Looking for the best workout machines to help you achieve a strong core and abs? You’re on the right page.
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten machines split into two categories: cardio and strength training. We’ve discussed their pros, cons, best uses and dangers so that you can make the right choice. We’ve also discussed how often you can train your core and what type of exercises work best to help you reach your goals.
Keep reading to learn more about each machine and the workouts that strengthen your core.
Best Cardio Machine for Core
We won’t jump through with this section because it’s essential to look at the science before discussing these core workout machines.
That’s the best way to help you choose the equipment and the routine that benefits you.
So, let’s get started.
Firstly, everyone does endless crunches in an effort to sculpt their abs. You might be doing this too.
And there’s no denying that specific exercises do strengthen your core quite a lot (crunches included). However, that doesn’t mean your abs will be visible.
Building muscle in your abs doesn’t spot-reduce the fat over those muscles.
What does reduce your abdominal fat?
The answer is reducing your overall body fat. And that can be done by focusing on larger muscle groups in your body with an intelligent mix of cardio, resistance, and strength training.
Remember: You need the right machines and workouts that mix cardio and strength training.
Here’s what works well:
Treadmills help burn a lot of fat and challenge your core muscles, especially if you’re doing high-intensity interval training. These specific programmes combine sprinting and high incline intervals with moderate walking. As such, you can push harder because you get some rest between bouts of intense effort.
These claims are backed by science:
- Running is proven to decrease visceral fat, whether you’re doing it outdoors or on the treadmill.
- And so is incorporating HIIT into your routine.
- Even walking has a surprising effect on your visceral fat stores, being able to reduce your abdominal fat deposits.
Pro tip: Choose a treadmill with different fat-burning programmes. This will help you start more easily if you’re a beginner and don’t yet have a favourite go-to workout (on the treadmill).
2. Rowing Machines
Rowers decrease your total body fat because they:
- Exercise your entire body
- Allow you to increase the resistance. That means you can strength train using a rower.
- Target your abs and lower back specifically through the push-and-pull movements.
There’s a catch:
Not all rowers allow you to build lean muscle mass while doing cardio. That’s why you have to choose your poison very carefully.
Pro tip: Magnetic rowers are the best choice, especially if you’re interested in buying one for at-home use.
However, you must focus on workouts that help you burn that fat faster. For example, you should prefer HIIT over steady-state cardio to:
- Protect your lower back from the prolonged effort
- Maximise your caloric burn even after your workout is done
3. Spin Bike
Another good machine in the gym for your core-related pursuits is the spin bike because:
- It helps you burn a lot of calories. If you’re using it at the gym, you’re probably taking part in specific fat-burning classes, which will help you reach your goals faster. If you’re using a spin bike at home, you can use specific virtual programmes if you have app compatibility with the same results.
- It targets your core, especially when using it in standing mode. Pedalling in this position strengthens your back and can reduce your love handles.
- It burns total body fat. Your legs work the hardest pedalling against high resistance and comprise your body’s largest muscle groups. That means you can burn fat faster from all over your body, including your abs.
4. Assault Bike
The assault bike, also known as the air bike, is excellent gym equipment to sculpt your core because:
- It builds muscle strength and helps you burn more fat. The faster you pedal, the more calories you’re burning. But high speeds also increase your bike’s resistance, thus allowing you to build lean muscle. In turn, that also reduces your fat stores.
- It targets your rectus abdominis, obliques, and back. Slightly twisting as you’re pushing this bike’s handles targets your abs in a whole new way than other cardio machines at the gym.
Bonus, you can always purchase an assault bike for home use.
5. Free-Standing Punching Bag
If you’ve never been to a boxing class at the gym, you don’t know what you’re missing. First and most importantly, the feeling you get after this class is pure and utter exhilaration.
We won’t explain the mix of bodily processes that cause this feeling because it’s beside the point.
And that point is you feel on top of the world.
Plus, you’re working out your core comprehensively. A free-standing punching bag works the best because:
- It creates resistance, thus building muscle.
- It builds core strength and overall endurance through functional movements.
- It requires twisting and balance movements, which build your obliques and lower back strength. As such, kicking a free-standing punching bag is probably the fastest way to bid your love handles adieu forever.
Besides, these gym classes usually include a core-targeting segment that works your abs even more with floor exercises.
