An ab workout is an important part of any workout. It can be easy to overlook this muscle section having heavily trained other muscle groups – but an ab workout is crucial. As part of improving your core strength, your training your abs can help improve your performance in other areas. Want to do heavier squats or dead lifts? Improve your core strength. Want to reduce the potential for back injury? Improve your core strength.
How do you improve your core strength? By working out your abs and lower back. It goes without saying some of this can be done without equipment – you can do planks, leg raises or sit-ups. Trouble is it is easy to injure yourself doing sit-ups incorrectly and leg raises and planks may not be the most efficient way of exercising. Hence the development of a whole bunch of different types of equipment aimed at developing your abs and lower back.
Lets take a look at some of this equipment and assess if it is worthwhile using or buying:
Cheap and easy to store, a stability ball is not necessarily the first item of equipment that comes to mind when considering doing an ab workout, however you can use a ball to do v–sit ups, knee tucks and back extensions which will target your abs/back and core. Of course, a ball can be used for so much more so represents good value for the investment – you can use for planks, raised push ups, ham string curls and more. Versatile and cheap – always a good combo.
These small pieces of equipment are totally focused on working out your core. Not as versatile as a ball in so much as you are not going to use it for planks or wall squats, but equally cost effective and easy to store. This ab machine gives your whole core a workout – abs, lower back and shoulders. The principle is simple – you kneel on the floor and using the roller, stretch out as far as possible before returning back to the kneeling position. Sounds easy, but this is a tough workout – if your core is not strong you will feel the burn! What set’s this apart from just standard sit-ups is the focus on the lower back and the abs in combination – with little risk of injury.
Pull Up Bar
An inexpensive doorway pull up bar is all you need, but a tower or squat rack with a pull up facility could also be used. Simply dead hang from the bar and carry out leg raises or lower body curls. The effect is one of the best ab workouts you can get – you will burn the next day. Obviously great for pull-ups as well, this equipment is a must-have if you seriously want to workout. A negative is that it won’t develop your lower back strength like an ab wheel or a Roman chair – but then with a pull up bar you can do true compound exercises which develop functional strength – something the rest of the equipment listed here won’t do. These days you can get a functional doorway bar for under $40.
The Roman chair is a piece of equipment that is ideal for doing sit ups and back extensions on. More expensive than other options and certainly requiring more space, it may be precluded as an option for some buyers. You might think well I can get the same benefits from an ab wheel or the ball, but in truth you can take your workout to the next level with a Roman chair because you can overload with weight plates as you improve at the exercise. You can hold plates to your chest as you work out to develop extra strength in your core and make the exercise gradually more demanding – attempting this with the ball or wheel is just not practicable. If you suffer from a weak back this is the kit to use to improve your strength quickly.
Sit Up Bench
Everyone knows what a sit-up bench is and how it works. Generally you have a bench that can be adjusted to an angle and as a result can give you increasingly tougher ab workouts depending on the angle of the bench. Not so good for working out your lower back and if you have your positioning wrong you can get injured just as you might if you did floor based sit-ups badly but you can often use these benches for other decline workouts with dumbbells and barbells.
All these bits of equipment have their uses and all can be used to develop your core via a solid ab workout. If you are interested in using at home, deciding how much you want to spend, how much space you have and how far you are likely to develop your workout are all going to have an impact. For me, a pull up bar and an ab wheel are enough considering my budget and apartment space – the bar has enough versatility to win me over – but if i was at the gym i would probably be using the Roman chair and a bar.