Finding home ab machines that actually work shouldn’t be that hard, but it kind of is. There is so much junk and so many scams being marketed to us 24/7 that I think we sometimes forget how to tell the difference. Most of the products that can actually help you reach your goals have been around for a long time. But sometimes we forget about the stuff that actually works and start falling for empty promises.
I’m here to say that there are home ab machines out there that can help you strengthen your core! It’s not all junk, I promise. I will share with you some equipment I know is effective from my own experience. I will also debunk a few of those ab products currently on the market with the use of good ol’ fashioned science.
6-Pack Abs: The Impossible Dream?
I would gamble to say that most (if not all) of us that are working out regularly would love to have that sexy, much sought after six pack. After all, nothing else epitomizes the essence of physical fitness more than a ripped set of abs. Well, at least not visibly anyway. But, we all know it isn’t easy to get or obtain a six pack. Or is it?
No, just kidding, it’s actually quite difficult.
Unfortunately, sometimes we are so caught up in our dream that we fall for scams promising results that are just too good to be true. And we know, if we are 100% honest with ourselves, way back in the back of our mind, that these products aren’t going to work. But we buy them anyway. Try them. And ultimately become disappointed again because the magic belt or goofy looking chair didn’t give us the results we wanted.
But why don’t these products work? Is everyone just lying to us to make money or is it something we did wrong? Could you’ve gotten better results with said product if you had tried harder? Paid closer attention?
Probably not. I know I’m speaking very generally right now, but any product or device that promises to give you a six-pack is probably full of you know what. Odds are it isn’t your fault.
And let me tell you why. The unfortunate truth about abs is this: we all already have them…we just can’t see them. And we can’t see them because there’s a layer of body fat covering them.
Something a lot of these scammy ab toy manufacturers don’t want to tell you is that the only way for you to get those trim abs is to lose weight. And keep the weight off, which is equally as hard. You can sit there and do crunches for 3 hours a day, but unless you lose the body fat those abs are going to be hidden.
And this is the real reason so few of us have those awesome abs- it’s hard to keep your body fat percentage that low. It takes a very disciplined diet and a lot of exercise.
But I did say that there are some ab machines out there that actually work. Yes, and these are the ones that don’t promise you a 6-pack in 4 weeks. These are the fitness machines that actually help you strengthen your core. Yes, I switched up the terminology a little on ya there.
We all want that 6-pack abs, but our abs are only part of our core (possibly the least important part). It’s more important to focus on the whole midsection area of your body. If you work your entire core (and not just your abs), you will:
- Burn more calories, which will in turn help your abs become more prominent
- Strengthen your lower back, which will make you less prone to injury
- Improve your ability to lift, carry, and perform most other daily physical tasks
How Do We Find The Ab Machines That Are Legit?
That’s easy, you just read Will’s post about the best home ab machines. Done and done. Ok, seriously though, I’ll guide you in the right direction, but you still want to be able to make your own educated decisions. Here are a few rules to live by when looking at ab and core equipment:
- If it comes with electrodes, don’t buy it!- Yeah, there are a ton of these on the market, and I’m sorry to bust any bubbles out there, but none of them work. These systems are actually based on a technology we use in rehab called neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). NMES is great to help muscles that are atrophied or that can’t contract for themselves for various reasons, but the contraction a healthy individual gets from it isn’t going to be strong enough to “get ripped”. It also isn’t going to burn many calories for you. No way these devices are going to improve your abs. Sorry.
- If it vibrates, don’t buy it!- Unless your talking about a vibration platform, if a device vibrates, I would steer clear. Vibrating belts are a waste of time and money. The idea that wearing a vibrating belt could somehow make you lose weight and get tone is insulting.
- If you wear it and “sweat the fat away”, don’t buy it!- Yeah, sorry, you can’t wear a warm belt and lose weight around your midsection. First, we can’t localize fat loss- as we burn calories our body starts using fat reserves around our body and we can’t make the decision where that fat comes from. And second, sweating isn’t the same as exercising. If these belts actually made you sweat enough to lose water weight (which they don’t), you would regain that weight immediately.
- If it sounds too good to be true, don’t buy it!- If a device or machine sounds too good to be true, odds are it’s junk. There’s no easy way to getting a toned midsection. It takes work and dedication. It takes full body workouts and burning a ton of calories. Don’t fall for the scams anymore.
It’s true you don’t need exercise equipment to get a great ab workout. You don’t need exercise equipment to get any workout. You can get a full body workout without anything except your body. Push ups, squats, and sit ups don’t require equipment.
