Types of ab crunch machines
Since a lot of people struggle with stomach fat, also known as ab flab, it’s no wonder that the ab exercise machine industry has really taken off. That’s actually the same reason for which many beginner fitness enthusiasts find it hard to figure out what type of exercise machine for their abdominal muscles they would be best advised to buy. Sure, you can head on down to Amazon, or any other major online retailer, and try to wade your way through the plethora of results, reviews, discounts, ads, and so on. However, chances are you will leave the site feeling overwhelmed, and without having made any purchases whatsoever.
This is why we’ve compiled the following list. It particularly focuses on ab crunch machines, but it also tells you a bit about other types of exercise machines or pieces of gym equipment that you might be interested in. Of course, the main difference between the two categories is that you’re not likely to buy a Smith machine and have it installed at home, whereas a crunch ball might just find its way to your fitness room at home. As such, the other point of this list is to help you figure out what excersize machine to use, when at the gym. Join us, as we explore the differences between power towers, sit up benches and the like. Also, check out our rundown of some of the most popular ab crunch machines that you’re likely to come across at your local gym.
Sit up benches
You’ve definitely seen them, because they’re probably the most popular type of machine for training the abs out there. There’s scarcely a gym without one, probably because they’re very versatile. They allow you to perform a wide range of exercises (for your back, neck, or thighs, for instance) and can thus be used both by rookie trainees, as well as by seasoned fitness pros. Their main purpose is to help strengthen the core muscles via all sorts of modified and improved versions of the classical sit-up. Yet that’s not all you can do on a sit-up bench: leg raises and crunches can also be performed with their aid.
The sit-up benches that you see at the gym are usually massive, yet there are plenty of home varieties, which can be folded and stored away, and which are obviously smaller. If you’re thinking of buying a sit-up bench for your home, definitely consider an adjustable one. It will allow you to play with the angle you use, which means your body will be working to offset various degrees of resistance, correlated to the incline angle of the bench. One thing to bear in mind, when working on the bench is that if you don’t pay attention to the proper form, benches tend to be a bit hard on your lower back area.
These pieces of equipment are very interesting and also useful to use at home. The ab chair is especially great for beginners and for people with pre-existing physical conditions, given its structure. Since you have a full back rest to lean back on, your whole back is protected, lumbar area included. The way you perform a crunch on this machine is via the chair’s folding mechanism. The ab muscles (as well as the rest of your core) pull up the weights, with the aid of your legs. In fact, ab chairs are great for lower body workouts as a whole. And the best part is that you don’t actually need to have a strong core when you start out using this machine, so it’s entirely beginner-friendly. Ab boards, twist trainers, and balance ball chairs all fall into this category, which you may peruse at will on the various online stores, with one amendment: while there are some great quality ab chairs out there, the better ones tend to be more expensive, while the cheap ones are usually very poorly made.
They may look deceptively simple, these ab wheels, but, in fact, they’re highly effective training tools for your ab muscles. All you need to do in order to use them is to get down on your knees and roll the wheel across the floor back and forth. Though they’re called ‘ab’ wheels, these devices work more than your abdominal muscles. In fact, they’re good for your entire upper body. The trick about this movement is that it directly targets your abs by isolating them, but since you’re essentially lying down, parallel to the floor, you’re also giving your lower back a good workout. Another advantage to using ab wheels is that their shape, how much they weigh, and their size allows you to easily transport and store them. If you’re one of those people who won’t take a break from their fitness routine even while they’re away on holiday, you might consider buying one of these devices, to use while traveling.
By and large, ab wheelscan be used by beginner trainees, but since using them only relies on your bodyweight, you should have a rather well developed core when you start working out with such a device. As far as the price/quality ratio goes, there’s a wide range of ab wheels available for purchase out there, from the simpler and more affordable, to the more complex and expensive. We recommend you pay a few extra bucks for a more complex ab wheel, which makes use of special technologies, since it will allow you to perform a wider range of exercises with it.