Therefore, we’re granting the free-standing punching bag the title of best workout machine for abs and love handles.
Best Core Workout Machines
Core workout machines are intended explicitly to target your core muscles. You’ll usually find these at the gym because they’re not for home use.
We recommend you try these machines, especially if you have back problems or are a beginner.
Sure, you can try crunches and back-bows at home.
However, not maintaining a correct posture (if you’re a beginner) means you won’t be able to target your muscles as effectively. Therefore, you won’t reach your goals as quickly.
Besides, you’re increasing your injury risk.
People with chronic back pain are also advised to steer clear of crunches and other intense floor workouts for the abs. Gym machines for the core are a good alternative because they keep your body in a fixed, correct position. Thus, you avoid straining your lower back.
Without (any) further ado, let’s begin judging your options:
6. The Vertical Crunch Machine
This machine is your best bet for crunches if you hate lying down or want to ensure your back stays fixed while you’re crunching.
That way, it helps you avoid triggering your back pain.
Just make sure your doctor or physical therapist allows you to use it in the first place.
That said, the vertical crunch machine has the tremendous advantage of being able to add the weights you need to scale up your workout intensity.
Therefore, you can build more strength in your abs.
The problem is that some vertical crunch machines at the gym have weight plates in high increments such as 5, 10, 15 pounds, etc.
7. The Oblique Twist Machine
This machine targets your obliques and love handles through a very nice twisting motion. In fact, this movement is actually relaxing.
You will also feel your frontal abs and lower back working quite a bit with this machine.
Beginners are very eager, so you can easily twist faster and more than you should. Apart from not being an effective movement, this uncontrolled twist also increases your risk of injury.
Remember: Twist slowly and controlled, squeezing your abs and obliques at the top of each movement. That way, you will build stronger muscles.
8. The Back Crunch Machine
Just like the ab crunch machine, this one targets your lower back. The main advantage is that you won’t strain your lower back, especially if you choose the correct weight (which is actually very low for beginners).
Besides, the back crunch machine is a gift from above for people who can’t do back-bows because they lack the range of motion.
It might be weird getting under it at first, but it’s worth the effort.
Warning: Be sure not to overdo it if it’s your first time trying out this machine. Newbies are the most tempted to do that because this machine turns training your lower back into a piece of cake.
9. The Incline Bench
Many gyms have a core-specific workout zone where you’ll see these inclined benches. You can use them for all sorts of things:
- Back bows
- And any variation that pops into your mind
Bonus: You can hold onto free weights while using these machines to scale your effort.
That brings us to the next point:
10. Free Equipment
Gyms have a ton of equipment you can use for your core:
- Core balls: Best for stretching and Pilates. You can use them to build functional strength and flexibility or to recover from an injury.
- Core plates: These are sliding plates you put under your hands or feet to increase the balance challenge of specific exercises. Thus, your core will have to work out harder. For example, sliding your hands forward on these disks during a plank exercise will increase that exercise’s intensity.
- Weights: You can hold onto these weights during your mat exercises or use them to build specific core workouts. For example, twisting lunges strengthen your obliques, front core and lower back in one move. Deadlifts are also some of the best exercises to remove love handles.
- Bars: These bars are generally used during Pilates, Yoga, and Stretching classes to intensify a particular stretch. Therefore, you can build more flexibility in your core muscles. And you can’t build a strong core if you lack that flexibility.
How Often Should You Work Out Your Core Muscles?
You should execute core-targeting moves and exercises a maximum of three to four times per week, with at least one rest day between these workouts.
However, you can make functional moves with your core on the other days.
You can also do cardio or strength training to reduce your body fat ratio if that’s one of your fitness goals.
Mild Pilates, Yoga, and stretching are also recommended (and even highly encouraged). We know stretching may seem like a waste of time if your goal is to see those abs pop as fast as possible.
However, as we said before, stretching increases your flexibility, tones your core, and reduces the risk of injury. That’s why it’s the basis for building a solid midsection.
As you can see, you have plenty of options if you want to build a strong core and abs. But remember that your two biggest assets are your body and your patience.
So, choose the machines that work best for your needs and motivation.
You should also stick to slow, controlled movements when using strength equipment. Also, remember that stretching and resting are prerequisites to building long-term core strength.
And if you want to purchase one of these gym core machines for home use, pick one with enough programmes and resistance levels to challenge you.
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