Everyone wants the visible abs but doesn’t want to go to the gym to actually get them. What can you do to train your abs without going outside? Here’s what you need.
The good news is that most of the equipment is quite cheap and you really don’t need that much. Below is a list of your best options.
- 1 Great and cheap ab workout equipment
- 2 Not so great ab training equipment
- 3 Favorite home gym tools
Great and cheap ab workout equipment
Because everyone wants abs, there are quite a few products out there that aren’t so useful. Here are the products you can consider.
1. Yoga mat
Most ab exercises are bodyweight exercises you can do on the floor. Not much equipment needed. However, most floors are pretty hard and not the most comfortable. And if you’ve got carpet, you don’t want all your sweat to drip into it.
Both those things mean you should have something to put down on the floor to do your exercises. Whatever this is, has to do two things;
- Comfortable but not too soft
- Easy to clean
Easily the most common and easiest way to get a product that does this is to get a yoga mat. Sure, you might not be doing yoga but yoga mats are great for any floor exercises you can do.
Yoga mats are ubiquitous and cheap. It’s possible to pick one up for $15 although it’s better to spend a little bit more to get a mat that lasts longer and is easier to clean.
The TOPLUS Yoga mat is a great example of a mat that offers really good quality for the money. there are different colors to choose from so you’ll be able to find something you like. It lasts long and is easy to clean. Buy it on Amazon.
Want to have visible abs to look better? A commonly overlooked muscle group that makes you look a lot better when grown is your neck. Check out what you need to properly train your neck here.
2. Medicine ball
Medicine balls have nothing to do with medicine. It’s just the word used for a heavy ball. You can get them in different weights. Medicine balls with weights from 2 lbs. to 50 lbs. are available.
You can do quite a few things to make your ab workouts heavier. Check out this video for examples of what is possible with a medicine ball.
Beginners don’t need a heavy ball. 5 or 10 lbs. will be enough to start with.
The AmazonBasics medicine balls are great for how much they cost and they’ve got the weights that are suitable for beginners and intermediate trainees. Buy them here on Amazon.
Many ab exercises are for time instead of repetitions. Repetitions are easy to count in your head. Time isn’t so easy. During a really tough set, 30 seconds feels much longer than during a rest period. So to keep track of the time and make sure you hit the same amount of time every set, a timer is a good thing to have.
Timers come in all price ranges, shapes and sizes. You can get a cheap stopwatch/timer for very little money or spend hundreds of dollars.
Most people will just use their phone but that might not be the best. Phones can be really distracting during a workout. If you don’t think so, go to any commercial gym and look around. Most people are on their phones during their rest periods. That’s probably making rest periods longer than they should be.
4. Ab wheel
One of the pieces of ab equipment that seems like it’s just a gimmick but actually works. Using an ab wheel will require some practice to use correctly but once you get it, it’s quite effective.
It’s advisable to have something soft to put your knees on for comfort. At the same time, the floor where you actually roll the wheel should be hard. Rolling over thick carpet is not very easy.
Since you’re putting quite a bit of your weight on the roller, get one that can handle it. If it breaks while using, it’ll hurt.
To prevent hurting your face, get this Perfect Fitness Ab Carver. It’s for people that weigh up to 300 lbs., has comfortable handles, has a wide wheel for a more secure feel and an internal spring that can be used to increase the resistance. And on top of that, it only costs a little bit more than the really simple ones. Check the Price on Amazon.
5. Resistance bands
Of course my favorite equipment; resistance bands, can’t be absent from this list. While it’s not the most important piece of equipment you can get to train abs, I like it for one reason:
With resistance bands you can mimic the ab crunch machine from the gym. And actually a version of that movement I prefer over most machines. Because you don’t move your legs, it’s easier to take your hip flexors out of it and focus more on the abs. In the end that’s what you want.
Here’s how to do it;
- Mount the resistance band as high as you can.
- If you’ve got a door anchor, mount it on top of the door.
- Then, face away from the door and grab the band so it goes in front of your torso, along both sides of your neck.
- Sit down on your knees
- Go as far back as you can. Your butt up to the door.
- Breathe in, and then out as far as you can while doing the crunch. This way you really flex your ab muscles.
There should be a little bit of tension left in the band when you’re upright. If it’s too light, try two bands.
Suggested post: Are resistance bands worth the money?
6. Stability balls
Stability balls have long been touted as great core strength builders. And for good reason. Because balls roll away, you constantly have to adjust your ab muscles and use different ones. This makes doing exercises with a stability ball extra difficult.
They are pretty cheap to buy but, you’ll have a big ball hanging around all the time. If you’re short on space, other options might be better.
Check out this video for an example workout on a stability ball.
The URBNFit stability ball is the best period. 2000 lbs. weight limit, high quality PVC and comes with a handpump to inflate the ball. Click here to buy it on Amazon.
7. Power tower
The roman chair might be conspicuously absent from this lift but that’s because I’m not a fan of the movement pattern on those. It involves my hip flexors too much and takes away from the ab muscles. Your mileage may vary.
What I am a big fan of is a power tower. This is pushing the limits of “cheap” but I think that the versatility of the power tower makes it worth it.
Ab wise, you can do tons of variations of the leg raise on the power tower. The leg raise is an awesome exercise that builds a lot of strength, control and mass.
Besides that, you can also do a lot of other exercises on a power tower.
8. Pull up bar
A decent amount of what a power tower can do, can also be done with a pull up bar. With a pull up bar, it’s still very possible to do leg raises and related exercises.
You might miss out on the leg raise version where you keep your elbows next to your body. But otherwise you’re pretty good.
The leg raise with your arms above your head is a bit more difficult though. There is less stability so you’ll have to stabilize with your muscles. This is great for training strength and control but it isn’t very suitable for beginners. The leg raise is a pretty difficult exercise to begin with and removing the stability makes it even harder.
This should probably be number one but it isn’t really physical equipment. You can see it more like mental equipment. The good news it’s free. The bad news is that it’s difficult.
Discipline in working out and diet are what you need to get abs. All the equipment in the world isn’t going to get you the results you’re looking for
Not so great ab training equipment
Now here are a few products that you should steer clear of. I’m not going to name names as to not p*** people off too much. There is a variety of products here that might do something but are mainly marketing gimmicks that might work a little but aren’t worth the money.
For most people they probably won’t work at all because these items promise shortcuts to 6 pack abs. I’m sorry to tell you, there are no shortcuts and you’ll still need the discipline.
1. Electric ab stimulation
First up are the devices that stimulate your ab muscles with electric impulses. Sure, it kind of works. If you push an electrical current through a muscle it’ll contract. Do that enough times and you’ll feel something.
The stimulation isn’t going to be enough to actually grow your ab muscles though. And it’ll certainly not do anything for fat loss. And we all know, your body fat percentage has to be low enough to see your abs. You abs might be huge but if you cover them up with fat, you won’t see that coveted 6-pack.
Also, if you’ve still got a decent layer of bodyfat over your abs, the electrical current won’t reach the intended muscle in full force.
From a 2018 study (click) it becomes clear that these machines help with increasing strength and endurance of the targeted muscle. There was no muscle growth however. So if your goal is to have visible abs, it won’t do anything to help that.
Ok, this isn’t equipment but it’s important. If you’ve got any form of lower back problems, it’s a good idea to cut out the crunches.
Crunches and situps are the first exercise everyone thinks off when they think of growing core strength. They might work for that but they are pretty bad for your lower back at the same time. Since there are tons of other exercises for core strength and abdominal muscles, it’s not worth the risk, as this Harvard article explains (Click).
Favorite home gym tools
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.