Jan 192011
 

Here are my picks for the best ab machines out there to work your abs. They are separated in different categories, depending on what your objectives are.

The best abs machines for traditional ab crunches

In my opinion the traditional crunch is still one of the most effective exercises to work your abs. As we have discussed in previous articles, one of the main problems people have with the ab crunch is the strain it puts on your neck. These two ab machines support your neck and solve this problem:

AB Trainer

The AB Trainer allows you to do ab crunches and supports your head, thereby reducing the stress on your neck. It is not the highest quality out there, it is definitely not gym quality but it will do the job and for 100 US$ it is reasonably priced.

 

 


Club Pro Ab Trainer New Improved in 2010

This is the “heavy duty” club version of the AB Trainer. It is top quality and you still can do your abs in ten years from now. If you care about quality and you always want to get the best, this is your choice. It might be better quality and more comfortable but keep in mind that it costs 200 US$ and will not train your abs more than the basic AB Trainer.

The best Abs Machines for lower Ab Workouts

Perfect Pullup Heavy Duty Ab Straps

As we have discussed in an earlier article, using ab straps to do hanging leg raises or knee raises is one of the best ways to train your lower abs. Read the recommendations in the post in order to avoid back injury (no swinging!). Not for people with back problems, but definitely a very good way to train your lower abs. Don’t be fooled by the low price, keep in mind that you need a workout bar where you can hang the abs on, so you need to buy also the workout bar.

Crazy Abs Abdominal Exercise Home Gym

This is a good abs machine that has received very positive reviews. It is very versatile, allowing to target your upper, lower and oblique abdominals. The motion is quite similar to doing hanging knee raises only that you’re not hanging so it’s more comfortable and there is less risk that you overstretch your back. At 140 Bucks it ain’t cheap but it is a very powerful machine. There is a video on youtube that shows how you use it:

Best-selling Abs Machines

These are some of the best known Abs Machines out there, therefore I have included them. However they have some limitations so make sure you read my comments.

Ab Rocket Abdominal Trainer

The good thing about the Ab Rocket is that you get to rest your head. There are some springs that might make it easier to do ab crunches, but whether these springs have the right strength for you depends on your weight and your fitness level. The most important limitation is that this machine is not adequate if you are taller than 5’9 as then your head will not be in the right position. The good thing is that it comes with a diet/nutrition program which will help you to reduce the belly fat covering your abs.

Ab Lounge Abdominal Exerciser

The good thing about the Ab Lounge is that you stretch your back before you do the ab crunch. This means that you work your abs on a wider range. BUT this can also be dangerous if you overstretch, you can hurt your back. So if you are seriously out of shape or if you have a back problem you want to avoid this machine! Also, it is rather bulky so not recommendable if you live in a small apartment. On the good side, it is quite comfortable and sturdy.

You might also be interested to read our cheap ab circle pro review, as this is another best-selling ab machine.

 

Best Ab Machine to Burn Belly Fat

All the abs machines that are reviewed above will help you to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles. But if you have been following this blog then you know that the main challenge is to burn off belly fat: right now there is probably a layer of fat hiding your abs and no matter how strong and muscular your abdominal muscles get, if you don’t get rid of that fat your abs will not show!

The best way to get rid of belly fat is through diet/nutrition and through cardio exercise. For this purpose a treadmill or a bicycle is not ideal as they work only your lower body, the best machines to burn belly fat are elliptical machines and rowing machines as they exercise your entire body and thereby burn more fat. Strictly speaking it is not an “abs machine” but it is included here as it is one of the best ways to achieve the objective of ripped abs. In that sense, it is actually the perfect abs machine

Body Champ BRM3671 Cardio Dual Trainer

Let’s face it, an elliptical machine is not a cheap exercise equipment. This item here is the most expensive of all the equipment listed in this post and it is still quite a low price for an elliptical (for a professional gym elliptical machine you can pay up to 5000 US$). For an elliptical it is reasonably priced while still offering a good quality.

