Gym Equipment

6 Popular Gym Machines For Abs & Core Workout Exercises

gym machines for abs

For many people, core workouts often comprise a few bodyweight exercises such as crunches and sit-ups.  

While these are certainly effective when done properly, using gym machines for abs, can help you focus on specific abdominal muscles, like the rectus abdominis and external obliques.  

Recommended Reading – 6 Easy At Home Core Workouts For Better Ab Strength

In some instances, using machines can be more beneficial as they can guide your technique ensuring that you execute the movements with proper form while minimizing stress on your lower back.  

What’s more, using abs machines in the gym is a great way to create definition and improve strength in your core muscles.

What Are The Best Gym Machines For Abs 

Let’s jump straight into our recommended ab exercise machines to give you the best results next time you work on your core.  

knee raise

These versatile machines are designed for multi-purpose use, enabling you to target several upper body muscles.

You can engage in dips to work on your chest and triceps, perform leg raises for those all-important abs, and take advantage of the included pull-up bar for pull-ups, further enhancing their utility.

When you perform leg raises on this machine, you’ll be recruiting your hip flexors (mainly your iliopsoas) and your obliques – these are the ab muscles that run down either side of your torso.  

You can try a couple of variations too.  

If you want to work more of your lower abs, have a go at performing small flutters of your legs as you roll up your spine.  

When starting out, you should raise your knees toward your chest and round your lower back at the same time.  

As your core strength improves, you can take out the knee-bend element and simply extend your legs horizontally for a greater challenge, you’ll need flexible hamstrings for this though.  

The Roman chair, also known as a hyperextension bench, is another versatile piece of gym equipment.  

It’s mainly used for strengthening your lower back muscles but can also be used to target your abs. 

One of the key exercises performed on the Roman chair is the hyperextension, where you secure your feet and ankles and then hinge forward at the hips, lowering your torso towards the floor before returning to the starting position.

lower back hyperextension

This movement primarily engages the muscles of the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, helping to improve spinal stability and posture.

However, the Roman chair can also be used to target your abdominal muscles effectively, especially your lower abs.  

There are quite a few different ab exercises that you can perform using a Roman Chair and these include side bends, oblique twists and reverse crunches.  

One of the best ab machines for working on those six-pack abs is the abdominal crunch machine.  

It usually consists of a seat where you sit down and tuck your feet under footpads for stability.

You then grab hold of the handles above or beside you, depending on the design of the machine.

These handles are connected to a weight stack through a pulley system, allowing you to adjust the resistance level according to your ability. 

abs machine

As you perform a crunch movement, the machine guides your upper body in a controlled arc, targeting the rectus abdominis muscle, commonly known as your “six-pack” muscle.

The resistance can be increased or decreased to modify the tension on your abs, making it one of the best machines for both beginners and more advanced users.

What’s more, it’s perfect if you struggle with doing regular ab crunches on the floor.  

This is because the machine fully supports your upper body keeping stress away from your neck and upper back muscles.  

You might be wondering why we’ve included the glute ham developer in our list of abs machines considering it primarily works the posterior chain lower body muscles (namely your glutes and hamstrings).  

Let us explain. 

The glute ham raise exercise is difficult to do and requires a lot of strength and stability to be able to perform it correctly.  

It fires up your core muscles as you lower your torso, especially the deep-seated abdominals, towards the ground.  

This is because your body is fighting against gravity to prevent you from falling forward.  

weighted back extension glute ham raise

The ab coaster machine features a curved track along which a seat glides smoothly, allowing for a natural and effective range of motion.

You simply take hold of the handles and use your core muscles to lift your knees toward your chest while maintaining stability throughout the movement.

This controlled motion mimics the action of a hanging leg raise, engaging the entire core, including the lower and upper abs along with the obliques.

The smooth gliding motion of the ab coaster minimizes impact on your joints, making it a great option if you suffer from any joint pain or mobility issues but still want to work on developing a strong core. 

Out of all the gym machines for working your abs, the cable machine is very likely the most common.  

This is because they’re so versatile allowing you to carry out a full-body workout using a range of different cable attachments.  

When it comes to an ab workout machine, there are so many exercises you can do to help you build stronger abs.  

These include side crunches, side bends, reverse crunch, and the kneeling cable crunch.  

So, for the best ab burn and to work your entire core, you can’t go wrong with the cable machine.  

