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Abdominal Equipment

Learn how to choose the best abdominal equipment for your needs.

A stability ball is one of the best choices for abdominal equipment. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A stability ball is one of the best choices for abdominal equipment.

Abdominal equipment is useful to help people strengthen their abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles contribute to good balance and a strong core. When combined with proper diet and exercise, abdominal equipment can result in a flat, toned belly.

Abdominal equipment alone won't provide a toned abdomen. The exercises will develop the abdominal muscles and strengthen the core, but a combination of cardio exercise and abdominal exercise is needed to melt away the fat surrounding the abdominal muscles.

Best Abdominal Equipment

A balance ball, also known as an exercise ball or a stability ball, is one of the best choices for abdominal equipment. A balance ball is one of the most effective and safest types of abdominal equipment, according to Simple Fitness Solutions. A balance ball works and tones the core muscles, including the abdominals and the lower back. Many workout DVDs and Internet fitness workouts rely on balance balls for abdominal workouts. Gaiam, a popular exercise equipment company, produces several exercise kits that include a stability ball and several workout DVDs.

Some people enjoy using balance balls so much that they use them instead of office chairs while doing work at their desks. The balance ball offers a form of "active sitting," where the body is forced to continually realign and balance itself on the ball.

For those who prefer to spend time in a gym with weight machines or who can afford to buy their own equipment, a rowing machine is a great piece of abdominal equipment. Rowing machines offer a full-body workout that relies on core strength, toning the abdominal and back muscles while burning calories.

Another piece of abdominal equipment that's a gym staple is the ab board. Ab boards are helpful for people who have difficulty doing regular crunches due to neck strain or lower back problems. Resistance on crunch machines is adjustable, and the upright position of the upper body allows for less tension in the neck area.

Of course, if abdominal equipment seems too complicated, there's always the exercise floor mat. Abdominal crunches have always been at the heart of any abdominal strength program. Basic crunches, reverse crunches, obliques and bicycle crunches are some of the best exercises for the abdominal muscles.

What to Look for When Choosing Abdominal Equipment

The best abdominal equipment for a person is the one he or she will actually use. Therefore, it's extremely important that the person enjoys using the abdominal equipment. Most reputable fitness stores will allow a shopper to test out different types of abdominal equipment to see what feels best. Once an enjoyable type is found, the abdominal equipment should meet the following standards to ensure a quality workout.

An abdominal workout machine should be relatively easy to use. If it looks or feels awkward, it probably won't get much use. In addition, it should work all the major abdominal muscles -- six in all: the transverse abdominis (which runs across the belly); the rectus abdominis ("six-pack" muscle); and four oblique muscles (two on each side).

Achieving a Flat Belly

Getting that coveted six-pack isn't easy. And for people who are just beginning an abdominal workout routine, it can be hard to gauge how often to exercise and how effective the workout is. Experts recommend starting slow, with two abdominal workouts per week. Once the soreness eases, workouts can be increased to three or four times a week. Simple Fitness Solutions explains that doing 100 crunches is not the best way to work the abdominal muscles, as muscles get fatigued in less than twenty repetitions.

An abdominal workout alone won't produce a flat belly. People who really want tight abdominal muscles and a sleek profile need to make some diet changes, too. Experts recommend eliminating junk food and anything with high levels of sugar. Late-night snacking and alcohol should also be avoided.

In addition, individuals should monitor their intake of carbohydrates. Good carbs such as fresh fruits, vegetables, oats, sweet potatoes and whole grains (such as whole-wheat breads and pastas and brown rice) are great. Anything made with refined flour should be avoided because these foods lead to bloating, poor digestion and fat accumulation. Foods that have bad carbs include:

  • White bread
  • White pasta
  • Doughnuts
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits

Avoiding these bad carbs actually causes the body to increase fat-burning metabolism, which leads to reduced stomach fat. Protein consumption should also be increased.

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