Updated May 2022
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best ab machines

When people resolve to better themselves, the number one focus, by far, involves diet and fitness. Typically, we fixate on the stomach region. Because of that, there are a plethora of products available for home use that all promise success. It sounds great, and we eagerly buy into the hype, but the truth is, not every ab machine will produce the results that you may be picturing in your head.

Ab machines vary greatly in focus and design, so when it comes to selecting the best one, it's really all about selecting the best one for you. Comfort, effectiveness, durability, and price are all primary concerns. However, to get the exact type of workout you want, there are many other aspects you will need to consider.

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It is essential to warm up before any workout to reduce the risk of injury.

Key considerations

There are many aspects to consider when selecting an ab machine. First, we'll take a look at the bigger picture items: comfort, effectiveness, durability, and price.


Comfort is not limited to the ab machine's padding. When looking for a unit that is right for you, it needs to fit. If you are tall, you don't want to be contorting your body just to get it to fit on the machine; if you are short, you don't want to be reaching and overextending while exercising. The ab machine must also be suitable for your weight and not feel uncomfortable in any way.

Expert Tip
Ab machines are only one piece to the puzzle of building a leaner midsection. Isolate abdominal muscles at the end of a workout after doing more functional exercises that target the body as a whole and use your core and abs to stabilize your spine. Isolated ab exercises on machines are usually more effective after they are pre-fatigued from performing bigger movements.
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If it doesn't work, it's not going to help you reach your goals. For instance, muscle stimulators may claim to tone the body, but they have only been proven effective in pain management and rehabilitation. If the ab machine is too easy or too hard for your fitness level, it is not going to be the best option for you. The best ab machines are versatile, and offer a variety of positions, allowing you to work the lateral abdomen as well as the upper and lower abdomen.


An ab machine must be sturdy enough to handle heavy use two to three times every week. If your unit wears out quickly or breaks, it will be of no use to you. Even if you are just afraid it could wear out or break, that could keep you from exercising properly.

So many options

Now that you understand the more general requirements for satisfaction, the following list of options will help narrow down the perfect ab machine for your individual needs.

Target area

If you have a specific area you want to target, like the obliques, be sure the ab machine you are considering can handle the task.


One of the main reasons for injury when performing ab exercises is lack of support. Be sure the ab machine you are considering provides adequate support for your head, neck, and spine. An ergonomic machine that reinforces proper posture is best. Note: Individuals of an advanced skill level may find it more beneficial to provide the stability using core muscles.

Expert Tip
When performing any abdominal exercises remember to pull your bottom rib cage down and pull your belly button towards your spine. This will promote optimum abdominal muscle recruitment while preventing excessive low back stress.
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Range of motion

In general, the greater the range of motion an ab machine accommodates, the more effective it can be.


Versatility can go beyond ab exercises. If you are looking for a full-body workout, something that is as effective for your arms and legs as it is your core, you'll need a versatile machine that allows you to execute those types of exercises.

Workout position

Do you prefer to be on your back? Sitting up? Standing? The choice is yours. Whichever you prefer, you can find an ab machine that accommodates your positional needs.

Movable parts

Some ab crunchers have no moving parts. This typically makes the machine extremely durable.

Average workout time

Be careful not to be misled by hype. That being said, a machine that is effective after only 10 minutes, might be more appealing to some than a machine that requires a 20-minute (or more) commitment.


You want an ab machine that can not only grow with you, but one that will continue to challenge you as you build strength. Often, this is accomplished (or enhanced) by a feature that offers variable resistance.


If you do not have much room, look for an ab machine that folds down to a convenient size. Something that can be slid under the bed or stashed in a closet is ideal.

Expert Tip
Lean and developed abs start in the kitchen with a cleaner diet. Abdominal exercises do not burn fat.
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Other considerations

There are a number of other aspects to consider that do not directly relate to workouts. A nutrition guide, an instructional DVD or an online link, a list of other exercises, transport wheels, no-slip feet, protection so your floor doesn't get damaged, and being constructed with materials that are easy to clean are some of the list-topping bonus features.