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Oct 282010
 

Best abs machine for lower ab workout

In our last article, we have seen the importance of a good lower ab workout, what benefit it has for your back and your health, and also how it can help you to get a flatter stomach. We also explained reverse crunches, the best lower ab workout for beginners. Abs machines can you help to exercise your lower abs and can make your workout more effective, so today we will look at the best ab machines for your lower ab workout and what exercises to do.

Using an abs bench for lower ab workout: doing inclined reverse crunches

Initial position: lie on your back on an declined abs bench, using your arms to stabilize your body, with your feets raised and your knees bent.

 

Exercise: now bring up your knees towards your chest, trying to raise your pelvis off the board. Hold for a second and lower your knees back to the initial position. Make sure not to lower your legs to far as this might cause you to overstretch your back and hurt your back.

 

The higher the angle of the incline, the more challenging the exercise is for your abs.

 

 

Decline leg raises with an abs bench

This is an advanced exercise. It works your abs a lot but it also really puts a lot of strain on your lower back. Personally, I would rather jump to the hanging knee raises and skip this exercise.

 

The exercise is the same as the decline reverse crunch, but instead of having your knees bent, you have your legs straight at all times. You lift your legs up as far as possible, curling your torso towards your chest and then lower them again. Don’t lower your legs too far down as this will only increase the stress on your lower back.

 

 

Using ab balls for lower ab workout: knee tucks on stability ball

Initial position: you have your shins on an ab ball and are in push-up position (i.e. face down, rested on your arms and on your shins which are on the stability ball).

 

Exercise: use your abs to roll the ball closer to your hands. To do this, bring your legs towards your body, bending the knees and sticking your buttocks into the air.

 


 

By the way: you can also do the reverse crunches on the abs ball. On the abs ball you will obtain a greater stretch of the abdominals, so the exercise will be more effective. Lie on the ab ball, face up. Use your arms to stabilize your body and then lift and lower your legs.

 

 

Using ab straps for your lower ab workout

As we have seen in the article on ab straps, doing hanging knee raises and hanging leg raises are two great exercises to train your lower abs. Find the detailed description of the exercise in the article. Please read this review if you are interested in cheap ab machines.

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Oct 252010
 

Many persons look for ways to work out their lower abs, and there are many webpages claiming to have the best lower ab workout and then again a wide variety of manufacturers of abs machines claiming that you absolutely need one of their models. So, why is there so much interest about this abdominal muscle?

 

Most people hope that by working out their lower abs, they will get ripped abs and a flat stomach. There is some truth to this, as we will see later, but as we have already mentioned in many posts on this blog, the main reason why you don’t have a flat stomach or a sixpack is this excess fat, so you need to focus on burning belly fat!

 

In order to take a closer look at the lower ab workout, let’s have a look at the muscles involved in this exercise. As we have seen before, the sixpack-muscle is called rectus abdominis and runs from your pelvis until your rips. It is one large muscle, even though it has several sections.

 

So, as it is one large muscle, there is no way to “isolate” the lower or upper abdominals, whatever exercise you do, it will always train both areas. But it is true that certain exercises will exercise more one or the other area. Generally speaking, exercises in which you move your torso will exercise more your upper abs whereas a good lower ab workout uses exercises where you move your legs.

 

Your lower abs also include the transverse abdominis. This muscle is called the “corset muscle” as its main function is to keep the abdominal organs tugged inside. So, when you train this muscle you indeed can obtain a flatter stomach!

 

But apart from the aesthetic benefit of giving you a flatter stomach, the main function of your lower abdominal muscles is to stabilize the spine and the pelvis and thereby preventing back injury. Many people nowadays suffer from lower back pain and this is often a result of weak lower ab muscles. Their pelvis is not stabilized and thus tilts excessively or moves when they are moving their legs. So, a good lower ab workout has the benefit of increased core strength and stability and a healthy back.

 

Let’s get to the grain and to your lower ab workout. In order to exercise your lower abs you move your legs while stabilizing the rest of your body. There are many different exercises and you should chose the one that matches best your physical condition and fitness: the most popular exercise is the reverse crunch and as you get better and your abs get stronger you can increase difficulty by changing the position of your legs, do the exercise inclined or even hanging.

