Oblique Cable Crunches

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Oblique Cable Crunches

Oblique cable crunch is a great isolation exercise that works all the abdominal muscles – the upper, lower, and specially your oblique (side) abs. Using a cable pulley machine allows you to increase the resistance as your training permits. Oblique cable crunches are one of the only ab exercises that overload your abs with a heavy weight. Once you strengthen your abs, you’ll easily be able to cable crunch 100, 110, 120+ pounds — that much weight is physically impossible to handle with any other ab or oblique exercise.

Oblique cable crunches are very similar to regular kneeling cable crunches. The movement is almost the same. The only major difference is that you will twist at the waist and bring your non-dominant shoulder toward the opposite knee.

Other names for this exercise: rope crunches to the side, twisting kneeling cable crunches, oblique rope crunches, kneeling cable crunch with alternating oblique twists, etc.

How To Perform Oblique Cable Crunches?

Clip a rope attachment to a high cable pulley, grab the ropes just above the knots, and then kneel 10 to 12 inches from the weight stack. Hold the ends of the rope in front of your forehead (or on either side of your head close to your ears), where they remain fixed throughout the movement.

First, bring your elbows directly toward your knees. In other words, crunch your rib cage down toward your pelvis without any twist (rotation) to the right or left. Pull downward until your head is close to the floor, your elbows are close to your knees, and your torso is parallel to the floor. Return under control to the start.

Now, repeat the same downward movement until you’re about halfway down, at which time you’ll begin rotating one of your elbows to the opposite knee. Your elbow travels toward mid-thigh on opposite side. Pause, straighten, then repeat the same movement as before, but alternate the other elbow to the opposite knee.

Oblique Cable Crunches

Oblique Cable Crunches

Additional Tips & Common Mistakes

  • Keep in mind that this is an ab exercise. Don’t pull down on the cable with your arms. You want your abs to pull the weight down as you lower your torso.
  • Movement occurs in waist not hips.
  • Keep your hips stationary all the time. Your buttocks should be up all the time and without pivoting at the hips. Do not sit on your legs. You want to keep constant stress on your abs. Sitting on your legs will take stress away from your abs.
  • When you start, arch your lower back. When you are crunching, round your back. This will ensure that you are contracting your abs. After you crunch and begin to raise your torso to the original position, slowly and gradually arch your back again.
  • Use weight that allows smooth and controlled motion. This will avoid cheating which in turn will take the emphasis off the abdominals.
  • Common mistakes while performing oblique cable crunches: using hips to help, movement performed too fast, lifting butt up, not pausing and squeezing at the bottom of the movement.

Muscles Engaged

Main muscles: external and internal oblique muscles
Secondary muscles: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominal
Antagonists: spinal erectors, longissimus dorsi and other muscles along the spinal column, and lower back muscles

Exercise Variations

Replacement Exercises

  • If you don’t have access to a cable pulley, do twisting sit-ups as a substitute to work the serratus and oblique muscles.
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