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What equipment is good to work out your abs at home? There are quite a few good items that are great to get stronger abs and some that should be avoided. Here’s what you want to know.
To work out the core at home, a yoga mat, medicine ball or kettlebell and an ab wheel is enough. For some extra abs exercise variety a pull up bar, balance balls and resistance bands are also good additions. With that, it’s possible to build a strong core and visible abs.
The good news is that most of the equipment is quite cheap and you really don’t need that much for a complete workout. Below is a list of your best options.
Best Home Ab Workout Equipment
Here are the most useful pieces of ab training equipment you can easily use and store at home. These are relatively small and cheap so they shouldn’t be a problem for most people to get and use.
Here’s the list, I’ll go into each piece separately below;
- Yoga Mat
- Medicine Ball
- Ab Wheel
- Stability Balls
- Pull Up Bar
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 best way to get 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 think of.
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. A yoga mat is the foundation of any ab workout since most ab exercises are ground based.
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.
Instead of a medicine ball, you can also use kettlebells for ab exercises. Of course you can’t throw kettlebells but they are very suitable for using as resistance.
However, kettlebells are very suitable for many other exercises that can help you get abs. While they are good as resistance for crunches and sit ups, exercises like deadlifts, squats and swings can burn a lot of calories which really helps unveil those abs you’ve been growing.
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. 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.
6. 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.
Ab Training Equipment To Avoid
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 Devices
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).
If you don’t have any issues with them, go ahead but if you feel your lower back after crunches, there are other alternatives.
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.