Forget sit-ups, the cable machine is a great sidekick in the quest for a six-pack. Our guide to cable machine exercises is packed with tips on how to utilise the constant resistance of a cable and is split into three sections:
- Beginner: Firstly you’ll explore the benefits of crunching with cable tension overhead, followed by two torso-twisting exercises that are assisted by controlled arm movements to target both the abs and the obliques (possibly hidden by those love handles).
- Intermediate: Now it’s time to hit different parts of the abs to maximise results. These exercises include an upgraded cable crunch while lying on your back, a reverse crunch targeting the lower abs and a one-arm cable crunch for maximal contraction.
- Advanced: This is where winners are made. Starting with a tried and trusted method, the judo throw, you’ll then move onto a double-tension cable tuck crunch to target the entire abdominal area. Adding a gym ball to proceedings maximises core strength and stability with the cable leg raise, before putting the torso under constant tension with the high cable woodchop. Then it’s back to the gym ball to finish off with some Russian twists and you’ve mastered the art of abdominal training.
Now you can incorporate them into your workouts. Either use them as a finisher, picking two or three moves and cycling between them with minimal rest inbetween, or throughout a session by using them in a superset between sets of bigger full-body compound exercises. The result will be a stronger, more stable core ready for action in and out of the gym.
Beginner Cable Machine Exercises
High cable crunch
Using a high cable, kneel down and hold the handle by your head. Tense your abs and curl your shoulders down, keeping your hands in the same spot by your head. Pause at the bottom of the move, then rise slowly back to the start.
Stand in a split stance, holding a low cable in the opposite hand to your front leg. Twist your torso away from the machine and bring the cable in to your side.
Adopt a split stance facing away from the machine, holding a high cable by your shoulder in the opposite hand to your front leg. Twist your torso and press the cable out in front of your body.
Intermediate Cable Machine Exercises
Low cable crunch
Lie on the ground with your feet furthest away from the machine, holding a low cable in both hands by your forehead. Curl your shoulders off the floor, pause for a moment, then lower again.
Cable reverse crunch
Lie on your back with your feet towards the machine and put a low cable handle around your ankles. Hold your legs up so your thighs are vertical and knees are bent at 90°. Curl your hips up off the floor, then lower them slowly.
One-arm cross crunch
Kneel down in front of the machine, holding a high cable in one hand in front of your face. Curl your shoulders towards your knees without letting your body twist to the side. Pause at the bottom, then rise slowly.
Advanced Cable Machine Exercises
Stand side-on to the machine in a wide stance. Hold a high cable in both hands to the side of you that’s nearest the machine. Twist your body away from the machine and pull the cable over your shoulder, then crunch forwards, pulling the cable down.
Cable tuck crunch
Lie down between two cables, holding one handle in both hands by your head and with the other around your ankles. Your elbows and knees should be bent at 90°. Raise your shoulders and your hips off the ground at the same time, pause for a beat, then lower.
Gym ball cable leg raise
Lie back on a gym ball with a low cable handle around your feet. Grasp a pole behind your head for stability and extend your legs towards the machine. Raise your legs while trying to ensure your torso stays as still as possible on the ball.
High cable woodchop
Stand side-on to the machine, holding a high cable out to the side in both hands with your torso turned towards the machine. Twist your torso and draw the cable down and across your body, keeping your back straight and core tensed throughout.
Cable Russian twist
Lie on a gym ball on your back side-on to the machine. Turn your torso towards the machine, holding a low cable in both hands out in front of your chest. Keeping your arms straight, twist your torso and draw the cable across to the other side of your body.