Ab Machines Compared – The Ultimate Guide

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Who else wants to build sexy abs at home?

Is that possible without going to the gym?

Yes, you need to get the most suitable ab machine for you. Of course, you can strengthen your core muscles without any equipment at all, but a properly-used gear will help you to get results faster.

The question is: What are the best ab workout machines for me?

That depends on many factors such as your level of fitness, your body type, if you have belly fat or not, and the place you have at home for the workout.

Look:

Since I don’t know you, and your fitness background, it would be a waste of time to tell you to buy this and that. Instead, I’m going to show you various types of ab machines in detail. You’ll learn their pros/cons, for whom they’re suitable for, what to look for when buying, the exercises, etc. So, in the end, you’ll know what’s the best ab exercise equipment for home.

So, in the end, you’ll be able to compare the different core machines and pick the one which is the best option for you.

Note: This guide also helps gym-goer people to understand which ab equipment at the gym is worth to use for them.

Let’s get started!

1. Adjustable Sit Up Bench

ab bench

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

Ab benches have a slant board for additional resistance and leg rollers to fix your feet. The adjustable sit up benches are the best options since we can modify the angle of the board to increase or decrease the resistance. Hence, you can tweak it to your fitness level and make your ab workout more versatile.

Buying guide: Best Sit Up Bench Reviews

The most important features of a bench are the following:

  • The number of adjustments. The more, the better.
  • The weight capacity.
  • How comfortable the padding of the board and the leg rollers.
  • Stable.

The name suggests it’s suitable for only decline sit-ups. Still, you can do other exercises to target different parts of your core.

For example, decline crunches for upper abs, decline Russian twist for obliques, hyperextension for the lower back.

Note: If you purchase a sturdy ab bench with a high weight limit (at least 300 lb), you can use it as a weight bench as well for dumbbell training.

Pros

  • It gives complete core training.
  • Supports your development in the long run by raising the board.
  • Versatile, choose from various resistance levels.
  • Because of the adjustability, it is suitable for beginners to advanced athletes.

Cons

  • It requires assembly.
  • It needs a storage area, a place to use comfortably.

What else?

I also have to mention the sit-up bar, which is a simple piece of core workout device. In short, it’s a bar that you can attach to the bottom of the door. This way, you can fix your feet while doing sit-ups to perform the exercise with more focus and efficiency. Of course, it costs less than a bench but gives fewer training opportunities.


2. Ab Wheels

ab roller

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

Frankly, who invented the ab roller, was a genius. It’s the ultimate core machine, even if it seems so simple. It is just a bar with a wheel, but the perfect machine to build six-pack abs.

The movement is straightforward. You need to roll out, then pull in the roller. It looks so easy, but actually, it’s a very compound movement that strengthens multiple muscle groups at once. Hence, it’s rather tricky, so beginners may find it hard to do it. Just think about it, you require to keep the balance and perform the move while handling almost your entire body weight.

Because of the unstable state, a load of your weight, and the form of the movement besides the core stability muscles (abs, obliques, back, etc.,) other stabilizer muscles are engaged as well, such as the chest, shoulders, arms.

Frankly, I believe it’s among the best upper body exercises to build functional strength.

What to check out before shopping this ab machine?

  • Weight limit.
  • If the bar is covered with non-slip material for a secure grip.

Pros

  • Complete core stability training.
  • Toning and strengthening the entire upper body.
  • Lightweight, portable, easy storage.
  • Cheap.

Cons

  • Newcomers may find ab rollers hard to use, but there are many progressional exercises.

 


3. Roman Chair/Hyperextension Bench

roman chair

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

People who want to get a flat stomach usually focus only on their abdomen because that is visible. But, that isn’t a complete core training. Your core isn’t just your abs and obliques. But also your lower back, the muscles by both sides of your spine, and even your hamstrings (buttocks). If those muscles are weak, the risk of workout injuries, back pain, and bad posture is higher. Core stability also improves your performance in sports and to perform any exercise more effectively.

More details: Top Roman chair hyperextension benches reviews

What should you do?

The hyperextension exercise also called back extension!

And, that’s what the Roman chair is good for.

There two sorts of core workout machines for lower back, 90 degrees, and 45 degrees. When you use the 90 degrees, you face towards the floor, within 45-degree you’re almost in a standing position. Both models are valid, though I prefer the 90-degree because of the more extended range of motion.

What kind of workouts can you do?

