The Best Abdominal Workout Machines

Weight machines come in a variety of forms. They make use of hydraulic pistons, lines and pulleys, weight stacks, rubber bands and your own body weight. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, each kind of abdominal workout machine has advantages and disadvantages. If you haven’t worked out in a while or have any other medical conditions, you should consult with a doctor before tackling an ab workout machine.


Trainers at All About Abs report that most advertised abdominal workout machines offer little extra benefit for the money. Floor crunches and stability ball workouts are just as, or more effective, than most advertised machines. When floor exercises become too easy however, you can add additional resistance and intensify your workout with cable machines found in most fitness centers. Cables allow you to add weight and challenge your ab muscles and break through plateaus. Most cable machines are designed with padded handles and grips. You can perform ab exercises from behind, from the side or with forward bending routines. You can even grab onto cables while performing your crunches to intensify the workout. The weight is easily adjusted by moving a pin in the stacks attached to the end of the cables. Cable machines are flexible, allowing you to try a variety of routines. It’s best to learn proper form from a trainer or guide at the gym to prevent injury however.

Captain’s Chair

Like most fitness advisers, the personal trainers at the American Council on Exercise prefer floor exercises and ab workouts performed on a stability ball over abdominal workout machines. The main exception however is the captain’s chair, which is a machine available in most fitness facilities. The captain’s chair primarily provides the background for you to use your body weight for resistance when toning the abs. You stand in the machine and rest your forearms on a padded metal armrest and hold on to handles. Perform the exercise by lifting your knees as high as you can and holding for a count of five or six. Lower your legs and repeat. Beginners often can’t do more than 10 reps, but keep working until you can perform at least 20 or 30.

Torso Track

The Torso Track came in at number five on the top 13 list of the best ab workout machines in the American Council on Exercise review. While the Torso Track fared slightly better in results than traditional floor crunches, users of the machine report more lower back discomfort when using it. The Torso Track is a long piece of equipment that rests on the floor. It has a track that runs along the center through which a sliding set of handles moves. You kneel on a pad at one of the track and hold on to the handles, sliding them forward and backward to work your abs. The Torso Track is usually available through television infomercials and online, endorsed by celebrities like Suzanne Somers. It has varying levels of resistance settings that can provide additional intensity to your workout.

About this Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist who’s spent more than 20 years doing in-depth research and reporting on trends in health care and fitness for newspapers and magazines, including the “Greenville News,” “Success,” “Verve,” and “American City Business Journals.” In addition to sports and alternative therapies, Ray has extensive experience covering banking, commercial development and people. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in journalism.