Standing Cable Crunch Exercise Guide — Form, Muscles Worked, & Variations

standing cable crunch and Pallof press

Standing cable crunches intensity crunches to build core strength. 

How has your ab routine been performing lately? For those looking to intensify their regimen, consider the standing cable crunch. This targeted core exercise specifically hones in on your six-pack muscles, offering a powerful way to strengthen your abs.

Crunches have long been recognized as a powerful method for fortifying and sculpting the core. Primarily a bodyweight exercise, studies suggest that incorporating weights significantly enhances abdominal muscle engagement (1). You can use the cable to add weights and intensify the training by performing standing cable crunches, thus amplifying your results.

This exercise guide looks at the standing cable crunch and explains why you should add this movement to your routine. You’ll also find step-by-step instructions to help you do it correctly. Read on for these and some other ab training alternatives you can try, too.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The standing cable crunch primarily works on your abs. It also recruits your obliques, serratus, lats, traps, triceps, delts, pecs, and rhomboids to perform the movement. This exercise is a great way to increase your core strength and definition.

You must set the triceps rope attachment to the highest setting on the cable machine to do the standing cable crunch. Using proper form and engaging your core is vital during this routine. Below are step-by-step instructions that you can follow. 

  1. Set the cable machine to the top position and attach the rope attachment. 
  2. Assume a stance facing opposite the machine with your legs shoulder-width distance apart.
  3. Grab the rope attachment with both hands and put it next to your temple or your ears. Take one or two steps away from the machine.
  4. Keep your body upright with your elbows pointing out. This is your starting position.
  5. Hinge at your waist to bend and bring your head and elbows towards your knees. Focus on your abs as you do this.
  6. Pause and squeeze your abs when in the crunch.
  7. Slowly extend your arms, raise your torso to return to the starting position, and complete the rep.
  8. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.


Standing cable crunches require more strength, as you’ll stabilize your entire body when doing the crunch. The cable machine also offers constant tension during the movement, and research shows that spending more time under tension leads to more muscle growth (2). Below are more benefits of this exercise.

Build Your Core

The standing cable crunch primarily targets your rectus abdominis, strengthening your core. It also builds your transverse abdominis, obliques, and other deep-core stabilizers. Targeting these muscles leads to a stronger core.

Define Your Abs

Standing cable crunches help you tone your abs. Using weight can help improve your definition and increase your strength. This exercise is a great way to sculpt your six-pack.

Improve Balance & Stability

With the standing cable crunch, you need a lot of stability to resist the tension from the cable machine. As a result, you’ll recruit your muscles to keep your balance. Over time, doing this exercise will increase your stability and balance. 

Greater Range of Motion

The standing cable crunch uses a greater range of motion than the traditional sit-up or crunch. This is because of the greater flexion and extension of your torso. As a result, the flexibility and mobility of your upper body and core will increase. 


Training your abs in a standing position is more functional than in real life; you mostly use them that way. This exercise also strengthens and stabilizes your core. A strong core is necessary for many movements and activities, so standing cable crunches provide more functionality. 

Better Posture

The standing cable crunch activates your core and back muscles. These are the muscles that play a crucial part in your posture. Strengthening them using the standing cable crunch can help you beat the bad posture of sitting hunched over all day.

Carryover to Other Exercises

Compound exercises like the deadlift, pullup, and bench press require a strong core. Standing cable crunches help to strengthen and build your core. This improves your form for the above routines.

Standing Cable Crunch Alternatives

The standing cable crunch is a dynamic exercise you should add to your ab workouts. In this research, high school students who did the crunch had better abdominal endurance in just a few weeks (3). Below are some other good ab-building exercises that you can also try.

Pallof Press

The Pallof press is another exercise that targets your abs and obliques. The Pallof press builds your core strength by putting these muscles under load and pressing. You can use a cable machine or resistance bands for the Pallof press. 

Goblet Squat

The goblet squat, like other squats, is primarily a lower-body exercise. However, this variation will also fire up your core. This exercise also improves your grip strength and builds your arms.

Kettlebell Around the World 

You can also use kettlebells to work your abs; a good routine for that is the kettlebell around the world. Keeping your core strong as you rotate your body to rotate the kettlebell will activate the obliques. 


Is the standing cable crunch effective?

The standing cable crunch is an effective way to train for a six-pack. It primarily targets your abs and works on your other core muscles.

What are standing cable crunches good for?

Standing cable crunches are good for building your core strength. They also improve your stability and balance. For more benefits of this routine, check the exercise guide above. 

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more exercise guides! 


  1. Moraes, A. C., Pinto, R. S., Valamatos, M. J., Valamatos, M. J., Pezarat-Correia, P. L., Okano, A. H., Santos, P. M., & Cabri, J. M. (2009). EMG activation of abdominal muscles in the crunch exercise performed with different external loads. Physical therapy in sport : official journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine, 10(2), 57–62. 
  2. Mang, Z. A., Ducharme, J. B., Mermier, C., Kravitz, L., de Castro Magalhaes, F., & Amorim, F. (2022). Aerobic Adaptations to Resistance Training: The Role of Time under Tension. International journal of sports medicine, 43(10), 829–839. 
  3. Juan-Recio, C., López-Vivancos, A., Moya, M., Sarabia, J. M., & Vera-Garcia, F. J. (2015). Short-term effect of crunch exercise frequency on abdominal muscle endurance. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 55(4), 280–289.
Terry Ramos
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 ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.