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Most people know the gym is the place to be to build muscle all over your body. But what are some gym machines specifically for bigger abs?
There are definitely also ab exercises without equipment but using these gym machines can offer some extra benefits that help you build bigger abs faster.
Before you give these ab machines a try, keep in mind that you generally can’t target fat loss in specific body parts. These machines are great for building abs but relatively bad for losing belly fat. If that is your goal you want to look for exercises that help you burn a lot of calories.
Even if you do these exercises that burn a lot of calories, other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight. You can work out and gain fat at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
That being said here are 10 gym machines you can use for bigger abs for everyone from beginners to people with a lot of resistance training experience.
1. Captain’s chair
The captain’s chair, also known as a “power tower” and “knee raise station”, is a type of gym machine you can describe as an elevated chair without a seat. Its armrest and backrest are usually padded to make it more comfortable since your arms and back will be the body parts that keep your feet off the ground.
This gym machine allows you to keep your legs hanging freely without too much effort from the rest of your body. Because of this setup, there are a wide variety of captain’s chair exercises that allow you to work out your ab muscles.
One example of a typical captain’s chair exercise for bigger abs is the leg raise. To do one you take place in the captain’s chair, raise your stretched legs upwards as far as you can, and lower your legs again into starting position. Take all these steps in a slow and controlled motion.
2. Pull-up bar
A pull-up bar is simply any horizontal bar that is suited for doing pull-ups, a popular bodyweight exercise. There are however many other pull-up bar exercises for different muscles, including for ab muscles. This versatility is one of the great benefits of the pull-up bar.
A possible disadvantage of doing ab exercises on the pull-up bar is that your other muscles used for gripping onto the bar may fatigue faster than your ab muscles. If that is the case the other gym machines on this list may be better options.
One example of a typical pull-up bar exercise for bigger abs is the leg raise. The leg raise is similar to the captain’s chair leg raise except that you hang from a pull-up bar.
3. Sit-up bench
A sit-up bench is a type of bench that has foot anchors and the option to put the bench more incline or decline. As the name of this gym machine implies this makes it a great option to do sit-ups.
Besides sit-ups, you can also do other popular ab exercises like crunches, Russian twists, and leg raises on the sit-up bench.
If you reach the point where doing these exercises with just your body weight is not challenging enough you can consider doing them with extra external weights like a short weighted vest, weight plates, or dumbbells.
4. Ab wheel
An ab wheel is a piece of gym equipment that, as the name implies, is used to work out your ab muscles. It looks either like 1 wheel with handles on each side or 2 wheels with a handle in between.
This piece of fitness equipment may not look as impressive as some of the other gym machines on this list but it is highly effective for building bigger ab muscles. The data from one study even suggests that some ab wheel exercises are more effective than more traditional exercises like sit-ups and crunches for engaging ab muscles (1).
One possible disadvantage of the ab wheel is that it may be too challenging for people with weak core muscles. If that is the case you may need to do other core strengthening exercises first. The ab wheel is also only useful for core muscle exercises.
One example of a typical ab wheel exercise for bigger abs is the knee roll-out. To do one start with your knees on the ground and your hands on the ab wheel. Roll forward in a controlled motion, preferably until your stomach is right above the ground. If you are more of a beginner you can start with smaller distances.
Keep your body in a straight line from your knees to your shoulder and your arms stretched throughout the movement. After that roll back into starting position.
The barbell is one of the, if not the, most popular pieces of gym equipment. It is a long bar on which you can put weights. You can find an exercise with a barbell for basically any muscle you want to train, including your abs. This versatility is one of the big benefits of the barbell.
While there certainly are ab exercises you can do with barbells, some of the other gym machines on this list may be better for training core muscles like your abs.
One example of a barbell exercise for bigger abs is the same knee roll-out as the ab wheel but with a barbell instead.
6. Roman chair
The roman chair is a type of fitness equipment that comes down to two pads, one elevated to lean on with your hip/back/upper legs, and one closer to the ground to keep your feet in place.
Besides training your abs, roman chair exercises can be helpful for strengthening your lower back muscles. This benefit can also be a disadvantage for people with a history of lower back problems. In that case, some of the other gym machines on this list may be safer options.
One example of a roman chair exercise for bigger abs is the roman chair twist. You can describe this exercise as a Russian twist done on the roman chair instead of on the ground. This allows a bigger range of motion.
7. Cable machine
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
One example of a cable machine exercise for bigger abs is the cable machine crunch. To do this exercise you sit on your knees in front of a cable machine where the pulley is at a high setting. You then grab the cable hand and do crunch motions.
The extra resistance from the cable machine weights is helpful for making the movement more challenging. This can in turn lead to faster muscle growth.
8. Stability ball
The stability ball, also known as the exercise ball or stability ball, is a big, soft, elastic ball. You can use this piece of gym equipment for a wide variety of exercises, including ones that work out your ab muscles.
One example of a stability ball exercise for bigger abs is the sit-up done on the stability ball instead of the ground. This allows a bigger range of motion.
9. Ab coaster
An ab coaster is a gym machine where you rest on your knees on a platform that can move. The way you use it is by holding the handles and then using your core muscles to rock yourself back and forth.
One downside is that this gym machine is only for core muscle exercises and does not offer many different exercises. One thing you can do is turn the knee platform to target slightly different muscles.
10. Bosu ball
You can describe the Bosu ball as part of a stability ball with a flat surface on the other side. The Bosu ball can be used for a wide variety of resistance and balance exercises.
One example of a Bosu ball exercise for bigger abs is the Russian twist. To do a Russian twist sit down on a Bosu ball with the soft side up and feet soles flat on the ground. Lean back your upper body to a 45-angle with the ground. Raise your feet off the ground. Keep your knees together and your back straight throughout the exercise.
Hold your hands together in front of your chest. If you are more advanced you can hold an extra weight like a kettlebell. Slightly twist your upper body to one side and then the other.
Make sure you don’t twist too far and keep your back straight to avoid any injuries. Even with the right technique Russian twists are not for everyone.