Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
October 4, 2023

Cable Gripping Trunk Twists
For a TIGHT, Powerful, Rock-Solid Core

By Nick Nilsson

Cable Gripping Trunk Twists For a TIGHT, Powerful, Rock-Solid Core

When most people think ab training, they don't think explosive rotational movements...they think crunches or sit-ups.. But YOU'RE not most people, are you!

Because you know (or at least you will in a second!) that powerful, rotational movements against resistance are the REAL key to developing a tight, strong core that not only looks great but gives you serious improvements in functional strength.

And I'm not talking "functional" like standing on a Bosu ball on one leg catching bean bags "functional." I'm talking throw harder, run faster, jump higher NOW type of "functional." Basically, the kind of functional you actually WANT.

That's where the Cable Gripping Trunk Twist exercise comes in...

This is not your standard twisting exercise where you use little light weights or even no weight at all. You are going working against resistance and eventually working your way up to substantial resistance.


First off, from an aesthetic point of view, if you want a flat stomach or tighter waist, you NEED exercises that work in with a rotational movement (assuming your bodyfat levels are low enough - direct ab training won't burn abdominal fat away).

Think of it this way...if somebody handed you some elastic bandage and told you to wrap yourself so that it made your waist smaller, how would you wrap it?

Would you loop it over your shoulder and between your legs up and down your body?

Cable Gripping Trunk Twists For a TIGHT, Powerful, Rock-Solid Core

NO! You'd immediately wrap it AROUND your waist and cinch it up tight.

So now comes the question...why would your "six pack" abs (the rectus abdominus) be the muscle to work if you want a tighter waist and flat stomach? This sheet of muscle runs vertically on your body, just like throwing that elastic bandage over your shoulder and through your legs.

You need to work the muscles that wrap AROUND the waist - the transversus abdominus and the obliques (internal and external). THESE are the muscles that tighten the waist and flatten the stomach area.

It's still a good idea (if your goal is a six-pack) to keep in some specific training for the frontal ab muscles, but to really make the waist smaller and the stomach flat, rotational training is what you need.

Second, rotation is CRITICAL to pretty much ALL sports and related movements.

Look at ANY throw or strike or hit or swing or kick or punch or stride...notice any rotational component there?

The rotational muscles of the abs are the KEY to transferring force through the midsection.


Naturally, if this is your first time doing a rotational exercise against resistance, start light and work up slowly. DO NOT start with explosive movements the first time you do this exercise.

That comes later. We're going to progress to it, not jump right into it.

Attach a single handle to a cable. If you've got an adjustable-height pulley, set it to about stomach level. If your cable doesn't adjust, you can use either the low or high pulley, no problem. The angle of the exercise will just be different.

Cable Gripping Trunk Twists For a TIGHT, Powerful, Rock-Solid Core Stand with your left side to the pulley. Reach across your body and grip the handle with your RIGHT hand. Now take a big step to the right to get the weight up off the stack. Your right arm will be stretched across your body. Open up your left hand and get ready to grab the cable. Rotate through your core, using your right hand to pull the cable. As the handle comes across the midline of your body, grab the cable itself with your left hand.

Now comes the cool part of this exercise...the part that makes it FAR more effective than a simple twisting exercise.

Continue to rotate around to the right but now, instead of just pulling with your right hand (the one on the handle), you will start to PUSH forward on the cable with your left hand. Keep pushing all the way through and forward as far as you can with the left hand. This pushing movement with the left hand on the cable is what will really target those rotational muscles of the core and teach them how to transfer power through your lower body to the upper body.

This version is done under control...it's a deliberate movement done with light to moderate weight. Do 5 or 6 reps on one side then switch to the other side.

You will really feel this one hitting the abs in a unique way...if you're never done rotational ab training against resistance or have never done "pushing" ab exercises, you're going to be in for a treat (if you like being pleasantly sore through the core, that is!).

The first time you do this exercise, I recommend you just stick to the moderate weight, controlled movement style of training.

Once you get more familiar with the exercise (after a few sessions), you can start getting into a more "power" based style of training.

THIS style is the one that really builds tremendous core power. If you're into any sort of athletics, this is the one to work towards using regularly...

One nice benefit I didn't mention...you do it standing up. You see, if you're an athlete, you're pretty much almost ALWAYS going to be standing up (unless you stink and fall down a lot, of course). You need to know how to exert force and develop maximum strength and power in a standing position.

Back to the instructions...

To perform the explosive version, you'll be in pretty much the same start position. But this time, instead of planting both feet and then starting to rotate, you will instead start on one foot (the one closest to the cable stack) then forcefully transfer your bodyweight in the other direction.

Cable Gripping Trunk Twists For a TIGHT, Powerful, Rock-Solid Core Think of it like you're "taking a run at it." You're going to use the momentum of your bodyweight to get the heavier weight moving then EXPLOSIVELY begin the rotation and cable grab, exactly as before.

The main difference here is that you're doing as fast and as powerfully as you can rather than with a controlled movement. You're stepping into the weight and using a forceful bodyweight throw to blast it off.

Use heavier weight for this and keep to only about 3 reps per side here. We want POWER, not endurance on this version. Do your reps on one side then switch to the other. It's a good idea to practice with a moderate weight before getting into the heavier stuff.


If you want to develop great core strength AND/OR a flat stomach, this is an exercise that belongs in your program. I'd recommend doing 3 sets of it, at the end of your training sessions (but first in your regular ab exercises).

Even if you're strong enough and ready to do the explosive version, start with at least one set of the controlled version in order to warm-up the target area for rotational work.





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