

The Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis is a superficial muscle that attaches to your pelvis, sternum and rib cage and is more often referred to as your six-pack muscle.  

Many people tend to focus on this muscle and forget about the others.  

The Internal Obliques

Your internal obliques form part of your abdominal wall and sit directly beneath your external obliques making them a deep set muscle.  

They work with the other core muscles to allow flexion and rotation of your trunk.

​The External Obliques

The external obliques are also a superficial muscle that are directly above the internal obliques.  

They are the largest of the abdominals and sit at the outermost layer.  

It works with the internal obliques to flex and rotate your torso.  

The Transverse Abdominis

The TVA muscle is the very deepest of the core muscles and wraps all the way around the abdomen.  

It plays a large part in spinal and core stability, contracting and compressing to protect your spine.  

It also works with the pelvic floor muscles helping to support the pelvic region.  

Other muscles that make up your lower abs include the pelvic girdle, linea alba, erector spinae and the inguinal ligament.  

Cable Machine For The Abdominal Muscles

There are many bodyweight exercises you can do to target your obliques and build a strong core, these include bicycle crunches, side planks and of course the Russian twist.  

In some instances, you can incorporate something like a resistance band or free weights to make the exercises more challenging.  

However, if you want to really work your obliques, then you’ll want to keep them under constant tension, and you can do this by using a cable machine.  

Cable machines come in different styles.  

You have the dual adjustable pulley which features two columns and two weight stacks or a high low pulley, which comprises of just the one weight stack.  

Dual Adjustable Pulley Chest Fly

They’re very versatile and can allow you to perform an entire body workout. 

What’s more, cable machines are usually fully customizable.

You can change the weight of each pulley system independently, along with the height.

Because of that, you can use the equipment to try out a wide range of exercise working all your muscles, not just your obliques.  

You’ll need various attachments when using a cable machine.  

Gym Cable Attachment D Handle

For example, the rope attachment is great for performing cable crunches.  

Which attachment you choose is more down to personal preference.  

Cable Oblique Exercises Using A Machine

Now that you know why it’s important not to neglect your obliques, the following exercises will help you to isolate these muscles helping you to build a strong and healthy core.  

Before incorporating any of the below exercises into your core training, it’s a good idea to seek the advice from a personal trainer to ensure you execute the movements correctly, minimizing the chance of injury.  

Cable Standing Twist

The cable standing twist, sometimes known as the cable rotational twist or cable standing lift, helps to train the internal and external oblique muscles.  

Doing this exercise on a cable machine reduces the range of motion making injury less likely.  

How To Do The Cable Standing Twist:

  1. Set up the cable machine by setting the pulley to around knee height and choosing the desired weight on the stack. Attach a D handle attachment. 
  2. Stand with your right side toward the cable and take a large step to your left and then a step back.  This ensures that the cable can move freely during the exercise. 
  3. Keep your feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend to your knees.  
  4. Take hold of the attachment with both hands. Your left arm should be crossing in front of your body.  
  5. Keeping your shoulder and back stable, use your obliques to twist the handle from your right hip up and across your body until it’s above the opposite shoulder.  
  6. Resist the weight load with your abs and then use control to move back to the starting position.  
  7. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions and then repeat working your opposite side.  

Cable Twist Up Down

The cable twist up-down, also known as the cable woodchoppers or oblique cable twists, is an exercise that specifically works the obliques.

It involves performing a twisting motion that mimics the action of chopping wood.

This exercise is effective for developing rotational strength and stability in the core, making it beneficial for sports and activities that involve twisting movements.

How To Do The Cable Twist Up Down:

  1. Attach your preferred grip attachment to your cable pulley and set it to the highest setting. 
  2. Stand sideways to the cable machine and take a large step away from it. 
  3. Using both hands, grab hold of the attachment and start with your arms extended straight out in front of you.  
  4. Initiate the movement by twisting your torso and pulling the handle diagonally downward across your body, as if you’re chopping wood.
  5. As you twist down, bend your knees slightly and pivot on your back foot so that your hips can rotate.
  6. Lower the handle toward the opposite hip or thigh while maintaining control and tension in your core.
  7. Slowly reverse the movement, returning to the starting position with the handle at shoulder height.
  8. Complete 10 to 12 reps then repeat on the other side.  

