Americans shell out more than $65 billion annually on fitness, including gym memberships, exercise equipment and weight-loss devices sold only on TV. That’s according to Consumer Reports in 2016, which also reports that two-thirds of us work out at home.
If you're after slim abs, here’s a look at the most effective machines that will assist your workout.
1. Ab Lounge Sport
In testing by the American Council of Exercise, or ACE, the Ab Lounge Sport proved to generate muscle activation close to that of a traditional crunch. It's designed to tighten and tone your upper abs, lower abs, and obliques by way of a jackknife design that creates resistances for abdominal curls.
2. Torso Track
Torso Track 2 is an “as-seen-on-TV” fitness product for tightening the abs, as well as the arms and shoulders. It’s basically a sliding handle that’s fits into a slotted track so the user can push against resistance bands.
ACE found the Torso Track to be somewhat more effective than the traditional crunch, though some reported lower back discomfort while using it.
3. Cardio Machines
Treadmills and ellipticals may not directly work your ab muscles, but for most people who are trying to attain or maintain a flat stomach, a regular vigorous cardio workout that burns fat is essential.
You can get a folding treadmill if you’re on a budget, or spend the cost of a trip abroad on a non-folding model with a longer deck that’s better matched to a runner’s stride.
Ellipticals offer the aerobic benefits of running but with less impact. Most ellipticals are equipped with handgrips so you get an upper body workout too.
4. Ab Roller
An ab roller is a wheel with a handle threaded through its center. You kneel down, grasp the handles and push the roller along the floor in front of you with your chest lowered toward the floor.
ACE found ab rolling to be about equally effective as a conventional crunch, but noted that it did activate the external obliques somewhat more than the crunch.
5. Ab Rocket
The Ab Rocket is a legless chair abut the size of a lawn chair that facilitates crunches, abdominal twists by pivoting forward and backward and swiveling side to side.
It's also equipped with padded backrollers across the head and back support to give you a massage as you go at it. Adjustable resistance springs let you determine the intensity of your workout.
6. Sela Fitness Core Machine
The Sela Fitness Core Machine focuses on the rectus abdominus and the obliques. The Core Machine is a weighted platform with two spring-loaded prongs, padded back rests and foot braces. The machine provides back support for assisted crunches, and offers resistance to push against for other exercises.
7. Ab Carver Pro
The Perfect Ab-Carver Pro, sold on TV and the internet, features a kinetic "engine" with a carbon steel spring to provide resistance as you roll out and support when you roll in.
It's designed to work both the abs and the arms. The wide tread provides stabilizes posture when going left, right, and center. The machine's hand grips are angled to enhance activation of the arm and core muscles.
8. Pilates Reformer
You may think of Pilates a relatively new workout fad, but actually it's an 80-year-old regimen used by dancers for conditioning and rehabilitating injuries. Pilates exercises strengthen the core by stabilizing the pelvis and enhancing abdominal control.
The original machine, called the Reformer, was a wooden contraption decked out with cables, pulleys, springs and sliding boards. But these days you can find modern compact modern versions that fold-up for easy storage at home.
9. Perfect Situp
Perfect Situp is a device designed to assist in doing sit-ups with perfect form. The device is body-length with braces for both your head and feet. Your perfection is signaled by a clicking sound.
The manufacturer claims that the Perfect Situp works the abs from top to bottom, and that "unlike traditional sit-ups and crunches, the Perfect Situp gets you in the perfect position to perform an abdominal curl while leg and back blades intensify the movement."
10. Ab-Doer Twist
To work the oblique muscles, located to each side of the frontal muscle sheath, you have to go out of your way a bit. What's more, any twisting exercise requires weight resistance to be effective.
That's where the Ab-Doer Twist comes in. You sit, grab the arm bars on the side, and rotate on the swivel-action seat. It's made of heavy-gauge steel and has several resistance options. The device also works the shoulders, biceps, triceps, upper back, and chest.