The price range of ab machines is wide. You can get a highly effective piece of equipment for under $20 just as easily as you can spend several hundred dollars on an item that might not be right for you.

For $15 to $25, you can get a roller-based ab machine. This type of equipment is inexpensive yet highly effective for many individuals because it engages the core muscles.

In the $30 to $50 range, most of the machines are designed to help with crunches. Many have no moving parts, which can enhance their durability.

From $50 to around $100, you start to see ab machines with positionable benches, variable resistance, and multiple moving parts. Although they are more costly than rollers, this price is actually entry level for the larger machines, so be careful.

Once you cross into the $200 and beyond range, you can find ab coasters and full-body workout machines like you might expect to find in a gym. Again, proceed with caution at this level to be sure the machine you are considering is durable enough to handle frequent heavy-duty usage.

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Did you know?
The importance of having strong abdominal muscles increases with age. Losing strength in your core region means not having the mobility you will need for a full and active life in your later years.

How to get results

Often, individuals attack a new workout routine with impressive vigor only to back off and eventually lose interest when no results are visible. When that happens, your ab machine goes in the closet or gets pushed to a corner and never gets used again. The best motivator is results. Here are some tips to help you achieve them.

  • Follow all directions. Read the instructions that come with your ab machine and follow them. Not using an ab machine properly can actually be worse for your body than simply not using an ab machine at all.

  • Take it slowly. The benefit from most exercises comes from slow, deliberate, and controlled movements with impeccable form. Burning through a few exercises sets might not produce the results you want.

  • Don't be a jerk. Explosive motions that yank other parts of your body, such as clasping your hands behind your neck to pull your head up for a crunch, often do more harm than good.

  • Think about it. Be focused on what you're doing and how your body is moving.

  • Visualize navel to spine. The visualization of moving your navel to your spine is one that helps many individuals achieve the proper form and focus while working ab muscles.

  • Think posture and position. Maintaining correct posture and body position is essential if you want ab exercises to be effective.

  • Breathe. It's important to keep breathing while you workout to give your muscles energy. Exhaling when exerting helps to control your blood pressure – never hold your breath while exerting yourself.

  • Variety is the key. Doing one repeated motion day after day after day will not produce results. You need to add variety to your movements in order to experience the best results.

  • Try stability or lack of it. If you truly want the hardest, most effective workout for your abs, use a machine that doesn't offer stability. Abdominal crunches on a balance ball are much more effective than abdominal crunches done on the floor because you are engaging your entire core. Note: this advice is for more experienced individuals.

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Everyone is different. An ab machine that is perfect for someone else, might not be the right one for you.


Q. I'm using my ab machine properly, why am I not seeing those six-pack abs?

A. An ab machine is only part of the equation. You also need to eat right and do cardio exercises (to burn fat) in order to actually see the results. If you are just using your ab machine – and you are using it correctly – you are indeed building muscles, but if you have a layer of belly fat overtop of those muscles, you will never be able to see the results. Use your ab machine in conjunction with the other elements and you will start to see the fruits of your labor.

Q. What are the benefits of having strong ab muscles?

A. Ab muscles are part of the set of muscles that stabilize your body's core. As such, strong ab muscles can help improve your posture, protect your back and spine, give you better balance, allow you to twist and lift, and help you to breathe more easily, which can enhance your endurance. In other words, keeping your abs strong is essential to your overall health and fitness.

Q. I've always heard the phrase "no pain, no gain." Is that true?

A. No. In fact, if you are experiencing pain while using your ab machine, you are either using it improperly, it is not the right size, or it is not the exercise that you should be doing. If your back hurts, your neck hurts, or any other area bothers you while doing your ab routine, stop immediately and seek help. All the areas that an ab machine can help can also be damaged if something's not right.

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