Cable Core Press Exercise Guide: How to, Benefits, and Variations

cable core press

The cable core press is an excellent ab exercise involving your upper body muscles. 

Does it feel like it’s abs season? Whatever your answer, chances are that working on your sexy six-pack and obliques are on your mind. For that, you need core exercises like the cable core press. 

Core exercises are about more than just rock-hard abs when it comes to bodybuilding (not saying looking fab isn’t essential, by the way). But you need your core in top shape to protect your spine and reduce your risk of injury when doing actions like weightlifting.

Core exercises help to improve your posture, give you better stability, and improve your overall performance. They can even help reduce back pain and make simple daily tasks more manageable, including bending or twisting your spine (1)

As the name suggests, the cable core press targets your core, specifically your abs, obliques, shoulders, and chest muscles.

Are you interested in this surefire movement to build your core and enhance your functionality? Here’s everything you should know about the cable core press, including how to do it, its benefits, and some good variations of this exercise. 

How to Do Cable Core Press

Cable core presses are an excellent way to engage and work your mid-section muscles. During this exercise, your core acts like a weightlifting belt to stabilize and protect your lumbar spine. You have to ensure that your core contracts to prevent unwanted movements. Here’s how to do the cable core press with some tips on form.

  1. Stand next to the cable machine and adjust the handle to align with your chest
  2. Next, stand with the left side of your body facing the machine.
  3. Step away from the machine with the cable to ensure it’s taut, then position yourself.
  4. Hold the cable machine handle to your chest while keeping your shoulders back, and contract your core.
  5. Then slowly push your hands before you until your arms are extended fully. 
  6. Pause for three seconds in this position and then return your hands with the handle to your chest.
  7. Repeat this several times, ensuring your movement is slow and controlled. 
  8. Switch to your right side facing the machine and repeat the above – to target both sides of your abdominals. 

*Tip: Keep your core engaged throughout this exercise and avoid rotating your hips or shoulders — this will take engagement off your abdominals. If you find this happening despite trying to stay stable, lower the weight.

Benefits of the Cable Core Press 

Keeping your midsection looking lean and muscular is vital to your aesthetics. The cable core press helps to engage the abs and obliques, giving you that lean and chiseled look. Below are other essential advantages of adding the cable core press to your bodybuilding routine.

Rock Solid Core

A strong core is essential for deadlifts, heavy squats, and barbell rows. Without a strong midsection, your body won’t succeed in handling the heavy loads you need to build mass. A rock-solid core also helps to cushion your spine like a weightlifting belt and improves your stability. 

Hypertrophy In Standing Position

Many core exercises are done in a supine or pushup position, e.g. planks or bicycle crunches. These exercises only target your core. But the cable core press is done standing, transferring the stress and hypertrophy to a standing position. This dramatically improves your functionality that carries over to their movements, such as the barbell standing shoulder press that keeps your core muscles stable. 

Constant Tension

Since this is done with a cable machine, it provides constant tension and more even load distribution across your muscles. In addition, with cable core presses, you won’t miss out on the stabilization part of your bodybuilding plan.  

Total Body Engaged

Cable core presses engage the whole body, requiring a pressing movement to target your abs. But, again, you’ll need to depend on the stability of your upper and lower body muscles and joints to lock you into position while you move. 

Posture Improvement

As a result of the spinal rigidity and tension used in this exercise, you’ll have to stabilize your joints to keep your body centered. It can also help alleviate lower back pain (2).

Safety

The cable core press is safe and leaves little room for injury when you use the correct form. If you fail mid-rep, you don’t have to worry about a heavy bar or the likes crashing down on you.

Heavier Loads

A cable machine allows you to add the load needed to challenge your muscles as a seasoned lifter. This exercise is also great for beginners who can reduce their weight to a lighter load.

Cable Core Press Variations

cable core press

Since the human body adapts quickly, doing the same exercises over a long time can cause your gains to halt. Therefore, it’s always advisable to rotate other core exercise variations. That way, you can avoid being caught in a rut that leads to a plateau. Here are some variations of the cable core press that you can try out. 

Cable Woodchop

This explosive compound exercise also helps to strengthen and develop your core, specifically your obliques. It uses an adjustable cable machine and improves hip stability and strength.

Kneeling Cable Crunch

The kneeling cable crunch works on your core, hips, and lower back. You also use a cable machine with this exercise, performed in a kneeling position.

Crunch Chop

The crunch chop engages your core, hips, and glutes. You typically don’t use a cable machine or weights for this exercise. Instead, you’ll use your bodyweight, a light dumbbell, or a medicine ball

Cross Chop to Knee

This essential bodyweight exercise engages your abs, hips, and obliques. It helps to increase your balance and is a good form of strength training. 

Core Anatomy

Your core comprises trunk and hip muscles surrounding your spine, hips, and abdominal viscera. Think of it as a big box with your abdominals in the front, and then you have the hip girdle, pelvic floor, diaphragm, gluteals, and paraspinal all forming borders. There are about 29 muscle pairs in this box. 

Now obviously, we can’t mention all of these in this post, but here are the muscles of the midsection to pay attention to in general:

Rectus Abdominis

Also known as the trunk flexors, these muscles are responsible for trunk flexion, which handles bending forward movements and your ability to curl up.

Obliques

The core is made up of internal and external obliques. These are responsible for your trunk rotation and help you twist from left to right. 

Transverse Abdominis

Your transverse abdominis deal with the compression of your abdomen. It draws your belly button into your spine.

Erector Spinae 

The erector spinae, also known as back extensors, helps you stand straight after bending over. It’s also responsible for bending backward and other trunk extension movements.

FAQs

What does cable core press do?

The cable core press is a good core strengthening exercise for your bodybuilding routine. It also helps to improve your posture, athletic performance, and stability. 

What muscles do cable core press work?

Cable core presses focus on the muscles of your midsection. They also help with your shoulders.

How to do a core press?

A core press can be done with a cable machine to help strengthen your core. Please check the above instructions for a step-by-step breakdown of how to do a cable core press.

References

  1. Akuthota, V., Ferreiro, A., Moore, T., & Fredericson, M. (2008). Core stability exercise principles. Current sports medicine reports, 7(1), 39–44. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.CSMR.0000308663.13278.69
  2. Coulombe, B. J., Games, K. E., Neil, E. R., & Eberman, L. E. (2017). Core Stability Exercise Versus General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain. Journal of athletic training, 52(1), 71–72. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-51.11.16
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.