It’s ease of use and versatility make it one of our favorites.  

​Some Ab Equipment Options For A Home Gym 

Now that we’ve explored some excellent choices for your abs workouts at the gym, let’s consider the scenario where you prefer to exercise at home without a gym membership.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look at some home ab machines that offer comparable effectiveness.


If you’re looking for something compact and low-cost but still effective for firing up those abs, then an ab roller could be ideal.  

This small, wheel-based gadget is designed to enhance core strength by encouraging your body to stabilize itself as you roll backwards and forwards. 

To use it, you simply get into a table-top position on the floor, take hold of the handles, and then roll forward away from your knees until your body is almost touching the ground, hold for a second before rolling back to the start.

This action not only targets the entire abdominal region but also engages your shoulders, chest, and arms, making it a full-core workout movement.  

This super versatile, weighted ball is a powerhouse for not just strength training but specifically for building a strong and defined core.

Medicine ball exercises can vary from simple weighted crunches and wall ball throws to more dynamic movements like V-ups and Russian twists, each movement adding resistance to challenge your core muscles.  

Medicine balls come in different sizes and weight increments so be sure to use a lighter weight when starting out, then increase the load as your abs become stronger.  

Studies have shown that making use of a swiss ball (sometimes called a stability ball or exercise ball) when working out, leads to greater activation of the abdominals when compared to other more traditional ab exercises.  

The Swiss ball is ideal for home gyms thanks to its versatility and ease of use.  

The unstable surface of the Swiss ball forces your core muscles to work harder during exercise to maintain balance, leading to greater activation and strengthening of your entire core.  

As it allows for low-impact exercises like planks and ball crunches, this makes it ideal for all fitness levels including seniors.  

The ab rocker typically consists of a curved platform with handles on either side for stability.  

If you want to focus on working your abs while supporting your upper back and neck, then the ab rocker is a good choice.    

To use it, you lie back resting your head on the support and grip the handles.

Then, using your abdominal strength, you rock forward and backward in a controlled motion, focusing on contracting the abs with each movement.  

A good tip is not to use your arms to pull yourself up but rather do so by engaging your abs.  

The ab rocker is cost-effective, easy to use, and lightweight making it a great addition to your home workout.  

Can Cardio Machines Work The Abs

The short answer is yes, cardio machines can work the abs, but not in the same way as traditional ab exercises or equipment do. 

While cardio machines are primarily designed for cardiovascular workouts, they also offer unique benefits that indirectly engage and strengthen the core muscles, including the abs. Here’s how:

When you use cardio machines like treadmills, ellipticals, or stationary bikes, your core muscles automatically engage to stabilize your body.

For instance, maintaining your balance on an elliptical or while running on a treadmill requires continuous work from your abs to keep your body aligned and stable.

In a similar way, cycling, especially on an upright stationary bike, encourages you to maintain an upright posture, engaging your core to support your upper body.

Many cardio machines allow for high-intensity interval training, which can be particularly effective for engaging the core and burning a ton of calories!  

For example, performing sprint intervals on a treadmill or bike requires short but intense bursts of energy that engage the entire body, including the core muscles.

The rapid changes in intensity force your abs to work harder so you can maintain proper posture, providing an indirect but effective core workout

Rowing machines deserve a special mention as they are very effective at working the abs directly in addition to providing a cardiovascular workout.

The rowing action involves a powerful leg push followed by pulling using your back and arm muscles.

This motion works your entire core as you maintain balance and stability throughout the motion.

It’s a full-body workout that emphasizes the core, making the rowing machine a standout choice for those looking to work their abs with cardio equipment.

Wrapping Up

From targeted ab machines such as the ab roller, ab rocker, and Swiss ball, to more versatile equipment like the Roman chair and cable machine, all of them offer unique benefits for improving your core strength and defining your abdominal muscles. 

Even cardio machines, which tend to be overlooked in the context of abs workouts, can play an important part in core conditioning through stabilization, balance, and engaging the entire body.

Incorporating a variety of these tools and techniques into your ab workout routine can provide a comprehensive approach to your training, ensuring all areas of the core are effectively engaged. 

Whether you prefer the focused intensity of ab-specific machines or the full-body challenge of cardio equipment, the key to success lies in consistency, proper form, and a balanced fitness regimen.

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