The design of your average ab glider forces the extra stimulation of a typical crunch, which means this machine will help you get more out of your training session than by performing a regular crunch. The machine actually employs all your major muscle groups, so even though ab gliders tend to be somewhat bigger machines, they are very versatile in terms of settings and the kind of workout you can get out of using them. They will help you train your shoulder muscles, your back, and most other muscles, as part of a complete body workout. For instance, they’re very helpful with toning flexor muscles in your lower back, as well as the rotary cuff in your shoulders. If that’s what you’re going for, then take a look at the offers available for ab gliders at the moment – however, do bear in mind that these machines take up a lot of space and can be difficult to store properly in smaller homes. That being said, they’re not as efficient for training and strengthening your core as other machines, so you may want to think things through before you buy one.
Ab rollers/Ab crunchers
You’ve definitely seen these products advertised under the ‘As Seen on TV’ category. Their infomercials usually promise major progress and massive strength gains in close to no time at all. This, of course, might lead the more training-minded of you to harbor some suspicions regarding their actual efficiency. These doubts are justified, since, while ab rollers do come with some genuine benefits, they’re not precisely the ideal machine for advanced fitness enthusiasts. However, they do provide great support for your neck, thus helping you avoid one of the biggest pitfalls of ab training: neck pains. Additionally, theab cruncher is also very good for training your upper abdominals. After all is said and done, ab crunchers are great for seniors, people in a fragile state of health, as well as for beginners and women who want to strengthen their core. There are plenty of ab rolling workouts out there that have been designed especially for the ab roller and you can download most of them in .pdf format for free.
All right, so they’re not precisely ab crunch machines, but this doesn’t mean they are not highly efficient devices for training your abs, as well as your legs, butt, or what have you. You can do special variants of crunches with them, but you can also do a great many other exercises, for your core, neck, back, glutes, and other important groups of muscles. Some people even use them for full body workouts, since workout balls come with several advantages: for one thing, they’re very affordable – you only have to pay a few dollars for them, but you can get your whole body worked out; for another, they’re usually very fun to use, once you get the hang of them. While many trainees use them for crunches, even more use them for the necessary stretching exercises that they add to the end of their workouts.
These devices are also called ‘hyperextension machines’ – a self-explanatory name, in terms of the main move they employ. As this alternative moniker suggests, Roman chairs are best used for your lower back, but this doesn’t mean they can’t also be used efficiently for crunches and other core strengthening exercises. The double crunch machine is, in fact, a hyperextension machine. Additionally, a strong lower back is crucial for people who are serious about their fitness and strength levels, but also for beginners. Want more boons out of this machine? It’s great for a number of exercises, including the four-way hip extension, leg curls, leg press exercises, flexion movements, exercises for your thigh muscles, and knee joint PT workouts.
It’s therefore safe to say that just about anyone can benefit from exercising the muscles in their lumbar area through extensions. They will make your hips look slimmer by burning away the fat stored in that area. They will help alleviate the lower back pain that many of us experience, due to our sedentary lifestyles, which usually involve a lot of sitting in front of a PC. If you plan on using a hyperextension machine as part of a physical therapy routine, always consult with a doctor first and don’t overexert yourself. Start out small and work your way up to more intense and complex exercises.
The Smith crunch machine
Weight trainers should be well accustomed to the Smith machine, which is a piece of gym equipment that was first invented by Jack LaLanne in the 1950s. His rudimentary first version was simply a sliding mechanism with a barbell weight attached and suspended onto pegs. That prototype also made use of a spotter, which is no longer the case with modern Smith machines. The design of the modern version was completed by Paul Martin, as commissioned by Rudy Smith, by the end of that same decade. By that point, Rudy Smith had become an executive in a Los Angeles chain of gyms, the first ones to install Smith machines, and the device was becoming widespread.
The whole point of the Smith machine is to be used for self-spotting during vertical lifts. While early models only allowed for vertical slider movements of the bar and weights, more modern ones also include some backward and forward swinging. The Smith machine can be used for cruches, squats, as well as a variety of other exercises. You don’t have to place the weights back on the rack with this machine, since a simple rotation of your wrists will slide and lock the barbell, leaving ithanging in place at whatever point you choose to stop during the lift. While the Smith machine is, indeed, effective, it’s important to combine the use of this device with bodyweight and free weight exercises. Not only does variety provide more efficiency, but prolonged use of the Smith machine alone can result in muscular imbalance, as well as lifting injuries.
