Before talking about what are the best machines at the gym for abs, we have to separate them into two groups. There is abs equipment that helps to strengthen your core more effectively and ones that help to burn belly fat.
Getting a flat stomach or six-pack abs mainly depends on your body fat level. If your tummy is covered with fat, your abdominal muscle groups under it are not visible. So, if you have, you need to focus on burning that fat firstly. You should focus on your diet and do workouts that burn calories effectively. For that, there some machines that work.
On the other hand, training your core is essential for two reasons.
- Firstly, a strong midsection is vital for health and to perform exercises safely. It is the connection between your lower and upper body, and if it is weak, your performance will not be good. Plus, you may suffer injuries easier.
- The other reason to have abs exercises is to make them grow like any other muscles. You work your biceps to make them bigger and bulky, right? You should do the same with your abs to make them pop out.
Most of us have less or more belly fat, so the best is if you use both types. This way, you lean your midsection and develop its muscles.
So, let’s see the ab exercise machines that work and learn how they can help you.
Best machines at the gym to burn belly fat
It is a fact that those activities that require the entire body to work, burn the most calories. It is evident since the more muscle groups are engaged, the more energy they need, and with that, the more calories your body has to burn.
This way, isolated exercises such as cycling will not burn as much fat as compound moves like rowing or running where almost all the muscles of your body struggle.
It is evident that the number of calories mostly depends on the intensity of your training, though. You will hardly get rid of calories, if you just stroll on the treadmill clinging on the support handles.
The best way to use these cardio machines is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It is a cardio strategy when you alternate short periods of intense aerobic exercise with not so fierce recovery periods. This method has proved to be among the most effective ways of exercising to burn as many calories as possible in a short amount of time.
The number of calories you can burn depends mainly on the following factors:
- your weight
- time spent
- heart rate
Most of the modern cardio equipment shows you the number of calories burned, but that info is not always accurate. For example, let’s say two men have the same weight, but one is overweight, and the other is fit.
They work out at the same intensity. The machine may show the same amount of burned calories, but in reality, the overweight burns more since the heart rate is much higher. More about calculating here.
I recommend using the following gym equipment that is the best cardio machine for weight loss.
1. Rowing Machine
The rowing movement is a complex one in which works your body from top to bottom. You push yourself with your legs and pull the handle with the power of your back and arms. And, in every stage, your core works to support the motion, keep the proper position, and the exercise form.
Although it requires good mobility and misusing it may lead to lower back problems.
How many calories can you burn with a rowing machine?
It is between 700-1100 per hour for an average trainee, but the results depend on the mentioned factors.
Running is one of the most beneficial cardio that helps to lower your body fat level. On top of that, modern treadmills provide many ways to improve the effectiveness of a workout. You can choose from inbuilt programs made by fitness experts or change the incline level to have a feeling as if you were running uphill. Thanks to these functions, you can customize the training for your needs.
However, treadmills will never give the same results as if you were running outdoor, which is more effective and healthy. So, if you can afford, do outdoor instead.
How many calories can you burn on a treadmill?
500-1200 calories/hour but again keep the factors in mind.
3. Stair Climber
Have you ever climbed stairs for 5 minutes continuously? It is a tough activity, isn’t it?
Well, the stair climber imitates the same impact on your body, giving a full-body workout. The trainer helps to get rid of about 800-1400 cal/h making it the most effective stomach fat burner on the list.
It requires good endurance to use it for a long time, but it is not recommended for people having knee or hip problems.
Best ab workout machines for strength
The gym is packed with various, in some cases weird, ab machines that are useless such as the seated rotation or abs crunch machine. These are not just good for nothing but maybe also bad for your health.
Firstly, they put your body in such a state that it is not natural. And with that, you will make moves that may target a particular muscle group, but your body is not made for that. Hence, it may lead to injuries and imbalance.
