Remember the famous 8 Minute Abs? The classic mid-nineties VHS workout tape featured three spandex-wearing fitness pros on the grass, sculpting their six-packs in just eight minutes a day. Believe it or not, the concept was highly successful, to the tune of $20 million in less than two years.
While you’ll still need a healthy diet to reveal a ripped midsection and toned obliques, don’t dismiss what eight minutes of hard work done regularly can do for your core. If consistent, you’ll notice a tighter, stronger torso in just a few weeks, even if it’s hidden behind a few pounds.
The benefits of strengthening your abs extend well beyond just looking good. Having a robust core — even without a well-defined six-pack — will make you better at just about every activity. For example, a sturdy midsection can help you maintain proper running form, resulting in better running efficiency. You’ll also hold yoga poses longer and with more ease. A stronger core can even lead to better posture, preventing back pain.
The area in question consists of four main groups of muscles. The rectus abdominis is what most people think of when they say abs. These are the muscles responsible for the sexy six-pack. The other three muscle groups are the transverse abdominis (or TVA), external obliques and internal obliques. Ideally, you'll do exercises that hit all four.
Compared to other home-based fitness machines, core equipment tends to be much more affordable and easier to store. This makes owning more than one piece a viable option, which is great because it pays to switch things up. So, when 8 Minute Abs gets old, get that toned midsection you’ve always dreamed of with these marquee tools.
Best Overall Ab MachineSKLZ Corewheels Read More
Best Upgrade Ab MachineHydrow Rower Read More
Best Value Ab MachineOutroad 5-in-1 Ab Roller Kit Read More
Best Ab CoasterAbCoaster MAX Read More
Best Paralette BarsBody Power Parallette Bars body power Read More
No exercise engages every muscle in your torso better than planks. And no equipment is better for planks than an ab wheel. Hitting your shoulders and hips as well, SKLZ Corewheels are far superior to your normal single-wheel ab roller design. The dual design prevents cheating to one side or the other and allows more advanced movements, such as alternating one-arm planks and side-to-side fly planks. Featuring comfortable ergonomic foam handles, these lightweight, portable ab wheels are a welcome addition to anyone’s home gym arsenal. Bonus: they double as challenging push-up bars.
If you really want a visible six-pack, you have to be trim. And this rowing machine is hands-down the best single piece of equipment to simultaneously lean out and carve abs. Engaging a whopping 86 percent of your muscles — nearly twice that of running or cycling — rowing burns more calories and works your core more than any other single piece of equipment. The added resistance of cables engages the core with each stroke. Think rowing is boring? With Hydrow's all-access membership ($456/year or $38/month) you can join hundreds of instructor-led rows, live or on-demand.
Outroad 5-In-1 Ab Roller Kit
You’d be hard-pressed to find a kit that can hit more body parts for a better price. This plucky, travel-friendly package comes complete with an ab wheel, resistance band, knee pad and push-up handles — all you need to shred your torso while getting some exercise variety. Step up the difficulty of your ab wheel workout by attaching the included resistance band. Pick up this kit and you'll be ready to shred in just moments.
Ab coasters may look like a funny infomercial gimmick, but they sell because they work. Isolating your upper body forces you to engage your entire core to move your legs up and down a curved track. With a twist of the knee rest, you can target obliques. The best part? No more having to get down on the ground for ab work. Just kneel, grab the handles and crunch. Ab Coaster’s smooth bottom-up slider motion and natural arc make it easy to use and reduce stress on the back and neck, making it ideal for beginners and seniors.
Body Power Parallette Bars
No athletes have stronger cores than gymnasts. Their secret? Repeated bouts of hard isometric holds on bars and rings. Tap into that regimen with these extra-thick bars, which carry a 330-pound capacity and 14 inches of clearance to make it easier to pass your legs through. Word of warning: parallette bars are not for everyone. You’ll need a fair amount of upper body and core strength to get the most from a parallette workout. But if you want the abs of, say, Simone Biles, these are your ticket.
Bosu Balance Trainer
Step up your sit-ups, crunches and leg tucks with a Bosu Balance Trainer. Trusted most by commercial gyms for its durability and 300-pound capacity, this one is pricier than many similar products for a reason. Packaged with a downloadable guide, the soft, curved design not only makes exercises more comfortable than sitting on a hard floor but it also requires additional core tension to maintain stability. Just a heads-up: it’s completely normal for the ball to deflate every few days — no wonder it comes with a pump.
Gliding discs may not look like much, but don’t be fooled by their simplistic design. These flat, low-friction pieces of material make for one hell of a core and shoulders workout. Don’t waste your time with cheaper alternatives. SKLZ Slidez are larger and feature a contoured ergonomic tread for a safe and comfortable grip. They also snap together for easier bilateral movements.
Fitness Reality X-Class Light Commercial Ab Bench
No home gym is complete without a bench. Why not get one you can use for abs, too? This model features one flat and three decline bench adjustments, plus 14 thigh cushion height levels and comfortable 2.5-inch medium-density foam. The double-stitched vinyl bench is not only sweat- and moisture-resistant, but it's also sturdy, boasting an impressive 650-pound capacity. As with most shippable heavy-duty equipment, be prepared to put some elbow grease into the assembly.
Total Gym XL7 Home Gym
Popularized by Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley, the Total Gym is not just an as-seen-on-TV ripoff — it actually works. While it's not a dedicated ab machine, it can hit them hard. Using cables and an adjustable incline, this machine uses your body weight as resistance to move up and down the smooth track, with pretty much every exercise requiring core engagement — the steeper the incline, the tougher the workout.
Aduro Sport Doorway Sit-Up Exercise Bar
If you prefer having your feet locked down when doing good old-fashioned sit-ups, this wallet-friendly product is for you. Stop jamming your feet under your couch — just attach this handy exercise bar to any door. Four different heights accommodate all sizes of feet and rubber bumpers protect your door. Just tuck your feet under the bar and go.