But we all know having exercise equipment adds options and variety. These are good things, especially when you are working out at home because it makes you more likely to continue exercising. If you get too bored with your routines, odds are you will stop doing them eventually.
The following ab machines are true and tested. No gimmicks or sales pitches here. Just some solid ab equipment you can feel confident adding to your home gym.
5 Home Ab Machines That Actually Work
#1 The Ab Wheel
Also known as the ab roller or ab roller wheel thingy, the ab wheel is by far my favorite piece of ab equipment. The ab wheel is great for a few reasons: it’s small, portable, cheap, and highly effective. I guess the fact that it works so well should be the most important thing to consider, but the other factors definitely play a part.
I do own this product and have been using it fairly regularly for the last 3 years or so. I had used ab wheels at Gold’s Gym before I started working out at home too. I’m hooked on it and believe it will also have a place in my core workouts.
The ab wheel gives you an entire core workout. We’re talking abs, hip flexors, spinal extensors, and lats. You will even feel this in your triceps, shoulders, and chest too. I like to use the ab wheel when I do arm days to add to my workout.
The ab wheel is so effective because it forces every muscle between your shoulders and knees to basically work together to stabilize your core as you roll out and back. It’s a weight bearing exercise for your arms, so your shoulders, chest, and lats are having to stabilize and work together as well.
We are all familiar with the plank and how awesome it is for your core. Using the ab wheel is basically like doing a moving plank. I often incorporate planks into my workouts, but I get bored with them. I find the ab wheel a little more entertaining.
This video gives a good demonstration of how to use it correctly, fyi:
The ab wheel is a pretty challenging exercise, especially the first few times you use it. But as you get stronger you will be able to go deeper (roll out farther) and knock out more reps.
I remember seeing these things on tv back in the day and thinking it was just another gimmick. I was reluctant to try it, but one day at the gym I figured I’d give it a go. And wow, I’ve been a user ever since. This thing is super portable too, you can easily toss it in a suitcase if you are traveling.
Anytime you can get a great piece of fitness equipment for less than $20 it’s win-win. There are a ton of companies producing ab wheels now and most of them are pretty similar. This brand is nice because they throw in a knee pad (which you will need by the way) and a few exercise/nutrition guides.
Some ab wheels have a spring inside of them that gives you some assistance on the way back in. These devices also work well, but they are a little easier since you get some assistance on the way back. Either way, the ab wheel is a great ab machine that will definitely add value to any home gym.
#2 DYNAPRO Exercise Ball
We used to call these “Swiss balls” in school, I think they still go by that name. Regardless, the exercise ball (or Swiss ball) is another great piece of home ab equipment. Similar to the ab wheel, these balls come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and are made by many different companies.
DYNAPRO is a popular brand because they are designed to hold up against larger users. They are a little heavier duty and have a nice anti-slip grip on them. I own a silver DYNAPRO exercise ball myself. I’ve had mine for a few years and haven’t had any problems what so ever.
These inflatable exercise balls are great because they add a lot of variety to your workouts. You can sit on them and simply do a variety of crunches, or you can use them to turn any exercise into a core workout.
You can place one under your legs and do elevated push ups, that’ll work your core (and blast your chest). You could sit on one while you do shoulder dumbbell presses, that’ll hit your core. If you’re really hardcore, get in a push up position with your feet on the exercise ball- with your hands stationary bring your knees (or straight legs) toward your chest for an ab pike…awesome exercise.
And these are just a couple of ways you can use the Swiss ball to add variety to your core workouts. The instability this ball adds to your exercise, forces your core to stabilize. And this is what forces your muscles to get stronger, and leaner, and help you work toward that 6 pack.
Swiss balls are manufactured by a bunch of different companies and you don’t have to buy an expensive model to get a good workout. DYNAPRO is an affordable version that works great and is easy to inflate with the included hand pump. This exercise ball will cost ya less than $20 and add a ton of value to your workouts.
#3 Fitness Reality X-Class Multi-Workout Bench
Ab benches or sit up benches offer another great way to work your core. I was a big fan of the sit up bench when I was still going to the local gym. They are versatile and give you a few different ways to hit your abdominal and core muscles. I like this bench from Fitness Reality because it includes a back extension attachment.
This particular ab bench can go flat for beginners or declined in 3 different positions for more advanced users. Decline sit ups are tough and are a great way to hit your midsection. Just be careful with your back- if you have back issues you should be careful with decline sit ups.
