Want incredible looking abs? Get in line! Just about everyone wishes they had a stronger and more toned mid-section and ideally a ‘six pack’ to go along with it. The problem? Many of us have very little idea about how to get a six pack and find ourselves banging our heads against the wall and making little or no progress. So, can the best ab machine for home use help to make a difference?
This post is your comprehensive guide to the best ab machines. Here, we will examine the most effective machines and how they work. At the same time, you’ll learn how to use them and just why they are so effective.
But first, let’s take a look at the best ab machines available from Amazon right now.
Last update on 2018-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Best Ab Machine for Home Use – Five Great Options
Body-Solid Commercial Semi-Recumbent Ab Bench
This ab machine by Body Solid is a ‘plate loaded’ ab machine that allows you to rock forward in order to lift weights that are situated behind you. This will guide you through a specific range of motion that is intended to place the maximum amount of focus and ‘isolation’ on the transverse abdominis (the main ‘plate’ of muscle across the mid section that is used in order to bend the body forward).
Being able to add additional weight to a well-performed crunch motion is a simple and highly effective way to increase core strength. The big mistake that many people make with ab training, is believing that they don’t need to increase the amount of resistance and thinking that they can instead focus purely on high reps. The abs in fact respond very well to larger amounts of resistance, and this can cause them to become thick and strong, thereby being much more visible even through a thicker layer of skin and fat.
OrangeA Abdominal Coaster Fitness Equipment Ab Trainer with Bottom-up Design Abdomen Machine Exercise for Home Gym
Demonstrating the sheer variety and range of different ab machines out there, this option works entirely differently from the Body-Solid unit we just looked at. The primary difference comes from the well-advertised fact that this uses a ‘bottom up’ design. What that means, is that the knees are placed on the pad and it is the legs that move – similarly to the way they might move while working on an ab bench.
The pad will then move up a ramp which will guide the legs through a particular range of motion, fully engaging the core. There’s also the ability once again to add weighted plates for added resistance and some of these are included. That said, the design here is far more geared toward higher rep, fat burning/metcon style workouts, rather than heavier training.
There are lots of additional features to be found on this unit too, including a wriggle plate and a storage area for small dumbbells. See the full review for more details.
Body by JAKE AB SCISSOR Exerciser Abdominal Crunch Workout Machine Core Trainer
This Body by Jake core trainer claims that it can help you to sculpt your abs in just ‘four minutes a day’. It also claims to be the ‘only serious piece of home exercise equipment specifically designed to target and isolate your abdominal muscles’. While the marketing is a bit painfully on-the-nose (and hyperbolic), the truth is that this really is a great piece of exercise equipment.
This one works using a similar design to the body-solid ab machine. That means you have two handles by your shoulder which you hold on to and then crunch in order to target the abs.
The difference is that this machine does not include any weights – rather it aims to provide resistance by using your own bodyweight. This way, it can provide five different ‘levels’ of resistance, all without needing you to invest in any additional equipment, or find space to store heavy weights.
This is a great beginner choice for ab training and one that can provide an adequate level of challenge even for those more experienced users.
Abcore Junior Abdominal Machine
This is another similarly designed machine that allows you to train the abs by rocking the body forward and pulling against resistance provided by your own body weight or additional resistance from weight plates. It does have a few differences however.
For one, this machine has been designed with closer attention to biomechanics. For instance, you’ll be not only pulling your upper body down, but also your lower body up in order to meet in the middle. This is much more of a crunch and you can really feel it in the abs.
One is the fact that it allows you to target the obliques specifically by making a quick and easy adjustment to the seat. This way, you can target the smaller muscles that live on either side of your six pack area.
Not only can this help you to develop a more defined and ‘detailed’ mid section that looks much more like something that belongs in a Hollywood blockbuster movie, but it can also help you to train yourself in a more functional manner that will allow you to perform a range of movements.
XtremepowerUS Abdominal Crunch Coaster Fitness Equipment, Workout Machine
The Xtremepower US Abdominal Crunch Coaster is another ‘bottom up’ ab machine. That means that it is designed to focus on bringing the legs up to the upper body on a ‘coaster’ to guide you through the correct range of motion.
This machine is very similar to the OrangeA then, but is very nicely made and with a compact design that earns it a place on this list.
