Cable crunches are one of the most popular abdominal exercises. It’s also one that seems to attract several specific mistakes committed by men and women striving to achieve attractive abs and waistlines.
Maybe you’re wondering how one can commit an error with such a seemingly simple exercise.
Errors are common, so here are the top cable crunch mistakes to avoid when performing the exercise while kneeling:
1. Bowing Down To A Statue
Think of how a person bows down to a statue and imagine that person repeating the motion.
Perhaps one’s idea of a statue bow differs from person to person, but the point is, many trainees grab the hand attachment (usually the rope), and rock up and down by merely pivoting the lower back up and down.
A crunch is a curling motion, and in a statue bow there is no curling motion. The trainee’s back is actually straight or almost straight the entire time. He or she is working out alright—the lower back only—not the abs.
A great tip-off that one is bowing to a statue is that the “crunch” is concluded by the elbows touching the floor.
Solution: The kneeling rope cable crunch is an inverted floor crunch. So trainees must ask themselves if a video were shot of them performing a kneeling cable crunch, would it look like an upside-down floor crunching exercise?
Keep the back about parallel with the floor and maintain a lower back arch. “Curl” the upper body into a crunching motion so that your head gets closer to your thighs, just like it does in a standard floor crunch.
You know you’re doing this correctly when the elbows are heading towards your thighs rather than the floor. Try to drive the elbows into the thighs, and you can’t help but do this right.
2. Pulling With The Arms
The trainee pulls with the arms because the arms are separated from the trainee’s head.
This sets him or her up for a muscle substitution pattern of using the arms and shoulders to create the curling motion, rather than relying mostly upon the core (lower back and abdominal muscles).
The heavier the weight used, the more the person outright pulls on that rope with the hands, creating a false sense of abdominal strength.
Solution: Keep hands or forearms pressed against the side of the head. This will prevent using the arms to pull at the rope. Don’t move the arms at all. Only the lower back and abdominals move.
3. Kneeling On The Heels
Again, imagine a standard crunching motion on a floor. The legs are either straight up (vertical), or, they are bent at the knees 90 degrees. Feet may or may not be crossed; that doesn’t matter.
What matters is the 90-degree bend. This practical position should apply to the upside-down version: crunching using a cable. Sitting on one’s heels interferes with an efficient curling motion, and reduces workload on the lower back.
Solution: Keep thighs vertical. Beware that you may gradually start sinking your hamstrings towards your calves as the set progresses, and without realizing it, end up nearly kneeling on your heels for most of the set.
Every time you curl, look at your legs. If the thighs have lost verticality, restore them back to this position by simply shifting upper body forward; don’t remove knees from the floor.
4. Incomplete Range Of Motion (ROM)
A person may have the preceding components all in place, yet still execute incomplete ROM in that the elbows are not as close to the thighs as they can be.
The rule is this: When you reach what seems to be the limit in terms of how crunched you can get your body, how close you can get the elbows to the thighs, don’t stop trying at that point.
Continue with the idea of closing in just a few more inches, and you will clearly feel this extra bit of effort coming from the abs. This makes all the difference in the world.
Variation: Oblique Cable Crunches.
The same rules above apply, except that one elbow at a time is driven towards the opposite thigh. One side can be done all at once, or sides can be alternated in a given set.
What about a standing cable crunch? It’s possible to do the statue bow with this, but the upright nature allows a trainee to check reflection in a mirror. Do you look like your crunching? Or does your motion more resemble that of a good-morning?
Remember to keep the forearms glued to the sides of the head to avoid pulling the rope with the arms.
5. Weight Load
Many people make the mistake of using too much weight, and this prevents a full crunch. Too little weight, however, actually counteracts proper body position by “pulling” the trainee forward.
Experiment with the weight stack to see what’s heavy enough to keep you from pitching forward, yet light enough to allow ROM and a fierce burn in the abs.
This is one abdominal routine in which the ideal rep range is 20-40. If the weights are too heavy to do much more than 15 reps, they’re also probably too heavy to complete full ROM.
For complete workouts involving how to work crunches and other abdominal exercises into a muscle building and fat burning regimen, you’ll want to read No-Nonsense Muscle Building Program by Vince DelMonte.
This program contains step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions for 29 programs for anybody who wants to build their leanest, buffest physique. Also included is a complete nutrition guide for fat loss and muscle support.
Previous Article: 18 Smith Machine Exercises For Building Muscle And Busting Boredom
Next Article: 5 Reasons Why Women Should Work Their Chest