Crunches work your abs, yes. But they can only take you so far in your quest for strong and toned abs. To engage and train your core muscles, you also need to make room for exercise equipment in your routine. We’re not talking about those ab machines that claim to be the key to getting six-pack abs in no time. Fact is, there is no single or ultimate solution. But there is a number of exercise equipment that together can bring you closer to your #abgoals.
Certain machines target specific muscle groups, including the rectus abdominis and obliques. Some allow you to increase the resistance for a more intense workout. Others are extremely versatile, designed for performing different types of ab exercises. What you must figure out then is which set of equipment will benefit and suit you the most. So which ones stand out and are worth considering? Here’s a roundup.
1. Captain’s chair or power tower
If you want to work on your obliques and rectus abdominis, get on a captain’s chair. With its pull-up bar, plus dip sections, this equipment is perfect for doing hanging leg raises—one of the most beneficial ab exercises.
Begin by placing your forearms on the padded bars. Then grip the handles on the sides. With your feet dangled and body stabilized, you can raise your hips and lift your knees so they’re parallel to your shoulders and close to your chest. Return to starting position and repeat 10 to 15 times for two sets.
2. Medicine ball
The medicine ball comes in various sizes and weight. It lets you perform different moves and workouts. And it allows for extra resistance.
But the medicine ball is not just versatile. It’s very efficient too, especially when you use it to develop and strengthen your ab muscles.
Targeting your obliques? Do the medicine ball tap. Stand with your back facing a wall, knees bent slightly, feet apart, arms stretched out in front, and hands holding the medicine ball. Next bring the ball to your side by bending your arms and rotating your waist to the right until the ball touches the wall. Go back to the center and do the same movement on your left side. Aim for two or three sets, with 10 to 15 repetitions per set.
3. Ab roller
It may look simple, but the ab roller packs a punch. It trains not just your upper and lower abs but also your arms, back, chest, hamstrings and shoulders. All you need to do is to roll it in and out.
The catch: It’s easier said than done. With the ab roller, you’ll only see results if you use it properly and efficiently. And to do that, you must already have a solid core. So if you’re new to the game, this may not be the best fit.
What’s the key to getting it right then? For your starting position, kneel and grab both grips of the ab roller (remember to keep your knees slightly apart). The wheel should be placed between your knees, a couple of inches from the center. Next, stretch out your arms, roll the wheel forward and lower your body until it’s close to being fully extended. Raise your body to return to starting position and then repeat.
4. Adjustable sit-up benches
The sit-up bench is a quintessential favorite. A staple in gyms, this tried-and-tested ab machine comes in an adjustable design that lets you change the angle of the board to increase or decrease the resistance based on your needs.
It’s also a great choice if you like mixing things up. The sit-up bench can be used for a variety of ab exercises, from sit-ups and crunches to leg raises and twists. You can even incorporate weights to strengthen your core further. Just remember to opt for units that are wide and long in order to avoid straining your back.
5. Roman chairs or hyperextension benches
You may have been working all your abdominal muscles. But that doesn’t mean you’ve covered all your bases. For a firm core and a slim waist, you also need to train your lower back. And for the best results, use a roman chair.
On a roman chair, besides dips and sit-ups, you can perform the hypertension exercise, which includes movements designed to strengthen your lower back as well as your hamstrings and legs. By developing your lower back, you can worry less about lower body pain and injuries.
A pro? You can also do advanced core exercises on a roman chair. But if you’re prone to back pain, check with your doctor first.
6. Exercise ball
Don’t underestimate the power of an exercise ball, especially when it comes to abdominal training. Working out on this large, lightweight and bouncy ball requires keeping your balance and staying in control of your movements. That means you get to engage and strengthen several muscles at a time. And that in turn makes it an efficient option for doing sit-ups, crunches and planks, among other exercises.
Say you want to try modified crunches. Begin by sitting on the middle of the ball with your feet on the ground. Then lie back with your thighs and torso parallel to the ground. Next, with your hands behind your head or arms criss-crossed over your chest, raise and lower your torso as you would do during normal crunches. Do two sets consisting of 15 to 20 repetitions.
Selecting the right exercise equipment for your needs may help you start off on the right track. But you must also learn how to use them properly to get results. Throw in hard work and persistence to the mix, and the abs of your dreams will be well within your reach.