How To Do A Rope Crunch

You’ve probably seen an ab exercise involving a rope and cable. And you may even have tried it yourself. But there are a few mistakes that can make this movement anything but effective for building a six-pack.

So I’m going to show you how to do rope crunches the right way. Scroll down to learn more about proper rope crunch form and watch a short video demonstration.

Rope Crunch

What Is A Rope Crunch?

A rope crunch is an abdominal exercise that uses a rope attachment on a cable machine. Unlike regular crunches, you perform this exercise while kneeling and you pull down against the weighted cable for resistance.

Other names for this exercise include cable rope crunch, rope ab crunch, kneeling rope crunch, or weighted rope crunches. All of these describe the same exercise.

Also, the rope attachment is most commonly used because it’s easy to grasp. But you could use other cable attachments like a bar or handles.

Rope Crunch Muscles Worked

As with any crunch or sit-up, rope crunches primarily target your rectus abdominis or abs. These are the small rectangular muscles that make up the almighty 6-pack.

With certain rope crunch variations, you can also activate the feather-like muscles along the side of your abdomen. Also known as the obliques.

Rope Crunch Muscles Worked

How To Do A Rope Crunch

First, secure the rope or other attachment to the cable. Then adjust the pulley so it’s at about head level. This will put the end of the rope at the right level when you’re kneeling.

Next, grab one end of the rope in each hand with your palms facing in. Now kneel down about 3 feet (1 meter) away from the cable machine so you have enough room to bend forward.

Hold the end of the rope just above your head and lean forward at about 45-degrees with your back straight. In the starting position, your abs should be stretched and under tension.

From here, pull your upper torso down and back towards your knees until you feel your abs fully contract. Then raise back up to the starting position and repeat.

To recap, here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Adjust the pulley to the proper height
  2. Kneel down and hold the rope just above your head
  3. Bend forward at about a 45-degree angle to start
  4. Squeeze your abs to pull your torso towards the floor
  5. Control the weight on the way back up
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Kneeling Rope Crunch Video

Rope Crunch Form

While this exercise may appear straightforward, it’s actually easy to screw up. The most common mistake is bending more at the hips instead of the abdominals.

When you bend at the hips you’re not fully contracting your abs. Instead, you’re using more hip flexors to pull the weight down. And that’s not going to get you the six-pack abs you’re after.

Here are some additional things to avoid.

  • Do not bend at the hips or keep your back too flat

  • Don’t pull with your arms or move them excessively

  • Don’t let your abs relax at the top or jerk to start the movement

Rope Crunch Form
  • Arch your back forward to squeeze your abs at the bottom

  • Move your torso using only your abdominal muscles

  • Keep your abs under constant tension

Rope Crunch Form

To get the most abdominal contraction, imagine a string connecting your sternum to your navel. When performing the crunch, try to shorten that distance as much as possible.

If you use the strict form described above, you can make your abs fail much faster. And that’s what results in more strength and muscle gains.

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Rope Crunch Variations

There are a few different variations of rope crunches that you can use for targeting specific parts of your abdomen.

Reverse Rope Crunch

With this rope crunch variation, you face away from the cable machine and hold the rope over your shoulder on either side of your neck. Other than that the exercise is performed the same way.

By facing the other way, you change the angle at which the force is applied. Compared to regular rope crunches, you’ll feel more resistance in the top half of the range of motion.

Oblique Rope Crunch

Oblique rope crunches use a twisting motion to involve your sides and love handle area. To do this variation, twist your trunk so that your left elbow moves towards your right knee and vice versa.

You can alternate sides on each rep or do multiple reps with each side before switching.

Rope Crunch Alternative

Here are some rope crunch alternatives if you don’t have a cable machine.

Decline Crunch

Another way to add resistance is by doing crunches on a decline bench. Decline crunches force you to work harder against gravity. And the steeper the angle, the more resistance you’ll feel.

Weighted Decline Crunch

If decline crunches still don’t provide enough resistance, you can use a heavier weight by holding a plate, dumbbell, or medicine ball.

Resistance Band Rope Crunch

Lastly, if you don’t have a cable machine or decline bench, you can also do rope crunches with resistance bands. Simply anchor the bands at about head level and perform the exercise as demonstrated with the cables.

10 Tips For Getting Abs

Weighted rope crunches are a great addition to your ab workouts. But if you really want to get a six-pack, you have to reduce overall body fat.

To do this you need a mix of diet, exercise, and maybe some supplements. So if you want a six-pack sooner, check out my 10 tips for how to get abs faster.

decline crunches how to get abs
Get Abs Faster

With this information, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your fitness goals. And if you found this exercise tutorial helpful, click on the articles below for more workout tips!

10 Tips For How To Get Abs Faster

A simple explanation of the physiology of how to get abs. Plus 10 tips for how to get abs faster! Including diet, exercise, & supplements.

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