Core training is an important staple of every fitness regimen, regardless of whether it's one of a professional athlete or a recreational fitness enthusiast. As with all other forms of training, progressive overload remains a key consideration when it comes to eliciting improvement. However, applying it to movements such as planks and hanging leg raises can be tricky. While such an endeavour is certainly anything but impossible, the cable pull-in makes it much easier to increase the load used in core training.
When broken down, the cable pull-in is simply a reverse crunch done with a cable machine providing additional resistance. Utilising this method of adding load is much more favourable then say, clasping a dumbbell between your feet as you do leg raises. As you won't have to worry as much about keeping the load in place, you'll be able to focus more on executing the movement correctly and the mind-muscle connection.
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
Start by setting the height of the pulley – usually a notch or two above the lowest point is enough. Ideally, you'd want the cable to be travelling along a horizontal plane instead of a diagonal one throughout the duration of this exercise. From here, attach a rowing grip (preferably the larger one, or a pair of the smaller ones) and fit your feet between them, setting the fabric part across the top of your feet. Lie down and scoot back a little to create some tension along the cable; your legs should be semi-extended at this point. Once ready, slightly elevate the heels off the floor and engage your core to bring your knees to your chest.
At no point throughout this movement should your knees actually touch your chest – the idea is to create a maximal contraction with each repetition. The position of your lower back will also affect the integrity of this exercise. Excessive arching will displace the tension, so it's important to visualise “pressing” your lumbar into the floor as you perform the cable pull-in. Practicing proper breathing and bracing techniques will allow you to achieve this.
The strength of the cable pull-in lies in its ability to make adding weight a relatively simple affair, but be careful not to stack on too many plates on the machine as it can complicate the setup and make the execution cumbersome. Core training works best when you're able to master your movement in overcoming resistance; mindlessly moving loads up and down won't do much to benefit you in that regard. Keeping the load moderate and the repetitions on the higher side works best with the cable pull-in, so leave your ego at the door!