  • Back extension.
  • Roman chair sit-ups for abs.
  • Roman chair twist for obliques.
  • Leg lift by using the seat.
  • Triceps dips as most of the items come with dip bars.

Features to check out:

  • The maximum weight limit to know how sturdy the frame is.
  • The adjustability to know if you can tweak it to your height.
  • The pad of the seat and rollers.

Note: You can get a core exercise machine that can be used as a sit up and hyperextension bench as well. With such a multifunctional item, you can save money and space.

Pros

  • Target rear core muscles (hams, back, spine).
  • Improve your posture and performance.
  • Straightforward to use.

Cons

  • It requires space and assembly.
  • A limited number of workouts.

4. Ab Crunch Machine

ab cruncher machine

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

Could I be totally honest with you?

I’d never buy a crunch exercise machine for home.

Why?

Because these ab machines are expensive and their versatility close to null. There’s much better ab workout machine that provides more possibilities to exercise.

Plus, the mechanism of the machine totally drives the movement. That isn’t natural and doesn’t develop functional strength.

It’s good for one thing: to do weighted crunches. I don’t say that is bad since we can add even a massive load to the move to boost muscle size and power. That’s why bodybuilders like this isolated exercise.

Pros

  • Weighted isolated exercise for big abs.
  • Easy to use.
  • Choose from a variety of resistance levels.

Cons

  • Not versatile.
  • Expensive.
  • No total core strength training.
  • Big and complicated assembly.

 


5. Leg Raise Machine

vertical leg raise

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

These types of ab machines are excellent to target your lower abs. Compared to the previous items, the resistance comes from lifting your lower body instead of the upper body.

That is good for two reasons:

  • Firstly, your lower body is heavier than your upper body, so the resistance is higher. That leads to stronger and bigger abdominal muscles.
  • Moreover, the length of the motion is more extended, so the muscle fibers stretch longer before the contraction. That leads to enhanced power compared to moves with a short range of movement.
  • Finally, these activities don’t put such stress on the lower back muscles and spine.

There are different kinds of leg/knee raise machines. The standard features are the forearm, backrest, and hand grips. These parts help to perform lifts more comfortably and correctly.

Includes:

  • Pull up station.
  • Dip station.
  • Leg/knee raises station.
  • Push up station.

As you see, a workout tower is far more versatile, and it costs a little bit more than a simple knee raise machine.

Pros:

  • The best lower ab machine.
  • With the fitness tower, you can have a full upper body workout.
  • It helps to build functional strength.
  • Versatile.

Cons

  • Assembly is required.
  • It requires space.

6. Home Gym Machines

cable machine for abs

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

A home gym isn’t a typical ab machine, but they come with a cable system. Typically, they have a lower and upper pulley system that you can apply for a weighted ab workout plan. The same way as if you were doing cable abdominal exercises.

Let’s be honest if you only need abdominal equipment, it isn’t worth buying an expensive gym with functions that you will never use.

On the other hand, if you want a machine that gives many possibilities for full body strength training, a home gym is something you should consider.

It’d be a huge topic to talk about the different types of gyms. But, considering the price and features, Bowflex, Body-Solid, and Marcy home gyms are the brands that might be the right choice.

Pros

  • An almost full-body workout.
  • Many weighted exercises for abs.
  • Versatile training.
  • Adjustable resistance.

Cons

  • Expensive (if you only want only ab machine, it’s pointless to buy it.)
  • Large footprint.

7. As Seen On TV Ab Exercise Machines

I know the feeling when we watch those perfectly-looking guys and ladies on the TV with six-pack abs. They get that body just by using the new “Revolutionary Ab Trainer designed by the latest scientific studies.” And, 5 minutes a day is enough.

I want it!!! Who wants to starve and work out day and night?!

That is how most of us feel, don’t we? We are humans who are always searching for shortcuts. So, I don’t blame myself.

But, if those ab exercisers are so effective? Why can’t we buy one after a year (for instance ab rocker)? Where has the manufacturer gone?

You know the answer.

Most of these items are nothing more than over-hyped pieces of rubbish. (I’m sure the marketers hate me now 🙂 )

However, there are a few exceptions.

Wonder Core Smart Fitness

Wonder Core

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

The Wonder Core Smart is something that worth to check out. The manufacturer claims that it is a compact, full body workout machine that is easy to adopt and effective. With it, you get an exercise DVD in which all the practices are described, and workout routines are presented as well. The resistance is adjustable.