 

Reverse Crunch for lower ab workout

This is a basic exercise for beginners, yet it can be very effective. The main advantage of this exercise is that it puts little strain on your lower back, so sometimes even patients in rehab can do this exercise. Initial position: lie on your back, with your feet off the floor and your knees bent at about 90º.

Exercise: now move your knees, bringing them towards your torso. Ideally you try to lift up your pelvis a little bit in order to get your knees even closer to your rips. Hold for one second and then lower your legs again.

This exercise is even more efficient if you try to tug in your stomach while you do the exercise as this will also train your transverse abdominis (imagine you’re standing in front of a mirror and try to suck in your belly). Double leg lifts This is the same exercise as the reverse crunch, but instead of bending your knees you leave your legs straight. This works more the abs, but it also strains more your lower back so be careful.

Bicycle Maneuver for lower ab workout

Initial position: lie on your back, contract your abdominal muscles, press your lower back down against the exercise mattress and lift your legs. Exercise: while maintaining your abs firm and your back pressed against the floor, move your legs as if you were riding on a bicycle. Do this exercise for thirty repetitions and increase repetitions as you get stronger.    

 

What to keep in mind during your lower ab workout:

Your lower abs serve to stabilize your pelvis and your lower back, so for any lower ab workout you need to ensure that you really stabilize your lower back. All exercises for your lower ab have in common that performed incorrectly you can hurt your back, so you should respect the following points:

  • If you have or ever had a back problem, consult your doctor before doing any of these exercises. Done correctly these exercises can strengthen your lower ab and protect your ab. Done incorrectly you can hurt your back.
  • You should never ever feel pain in your back while doing any of these exercises. If you feel pain, stop immediately.
  • Build up your lower abs gradually. Start with an easy exercise first and don’t increase the difficulty level until you can perform it properly.
  • It is crucial to do slow, controlled movements. If you make fast movements your lower abs won’t work as hard as usually we use the momentum to cheat. Also, that way you can easily get into uncontrolled, jerky movements which can cause you back problems.

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Oct 182009
 

The truth is that you can train your abs perfectly without an abs machine. And if you’re one of those hard-core “no pain, no gain” bodybuilders, you probably prefer the good ol’ crunch. In that sense, the floor is the cheapest ab exercise equipment you can find!

 

However, if you think about what is the most effective and most comfortable abs workout, then the abs machines come back into consideration. One of the most common reasons why exercisers stop doing crunches are neck and lower-back strain. The best ab machines support your neck, thereby avoiding the neck stress and making your abs workout more comfortable. And when your workout is more comfortable, this might lead to that you do work out more and longer.

 

Also, on the floor in the initial position your back is just straight. But the most effective way to train your abs is to have them pre-streched, like for examplewhen you lie on an ab ball. So, using an abs machine you can train your abs more effectively.



As we haveseen in our last article, hanging abs exercises are great for lower ab workout and some even claim that hanging exercises are more effective thanlying exercises. You can do a hanging lower ab workout just hanging from a chin-up bar, or if your grip is not that resistant you can use ab straps.

And finally the mere act of investing into an abs machine might make you take your abs workout more seriously, be more motivated and determined to really get the maximum out of your investment.

 

So, you definitely can do just ab exercises on the floor, but using an abs machine can make your abs workout more varied, more fun and it can be more effective. And there are some cheap ab machines out there so you don’t need to spend a fortune.

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Sep 272009
 

Anatomy Chart courtesy of FCIT

 

In order to be able to do a proper abs work out (no matter whether with abs machines or with some other kind of abs program), we first need to have a (at least basic) understanding of the anatomy of the abdominal muscles. So, in this article we will explain the different muscle groups that are the abdominal muscles, and what their primary functions are.

 

Even though many people think of the abdominal muscles only of the “six pack” of the rectus abdominus, actually the abs also consist of the internal and external oblique abdominal and the transverse abdominis. These Latin names might look a little scary at first sight, but you will soon see that it aint’t that complicated.

