Are Dumbbell Crunches an Effective Alternative to Cable Crunches?

Dumbbell crunches are a great alternative for cable crunches.
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Cable crunches are safe and effective, making them a mainstay exercise at the gym. The advantage of using cables is that they're constantly providing tension because they can pull in different directions than free weights, which can only pull down.


However, dumbbells are often more accessible, especially at home. But do they provide an effective alternative to cable crunches?



Cable crunches are effective for strengthening your core, but require access to specialized equipment. Perform a similar exercise as a cable crunch alternative using dumbbells, without leaving the comfort of your home.

Comparing Dumbbell Crunches vs. Cable Crunches

Cables also allow you to add weight safely to your exercise. But because the cable is fixed along a certain path, it's less predictable than a free weight. If you don't have access to a cable machine, however, you can still reap the benefits of the cable crunch with a weighted ab crunch, using a pair of dumbbells.


With proper form, you can recreate the constant resistance on your abs that a cable machine provides for an equally challenging ab workout with this cable crunch at-home alternative.

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How to Perform a Dumbbell Crunch

So, how do you simulate cable crunches with dumbbells? Perform dumbbell crunches on a weight bench. Practice the movement with light dumbbells first, until you have safely nailed the technique. Perform 10 repetitions, working up to three sets in a row before increasing your dumbbell weight.


  1. Lie on your back on a bench and a dumbbell in each hand. Use a raised surface, like a bench, because your arms will need to go lower than the rest of your body.
  2. Raise your legs up, with your knees bent, so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle (or as close as possible).
  3. Reach your arms over your head so that your biceps are next to your ears. Allow your elbows to bend slightly so the dumbbell is below the bench.
  4. Perform a crunch from this position, curling your head, shoulders and neck off the bench and rolling up toward your knees. Curl up until your head and upper back are raised off the bench.
  5. As you curl up, keep your arms in the same overhead position as step three. They should move in sync with your head, neck and body during this exercise.


How Much Weight Should You Use?

When performing dumbbell crunches, aim for a weight that you can do three sets of 10 repetitions. There is nothing particularly special about that number; it just means that you are using enough weight for the exercise to be challenging but the weight is light enough that you can concentrate on form.

Over time, you can decrease the weight if you want to do more sets and repetitions or increase the weight to make the exercise more challenging.


Dumbbell Crunch Considerations

During this cable crunch alternative exercise, your shoulders will be in a vulnerable position while you are holding weight. When your shoulders are extended, it increases your risk of injury, according to the Orthopaedic Research Institute of the University of New South Wales. Therefore, if you have a shoulder injury, use lighter weight or no weight at all.

Both cable and dumbbell crunches can also be harmful to your lower back, so if you have lower back problems you may want to avoid this exercise.




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