How To Do Cable Side Bend & Its Benefits

If you’re looking for an oblique exercise to include in your gym workout plan, practice cable side bends. Cable side bends are isolation exercises that target muscle groups on the side of your body—specifically the oblique muscles.

When done with the right form and technique, it can help a great deal in increasing the strength of the oblique, and the overall strength and stability of the core.

In this article, we will discuss how to do cable side bends. We will also discuss the various cable side bends benefits.

Benefits of Side Bend

Including cable side bends in your workout routine can have several benefits. The various cable side bends benefits include:

  • Side bends bring balance to your entire body. They lengthen the abdominal muscles, hips, and thigh muscles, while improving flexibility in the spine.
  • Its help to contribute to a stronger core, reduce the risk of back pain and improve functional movements such as a serving a tennis ball or carrying a heavy object on one side of the body
  • Side bends stretch the abdominal muscles and digestive organs. This aids and regulates digestion, elimination, and metabolism.
  •  Training the oblique muscles will help in shaping and toning the waistline. It also helps to get rid of the extra layer of fat around the waistline.

Cable Side Bend

The cable side bend is effective at targeting the internal and external obliques, strengthening the lateral flexion of your spine, improving spinal mobility, and helping to develop a strong and stable core.

For an easier variation, you can do bodyweight side bend and for the challenging side bend oblique exercises variation, use a cable machine.

The cable side bend is simply a variation of the side bend typically performed using a pulley machine.

Using cables allows you to change the point where the load is maximized. Cable side bends are more controllable, you can achieve more with less weight, and they allow you to stay within an active range of motion for your obliques.

Cable Side Bend

Muscles Worked

The cable side bend works the obliques—the two layers of muscles Obliques, (the external and internal obliques) at each side of the waist.

The side bend doesn’t work just the obliques. It also heavily hits the AbsSerratus anterior and the quadratus lumborum, the deep, hidden muscle on either side of the lower spine that helps form the rear of the abdominal wall.

How To Do Cable Side Bend

  1. Attached D-handle to a low pulley and stand side-on to the weight stack.
  2. Grasp the D-handle with your right hand and stand with the pulley to your right side. Your torso should be laterally flexed (bent sideways) towards the pulley, and your arm should be straight and close to your body.
  3. Bend your torso away from the pulley, pulling the D-handle upward.
  4. Slowly lower the D-handle back to the starting position by bending your torso towards the pulley.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Turn around and repeat the cable side bend with your left side.

Proper Form And Tips

It is crucial to perform exercises with good form as that helps in preventing any injuries as well as in getting the maximum benefits out of your workouts. Here is a guide on how to do cable side bends with proper form.

  • After an intensive set of side bends, take two or three minutes’ rest before working your other side, so that your performance on the latter doesn’t suffer. Alternate the side you work first from workout to workout.
  • Keep the cable close to your side, your elbow very slightly bent, and your hips still.
  • To work the oblique muscle, perform this exercises slow and steadily.
  • Avoid loading the heavyweight for this exercise. Large, overdeveloped oblique muscles will make your waist appear bulky.
  • The muscles need 48 to 72 hours to do this. So, If you do include cable side bends in your routine, do them at least two times per week on nonconsecutive days.

Cable side bend Variations

Below are the best side bend variations to increase core stability, muscle hypertrophy, and midline control.

Overhead cable side bend

Overhead cable side bend is an exercise that primarily targets the obliques

You can try out many different overhead side bend variations that may require different types of equipments, (dumbbell, resistance band, kettlebell) or even no equipment at all.

overhead cable side bend

How To Do Overhead Side Bend

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms fully extended overhead.
  2. Take hold of the D-handle with your arms overhead and place one hand clasped over the other.
  3. Exhale and bend at your side while keeping your arms directly overhead.
  4. Continue to bend at your side until you are unable to do so without rotating your torso.
  5. Inhale and return to the starting position.
  6. After all reps are completed, switch sides and repeat the movement.
  7. Do 10-15 reps on each side.

Single Arm high-cable side bend

One arm high-cable side bend is an exercise targeting the obliques using a cable stack machine. It allows you to train one side at a time, addressing imbalances.

one arm high pulley cable side bend

How To Do High Cable Side Bend

  1. Place the cable at the highest pulley level and connect a standard handle to the tower.
  2. Stand with your side to the cable set up. Reach up and grab the handle with an underhand grip.
  3. Pull down the cable until the elbow almost touches your side and the handle is by your shoulder.
  4. Keep the arm in static position. Contract oblique to bring the weight down in a side crunch.
  5. Once you reach your maximum contraction, slowly release the weight back to the starting position.
  6. The weight stack should never be unloaded in a resting position. The aim is constant tension during the set.
  7. After all reps are completed, switch sides and repeat the movement.
  8. Do 10-15 reps on each side.

Alternatives to Cable Side Bends

If you’ve gotten bored of cable side bends or are simply not enjoying them anymore, you can try the following cable side bends alternative exercises.

Dumbbell Side Bend

Dumbbell side bend is the best alternate for cable side bend. It engages and strengthens your core muscles as well as your lower back.

This exercise helps to tone and tighten your abs and obliques and to trim your waist.

The exercise is a simple core exercise to practice at home.

Dumbbell Side Bend

Side Plank

The side plank (oblique plank) is one of the best core exercises for strengthening the oblique and abdominal muscles, which don’t get worked as much during abs exercises such as crunches.

If you’re new to planking, you should master the basic forearm plank before moving on to the side plank variation.

Side Plank

Alternate Heel Touches

Alternate heel touches also known as lying oblique reach is an at-home workout exercise that targets oblique and also involves abs.

It is one of the great oblique exercises that can be done easily by beginner and advanced athletes to activate and grow their midsection.

The exercise mimics other oblique exercises such as the cable side bend and oblique crunch.

Alternate Heel Touches


Are cable side bends good?

Yes, cable side bend is very effective exercise to train the oblique (side abs). It can also contribute to a stronger core, reduce the risk of back pain, and improve functional movements.

What do cable side bends work?

The cable side bend primary worked the obliques and core muscles, including erector spinae and transverse abdominus.

In addition, this exercise also uses the serratus anterior, Quadrats Lumborum, as well as the gluteus maximus and hip flexors.


The side bend with cable is an effective exercise to, provided you healthy spine.

Perform it with correct form, to strengthen your core muscles and increase their robustness and resistance to injury.

If, however, you have back pain, you want to avoid this exercise. Get treatment to resolve the issues, and then start on the side bend. Meanwhile, the rotary torso machine may be a safe alternative.

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