The Yukon crunch machine
The AbCruch Machine from Yukon Fitness is a power tower-type device, which works your abdominal muscles through isolation. It comes with an adjustable seat that will help hold down your legs and ankles while you perform the crunches by leaning forward. The leverage arms also allow a wide range of movement, which essentially helps you target your entire ab muscles. The seat comes with cushioning and it can also be adjusted for various sizes of lifters, thus making the whole workout far more comfortable thanks to the seated position. You can either use standard or Olympic weighted plates on this versatile machine, which makes the rather major investment in purchasing one well worth it. Typically, a Yukon Ab Crunch Machine will cost upward of $250, without postage, handling, and delivery.
The Life Fitness crunch machine
The Ab Crunch machine from Life Fitness is also a power tower with a very sleek design (fully customizable). Since it’s a commercial piece of equipment, you will see it in numerous gyms – it is easy to adjust, control, and use, and it’s also the kind of gym machine that tracks the user’s progress and comes with pre-designed workouts. Although on first glance this machine may look intimidating, its manufacturers claim it’s ideal for exercisers with little or no previous experience in strength training. That’s because they can opt for a low resistance setting at the beginning. They also boast the biomechanically correct design of the machine, as well as its patented Lifeband Resistance System which allows users to adjust the settings on the machine in small increments.
There are, of course, other options – some of which you’ve definitely seen advertised on TV and which have made it to lists of the worst choices for workout machines. We advise you to steer clear of stuff that includes the word ‘toner’ or ‘ultimate’ in its title. However, since this is not a ‘professional’ versus ‘commercial’ fitness machine type article, at the end of the day, whatever routines work for you, then those are the best!
The4 best ab crunch machine exercises
The cool thing about ab crunch machine exercises is that they provide a welcome alternative, a different way to work out this often problematic area. How tired are you of traditional crunches, bicycle crunches, V ups and situps? Want a way to tone this area that will work both your inner and your outer muscle fiber? Read on, for the names and detailed performance technique instructions of the best ab crunch machine exercises.
1. The ab crunch machine
This classic exercise is suitable for beginners and works by isolating your ab muscles. Adjust a low resistance level, affix your feet to the pads and grab a hold of the handles at the top. Bend your arms in a straight angle and rest your triceps on the pads of the machine. Crunch the upper part of your torso at the same time as you lift your legs. Do this very slowly, in order to maintain control and to make sure you’re moving the weight with your abs, not your legs and feet. Pause at the top of the movement, then resume the initial position by lowering your legs very slowly, as you inhale.
2. Single Arm Side Bends on the High-Pulley Cable Machine
Attach the handle to a power tower than raise it to the highest position of the pulley. Stand with one side toward the cable, reach up with one hand and grab the cable with an underhand grip. Pull it down to the point the handle has almost reached your shoulder and your elbow is touching the side of your body. With your feet at hip-width distance, place the free hand on your hip to stabilize the pivot point of your upper body. Pull the weight down with a side crunch while tightening your obliques. Once you’ve tightened them as much as you can, slowly let go of the weight and resume the initial position. Never unload the stack of weights while you are resting. Keep your oblique muscles contracted throughout and repeat the move to the point of failure.
3. The Smith Machine Reverse Crunch
This move is also known as the hip raise. You need to place a bench under the legs of the rack and then load the bar with appropriate weighted plates. Lie down on the bench, then prop the soles of your feet against the bar. Unlock the bar with your feet and reach up and out with your legs. If you need to, make use of the aid of your hands. Rotate your pelvis, flex your spine and lift your hips off the bench. Keep your kneed slightly bent during the movement. Pause for a second or two at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your hips back down onto the bench.
4. The Ab Roller
This move is performed with the aid of an ab wheel. Grab a hold of its handles with both your hands and kneel. Place the roller in front of you and get into kneeling push up position. As you inhale, slowly roll the wheel forth, while stretching out your body. It should be parallel to the floor, but not touching it at any time. Pause immediately after you’ve reached the maximal point of the stretch, then pull your body back into the initial position, very slowly. Breathe out and remember to keep your abs contracted. If you have lumbar issues or hernias, don’t attempt to perform this exercise. If you’re an advanced exerciser and know whats the perfect form for this move, you can train your obliques, too, with this move, by performing it diagonally rather than straight out in front of you.