 

The rectus abdominus is the muscle that runs from the pelvis all the way up to the ribs. Three fibrous bands crossing the rectus abdominus give it the washboard look that is so attractive. The function of this muscle is to bend the spine and bring the rib cage closer to the hips (as happens in the abdominal crunches). It also helps stabilize the spine. The rectus abdominus is one long muscle, so even though some people speak of upper and lower abdominals they are just referring to different areas of the same muscle.

 

The oblique abdominals are muscles situated on the sides of the rectus abdominus. Their function is to help bend and twist the torso and to make angled movements. Their fibers run diagonally – interior and exterior oblique abdominals run in opposite directions, so that a contraction of the interior obliques makes the torso bend to the same side, whereas the exterior obliques make it bend to the opposite side. They work together to make possible all kinds of rotation and tilting movements of the torso and are essential for the stabilization of the vertebral column.

 

The transverse abdominis is located underneath the obliques and wraps around the abdominal contents. It is a muscle that traditionally has been neglected, even though it’s crucial for the stability of the core and has an important aesthetic impact: it is called the “corset muscle”, as it is responsible for tucking in the organs of the abdomen and thus give us a flat stomach. It is like a natural weight belt, that stabilizes the spine and pelvis when we lift any kind of weights.

 

All these muscles together wrap around the abdominal area and provide stability and protection. Now that we know what muscles to focus on, we can start thinking about how to train them. So whereas the rectus abdominus can easily be trained with your perfect abs machine, the transverse abdominis is best trained without any kind of equipment, just contracting the muscle in 3 sets of 30 seconds. The over time you can increase the duration and the number of sets.

 

Sidenote: the serratus anterior which is also colored in the anatomy chart actually does not belong to the abdominal muscles.

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Sep 162009
 

Abs Machine

Do abs machines work? We all dream of having this perfectly shaped sixpack: nicely ripped abdominals. And though we tell ourselves that it’s all about fitness, we know that we just want to look like these toned studs or the sexy girls with their flat stomach on the infomercials. It’s because these toned abs that we get from a proper ab workout are irresistibly attractive.

So, we start thinking about buying an abs machine, and that’s when all the confusion starts… So many manufacturers and brands out there: ab exerciser, ab cruncher, 6 second abs, ab lounger, to name only a few of them. Then we hear some trainers warn that some of these heavily advertised machines are a scam and our confusion only increases.

So, do abs machines really work? Well, yes they do, but only if you have your objectives very clear and know what an abs machine can do for you and what it can’t. In order to obtain these defined abs, firstly you need to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, so you need a good abs workout, considering also a good lower ab workout. For this goal ab exercise equipment can be of great help as we will see below. Of course, you can also train your abs without any machine, just with a good ab workout program.

Secondly, you also need to focus on burning belly fat in order to eliminate that excess fat that is presently hiding your abdominals. For this objective you need a proper nutrition, maybe a diet program and cardio exercises.

So, is there something like the perfect abs machine? What are the true advantages of abs machines? Obviously they vary depending on each individual model, but some of the advantages include:

  • An abs machine can be especially good for beginners as some allow to adjust the intensity of the exercise.
  • Using an abdominal machine can reduce the stress on your neck and your back
  • Some provide a wider angle for the abdominal muscles to stretch
  • Using an ab exercise machine usually is more comfortable than just doing an abs work out on the floor
  • An abs machine can allow for an effective lower ab workout while not straining your back
  • Abdominal machines can help motivate you
  • Finally, having your own ab exercise equipment can be very convenient as you can spend just a few minutes a day exercising, without the need to leave your house.

These last points are especially important, considering that – as for any type of exercise – for your ab workout consistency is key. So, the easier, more convenient and more motivating you make it for yourself, the more probable it is that you are really going to follow through, exercise regularly and that way achieve these defined abs you are dreaming of.

To sum up: yes, abdominal machines can help you, but you also need to keep in mind burning belly fat. So, think about whether you really need an abs machine, and in case you decide to buy an ab machine make sure to keep in mind the recommendations you find on this blog to find the best ab machine.

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