Cable Crunches vs Sit-Ups

Cable Crunches vs Sit-Ups (Pros and Cons)

Have you ever found yourself wondering which ab exercise is better: Cable Crunches or Situps? Well, you’re not alone! Many people are unsure which one to do to get those coveted six-pack abs.

Cable Crunches involve using a cable machine to target your abs, while situps are a classic bodyweight exercise that many people swear by. But which one is more effective for building a strong core and getting those washboard abs?

In this article, I’ll be exploring the benefits and potential drawbacks of both exercises, as well as tips for proper form and technique to ensure you’re getting the most out of your ab workouts. So grab a mat and get ready to work those abs!

Cable Crunches

Cable Crunches
Photo Credit: Skydive Erick /

Equipment Needed

  • Cable Machine

Muscles Worked

  • Abdominal Core Muscles (Rectus Abdominus, Obliques Externus Abdominus, Pyramidalis)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Set up a cable machine at a height where the attachment can reach close to the floor.
  • Grab the attachment*, pull it to the back of the shoulders (similar to a back squat) and sit down on your knees.
  • Start with the torso completely upright.
  • Then, crunch down, taking your shoulders down towards your thighs.
  • Slowly return back to the starting position and repeat.

Coaching Points

*The two most popular attachment to use for Cable Crunches is the rope and the long straight bar. I would suggest trying both and seeing which you like better.

You don’t need to go super heavy with Cable Crunches. Instead, keep tension on the core throughout the movement and focus on the contraction of each rep. The time under tension over the course of the set will accumulate and you’ll really notice the burn towards the tail end of the set.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a cable machine, you can do the exact same exercise with a resistance band. Simply loop a resistance band around the top of the squat rack and do the exact same movement with the band. (You could also try one of these Cable Crunch alternatives)


The main benefit specifically for Cable Crunches is having the ability to easily change the weight being used for an abdominal exercise. And, the ability to use a considerable amount of weight with it being a logistical nightmare.

For example, many (if not most) core exercises are done with bodyweight only. Weighted variations are typically done with a weight plate or maybe a dumbbell. However, for many movements using a plate or a dumbbell makes the movement itself harder to do, not just because of the weight, but because holding a large implement can be cumbersome.

Cable Crunches allow for weight to easily be changed and you can go as heavy as the machine (or your strength) will allow without compromising the integrity of the movement.


Woman Doing Sit-Ups

Equipment Needed

  • None

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your hands either behind your head for support, beside the ears or with arms crossed in front of the chest.
  • Sit up by contracting and flexing the abdominals
  • Lower back down to the floor and repeat

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake that I see with Sit-ups is pulling way too hard on the back of the head. If you are going to place your hands behind your head, do so only to support the head, not pull on it.

Instead of placing the hands behind the head you can also keep hands by the ears, or in front of the chest if needed, but avoid pulling on the back of the head.

Benefits of Situps

Situps primarily target your rectus abdominis muscle. Strengthening the rectus abdominis (along with the rest of your core) can improve your posture, balance, and overall core strength and stability.

A strong core is essential for many sports and activities, including running, jumping, and lifting weights. By strengthening your abs with Situps, you can improve your athletic performance and reduce your risk of injury.

Situps require no equipment and can be done anywhere, making them a convenient exercise for people with busy schedules or limited access to a gym.

RELATED –> 17 Sit-up alternatives to train your core

Cable Crunches vs Sit-Ups: Which is Better?

Now, let’s take a side-by-side look at the two core movements to see if one is better than the other for some common lifting goals.

Better For Core Strength: Cable Crunches

This may be blasphemous to some old-school Sit-ups proponents, but Cable Crunches are just better for improving core strength. This is due to two factors.

First, and most importantly, Cable Crunches add the element of resistance to the movement. As your core becomes stronger you can continue to easily add more resistance which is pretty much the basic fundamentals of progressive overload.

True, you can hold weight when doing Sit-ups, but then you’re technically doing Weighted Sit-ups. Also, holding a plate or a dumbbell can often be cumbersome and depending on a lifter’s technique not even really add that much resistance to the abs.

Second, Cable Crunches are more of a pure ab movement. Sit-ups heavily involve the hip flexors to complete reps. But, from a kneeling position the hip flexors are almost completely removed from the movement and the emphasis can be directed to the core.

Better For Beginners: Toss Up

This one is tough as both exercises have their pros and cons for beginners.

I love starting off beginners with basic, foundational movements when first starting out and then adding in complexity as we go. Sit-ups fit this idea perfectly because you can’t get much more basic and fundamental than a Sit-up.

However, I know that Sit-ups can be really uncomfortable or even impossible for some beginners.

Cable Crunches, on the other hand, are a bit more complex and involve having to use a cable machine. However, they are easy to execute once you figure them out and you can start light and increase weight as you continue to get stronger.

Whichever exercise you decide to start with, always remember to focus on proper technique first.

Final Thoughts

I’ve just spent the last section of this article discussing which is better – Cable Crunches or Sit-ups. But, in reality (assuming you have access to a cable machine) there is no reason to not include both in your strength training.

Both are great options for working on your core strength. And, by incorporating both into your training you can add variety and keep your workouts from getting stale.

So, instead of trying to figure out which core exercise you should be doing, I suggest figuring out how you can utilize both Cable Crunches and Sit-ups.

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