Cable Side Bend

The cable is a great exercise for targeting your obliques.  

It’s super easy to perform and is very similar to dumbbell side bends.

The only difference being that instead of holding a dumbbell in your hand you take hold of a cable attachment.  

It’s a small range of motion when performing this movement so you won’t need to go too heavy to really work those obliques.  

​How To Do The Cable Side Bend Exercise:

  1. Set the machine up so that the pulley is at its lowest setting and choose your preferred weight load.  
  2. Stand side on to the cable and take hold of the handle with your closest hand.  
  3. Take a sidestep so that the weight stack lifts away, this will ensure you don’t crash the weights when returning to the start. 
  4. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and maintain a tight core. 
  5. From here, bend your torso to the side so that the hand holding the attachment moves upwards. Keep your arm straight throughout. 
  6. Pause briefly before slowly lowering back to the start. 
  7. Complete 15 reps and then switch sides.  

Standing Oblique Cable Crunch

The standing cable crunch involves using a cable machine to create resistance while performing a crunching or bending motion to the side.

This exercise helps strengthen the muscles responsible for bending and stabilizing the torso laterally.

How To Perform The Standing Oblique Cable Crunch:

  1. ​Set the machine pulley to the highest setting and attach a D handle attachment or similar. 
  2. Stand with your right side to the machine and take hold of the attachment with your right hand. 
  3. Step up from the machine to create some resistance. 
  4. Keep your right elbow in line with your shoulder and your palm facing towards you. Keep your arm locked into this position throughout the exercise. 
  5. From this standing position, bend your torso to the right hand side moving your elbow down towards your right hip.  
  6. Go as far as you can before returning to the start.
  7. Perform 10 to 15 reps and then swap to work the other side.  

​Side Plank Cable Row

The side plank cable row is a much more challenging core and upper body exercise that combines the benefits of the side plank and the cable row.

It involves using a cable machine to add resistance while performing a rowing motion in a side plank position. 

This exercise targets the oblique muscles, the back muscles, and the stabilizers of the shoulder and core.

Ensure that you have a solid foundation when performing side planks and cable rows before attempting this exercise.  

How To Do The Side Plank Cable Row:

  1. Position the cable pulley to the lowest setting and hook on your attachment.
  2. Lie on your side so that you face the machine. Ensure that you’re far enough away so when taking hold of the attachment there is resistance.
  3. Prop yourself up on your elbow so that your elbow is directly under your shoulder.  Your legs should be straight and stacked on top one another. 
  4. Take hold of the attachment with your free hand and then lift your hips away from the ground so that your body forms a straight line from your neck to your heels.  
  5. With your hips and shoulders squared to the front, initiate the rowing motion by pulling the cable handle towards your upper chest. At the bottom position, your elbow should be tucked into your side. 
  6.  Pause for a second or two then allow your arm to straighten back out to the starting position.
  7. Do 8 to 10 reps on this side and then repeat on the other.  

Wrapping Up

Incorporating cable oblique exercises into your fitness routine can take your core training to the next level.

These exercises offer a unique way to target the often-neglected oblique muscles, enhancing not only your aesthetic goals but also your functional strength and stability. 

With the versatility of a cable machine, you can customize your workouts to suit your fitness level and increasing the weight load means you can progress the movements as your strength improves.  

Cable Standing Twist

When performing the exercises suggested in this article you can engage your obliques in ways that more traditional abdominal exercises might not.

As you work to develop a strong and balanced core, remember that proper form is key.

Gradually increase the resistance and challenge yourself while maintaining good form to ensure the best results and minimize the risk of injury.

Whether you’re an athlete aiming to improve rotational power or someone simply looking to enhance your overall core strength, cable oblique exercises offer many benefits. 

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