I also like to use ab benches for decline leg raises. These are similar to hanging knee raises, which are a great core exercise. But are a little easier. The handle bars included on the X-Class bench allow you to perform decline leg raises comfortably from any one of the 3 decline positions.
The great thing about this bench is that it can also function as a standard exercise bench. As you can see from the included photos, you can also do exercises like dumbbell row and push ups. But you could also do bench press, shoulder press, decline bench, or any other exercise you could do on a flat bench.
Having the back extension attachment ensures you get the full core workout. All too often folks concentrate on doing sit ups and crunches without including back extension exercises. We have to stay balanced people! When we get too strong in our position, we tend to get weak in another. Make sure to include some back extensions to stay balanced and reduce your chances of back injury.
Sit up benches take up a little more real estate and cost a little more than an ab wheel or Swiss ball. So not all home gyms may have room for one of these. But if you do, they can make a great addition to your gym.
#4 Fitness Reality X-Class Power Tower
Power towers are another great way to hit your abs (and core). This might not be the first thing you think of when you picture home ab machines, but let me explain. Power towers offer a wide range of exercise options, and just so happens several of them include your core. And these things are real pieces of equipment that actually work, unlike so much of that infomercial junk.
For those of you unfamiliar, a power tower is a piece of equipment that combines a pull up bar and a dip station. Most also have a padded back for you to do hanging knee raises.
Hanging knee raises are easily one of the most difficult exercises you can do for your core. A true hanging knee raise is done while you are hanging from a pull up bar. You can perform this exercise on a power tower if you are talented enough. But the padded back give you the option to do the intermediate version too- where you back is supported and only your lower body is handing.
This version is much easier than the original, but it’s still a great way to target your abs, especially lower abs. I like this power tower by Fitness Reality for a few reasons. One being that it has a few extra attachments for more exercise options.
You’ll notice that this model has a set of pads and handles at the bottom- this is so you can anchor yourself for sit ups and push ups. You can also adjust these handles to perform horizontal pull ups and assisted dips. Of course you have the multi-grip pull up handles and dip station for a full upper body workout.
The X-Class Power Tower can provide a full upper body and core workout. Working more muscles at the same time is going to burn more calories than concentrating on your core by itself. Remember, we have to have low body fat percentages to show off those abs.
I also like this model because it has a 400 lb weight capacity. This product is strong enough and heavy enough to accommodate most of us comfortably.
Power towers are a little bigger and cost a little more, but they can offer great workout variety. They can also help you increase your core strength and tone those abs.
#5 Wonder Core Smart
Finishing up our list is the Wonder Core Smart. Now, this product actually is a “as seen on tv” product and I do hate those. But the Wonder Core Smart does have some value. Although I stand behind my belief that most things you see advertised on tv at 2 a.m. are worthless.
The Wonder Core Smart is a small device designed to give you resistance in different areas depending on how you are sitting on it (or using it). It’s really just a platform with 2 spring loaded arms. To work your core, you can do sit ups on it by pushing your back into the arms. You can also use it for push ups or bridges or dips.
This device is very well received by users and the review are all pretty positive. But I must say, this ab machine is only going to be helpful to the folks that are beginners to exercise.
The Wonder Core Smart doesn’t offer a lot of resistance. And it actually makes a lot of the exercises easier than they would be without anything- push ups, bridges, and sit ups for example.
But it has value because it is beneficial for people who have a hard time performing these exercises. I like to think of it as a spotter, making it a little safer for you to complete these moves. I think the Wonder Core Smart would work best for exercising your lower back. It would be a safe way to do back extensions against a little resistance.
Please don’t believe that you are going to get ripped abs from using this piece of equipment though. Like all infomercials, the people in this add are fitness models and I can guarantee they did not get in that type of shape by using the Wonder Core Smart.
But it is easy to use, portable, and pretty affordable. For beginners or folks with physical limitations that make these exercises undoable, the Wonder Core Smart might be a good choice. Anything that helps get you moving is a good thing in my book. See my full review here or click below for more info.
In order to have a slim midsection and visible abs, you will have to perform full body workouts and eat a healthy, clean diet. No ab machine, regardless of its claims, can give you 6 pack abs “easily”. Trust me in saying there is no easy way to have a 6 pack. If there was, we would all have them.
But, there are some really effective home ab machines that actually work your core. These machines will help you burn calories and improve your abdominal strength. They can also help you improve your endurance and reduce your chance of back injury.
If you do have back issues, just make sure you check with your doctor or friendly neighborhood physical therapist before trying anything too risky.
So there you have it. These are the best home ab machines currently available. If you have any questions or comments leave them below and I’ll get back to you soon.