The Best Core & Strength Training Machines

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Core training improves your ability to maintain your posture and control your movement when you move, notes coach Vern Gambetta, author of "Athletic Development." Although no machine can truly mimic human movement, strength training machines can help you develop core stability and strength and gain some muscle mass at the same time. Your core is not just your abs; it includes all the muscles and connective tissues in your torso, spine, hips and legs.

Cable Column Machine

The standard cable column machine, a weight-stack machine, contains pulleys and cables that allow you to lift heavy weights that you would not normally be able to lift unassisted. You can adjust the handles to different positions up and down, and you can change the type of handle you want by unhooking one handle and replace it with another in seconds. Unlike other resistance training machines, the cable column requires to you perform most exercises from a standing position rather than sitting and isolating muscles. You can do pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, rotating and diagonal movement patterns in different directions. When you train in a standing position, you are also training your core and gaining total-body strength, notes Juan Carlos Santana, director of the Institute of Human Performance. Some cable column machines include a pull-up bar that enables you to do pull-ups and other exercises.

FreeMotion Cable System

The FreeMotion cable system is similar in basic design as the standard cable column machine, except that you can adjust the horizontal distance as well as the vertical distance. This allows you to adjust the distance of your grip, whether you want it at a wide angle or narrow angle. You can still do the same exercises as with a standard cable column machine. FreeMotion does not have a pull-up bar.


The VersaPulley machine trains force production and reduction; rotational and diagonal movements; and pulling and pushing strength using your entire body, according to Rather than using a weight-stack system, the machine has a strong cable that is wrapped around a rotating platform that acts as a resistance. When you pull the cable, the platform spins, creating resistance and momentum without the need for gravity.

The amount of force you put into the push or pull determines the resistance. The more force you put in, the higher the resistance, and vice versa. Because it does not need gravity to function, astronauts use the VersaPulley during space missions to avoid muscle atrophy and bone density loss.

Athletes who need quick rotational movements and fast acceleration and deceleration movements, such as baseball players, track athletes and martial artists, can train quick movements combined with strength that they cannot train with other machines.