How to Get Six Pack Abs
If you want to get an amazing ripped mid-section then doing lots of sit ups and crunches just isn’t going to cut it. Simply put, these movements are too easy and won’t provide the kind of challenge you need in order to see real development in your abs. Not only that, but we often find ourselves accidentally targeting the wrong muscle groups during this kind of training. For instance, it is common to use sit ups incorrectly – to pivot at the hips rather than at the waist, which in turn causes you to engage the hip flexors rather than the transverse abdominis.
Watch yourself the next time you are performing sit ups or crunches. Is it your abs that are moving and bending, or are you bending in half at the waist like a folded piece of paper?
This is why the best ab machine for home training really can make a big difference – it guides you through the precise right range of motion in order to really place all that focus on the right muscle group. But so too can mixing things up and adding a range of different exercises to your routine.
At the same time, it’s also important to make sure you are targeting all those other important muscle groups. That means training the obliques for instance, which live on either side of the transverse abdominis and are used for bending sideways and twisting the body to create torque. Some of the best ab workout machine options will do this for you too.
AND it can mean placing more weight and resistance on the abs. Simply lifting your upper body is too light – your abs effectively hold this weight up all day already. If you want to challenge yourself you need to shift some serious weight.
This hopefully shows how the best ab workout machine can make all the difference to your training – by precisely targeting the right area and by letting you up the challenge. But there are also some other exercises you can use in conjunction/on their own in order to get the same benefit…
Hanging Leg Raises – Hang from a pull up bar, then slowly bring your legs up 90 degrees in front of you holding briefly at the top of the movement and contracting the abs for maximum results. To target your obliques, try twisting your body each time as you bring your legs up. You can also vary the movement by bringing just your knees up (a move known as a ‘frog kick’) or by bringing each leg up on its own (scissor kicks). If you want to make a whole routine out of this exercise, do as many hanging leg raises as you can, then move on to frog kicks as a form of ‘drop set’.
Oblique Crunches – Lean over a bench or even the arm of a chair so that you are bending sideways. Now do repetitions by bringing your upper body up straight . Make sure to get a good stretch on as you repeat repetitions and you should really feel it in your obliques at the side of your abs (which provide a lot of detail for the mid section).
The Rocky – Bodybuilding.com calls this one the Rocky, though actually it should be called ‘DragonFly Flag’. This is an exercise used by Rocky in Rocky 4 which is where that name comes from. In fact though, it was invented by Bruce Lee who was ahead of his time when it came to bodyweight training.
For this one you will need some kind of bench or something to grab hold of above your head. Now you’re going to hold onto that in order to brace your body, and you’re going to lift your entire body from the shoulders down straight up with your legs. Essentially then this is a lying-down leg raise, except you are going to be lifting your entire lower body. You can also vary the movement slightly by keeping your legs pointing at the ceiling and then rolling the rest of your body to point them higher and higher, then lowering them.
Rope Pull Crunches – An exercise that lets you add resistance to your abs routine is rope pull crunches. Here you’re just going to hold the rope (from a cable machine) in your hands, and then you’re going to pull it down towards your knees/the floor and repeat. Try to get a real squeeze in your abs as you perform each repetition and be careful not to involve your back too much. You can bring the rope down diagonally if you want to engage the obliques again.
Don’t have a cable machine to train with or a gym to access? No problem: you can achieve the same thing using resistance bands and a well-placed door frame.
A Guide to Training Your Transverse Abdominis for Increased Height and a Flatter Stomach
If you ever become interested in physical fitness and training and start researching the topic, you’ll likely find it’s a little like entering a bottomless rabbit hole. That is to say, that the body is so impossibly complex and so truly amazing, that there’s always more to learn and discover.
To the layman for instance, your stomach is made up of your abs, which are essentially your six pack. They’re for ‘core stabilization’ and that’s about it.
What most people don’t realize is that the abs can actually be further divided into numerous other muscle groups including the transverse abdominis, the rectus abdominis, the pelvic floor muscles and more. We’ve seen this a little already with moves an ab machines that specifically target the obliques. But did you also know about the transverse abdominis?
Furthermore, the roles of these muscle go well beyond ‘core stability’ and can affect all kinds of things – even our physical height!
Introducing the Transverse Abdominis
The transverse abdominis has to be one of the most underappreciated muscles in the human body and possibly also one of the least-known.
Essentially, the transverse abdominis is a band of muscle that lives just below the six pack (the rectus abdominis). The role of the transverse abdominis is to hold the stomach in and keep it flat. At the same time, it also works to support our spine, our pelvis and more and is sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s weight belt’.