As for abs workout machine, this product is a good option for beginners since it comes with a mechanism that supports the back. So, it is more comfortable as if you were doing crunches, or leg lifts on the floor.

Pros

  • Compact and portable.
  • Versatile.
  • More convenient ab training.
  • DVD guide.

Cons

  • Useful for newcomers. (The resistance is limited for athletic guys.)

A very similar and popular item is the Core Max Ab Machine


Ab Lounge

ab lunge

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

This ab chair was first introduced about 15 years ago as far as I remember. But people are still searching for it. If you are searching for a really comfortable and stress-free workout to flatten and strengthen your tummy a little bit, then it is something you may want to check out.

Will it make your rock-solid six-packs?

No way!

This product is suitable for seniors or “lazy” guys who want to exercise while watching TV.

 


8. Ab Mat

abdominal mat

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

You have heard the advice a million times: “Sit ups are bad! Do this or that instead”!

I don’t agree. The sit up is still one of the best exercises to strengthen the core. We just have to focus on the correct form, which is not easy. Improper execution is the reason why one has back pain while they do it.

The ab mat is a simple yet effective sit up equipment to perform the exercise more conveniently and effectively. It is a core training accessory to lengthen the abdominal muscles and stretch the spine. You get the full range of motion, which builds stronger and bigger stomach muscles.

Pros

  • Ergonomic design
  • Full range of motion
  • Lower back “friendly.”
  • Affordably

Cons

  • Only for sit ups.

9. Ab Belt

belt

Effectiveness: ?| Versatility:

Honestly, these ab machines confuse me.

You know, I don’t believe in shortcuts and products that say we can reach something without any effort.

But, when I read the reviews on ab belts, there are a lot who say that it works. I had one, but it did nothing to me. I even didn’t like it on my belly.

Perhaps it works for you.


10. Ab Cruncher

cruncher

Effectiveness: | Versatility:

Ab crunches are effective isometric moves to strengthen and tone your belly.

But, even it’s straightforward to perform, many people do it poorly. For example, they pull their neck with arms instead of using the power of the core muscles.

The abdominal crunch machine is made for only one purpose to help perform crunches more conveniently and correctly. Hence, it’s the right choice for beginners or seniors.

But, once your body gets familiar with the abs exercises, you should get rid of it to enjoy the maximum benefits of crunches.

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Cheap
  • Supports better crunch form.
  • Suitable for novices or seniors.

Cons

  • Not for advanced athletes.
  • Only suitable for various crunches.

Which ab machine works the best?

Ab machines work if they support your goals and suitable for you.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you have been doing strength training for at least a year now. So, you’re beyond many ab workouts. You feel the traditional exercises on the floor don’t give the results anymore, so you need to switch to the next level. Obviously, getting a cruncher isn’t the next level, but a sit-up bench, a leg raise machine, or an ab wheel is.

Counter to if you are a beginner, you shouldn’t buy something that you can’t handle properly yet. In this case, ab cruncher is the right choice.

To sum up, choose an abdominal exerciser that is suitable for you and lets you switch to more advanced practices that you can still handle.

How to use ab machines?

Fist of all, strengthen your entire core, not just your rectus abdominis, the six-pack muscle that is situated on the front of your stomach. Focus on your obliques (side abs), lower back, and glutes. That is the core.

Beyond that, frequently modify your core workout. Why is that important? Because with time, the muscles get used to the same resistance, drills, reps, and sets. As a result, they stop growing. Switch to more complex exercises, increase the reps, sets, and intensity to give a new impact to your abdomen.

Finally, keep in mind that an ab machine hardly helps you to burn belly fat. These tools are for developing the muscles and not for burning calories. The moves are too short to burn a lot of calories, although that is what you need if you want to torch stomach fat. To burn body fat, focus on your diet and do cardio instead.

To conclude:

You have learned a lot of types of ab machines here, so you’re maybe confused a bit. What’s next? Think about your level of fitness, but be honest with yourself. Then, think about how much space you have. Which is the product you can utilize effectively at home?

Feel free to leave a comment if you require more advice on ab machines.

nv-author-image

James Wright

James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

2 comments

  1. Saabir

    Hi James,

    I really enjoyed reading your writings on the different types of machines for Abs.

    Just 2=questions:

    1) what would you say about ‘Instant Abs’ machine by Jonny Abdo?

    2) I am looking for a machine which will do both Abs and the lower back. Please recommend a dual workout machine.

    Thanks again.

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