If ever there was an exercise where the saying, “feel the muscle, not the weight” rang true, it’s this one.
You can get SO much out of this exercise if it’s performed in the manner prescribed here. Not least of which is rock-hard abs from top to bottom.
There are some tweaks that I use to maximize the effectiveness of kneeling cable crunches. But first we’ll check out the video I made, then look at the notes on form below.
Kneeling Cable Cruches (With Rope)
First of all – go lighter on the weight. As you’ll note from the free THT book, my experience has been that movements with small ranges of motion always work best with higher rep ranges and lighter weights (another example is calf raises).
A weight that is too heavy here will not allow for a full range of motion, nor the correct cadence to be employed.
Kneel below a high pulley and face inward towards the equipment. You should be below and a step back from the pulley. A lot of people kneel too far back, which actually works against them.
Grasp the cable rope attachment with both hands. Hold it where it feels most stable. Personally, I like to pass the rope past my neck and hold it just in front of my chin.
Make sure your butt is off the ground, not making contact with your feet.
Keep your feet planted on the floor throughout the whole movement.
Flex at the waist so that your head comes down and inward towards your knees. Ensure that your hips remain stationary throughout.
Visualization Tip – To get the movement correct, visualize CURLING INTO yourself on the downward portion of the rep. By doing so you involve the lower abs a little more and allow for a MUCH better contraction of the abs. Many people doing this exercise push their head straight down in front of them; this will not be maximally effective. I found that when helping friends train they would perform the movement much better when I asked them to imagine they were trying to curl into themselves, try it!
Use a slow, smooth cadence with a short pause at the peak contraction point of the movement. By curling into yourself, you will achieve a maximal contraction of the abs. Pause for a second in this position before returning slowly to the top.
Many tutorials on this exercise will tell you to hyperextend the spine at the top. I disagree with this. This takes the tension off the abs. The top of the movement is where I am in the pic to the right. Don’t come up past the point where the abs are still contracting against the weight. You’ll be able to feel this spot for yourself when you do this. Again, don’t hyperextend the spine at the top.
I also like to keep my knees together for this exercise. Test this for yourself. It’s about what feels most comfortable to you. If you’re comfortable and stable, you’ll be able to generate more force. Some people like a gap of a few inches between their knees, I don’t.
When you get the hang of the correct form, you’ll never want to leave this movement out of your ab routine again.
If your gym happens to be particularly busy and you can’t access the cable equipment, you can substitute this exercise for a crunch machine like this one. Just ensure that you use the same cadence I described above.
NOTE: For newcomers to MuscleHack, there is no such thing as “spot-reduction”. This exercise, or any ab exercise, is not going to burn the fat away from your midsection. You will BUILD your abdominal muscles with movements like this one, but in order to get a six-pack, you need a very low body fat percentage. To take care of this for you in the quickest way possible, see my book “Total Six Pack Abs“.
Train With Intensity!
P.S. Myra Marshall posted a short article on what she is eating over at MuscleHacker here.
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