Training this muscle then can help to make your mid-section far more aesthetically pleasing by flattening your stomach. At the same time though, it also prevents injury and helps to fix your posture and keep you taller. Try it right now: suck in your stomach and keep it flat and you’ll find it automatically fixes your posture and makes you feel taller.
Strengthening this key area can even fix your breathing by encouraging the all-important ‘belly breathing’ that most of us have forgotten how to do.
How to Train the Transverse Abdominis
So, if you want to fix your posture by training your transverse abdominis, what can you do?
One option is to try using ‘stomach vacuums’ which are a popular technique used by bodybuilders. Here, you pull in your stomach using your muscles as though you’re trying to touch your spine with your navel. Hold this position and release slowly to strengthen the involved muscles.
You can also use any exercise that requires you to keep your body in a rigid position. For instance, if you do press ups, you’ll actually be using your TA in order to keep your body rigid. Of course plank is an even more effective way to accomplish this and especially if you consciously tense the TA at the same time.
Finally, you can also try ‘incidental training’ for this area. That means training the muscle throughout the day, which makes a lot of sense for the transverse abdominis – it being a muscle composed of mainly slow twitch muscle fiber.
One way to do this is to take a piece of string or dressing gown cord and then to wrap it around your stomach. Now keep it flat by contracting the right muscles and you’ll find you can’t ‘forget’ to maintain proper posture and breathing!
Combine this with your ab machine training and you’ll see even faster results!
Resistance Machines for Strength Training
All of the best ab machines we have looked at would be categorized as ‘resistance machines’. That means that they are stationary machines that can provide a controlled amount of resistance through a specific range of motion. This is as compared with a ‘free weight’, which is of course just a dumbbell or barbell that can be lifted in any way that you see fit. This is exactly what an ab machine is – a resistance machine designed specifically to target and isolate the ab muscles.
But are machines like this as effective as using free weights or bodyweight? In this case, can they compete with sit ups and crunches?
The basic idea behind resistance machines is that you sit braced in a seat and then pull and push various handles and pads which are attached to pulley systems. These pulley systems are in turn then connected to weights plates which you can section off in order to adjust the amount you are lifting.
There are several benefits to this. For one, using resistance machines in this way will allow you to lift weights without having to take any of the weight on your knees or back. It’s ideal for those who are training with injury, but it is also very useful for actually avoiding injury as you won’t need to be as precise with your technique and because the weights can’t be dropped. This is true of the ab machines – many are ‘semi recumbent’ meaning that you’ll be leaning backwards rather than places weight on your own body.
Another benefit of these resistance machines is that you will be able to target specifically just the muscle group you want to train. Because you are ‘strapped in’ to these machines, the rest of your body is unable to swing to generate momentum in order to help the muscle group your targeting. This is called ‘isolation’ training, and in some ways, it can be seen as a negative because you are training less of the body and triggering fewer hormonal changes in the body as a result. It also means you aren’t using the body as a ‘single unit’ as is often said to be more effective and ‘functional’. At the same time however, it does mean that the part of the body you are aiming to train will get a more intense workout resulting in more muscle growth in that particular area potentially.
Machines also allow for a range of other techniques like drop sets, overcoming isometrics, and much more.
Other examples of Resistance Machines
Of course, this will probably mean very little until you have actually had a go at training with the machines. Here we will look at just a couple of different machines, how to use them, and what they train. Once you’re done with your ab training, you can try these ones!
Pec Deck: The pec deck requires you to bring two pads in toward each other in front of you by pressing them with the palms of your hands or with the insides of your elbows. This is able to then train the chest on the outsides and is similar to the exercise called the ‘fly’.
Chest Press: A chest press involves pressing two handles or pads outwards and away from your body. This works in very much the same way as the bench press, except here you will be sitting upright and pushing forward rather than lying down and pushing upward. You should find you can lift more this way and it will train your pecs as well as your shoulders and triceps.
Machine Curls: Machine curls challenge you to hold a handle with an extended arm resting on a preacher bench, and then to bring that handle upwards and in toward your bicep with an arc movement. This of course trains the biceps.
Lat Pull Down: Here you fasten your legs in under two pads and then pull a bar down toward you in front of you. The bar is attached to a cable, but has no mechanism meaning it doesn’t isolate the muscle group any more than a pull up. It trains the lats and to an extent the biceps.
So there you have it – that’s what an ab machine for home is and what it does. Read the full reviews to find the right one for you and start hitting those abs hard!