Another problem with such an ab machine is that it controls the movement too much. The purpose of the core muscles is to have a connection between your lower and upper body. Hence, almost all of the muscles of your core are engaged while performing compound moves.
For example, when you do squat your lower back, abs and obliques are engaged to keep the balance and the proper form.
If you sit in a machine, it controls the movement so much that it focuses only on one muscle group of the core and neglects others. Thus, exercises like that may lead to strength imbalance within your midsection, which may lead to an injury when you perform other activities such as squat or deadlift.
This way, the best moves are those which require your core to control the motion (not by the machine). Of course, you can focus on one particular area, but with the help of other core muscles. More about ab machines that work here.
Based on the mentioned criteria, here the best gym machines to make your abs strong.
1. Pull up station & vertical knee raise station (VKR)
Hanging leg and knee raises are excellent moves to strengthen your entire midsection. They work your rectus abdominis (six-pack abdominal muscles) effectively, particularly the lower abs. But your obliques work as well to not allow the swinging to sides also your lower back to prevent swinging backward.
The VKR station (captain’s chair or power tower) is a better option for beginners. It is easier to control the motion thanks to the elbow pads and backrest that helps to avoid swinging.
Making these moves on the pull-up bar requires better core strength since more control is needed. Hence, they are better for the more advanced level of trainees.
On top of that, there are many leg lift variations to target one particular area, or which are suitable for beginners or advanced athletes. For example, the windscreen wiper which is excellent for the oblique muscles. More about leg raise machine benefits here.
You can learn some leg raise variations from the following video.
2. Sit up bench
Some fitness experts do not recommend the sit up bench at all since it may put stress on the lower back. That is true if you do not perform the move correctly, your lower back is not developed well enough, or you choose an incline level that is too tough for you. Check this video on how to do sit-ups on the incline bench correctly.
But, it is an excellent core exercise machine to add extra resistance to your sit-ups, which leads to abdominal muscle strength and size gain. An ab bench lets you choose from many levels to find the one that suits you do best. There is a good reason why boxers and MMA fighters still use for an ab workout.
Plus, there many other exercises you can do with this ab machine, such as incline Russian twist for obliques or crunches for the upper abs.
3. The Roman Chair
I put the Roman chair or hyperextension bench on the list because it is the best exercise equipment to strengthen your lower back. People typically have lower back pain and suffer from injuries because that part is weak.
A typical trainee focuses on every part of his body. But they do not pay attention to the lower back muscles, although that part is involved in almost every move we make.
The back extension machine helps to strengthen that area very effectively (plus your hams and glutes). But, back extensions can be dangerous as well if the movement is performed incorrectly.
Some athletes use it for abs training as well (i.e., sit-ups), but I do not recommend it because it could be dangerous. There are better core workout machines for that purpose.
4. Cable machine
The cable crossover provides a lot of ways to have weighted abdominal exercises, and you can tweak the resistance to your needs quickly.
The cable machine does not control the movements too much and provides resistance to develop.
There are a lot of cable exercises you can do target every part of your midsection.
+ Ab wheel, stability ball, and no equipment at all
These are not the typical gym machines, but they work very well.
The ab wheel is my favorite one that helps to build an incredibly strong core. During the rolling in and out, your entire core has to work very hard to complete the move and keep your stability. Plus, your chest, shoulders, arms, and even your legs. It is a real total body workout. Tough, beginners may find it hard to do it. Here is a tutorial for progression.
The fitness ball exercises are also great to strengthen your midsection. Since it is unstable, your core has to work to keep the balance of your body. You can learn many stability ball abs exercises here.
Finally, use your own bodyweight as resistance. Exercises like the plank, bicycle, Russian twist, etc. do not require any equipment at all, but work very well. Actually, you do not even need any exercise equipment for abs to flatten your stomach or build a six-pack.
To sum up
I believe these are the best machines at the gym for abs to lose belly fat and build strong midsection. Do not spend your precious time on useless devices. Use one for burning stomach fat, and one or more to strengthen every piece of your core.